Eight social housing providers will be represented on the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government’s (MHCLG) Social Sector (Building Safety) Engagement Best Practice Group.
Each social landlord and a resident from their respective housing stock will attend the group’s monthly meetings, where they will decide short-term schemes to be trialled to improve the sector’s approach to communicating with residents about their buildings’ safety.
The panel will present its findings to the government after six months and these will be used to inform and develop future policy.
The housing associations that make up the group are: Chelmer Housing Partnership, Clarion Housing Group, Optivo, Phoenix Community Housing, Poole Housing Partnership, Sheffield City Council, Stockport Homes Group and Your Homes Newcastle.
It will be independently chaired by Victoria Elvidge, who is a board member of the Leasehold Advisory Service. Two fire and safety experts – Tim Birchall, fire safety technical officer for Bedfordshire Fire and Rescue Service, and Paul Everall, chief executive of the Local Authority Building Control – have also signed up to the group.
The group’s launch comes after the government published its Social Housing Green Paper last August, in which it pledged to set up a pilot with social landlords “who would innovate and trial options for communicating and engaging with residents on safety issues”.
Additionally, Dame Judith Hackitt’s post-Grenfell Independent Review of Building Regulations and Fire Safety, published in May 2018, called on the government to test ways to actively develop tenant participation.
The final report recommended: “The dutyholder for a HRRB [high-rise residential building] should have a resident engagement strategy in place to support the principles of transparency of information and partnership with residents. The strategy should outline how the dutyholder will share information with residents, how they inform them of their rights and responsibilities, and how they involve residents in decision-making on changes to the building that could impact on safety.”
In its response to the Hackitt review last December, the MHCLG confirmed it would set up the group.
Housing minister Kit Malthouse said: “Everyone deserves a safe and decent place to call home.
“As our Social Housing Green Paper and implementation plan set out, we are keen to pilot new and engaging options to ensure social housing residents are better informed on issues that matter most to them – none more so than their safety.
“This new group will see social landlords and their residents come together to explore new ways to trial this that will help inform wider reforms as we look to rebalance the relationship between landlord and residents.”
The new group will meet monthly for the next six months as a pilot and a decision on its future will then be taken accordingly, the MCHLG said.