HCA publishes Regulating the Standards

Article

01 September, 2015

In April of this year the Homes and Communities Agency, the regulator of social housing for England (the Regulator) introduced changes to the Regulatory Framework for Social Housing. The Regulator has now published Regulating the Standards, which describes the operational approach the Regulator will utilise in engaging with the social housing sector in applying the regulatory framework.

Objectives of HCA

The HCA has two fundamental objectives, an economic regulation objective and a consumer regulation objective.

The economic regulation objective includes:

  • ensure registered providers of social housing (RPs) are financially viable and properly managed to perform their functions efficiently and economically;
  • support provision of social housing sufficient to meet reasonable demand including by encouraging and promoting private investment;
  • ensure that value for money is obtained from public investment in social housing;
  • ensure an unreasonable burden is not imposed on public funds; and
  • guard against the misuse of public funds

While the consumer regulation objective includes: supporting the provision of social housing so that it is well managed and of appropriate quality; ensuing tenants of social housing have an appropriate degree of choice and protection; as well as to be involved in its management and hold their landlords to account and to encourage RPs to contribute to the environmental, social and economic well-being of the areas where their stock is situated.

The Regulator's overall approach

Co-regulation

In Regulating the Standards this to say that this means:

  • board members and councillors are regarded by the Regulator as responsible for managing the business effectively and complying with the regulations;
  • RPs must support tenants in relation to provision and evaluation of service deliver and hold boards to account; and
  • The Regulator operates on an assurance basis - seeking assurance from the RPs that they are complying with the standards and as such it is for RPs to demonstrate compliance. In cases where this is not provided, the Regulator will reflect this in its judgments.

Communication with the Regulator

The Regulator views transparency as the fundamental pillar of the co-regulatory approach and failure to comply with this may affect the assessment of an RP. It is important to bear in mind communicating with the Regulator in an accurate and timely way is a specific expectations of the Governance and Financial Viability Standard (G & FVS). Also the G & FVS Code of Practice includes the provision of information and further outlines that submission of late, incomplete or inaccurate data is indicative of a weak control environment and possibly of non-compliance.

For more on the new publication and the HCA's operational approach see the Forbes' Blog.

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