How will London Improve its Social Housing Conditions?
London’s boroughs have come together to transform its social housing stock, following an increasing awareness around issues around mould and damp in homes. Housing Industry Leaders explores the main focuses of the report.

The report, led by the London Housing Directors’ Group and supported by London Councils, is titled ‘Delivering for Tenants: The Foundations of an Effective Local Authority Landlord Service’ and is based on five foundations to support boroughs to better their services.

Together, London’s local authorities let more than 390,000 social-rented homes and provide services to 410,000 leaseholders. However, it is no secret that London needs more and better council houses. This is essential for supporting the capital’s future prosperity and the locals’ well-being.

Different participants need to align behind the same priorities and policies

London’s housing leaders have come together to think about how they can go forward. The report sets out the principles that London local authorities agree should underpin a high-performing council landlord service, and sets out five foundations. These are vision and strategy, leadership, management, performance and compliance, and assurance.

The report stated that focusing on vision and strategy is key to supporting tenants as a clear articulation of what a service aims to deliver and be like in the future brings clarity on what residents can expect.

It said: “It enables different participants to align behind a unity of purpose; shows what priorities, policies and resourcing need to aim towards; and sets out what, in time, elected members will be accountable for delivering.”

With leadership, it is crucial that in a local authority, elected members, senior officers, and managers marshal the efforts of all involved in the council landlord service towards achievement of all agreed goals. In exercising leadership, they set expectations and the tone for the delivery of landlord services.

This brings the report to outlining the importance of management. There must be a huge focus on the ways in which priorities, resources, and staff are coordinated and aligned. Also, there must be a strong bearing on the capacity for operational delivery and achievement of agreed outcomes.

Information available means that action can be taken in good time

The report continued to explain that performance and compliance are key as: “Regular and accurate reporting of performance and compliance with statutory/regulatory requirements enables local authorities to get and share a timely view on progress towards delivery of their own objectives as well as how far they are meeting expectations set by others.”

With information like this at hand, it means that appropriate targets can be set, and action can be taken in good time to keep progress towards achievement on track.

Assurance is the final foundation that the report outlined as one of the ways in which London’s boroughs can focus on delivering for tenants. The delivery of services to thousands of households, within a regulated environment with statuary, moral and fiscal obligations is a complex operation.

Elected members, senior leaders, and operational staff all need comfort that various systems are working as they should, and that objectives and targets will be achieved.

Assurance to the local authority provides evidence of the robustness of processes, the conduct of activities, and the credibility of information.

Councils need to have the intention to grow

It is envisaged that each of the London boroughs will consider and agree on how they will work with the five foundations. Where the foundations are to be adopted, an initial assessment of the starting position can be undertaken and reported.

Each borough should be able to set out where members, senior officers, operational officers, residents, and external parties fit into the creation and maintenance of the foundations.

These five foundations provide a framework for establishing and checking the presence of solid foundations for the effective delivery of local authority landlord services. They allow space for aspiration by councils, and they will be most effective if approached with an intention to challenge and grow.