Consultation on a direction to the Regulator of Social Housing to set a Competence and Conduct Standard for social housing

Closes 2 Apr 2024

Opened 6 Feb 2024

Overview

This consultation sets out proposals for a new Competence and Conduct Standard relating to staff in the social rented sector, including qualification requirements for Senior Housing Managers and Executives.  The proposals address the significant concerns which were raised following the Grenfell tragedy about the professionalism of staff working in social housing. The evidence from the Grenfell Tower Inquiry indicated that tenants living in the tower had not been listened to when they raised concerns and that some staff behaved unprofessionally, treated tenants with a lack of respect, and did not have the skills and knowledge they needed to carry out their roles effectively.  

In 2017 we carried out extensive consultation with tenants across the country to inform the development of our Social Housing Green Paper. As part of this, tenants highlighted issues relating to safety and quality of service within social housing, and said they were not always treated with respect, suggesting that the issues uncovered following the Grenfell tragedy were replicated across the country.

Our consultation led to the Government’s Charter for Social Housing Residents: Social Housing White Paper (2020), which committed to a review of ‘professional training and development’ provision to consider the appropriate qualifications and standards for social housing staff in different roles, including senior staff.

The Professionalisation Review, which concluded in Summer 2022, found that major changes were needed to drive up the professionalism of staff in the social housing sector. The Review heard from some participants that failings in professional standards stem from decisions made at management level. The Review also heard that organisational culture is a key driver of professionalism and high-quality, tenant-centred services, and that senior staff play a significant role in shaping the culture within their organisations. Our engagement with residents prior to this consultation also reinforces our view that the changes needed to raise professional standards must start at the top. 

Overall, the Review highlighted that measures to drive professionalism in the sector should be focused on creating organisational-wide culture change and any qualification requirements should be focused on senior staff. 

Following the Review, we made provision in the Social Housing (Regulation) Act for a new regulatory Standard on staff competence and conduct, including a requirement for Senior Housing Managers and Senior Housing Executives to hold appropriate qualifications.  

This consulation seeks your views on the details of our proposals relating to the broad Competence and Conduct Standard and the qualification element of the Standard:  

  • The broad Standard relating to the competence and conduct of all social housing staff. This includes requirements for Registered Providers to have up to date written policies setting out their approach to managing and developing the skills, knowledge, experience and conduct of their staff, and to adopt and embed codes of conduct.  

  • Who is in scope of the qualification element of the Competence and Conduct Standard, and who is out of scope. This sets out our proposal that those in scope must spend a significant portion of their time exercising their responsibilities for Housing Management Services. In this section, we also seek views on whether the guidance we have set out around the functions of the roles in scope of the requirements is sufficiently clear.  

  • Criteria that qualifications must meet. This sets out our proposals on the level and type of qualifications required, and the course content that must be covered.  

  • What constitutes ‘working towards’ a qualification for the staff of both Registered Providers and Services Providers. This sets out our proposals relating to enrolment and completion of qualifications, and flexibilities to accommodate exceptional circumstances such as when individuals have extended periods of leave or where a lower level qualification is a pre-requisite to a qualification at the required level.  

  • Transition period. Sets out our proposal for a 24 month Transition Period during which Relevant Persons and Relevant SP Managers must begin working towards qualifications, with adjusted time periods for smaller providers.  

  • Transitional arrangements for partially compliant qualifications and apprenticeships. This sets out our proposals for adjusted qualification requirements, which would apply during the Transition Period only, to those individuals who have qualifications which partially meet the qualification requirement, or who have undertaken apprenticeships without a qualification element.  

  • Requirements for Registered Providers in respect of the Relevant Managers of Services Providers. This sets out what Registered Providers must do to bring the qualification requirement to the attention of their Services Providers and take steps to secure that they are aware of their obligations under the implied terms. 

Give us your views