Mears are very pleased to see the Government has remained true to the spirit of the Green Paper, which sought to answer a lot of tough questions about how we treat residents in this country following the Grenfell fire.
Mears wanted to see residents placed at the heart of any new legislation and this certainly goes in that direction. The organisation is pleased with changes to the complaints process (which will be processed better and faster) and say it is right that residents should be able to go to the Ombudsmen quickly if they feel their complaint is not being heard. Mears called for stronger regulation in the Green Paper and would have gone further in building a comprehensive standards regime. However, they welcome efforts to make it easier for tenants to compare the performance of one landlord with another.
Mears chose to create its own scrutiny system which is independent, and resident led. Chaired by former Chartered Institute of Housing Chair Terrie Alafat, the Mears ‘Your Voice’ Scrutiny Board will be publishing its first independent annual report in the new year, which details its successes and failures in resident engagement and responsiveness. Mears is also a leading RSL and welcomes all efforts to raise standards.
Mears is disappointed that the new Decent Homes Standard isn’t being advanced more quickly, although it is pleased that the standard will consider some of the factors around the community in which the home sits, as well as fuel poverty and carbon reduction. Having one overall target for the creation of new affordable housing is helpful but greater emphasis needs to be placed on providing safer end of life accommodation, given the huge demographic changes that are already happening. Mears would like to see more effort into repurposing buildings to create affordable housing. More opportunities of this type will be created as our high streets change and more buildings become redundant to their original purpose. The organisation fully supported a stronger compliance regime both towards health and safety and consumer standards and hopes the bar is set high for these and that they should apply both to social and to private rented housing.
Alan Long, Executive Director of Mears commented: “These are all very welcome proposals, but we should go further and faster. A renewed Decent Homes Standard could form a massive pillar of the Government’s plans for our low carbon future. We have seen bold pledges on the end of the combustion engine by 2030, yet we feel the Government has missed a trick by not moving faster on energy and carbon emission improvements for over four million social homes.
“It is good to see that the wheels of Whitehall are turning again to deal with big issues outside of the pandemic — we very much look forward to working with the Government to build a genuine tenant-led housing sector which will no longer see social housing as the poor cousin within our national housing stock but an achievement for which we should all be proud.”