Better Social Housing Review

Government data shows that housing association homes are in a better condition than other tenures and the vast majority are in a good condition. However, there are homes that are falling short of the high standards our sector expects and that our residents deserve. In addition, evidence shows that across all types of housing Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic or disabled people are more likely to live in poor quality homes. 

That’s why in June 2022 the National Housing Federation (NHF) and Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) commissioned an independent panel, called the Better Social Housing Review, to look into issues of poor quality in social housing. We asked them to develop some actionable recommendations for social housing providers.  

We wanted to address urgent issues of quality, learn where things are going wrong, and begin to tackle the root causes of the problem. 

The panel published their findings in December 2022, including seven recommendations for how social housing providers could improve the quality of their homes and customer service. Our members are now implementing these recommendations.  

At the NHF and CIH we’ve developed a joint action plan outlining what we’ll do to work alongside housing associations to support them deliver the recommendations. Structural inequalities, and in particular race, were a core theme throughout the Better Social Housing Review’s report and addressing these are an integral part of our action plan. 

Although the action plan is a long-term piece of work, as a sector we've made good progress so far. In December 2023, we published a progress report with CIH looking at where we are one year on from the BSHR and six months on from the BSHR action plan. The report includes best practice case studies from housing associations implementing the BSHR recommendations.

At the same time, the government has been working to strengthen regulation of the social housing sector through the Social Housing Regulation Act. We are working closely with the DLUHC and the Regulator to ensure all of our actions align with upcoming changes, such as the new Consumer Standards and Decent Homes Standard. In part, our action plan supports housing associations to prepare for these changes. 

The independent Better Social Housing Review panel said that housing associations are ‘under pressure’ and that the government remains responsible for the provision of decent housing nationally. We agree and are concerned that our actions alone will not address the fundamental problem that some of England’s social housing is old, poorly insulated and deteriorating. We look to our partners in the government to support this work with funding, long-term policy and action on regeneration.  

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Recommendations and our response

The Better Social Housing Review independent panel made seven recommendations for the sector – the NHF is leading on work for four of these and the CIH on the other three. See below to learn more about how we are committing to respond through our action plan and check back on this page for more updates soon.

1. Every housing association, and the sector as a whole, should refocus on their core purpose and deliver against it. 

Find out more.

2. Housing associations should work together to conduct and publish a thorough audit of all social housing in England.

3. Housing associations should partner with residents, contractors and frontline staff to develop and apply new standards defining what an outstanding maintenance and repairs process looks like. 

Find out more on the CIH website. 

4. CIH should promote the traditional housing officer role as a supported and valued employment opportunity with a Chartered Institute of Housing recognised programme of training and continuing development.

Find out more on the CIH website. 

5. Housing associations should work with all residents to ensure that they have a voice and influence at every level of decision making across the organisation, through both voluntary and paid roles. 

Find out more.

6. Housing associations should develop a proactive local community presence through community hubs which foster greater multi-agency working.

Find out more on the CIH website.

7. Housing associations should support residents and frontline staff to undertake an annual review of the progress each organisation is making in implementing this review’s recommendations.  

Find out more.

Who are we working with? 

Best practice case studies

We're collecting examples of how housing associations are leading work to improve quality in their homes, to showcase this progress and support other members to meet the BSHR recommendations. 

If you have work that you could share on using the NHF Code of Governance, adopting the Social Housing Anti-Racism Pledge, investing in overcoming cultural and language barriers for staff working with residents, implementing inclusive recruitment practices or involving residents in decision making, please register your interest.