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New housing qualification requirements could cost councils £18m in first two years

Councils could face an extra bill of £18 million to deal with new government housing standards, as revealed by research undertaken by the LGA. 

Councils could face an extra bill of £18 million to deal with new government housing standards, as revealed by research undertaken by the LGA

Good quality social housing is essential for people and local councils will always put residents first, but they are calling on the Government to meet the additional costs for implementing these changes. 

The Government is introducing new standards for the professionalisation of the housing sector under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act, which requires senior housing management staff to complete qualifications up to a certain level.  

The LGA’s research has found the changes are likely to cost councils £17.9 million in the first two years and following that, £3.7 million a year on an ongoing basis.   

The LGA, which represents councils, says these additional costs need to be fully funded by government to prevent costs falling on over-stretched Housing Revenue Accounts (HRAs). 

It is calling for the implementation to be properly managed, with council housing management teams already facing significant workforce pressures, and for the Government to work with the LGA and qualification bodies on a comprehensive strategy, delivered to a realistic timetable. 

In addition, local areas must be able to make their own assessments of roles in scope based on their individual workforce profile.  

The LGA’s new research has also found:  

  • 66 per cent of senior housing managers at respondent councils were not yet sufficiently qualified to meet the new requirements, and 54 per cent of senior housing executives likewise require further qualifications.  
  • 62 per cent reported they would not feasibly be able to ensure 100 per cent compliance with the required level of qualifications within a two-year period, given their current resources.  
  • 80 per cent anticipated great or moderate disruptive impacts on their recruitment and retention of housing officers as a result of the new requirements, while 68 per cent anticipated a disruptive impact on their service provision.

The Act will also include a range of other measures, such as strengthening the role of the Regulator of Social Housing to increase the rights of tenants and enable tenants to better hold their landlord to account on consumer issues, as well as the Ombudsman in dealing with complaints.

Cllr Linda Taylor, LGA housing spokesperson, said:  

“Councils are fully committed to improving the quality of social housing, supporting housing staff and ensuring they receive appropriate training and can gain qualifications to help them in their roles.   

“With costs to councils likely to be almost £18 million just for the first two years, it is essential that these new requirements are fully funded.   

“Councils’ Housing Revenue Accounts are already facing unsustainable financial pressures, and this would be an additional burden which risks impacting on councils’ ability to fulfil their roles effectively as housing authorities. 

“In addition, as our research shows, councils need more time to plan and implement these new requirements that are being imposed on them. This is why it is vital government works with us, and that these changes are carefully and properly managed, while being mindful of the significant workforce challenges housing teams are facing right now including recruitment and retention concerns.” 

Notes to Editors  

In May 2023, the LGA’s Research and Information Team sent an online survey to the Directors of Housing of all English councils which retain directly owned housing stock. This included 259 local authorities, which collectively own approximately 1.59 million housing properties. Local authorities which did not directly own housing stock were not included in the survey. Of the 259 authorities who were invited to take part in the survey, a total of 42 replied – a response rate of 16 per cent.