17 April 2013
The Housing Minister, Deputy Andrew Green, has published a note from Professor Christine Whitehead OBE, a leading expert in housing and former Director of the University of Cambridge Centre for Housing and Planning Research, setting out her thoughts on the proposals he has made for social housing reform (P.33/2013).
Professor Whitehead undertook the initial review of the social housing sector and published her findings in 2010. These formed the basis of the Housing Minister’s Housing Transformation Programme which culminated in the Minister lodging proposals for reform which focus on four key areas of change:
- establishing a Strategic Housing Unit (SHU) that would recommend an Island-wide housing strategy that was clearly joined up
- creating an independent regulator to ensure the stock is improved, that social housing providers have high standards and that social housing is financially sustainable for the future
- establishing a new wholly States-owned Housing Company to deliver decent homes for the States owned housing stock with commercial efficiency and enhanced tenant focus
- returning social housing rents to previously agreed Fair Rent Levels (90% of market value) to make the whole sector financially viable and remove the current unintended hidden rent subsidy over time.
In her conclusion, Professor Whitehead said "A careful reading of these documents makes it clear that all the challenges set out in my report have been addressed – through the development of mechanisms to improve strategy, regulation and delivery.
"Equally the recommendations have been properly and fully assessed, taking account of the economic and political environment as well as the objectives of ensuring an efficient and well regulated social sector. In addition there has been careful thought given to the States’ commitment to clarify the policy framework; to fund new investment; and to balance rents and income support policies.
"The result should be a social housing regime which is robust and can ensure independence of management, greater flexibility to address requirements in the most appropriate way; and access to resources to meet future needs."
Deputy Green said "I would like to extend my thanks to Professor Whitehead for taking the time to review my proposals. Her assurance that my reforms do deal with the areas of challenge she identified in 2010 is important and I hope that States members and other stakeholders will find them reassuring."
Professor Whitehead's response