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Should we start charging you, asks HCA

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Should we start charging you, asks HCA

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Published by Max Salsbury for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Central Government, Regulation

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The Homes and Communities Agency has published a discussion paper seeking views from providers, tenants, lenders and others on introducing a fee charging scheme for regulation.

The agency says that such a move would bring social housing providers into line with organisations in other sectors where fee charging is common.

The Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 gave the HCA the power to raise fees to cover the costs of its work.

Now it wants the sector to tell if it should switch from the current grant-in-aid arrangement to a system where it recovers part or all of the cost of regulation through fees charged to registered providers.

In line with legislation, the fees system could comprise two distinct elements: a one-off fee for registration with the regulator, and an annual fee to providers to cover the costs of on-going regulation. The discussion document, published today, sets out the HCA's initial thinking and asks 16 questions, including what the sector thinks of fees in principle; the level of any fees and the ways in which those levels might be determined; the timing of fee payments; and any potential impacts on the sector. It also suggests that local authority providers should be fee exempt.

Julian Ashby, chair of the HCA regulation committee, said: “It is common practice for regulated bodies to pay for the cost of regulation, so it is the relevant industry and not the taxpayer who pays. The Housing and Regeneration Act gave us the power to charge fees, but as yet we haven’t used it.

“There are considerable benefits in being part of a well regulated sector, to both providers and tenants, and we are keen to hear the views of the sector.”

What do you think of the HCA's plans? Please add your views below.

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