The Real Story Behind Social Housing Regulator Referrals
Back in July 2022, the Regulator of Social Housing published the annual Consumer Regulation Review. The report included instances where social housing providers had referred themselves to the regulator because they couldn’t be certain they had carried out all of the required safety checks.
As ever there were specific circumstances behind each of the self referrals. Cases involved fire, electrical, gas, water and asbestos inspections that were incomplete or overdue. Perhaps the most relevant question concerns how these circumstances come about in an age where there’s so much technology to assist the task of recording, sharing and interrogating data.
One recent case of major compliance failure investigated by the regulator revealed, ‘a lack of reconciliation between management systems, meaning the council did not have up-to-date records of health and safety compliance.’ The underlying story here is why there would be different management systems involved, rather than just one.
How to Prevent Social Housing Regulator Referrals
There’s nothing more fundamental to how social housing providers operate than safety compliance data management. Saying that you don’t have confidence that all checks have been carried out is essentially the same as saying that management systems are not up to the task.
New regulations for safety, decent homes and proactive consumer regulation will rapidly become embedded in the near future. It will become progressively more untenable to rely on outdated systems that can’t offer 100% confidence in the compliance status across the entire housing stock in real time.
Confidence in Compliance
Osborne’s Total Asset Management approach to social housing repairs and maintenance is underpinned by robust data and efficient systems. When we mobilise a new contract, reviewing the existing systems to identify enhancements and improvements is always a high priority.
Without the right data you can never have certainty. So the digital transformation team is critical to the success of each new partnership. The scope of their work includes how we communicate with residents, organise our work teams and how we record checks and repairs as soon as they are completed using electronic devices.
Our ‘In-touch’ suite of digital tools for social housing maintenance is based on a standardised Microsoft platform. The products we use are scalable and able to interface easily with our customers’ systems. This helps to speed up deployment and avoid vendor lock-in.
Robust modern technology isn’t the entire story (you still need the right people and processes) but it’s hard to see how large housing providers can be confident of avoiding a referral to the regulator without fully digitising their repair and maintenance operations.