The Consumer Standards… and why they matter

The Consumer Standards… and why they matter
10th December 2019 James Calnan
Antony Jones

Like all housing associations, Greenfields must meet the Government’s Consumer Standards. These are monitored by the Regulator of Social Housing, which can act against housing associations and local authorities who don’t meet them. As a Community Gateway association which involves residents as much as possible within the organisation, we took the unusual decision to invite three involved residents to review them standards and discuss whether Greenfields meets them.

Antony Jones, Chair of the Community Gateway Group (CGG), explains all:

“The four standards cover our homes, tenancies, neighbourhoods and communities as well as ensuring tenants are involved and empowered by their social landlord.

Fellow Community Gateway Group members Ken Davies and Maureen Martin and I held weekly meetings with Greenfields staff over a couple of months to review the standards, identify if we meet them and then discuss how. We identified any gaps, got the evidence and presented our collated report to the other Community Gateway Group members.

The good news is that Greenfields meets the Consumer Standards and goes way beyond.

The three of us identified lots of ways Greenfields matches the standards. For example, we said how we exceed the Home Standard through providing homes of a better quality than the Government’s Decent Homes standard and offering Property MOTs.

As tenants, we have a different perspective on the standards compared to how anyone else would interpret them. We enhanced the evidence to show how we meet the standards and exceed them quite considerably.

I’ve visited a lot of other organisations and I’ve friends and families with other organisations, and I can say that this is one of the better ones. I’m able to put my questions forward and I’m listened to, and I believe that’s the case with other tenants.

But I believe the standards themselves, set by central government, need improving. The bar is set far too low, and that was evident in all the meetings. They could put them up six-fold and we’d still meet them, as would many other organisations. They need strengthening and to have more emphasis on those of us living in the properties and what we care about.

Going through these standards was a really worthwhile exercise. If it was up to me, we’d strengthen them and set higher standards every year.”

Read the Consumer Standards here: www.gov.uk/guidance/regulatory-standards