Bernicia leads new consumer regulation pilot programme

Bernicia today welcomed the news that it is one of eight social housing landlords chosen to lead a pilot programme testing new consumer regulation for the social housing sector.

The Regulator of Social Housing today published Reshaping consumer regulation: our implementation plan. This sets out the steps RSH is taking to get ready for the landmark Social Housing Regulation Bill, which has nearly finished its passage through Parliament.

The legislation will bring about one of the most fundamental changes to social housing regulation in over a decade. It will set new expectations on the services that landlords need to provide for their tenants, introduce regular consumer inspections of social landlords and give RSH stronger powers to hold landlords to account.

Subject to the Bill being passed in early 2023 and receiving the necessary directions from government, RSH expects to implement the new approach from April 2024.

The new approach will include inspecting all large social landlords against the new standards, including housing associations and local authorities, every four years. These inspections will build on the regulator’s experience in carrying out its intensive and challenging in-depth assessments for economic regulation.

To help test the new inspection regime, the regulator has launched a pilot inspection programme. The social landlords included in the initial wave are Bernicia, Brunelcare, Cheshire Peaks and Plains, Eastbourne Borough Council, Folkestone and Hythe Borough Council, Guinness Housing Association and Torus62.

Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive of RSH, said: “We are making significant progress in gearing up for new consumer regulation, which will empower tenants and give us stronger powers to hold landlords to account.

“It is vital that landlords get ready now. Tenants deserve quality services from their landlords, and homes that are safe and of a decent standard. Where there are issues, landlords should act to put things right – before we start carrying out our consumer inspections.”

Bernicia Chief Executive John Johnston said: “We welcome the opportunity to be one of the eight social housing landlords participating in this pilot programme.

“As part of the preparation for our in-depth assessment later this month with the Regulator of Social Housing, we expressed how equally important we consider the Consumer Standards to be, and the importance we at Bernicia place on a strong tenants’ voice that works with us to shape services, monitor performance and help guide the overall direction of the organisation.

“ I hope the proactive consumer regulatory regime will give assurance as to the great work the majority of housing associations undertake on behalf of tenants on a daily basis, whilst also driving up standards and holding organisations to account where required”.