We need better shared ownership data to improve outcomes for shared owners, and to evidence whether SO subsidy offers taxpayer value-for-money
Date: 6 June 2023
To: Fiona MacGregor, Chief Executive, Regulator of Social Housing
Cc: Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities; Levelling Up, Housing and Communities Committee
Dear Fiona MacGregor,
I am writing to inform you about a new report published by Shared Ownership Resources on 31 May 2023: Shared Ownership: The Consumer Perspective.
The report makes a case for better monitoring data to drive improved outcomes for shared owners, and to evidence value-for-money of the shared ownership scheme to the public purse.
Tenant satisfaction measures
The tenant satisfaction measures (TSMs) recently introduced by the Regulator of Social Housing are clearly a step forward in addressing mounting – and widely reported – tenant dissatisfaction. However, it is noteworthy that none address the issues of most concern to shared owners: the ongoing financial sustainability of total housing costs (including service charges for maintenance and repairs) and transition to full home ownership.
Why this report is topical
The report is extremely topical given the ongoing inquiry by the LUHC Committee into the finances and sustainability of the social housing sector. As explained in Shared Ownership Resources’ submission to the LUHC Committee, the report explores in detail some of the topics addressed in their inquiry:
- the cross-subsidy model
- the desirability of shared ownership for potential purchasers
- the value for money and risk of shared ownership (for shared owners)
- the increasingly complex financial and corporate structures proliferating in the social housing sector
Recommendations addressed to the Regulator of Social Housing
Shared Ownership: The Consumer Perspective is primarily aimed at decision makers in government, its agencies, regulators and housing providers. It makes a total of 18 recommendations, including the following 4 addressed to government and the Regulator of Social Housing:
- The Government and the Regulator of Social Housing should undertake robust data collection, evaluation and reporting on the ongoing financial sustainability of shared ownership
- The Government and the Regulator of Social Housing should undertake robust data collection, evaluation and reporting on the extent of shared owner transition to full ownership
- The Government and the Regulator of Social Housing should undertake robust data collection, evaluation and reporting on transfer of shared ownership properties from social housing stock to the open market, analysing between 100% staircasing by a shared owner who continues to live in that home and simultaneous sale and staircasing transactions
- The Regulator of Social Housing should disaggregate data collection and reporting on shared ownership from the Low-Cost Home Ownership category currently employed, and review tenant satisfaction measures for shared ownership as a distinct category
Shared Ownership Resources was launched in March 2021. One of the aims of the platform is to provide greater transparency on complex issues to assist first-time buyers and shared owners in making informed decisions. I will therefore publish this ‘open letter’ on the website, and will likewise publish your response as and when it is received.
I would, of course, be pleased to discuss further the matters outlined in this letter, and look forward to your response.
Founder, Shared Ownership Resources
Shared Ownership Resources was established in 2021 to champion the interests of shared owners and households considering shared ownership. The project publishes case studies, collaborates with housing, legal and financial experts to offer specialist information and advice; and campaigns for improved transparency and better outcomes and against mis-selling and other poor practices in the sector.