The consultation is seeking registered providers’ and tenants’ views on the new competence and conduct standard

Michael Gove has launched a consultation on the requirement for housing managers to hold professional qualifications, which is set to take effect from April 2025.

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Gove launches consultation on professionalisation of the social housing sector, which he hopes will provide social housing staff with the skills needed to provide tenants with “a high quality, respectful service”. 

The new requirement for senior housing managers and executives to hold an Ofqual-approved level 4 or 5 qualification in housing will form part of the regulator of social housing’s new competence and conduct standard.

The government is seeking feedback on several aspects related to the qualification requirement, including who it will apply to, the criteria that qualifications must meet, what is considered as ‘working towards’ a qualification, the transition period and requirements for housing providers who use housing management services.

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The qualification requirement is expected to apply to senior housing managers and executives who have been in their position for more than six months or nine months, with a probationary period, and have a “substantive role” in delivering services to tenants.

Senior housing managers will require an Ofqual-regulated level 4 qualification, while senior housing executives, those who are part of the provider’s senior management team, will need a level 5 qualification or foundation degree.

The consultation proposes that there will be a transition period of 24 months, beginning the day that the competence and conduct standard comes into force.

The proposals outline that staff are expected to start completing their qualification within six months of enrolment on a course.

If there is a lack of available course start dates, particularly for individuals pursuing a degree-level qualification, the manager would need to start completing the course within 12 months of enrolling.

In terms of exemptions, the qualification requirement will not apply to back-office managerial roles which do not involve the direct delivery of services to tenants.

Those who oversee the housing register or make statutory decisions on homelessness are also not in scope “as these functions are not considered to constitute housing management services”.

In the consultation’s foreword, Gove stated that the government has worked hard to improve standards in the social housing sector since the Grenfell Tower fire in June 2017, “but there is still much for us to do”.

He added that the “wholly avoidable death” of two-year-old Awaab Ishak, as a result of exposure to mould in his housing association flat reinforced the need “to professionalise the social housing sector: to raise standards further, reassure tenants and give them the excellent service they deserve”.

The paper stated that “proposals set out in this consultation should equip all social housing staff with the skills, knowledge and experience needed to provide tenants with a high quality, respectful service - helping to ensure that tragedies like the Grenfell fire and the death of Awaab Ishak never happen again.”

In the run-up to the consultation’s launch, housing professionals told Housing Today that they needed guidance on the competence and conduct standard to effectively plan for the new qualification requirement.

Heather Thomas, chief executive of Sapphire Independent Housing and vice chair of the G320 executive committee, said: “We need the detail and guidance to scope out what training is needed and look at what the appropriate training courses are.”

The consultation opened yesterday and will last for eight weeks until until 2 April 2024.

Responses to the consultation can be submitted by completing the online survey on the government website.