Mandatory Social Housing Qualifications: A Help Or A Hindrance?
Key Contact: Liz Gibbons
Author: Stephanie Pugh
Regulating England – Setting a High standard
Managers of social housing in England will have to complete a housing management qualification regulated by Ofqual, according to proposals set out in the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill (‘the Bill’) announced in early 2023. The qualification will be equivalent to a Level 4 certificate or Level 5 diploma in housing, or a foundation degree from the Chartered Institute for Housing (the CIH), as part of reforms aimed at further regulating social housing management.
Westminster has suggested that any social landlords that fail to comply could face unlimited fines, should the new law come into force.
‘The changes we are delivering today will make sure social housing managers across the country have the right skills and experience to deliver an excellent service’, said Housing Secretary Michael Gove.
The qualification, to be passed by senior housing management roles, broadly defined as individuals “responsible for the management and delivery of housing and property-related services”, has been welcomed by the CIH, which supports “the government’s focus on and support for professionalism in housing”.
The Welsh Response – recognising the pressures
Inevitably, the proposals led social housing market operators in Wales to speculate about the prospect of similar regulations being implemented across the border.
“We all know there are significant issues and challenges to the housing sector. Yet, without people working in our organisations, we cannot address these challenges. We need to highlight and promote housing as a rewarding career with adequate support and a good work life balance,” said Gareth Leech, chair of the CIH Housing Futures Cymru panel.
A report published following the TAI conference in April found that the cost of living crisis has put a significant strain on frontline workers in social housing due to increased demand for services by tenants, and has highlighted the “rising workloads and insufficient resource”, (Matt Dicks, national director at CIH Cymru).
Despite the pressures, however, the report found that 85% of staff are motivated to work in a sector that strives to benefit tenants and make a positive impact on a community.
Much-awaited confirmation that the Welsh Assembly currently has no intention to mandate social housing qualifications in Wales similar to those proposed in England was released at the end of May this year. Currently, the Welsh Assembly is focusing on supporting and funding an essential sector under pressure, instead of regulation, stating that:
“We have… maintained the increase to the Housing Support Grant budget so that it remains at £166.763m despite the extraordinarily difficult budgetary position we currently face.”
Of course, the disaster of Grenfell and the devastating mould-related death of two-year-old Awaab Ishak demonstrate that the sector requires significant reshaping. However, on this occasion it seems the Welsh Assembly have opted for nurturing a positive, motivated and funded environment, rather than a regulatory fix.
Want to find out more? Speak to one of the Social Housing team today.