Brent based Registered Providers (RP) delivery of social housing
The purpose of this report is to provide the Housing Scrutiny Committee with an overview of the Registered Providers (RP)s operating in Brent.
At the invitation of the Chair, John Magness (Head of Housing Supply and Partnerships) introduced the report which provided Members with an overview of the Registered Providers (RPs) operating in Brent.
The Committee was informed that there were an estimated 55 RPs operating in Brent ranging from small to large size organisations. A designated team had been set up within Housing Services to manage the relations with Registered Providers (RPs) and seek to develop a more consistent way of developing and managing these partnerships. Discussion were under way to develop a shared code of practice between the Council and RPs as a way of streamlining management standards and ultimately ensuring RPs adhere to and work towards Council objectives. No central depository of RP related information existed which created issues in terms of analysing data but also pinpointing exact location of properties. However, basic performance information was available as well as a central government league table developed by central government which provided some benchmarking data. This created issues both in terms of Members acknowledged existing problems but stated that there had been ongoing communication issues with some RPs thereby recommending the setting up of clearer contact routes in order to simplify signposting and dealing with residents’ queries.
With regards to resident related performance officers explained that the Council was exerting influence where possible vis a vis section 106 but acknowledged that more work was needed and stated that relations were better with those RPs which tended to share Council’s values. A lot of master planning was in place and the aim was to deliver the most affordable housing possible for residents. A key factor in the relationship with RPs was the need to provide more affordable housing for local residents. Some leverage was available in the form of access to land in the borough and Right to Buy Receipts but despite Council’s access to land, RPs offers could not be easily turned away due to the wider access to funds available to RPs which in turn contributed towards alleviate at least in part some of the acute housing problems in the borough. The role of smaller RPs were also acknowledged particularly due to their capacity to provide more specialist accommodation. Viability of smaller RPs scheme was generally safeguarded with any struggling providers encouraged to consider a merger with another provider.
Finally, discussion centred on the RP’s management of service charges. It was explained that service charges were split into 2 types – provision of services and actual charges for works. Officers stated that specific information on service charges was not available but explained these were defined in legislation and RPs were being regulated in similar ways to other housing providers. Any difference were a result of improper management, with any issues flagged up mostly via the complaints channels. Responding to queries on whether the shared ownership policy would include service charges, it was explained that affected properties were likely to be of leasehold character and for them the rent was calculated through a formula. Members heard that discussions were under way on shared ownership policy but it was likely for the management of that to be taken back in-house.
i. That the contents of the Brent based Registered Providers (RP) delivery of social housing report be noted
ii. That a list of Top 20 RPs contact details be compiled and (1) shared with Members and (2) published on the Council’s Housing webpages.
iii. That RP performance is reported to scrutiny on a quarterly basis.