In many ways it’s a good thing that the majority of UK’s diverse population doesn’t really know what or why Social Housing is. A good thing, because to live in Social Housing is to have deeply painful social needs.
Commercially, suppliers, contractors and other service providers simply think of delivering to such properties as – ‘another paycheque’.
Socially, we (JGF Electrical) take a pride in supporting communities whose needs are greater, and resources weaker, than we would ever hope of requiring ourselves.
That is why our approach to partnering the not-for-profit Housing Associations who operate such schemes, is to do so with extra care and consideration. Our job on site is not unlike supporting Landlords of normal rental portfolios. We test and inspect to British standards; upgrade accessories, consumer units and smoke detection where required; partially rewire or fully rewire properties requiring the upgrades; complete adaptions for social and physical ability needs. And most importantly, complete all certification for a safe home for people to live
More often than not, these properties are occupied and sometimes by people with personal issues and in distress.
Gaining access can even be a challenge. We train our teams to have the highest electrical industry standards. But we also train and develop ‘social experience’, so they extend the supportive hand of polite professionalism at the same time. As, when on site, we represent the Managing Association, this approach is an asset to them and a feather in the cap for us both.
As you can imagine, it’s far from being a bed of roses. Outside of properly managed bona fide Housing Associations, tenants have been treated as second class citizens for whom second and third-rate accommodation ‘will do’.
So disgustingly wrong.
Things are Changing
But, thankfully, things are changing.
In an exclusive interview with ITV News in February, Housing Secretary Michael Gove said he is “ashamed” by the conditions social housing tenants are being forced to live in. He admitted, for the first time, the Government had failed to deliver the reforms promised to tenants after the Grenfell tragedy in 2017. A year-long ITV News investigation has uncovered social housing conditions described as “the worst the sector has ever seen”.
Residents across Britain have shown the mould, damp, leaks, collapsed ceilings and risks of electrocution that blight their lives, despite consistent complaints to their landlord.
Politically, he was able to make such admissions because the Government had already released their White Paper on ‘Levelling Up’ earlier that month.
An article from the National Housing Federation (NHF) sums up the intentions of ‘Levelling Up’:
Key Issues & Actions
Key issues covered in the White Paper are considered under specific headings:
- Regeneration and delivering social housing
- Local government and devolution
- UK Shared Prosperity Fund
- Planning reform
- Resident voice and quality of homes
- Supply of older peoples’ housing
- Next steps for housing associations
The NHF article notes that there are still questions around the details of funding and how the new proposals will work in practice. So, there’s clearly more to come on this and we are grateful to UK Housing for keeping all involved up to speed. And we will be developing what this means to JGF and other specialist contractors supporting Social Housing over the next few months.
The bottom line though is that all involved will have to tighten their grip.
There will be more work needed across the sector to inspect, maintain, upgrade and re-fit, which means greater costs to scheme managers. These costs can be offset against future call outs, if the job is done properly in the first place, and ‘properly’ means far more than just ticking off a number on a job sheet.
‘Properly’ means approaching the service partnership with broader understanding and responsibility from inspection, specification, quotation, stock management, efficiency, installation, re-testing and certification.
Certification itself means more than form filling. We are known across Kent for the quality of EICR Certification and, if it carries our Q1 quality assurance stamp, you will know it’s a job well done. No compromise, just experience, expertise and of course – care.
As you see, it’s a big subject that we will be taking bite-sized pieces from, to digest over the coming months.