Clause 30 - Performance improvement plans

Social Housing (Regulation) Bill [Lords] – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:00 pm on 29th November 2022.

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Question proposed, That the clause stand part of the Bill.

Photo of Matthew Pennycook Matthew Pennycook Shadow Minister (Levelling Up, Housing, Communities and Local Government)

We welcome the introduction of performance improvement plans as a sensible measure to drive up standards where registered providers are falling short. I would, however, like to raise a few issues in relation to how these plans will work in practice.

We note that the tenant is provided with a copy of the performance improvement plan, which is drawn up where a registered provider has failed to reach a statutory standard for properties under their responsibility, only if the tenant makes a written request for one. Given the strong case for ensuring that all affected tenants know how their landlord is performing and what decisions they are making, we question whether that is sufficient. We note that this matter was also explored during Committee stage in the other place.

In the material it supplied in relation to consideration of the Bill, the Chartered Institute of Housing argued:

“Consideration should be given as to how tenants will be alerted should any poor performance lead to the regulator requiring a performance improvement plan”.

The Local Government Association has also put on record its desire to see the publication of guidance on the regulator’s requirements and timescales for preparing and implementing performance improvement plans.

In the light of these points, I hope the Minister could clarify, either today or in writing—I am happy to take another letter from her—the operation of the provisions in this clause in relation to the following. First, how will tenants be notified if the poor performance of their registered provider leads to the regulator initiating the process of preparing an improvement plan? Will tenants, for example, have the chance to input their views about the problems identified and the measures specified for improvement in these plans?

Secondly, what is the rationale for specifying that tenants can only request a copy of the plan if they require one, rather than being provided with the plan as a matter of course along with any information about what it is, why it came about and what changes they can expect to see as a result—an arrangement that strikes us as more in keeping with the aims outlined in the Government White Paper? Thirdly, is the Minister able to tell us when the guidance on the regulator’s requirements and timescales for preparing and implementing performance improvement plans will be published? Lastly, does the Minister expect that performance improvement plans will be used as a first resort to give underperforming landlords the chance to improve before the regulator considers more punitive measures?

Photo of Dehenna Davison Dehenna Davison Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities)

I am grateful to the shadow Minister for his questions. I will follow up in writing and provide some more clarity. Where there is a performance improvement plan in place, the provider is required to publish that, so it will be freely available to tenants and, indeed, to members of the public.

Question put and agreed to.

Clause 30 accordingly ordered to stand part of the Bill.