Ombudsman calls for Royal Commission for social housing

By William Eichler | 23 January 2024

The Housing Ombudsman has called for the establishment of a Royal Commission to deliver a long-term plan for social housing that tackles social injustices.

The current approach to social housing is not working for residents with a vulnerability and is based on a ‘narrow vision’ of what social housing is for, according to the Ombudsman.

It its latest Spotlight report, Relationship of Equals, the Housing Ombudsman says that the term ‘vulnerable’ is imperfect and needs expanding to include areas like grief and financial distress.

The report also calls for a statutory definition of vulnerability, a renewed definition of general needs, and a duty to cooperate between agencies such as health bodies and social landlords.

Richard Blakeway, Housing Ombudsman, said: ‘The effect of a combined cost of living and housing crisis has put parts of the sector at breaking point, compounded by a narrow vision of what social housing is for; one which is far removed from its conception 150 years ago.

‘This presents choices for government and society, as well as landlords and residents, about what sort of social housing the country wants.

‘This sector has a proud history of tackling social injustice and this housing crisis speaks to new social injustices in health, equality and race and it can rise to this challenge for the benefit of the country. Our calls for a Royal Commission, which is independent of government and not impeded by politics, could be transformative.’

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