Michael Gove announced on 26 February 2023 that social housing managers must gain professional qualifications. This is part of new amendments in the Social Housing (Regulation) Bill and adds to the general theme of protecting residents and raising standards.
There are a number of planned amendments and the Government’s intention is that this one will “professionalise and drive the culture change needed in the sector, ensuring residents receive a high level of service and are treated with respect at all times. While many managers already provide a high quality professional service, not all do. This will ensure that all managers have the skills and qualifications they need”.
A landlord who does not meet the new requirements could receive an unlimited fine from the Regulator of Social Housing.
What does the amendment require?
The amendment will require senior housing executives and social housing managers across the sector to have, or be working towards, an appropriate level housing management qualification regulated by Ofqual equivalent to:
- a Level 4 Certificate or Diploma in Housing for social housing managers
- a Level 5 Certificate or Diploma in Housing or a foundation degree from the Chartered Institute of Housing for senior housing executives.
What does this mean for employers?
The Government’s press release said this new standard would affect around 25,000 staff. This covers employees who are senior housing and property managers for an RP (social housing managers), and employees who have responsibility for the day to day management of the provision of services connected with the management of social housing provided by the RP and who are part of the RP’s senior management (senior housing executives).
For RPs with existing employees falling within scope who don’t have the relevant qualifications, these employees will no longer meet the requirements of their role. A lack of qualifications would usually result in a capability process which could ultimately result in dismissal, but in this context an RP who dismissed without giving the employee the time and support (financial and otherwise) to obtain their qualification would be at significant risk of an unfair dismissal finding where the employee had over 2 years’ service. Dismissal would most likely only be fair where the employee had been given reasonable opportunity to gain the qualification but had not done so; according to a statement made in the House of Commons, a statutory time limit is going be set for existing employees to complete their qualification.
It should be noted that other amendments to the Bill would also give the power for a register of qualified social housing practitioners to be established, and in turn for people to be suspended and removed from that register.
When is the Bill expected to become law?
The Bill went through the ‘Report stage’ in the House of Commons on 1 March 2023 where MPs had the opportunity, on the floor of the House, to consider the further amendments to the Bill. This Report stage was followed immediately by debate on the Bill’s Third reading. Following the Third reading, the Bill will be in its final stage where amendments can be considered followed by Royal Assent.
As the Bill progresses, we will keep you updated on any developments and any new amendments along with what they will mean for the sector.
For further information, please contact Jane Bowen in our Employment Team.