'Shared ownership has huge strengths as a product'
The shared ownership charter is the latest in our series of charters which aims to provide a set of shared standards to drive customer service. It has been developed with the support of leading organisations in the National Housing Group, and with input from members.
Shared ownership has huge strengths as a product; it is a real and affordable alternative to the private rented sector, offering households choice and the opportunity to build up equity, as well as providing them with greater security of tenure. When the government set out its ambitions to tackle the decline in ownership, CIH and Orbit called for shared ownership to be a bigger part of the solution. We argued in our first report that we could double the numbers of shared ownership homes to 30,000 a year - this would be a big contribution to the overall number of new homes we need, and provide a solution that would help more households with moderate incomes into home ownership.
There was a challenge though, about how the tenure was viewed by consumers, providers and government. So a key recommendation from the report was to develop a charter, setting out shared standards to ensure a clear and transparent service for customers, and to increase awareness of what shared ownership was and who could access it.
More people are looking at this model as their route into home ownership, as illustrated by the 85,000 approvals year on year. A poll conducted for our second report demonstrated a growing awareness amongst the public about what shared ownership is; 51 per cent of those surveyed correctly identified the product, and 35 per cent indicated their interest in it.
So, as we see providers increase shared ownership as part of their housing offer, as more providers enter the field, and as more households become shared owners, the charter will be an important tool to maintain confidence in the product, across customers, lenders and investors.
Signing up to the charter means organisations are committing themselves to champion and raise awareness of the shared ownership product, and to developing services that balance their business needs with positive outcomes for their customers. There are five core commitments around:
• Making it a corporate and strategic priority
• Understanding the market in which they operate
• Providing an expert, consistent and seamless customer service
• Providing information that is accessible, and communicated clearly and openly
• Being committed to reviewing and improving services delivered to new and existing customers.
Taken together, these commitments add up to a streamlined and consistent service, one that is focused on the customer experience as a shared owner. It also spans the whole customer journey, from the initial marketing and sales process, through to living as a shared owner, including when buying more shares or selling the property.
To find out more about the charter and how you can sign up, joining the 25 sector leading organisations that already have please visit www.cih.org/sharedownershipcharter.