On 18th October 2022, the House of Lords debated the Social Housing (Regulations) Bill in its report stage. The Bishop of Chelmsford spoke in the debate, in support of amendments tabled by Baroness Pinnock and by Baroness Hayman of Ullock:
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: My Lords, it is good to see this important Bill continuing its progression through this House. I begin by declaring my specific interests as the Church of England’s lead bishop for housing and as a beneficiary of the Church Commissioners.
I add my support to Amendment 1 in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock. As the energy crisis unfolds, it is surely wise to address the issue of energy efficiency in the social housing sector in a systematic way, by including it as a fundamental objective. Many who live in social homes are among those with the lowest incomes, so they are already struggling to meet their energy bills right now. In addition to immediate relief and support, we also need to address energy efficiency to ensure true affordability in the long term.
Amendment 2, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, would secure continued accountability on progress to remove dangerous cladding and the remediation of fire safety work—an important part of ensuring that a tragedy such as the Grenfell tower fire cannot happen again. As the Archbishops’ commission on housing, church and community rights states in its Coming Home report:
“The Grenfell victims and bereaved families deserve a profound change of culture in the housing sector to make the safety of residential housing stock an absolute priority.”
I also support Amendment 14, tabled by the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman. A government strategy setting out a plan of energy demand reduction for social housing will be a significant step towards reducing energy bill costs and meeting our net-zero targets. Our national commitment to net-zero carbon emissions by 2050 will be achieved only if we are intentional about building to high thermal efficiency standards.
I very much look forward to the Government’s response on these important amendments, and to working with noble Lords across all Benches to address this nation’s housing crisis. Clearly, there is consensus across the House on the importance of addressing the major problems we now face in our social housing sector.
The Lord Bishop of Chelmsford: I rise to express very briefly my support for Amendment 23, in the name of the noble Baroness, Lady Hayman of Ullock. I welcome the Government’s restating at the Bill’s Committee stage their commitment to review professionalisation. However, I want to urge them to accept this amendment, which would help to ensure that appropriate professional qualifications, training and registration are upheld. The challenges we face in the social housing sector require high standards of management which, sadly, we do not always see, and this amendment will help to ensure those.
Extracts from the speeches that followed:
Baroness Hayman of Ullock (Lab): The noble Baroness, Lady Pinnock, opened our debate, and we support her Amendment 2. As the right reverend Prelate the Bishop of Chelmsford said, talking about the continued importance of the removal of cladding and remediation around fire safety continues to keep that accountability on the face of everything that we are doing. We must not forget why we are here with the Bill in the first place.
This amendment would give us a coherent and costed plan for energy efficiency in a sector that needs it very urgently. In view of the support from all Benches—I am particularly grateful to the Bishops’ Benches for joining the political parties—I would like to test the opinion of the House.
You must be logged in to post a comment.