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Regulator of Social Housing finds “serious problems” at Birmingham City Council

27 May 2023

IN A regulatory notice published on Wednesday 24 May, the Regulator of Social Housing concludes that Birmingham City Council has breached the required consumer standards, including in respect of fire safety-related issues.

The regulator’s investigation has revealed that around 23,000 social homes owned by the city do not meet the Decent Homes Standard. The regulator also found a range of serious Health and Safety-related issues across thousands of homes, including almost 17,000 overdue asbestos surveys, around 15,500 late electrical safety inspections and more than 1,000 fire risk assessments that were overdue, mainly for low-rise housing blocks.

In essence, these failures meant that thousands of council tenants were left at potential risk of serious harm.

The regulator has also identified significant failures in the way the council handles its tenants’ complaints, with more than 1,000 overdue responses. The regulator’s investigation follows earlier external reviews which found that the council’s engagement with tenants was ineffective and that it did not understand or value tenants’ needs.

The regulator expects the council to take urgent action to address these failings and return to compliance with its standards.

Need to act now

Kate Dodsworth, director of consumer regulation at the Regulator of Social Housing, said: “Birmingham City Council has failed thousands of tenants and it needs to act now to put things right. It’s unacceptable that so many of its tenants are living in non-decent homes and that thousands of Health and Safety surveys haven’t been completed. The council also needs to improve the way in which it handles its tenants’ complaints.”

Dodsworth added: “We will continue to monitor the council’s progress while it fixes the problems we found through our investigation.”

The Regulator of Social Housing promotes a viable, efficient and well-governed social housing sector able to deliver and maintain homes of appropriate quality that meet a range of needs. It does this by undertaking robust economic regulation focusing on governance, financial viability and value for money that maintains lender confidence and protects the taxpayer.

Further, the Regulator of Social Housing sets consumer standards. As evidenced above, it may well take action if these standards are breached and there’s a significant risk of serious detriment to current or potential tenants.