A leading group of industry players have pledged to come together to provide a more transparent and consistent service offer for consumers in shared ownership schemes.
The Shared Ownership Council (SOC) is a cross-industry body committed to building a better shared ownership offer for consumers. The ambition of SOC is to build on the achievements of the shared ownership sector to date, to drive a better consumer experience of shared ownership and support the market growth of the tenure. As of 2023, shared ownership consumer satisfaction was reported to be at 56%, indicating the difficulties consumers face when exploring and entering this form of tenure.
The formation of SOC stemmed from structured research and cross-sector consultation sponsored by Lloyds Banking Group, and led by Peter Williams and, Social Finance, the non-profit dedicated to creating better and fairer outcomes for society. In 2023 they ran a consultation process which demonstrated enduring issues in the sector, such as lack of transparency on fees and repair costs, and inconsistent marketing. Over 75% of consultees agreed on the need for reform and supported the establishment of an industry led framework.
The initial intention of this work is to address the environment within which shared ownership operates and seek to drive consistency in the information available for consumers. This may evolve over time to consider the product more closely following industry and consumer consultation on areas that most need attention. By focussing on the development of improved communications, the Council can enable consumers to be better equipped when exploring the potential of shared ownership.
SOC’s aim is to drive cross-industry improvements in shared owners’ experiences through setting up a voluntary Code of Good Practice. This will be developed by an experienced multi-stakeholder Working Group, and tested with wider industry and shared owners during a consultation phase. The underpinning principle for this Code is to include all organisations involved in shared ownership (lenders, housing associations, intermediaries, and a wide range of other industry participants) and to complement existing initiatives.
Outputs could include giving industry participants the ability to display an adopter badge if they choose to adhere to the Code, and creating a set of resources to help the industry implement the code.
The strategic direction and progress of the Shared Ownership Council will be steered by a Board, comprising of:
- Chair Ann Santry, former CEO of Sovereign
- Brendan Sarsfield, former CEO of Peabody
- Paula Higgins, Founder and CEO of HomeOwners Alliance
- Peter Williams (Advisor to the Board)
The Board is supported by Social Finance. The Working Group is being incubated in the Home Buying and Selling Group (HBSG), a group of industry stakeholders across the property, legal and finance sectors who are committed to improving the home buying and selling process for consumers.
To get involved, or to express interest in becoming a founding funder, contact Ankita.Saxena@socialfinance.org.uk.