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.
We wanted to see residents placed at the heart of any new legislation and this certainly goes in that direction.
Mears are pleased with changes to the complaints process (which will be processed better and faster) and 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 we would have gone further in building a comprehensive standards regime. However, we welcome efforts to make it easier for tenants to compare the performance of one landlord with another.
Therefore, Mears chose to create our 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 our successes and failures in resident engagement and responsiveness. Mears is also a leading RSL and welcomes all efforts to raise standards.
Our analysis of the proposed legislation is as follows:
We are disappointed that the new Decent Homes Standard isn't being advanced more quickly, although we are pleased that it will consider some of the factors around the community in which that 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.
We 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.
We fully supported a stronger compliance regime both towards health and safety and consumer standards. We hope 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 4million 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.
Mears Customer Scrutiny Board - An independently chaired panel of customer representatives working alongside the PLC Board and providing oversight, challenge and support to Mears. It will be supported and its independence assured by the Centre for Governance and Scrutiny.
Mears Customer Forums - Thought leader and tactical based virtual forums that challenge and shape current and future thinking, bringing together influencers, clients, customer professionals, key stakeholders, residents and community activists. This forum will create a link between the Scrutiny Board, our online network and scrutiny structures and will be supported by TPAS
Mears Online Customer Network - A virtual online network of residents from around the country, who opt into providing feedback on our services - provide insight into what's important and what's not - offer opinion and suggestions - validate and endorse our thinking/new initiatives.
See our full Your Voice programme here
Our next Customer Forum will be meeting virtually on 10th December and will be discussing the White Paper with experts and residents - if you would like to join please contact us using the details above.