By Alistair McIntosh, chief executive, HQN

“There is no single solution to any problem”Doug Edmonds RIP, formerly of the Audit Commission

We welcome the fact that the government wants to put in place better training for housing managers. Who can disagree with such a laudable aim? But will it bring an end to the sorts of problems we’ve seen at Grenfell, Rochdale and in daily reports from the Housing Ombudsman? No.

The first problem is that the new standard perpetuates the artificial divide between the people working on housing management versus those on maintenance. That distinction makes no difference to tenants. There’s a lot in here about what housing managers must do in all sorts of areas – and the standard goes on to cover the training they need. But when it turns to look at repairs, it’s all about overseeing or commissioning the service. This is a reminder of the client and contractor split from the last century. Surely, we should be trying to break down the silos?

Kate Davies, a former housing association chief, puts it well: “Associations have a disastrous fissure between the tenancy management officers and the property management teams. These two departments work independently with different budgets, time frames, policies and accountabilities.

“The needs of people are segregated from the needs of the home and frequently the customer-facing teams respond to complaints without a full picture of the source of the problem, the history of the property, the investment plan, the attributes and deficiencies of the home or the block.”

At the Grenfell Inquiry staff from the TMO complained about having no technical expertise in house. Bluntly, they didn’t know what they were doing. Kwajo is astonished to discover that the surveyors he meets are not surveyors in any way, shape or form. Professor Mike Parrett complains about the quality of many damp and mould ‘experts’ in the market and calls for more inhouse expertise. Yet, the government’s proposals ignore all of this.

We say YES to improving housing management. But that will have no impact if we don’t up our technical game at the same time.

Then we come to the next obstacle. The RSH’s Sector Risk Profile sets out how hard it is to recruit and retain workers these days. The Times reports that “seven in 10 employers have noted a shortage of all types of candidates, a survey by the Recruitment and Employment Confederation has found”.

The Housing Ombudsman has called for a return to the Royal Commission of 1885 to look for answers. Octavia Hill certainly boosted the labour pool at the time with her woman workers. Should we look harder for staff and be more open minded about who we take on? Of course, we should.

But maybe it’s also time to take advice from one of Doug Edmonds’ colleagues. Paul Ferrari often said there was no problem that couldn’t be overcome by “the scientific application of money”. I fear that higher pay may be a bigger part of the answer than the government hopes.