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18/06/2010

A farewell to the pink campervan?

It appears that the Tenant Services Authority is living on borrowed time and is on route to being the shortest lived social housing regulator ever, having got its full powers only in April 2010. There will probably be an announcement at the Chartered Institute of Housing conference, next week.

See this interview with Grant Shapps, Housing Minister, which strongly suggests that the oversight of housing association governance and finances will go to the Homes and Communities Agency, while the tenant services regulatory aspect will go… well nowhere much:

[T]he framework developed by the TSA to ensure the provision of excellent tenant services will remain – indeed, Mr Shapps claims to ‘agree with virtually every word’ in the 86-page document which he describes as ‘great work’. However, complaints that cannot be resolved by a landlord will escalate to an elected local official such as a councillor or MP, before heading to the, existing, housing ombudsman service as a final resort.

Mr Shapps admits that several details of this new system have yet to be worked out so it is unclear whether the ombudsman would take on any statutory powers, or rather refer intractable cases to the CLG and Mr Shapps. ’ I think there is a system of tenant empowerment here that could go way beyond the incredibly complex structures that the TSA envisages,’ he says, ‘and would bring power back home for tenants.’

Note also that the manifesto promise to leave security of tenure alone, might not be quite as, well, secure as all that. Mr Shapps announced in the House of Commons last week that reducing social housing waiting lists was a priority and this ‘…may include looking at tenure for the future’.

Giles Peaker is a solicitor and partner in the Housing and Public Law team at Anthony Gold Solicitors in South London. You can find him on Linkedin and on Twitter. Known as NL round these parts.

5 Comments

  1. Penny

    I interviewed Grant Shapps last year. Ever seen the excellent Tim Robbins film ‘Bob Roberts.’ About a sinister right wing politician hiding his rabid tendencies beneath a veneer of down-home affability? That’s Grant Shapps, that is. It was all too obvious that despite the empathy with the homeless, the idea that he would intervene to protect people as opposed to rolling back the ‘big state’ was quite apparent.

    Reply
  2. S

    The TSA lives. Or so I am lead to believe by my localaw updater.

    On 1 July, it was reported in the Financial Times (a paper I don’t purchase and one that is behind a paywall I am lead to believe so no link I’m afraid) that the treasury have blocked the move to abolish the TSA.

    I quote from the update:

    “Moves by the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Eric Pickles, to abolish the Tenants Services Authority (TSA) have been blocked by the Treasury amid concerns that its closure could put the financial capacity of housing associations, which hold GBP 50 billion of private borrowing, at risk. Instead the Government announced that a review of the TSA should form part of the autumn spending review with any change to its structure being subject to value for money and the delivery of affordable housing.”

    Reply
  3. NL

    Yes – it appears Shapps has somewhat overreached himself and been slapped down. Announcing that the TSA was ‘toast’ before putting any solid plans in place for what happened next was never a good move. But, I wouldn’t put an awful lot of money on the TSA’s survival, even so.

    Reply
  4. simply wondered

    penny – i’m afraid i must have missed mr shapps’ ‘veneer of down-home affability’. just looks like another tory red in toth and claw to me. right with ya on the rest though!

    Reply

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