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Skills in social housing

The Housing and Regeneration Act (2008) created two new bodies to replace the Housing Corporation. From the 1st December 2008 the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) has dealt with funding and regeneration work and the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) took responsibility for regulation.

The TSA’s focus was on setting a set of national standards that all housing associations and other social housing providers would have to adhere to, based on six key areas:

  • Tenant involvement and empowerment
  • Home (including repairs and maintenance)
  • Tenancy (including allocations and rent)
  • Neighbourhood and community (including anti-social behaviour)
  • Value for money
  • Governance and financial viability

 

These goals placed a greater emphasis on 'community leadership' and 'tenant engagement', making tenant managers take greater social responsibility in helping tenants develop their lives. Following cuts by the new Government is keen to abolish the TSA, with the HCA becoming responsible for fulfilling the TSA’s goals.

 

The TSA’s push for greater accountability of managers meant that a different set of skills were required, resulting in a shift towards more ‘soft’ skills. Whilst housing associations and councils may not have the TSA to report to, specific skills will still be required in order to succeed as a housing or tenant manager.

 

Housing and tenant managers now need to be both more responsive to tenants’ needs as well as be happy to work more closely with them, as such good relationship-building skills is a vital skill for any housing manager.

Whilst not being clear on what changes the HCA may make to the targets originally set by the TSA it was expected that, by October 2010, all housing associations with over 1,000 homes would need to show tenants how well they are progressing to achieve the new standards originally set. As such, good presentation skills have also increased in importance, as well as being able to explain sometimes complex concepts to tenants.

The TSA’s remit had resulted in renovations already being undertaken for existing housing, in order to show sufficient improvements to most homes by the October 2010 deadline set by the TSA. This has created work for skilled tradesmen and the trend looks set to continue, as the new Government continue to support social housing initiatives. In addition, more specialist roles have been grown in prominence. The TSA’s requirements include a greater emphasis on stock rationalisation strategies and sound asset management. Asset managers are tasked with achieving these goals so good asset management skills and sound judgement are desirable skills.

The Government has committed to spending £170 million on delivering 4,000 social rented homes, so the drive to ensure minimum service standards are met in social housing looks likely to continue in the short term at least and look set to continue to offer opportunities for temp semi-skilled and skilled trades and labour work, as well as social housing management roles.

 
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