Social Housing Naming And Shaming: UK Government Snarls, But Doesn’t Bite

This featured image is a thumbnail picture for the Youtube video linked at the bottom of this post.
An early Royal Canadian Mounted Police experiment in "naming and shaming."

Imagine, say, a dozen policemen hiding behind a bus shelter, just beyond a stop-signed intersection. A car drifts through without stopping. A single policeman, hand held imperiously up in to indicate ‘stop’, steps out from behind the bus shelter. The jig is up and the lawbreaker ruefully pulls to a halt, then offers up his name: Reggie.

Immediately, eleven more policeman step out from behind the bus shelter and sing at the top of their lungs, preferably in three part harmony: “Naughty Reggie, too dumb to stop, deserves to be punished — dissed by a cop!

Will this ‘sing a song of sad sacks,’ — the naming and shaming of bad driving actors — sweep lawbreakers off the streets?

Rather doubtful.

A similar uproar is affecting the UK Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities. A 2020 white paper outlines changes to be made to improve the landlord-tenant relationship. A mockery of that relationship was revealed in November 2022, when a coroner attributed the tragic death of a two-year-old boy in social housing to unaddressed mould1.

Today, senior UK government officials are supposedly on the warpath, with Housing Secretary Michael Gove ‘naming and shaming‘ Housing Associations that are lagging in their commitment to respond to social housing tenant complaints.

Naming and shaming?

Does the United Kingdom government really believe that hard-nosed senior executives in Housing Associations, carefully managing their budgets to protect their executive level salaries, will be named and shamed into new and more favourable outcomes for tenants?

Not surprisingly, there has been pushback: “So you want better maintenance and responsiveness to tenants? Give us more money!” Read more about naming and shaming, as well the need for more financial support for repairs at Local Government Chronicle: New social housing repairs ‘need to be funded’, sector says

As well, there is a report from the National Housing Federation, which represents Housing Associations and the Chartered Institute of Housing, which represents social housing professionals. The report, called the Better Social Housing Review identifies seven steps to improve the relationship between tenants and housing providers. The final step is about accountability:

“Housing associations should support tenants and frontline staff to undertake an annual review of the progress each organisation is making”

What are social housing tenants thinking about naming and shaming? Does the Better Social Housing Review go far enough? Inside Housing asked representatives from two groups that represent social housing tenants, the London Tenants Federation and the Social Housing Action Campaign for their views.

The general consensus is that housing associations and their employees haven’t the power to hold bad actors accountable. The tenant representatives prefer to see hard and fast laws backed up by penalties.

You can read more, if you’re lucky2 or have a subscription at Inside Housing: Legislation required to ensure social landlords recognise resident groups, say tenant bodies

Finally, watch an early experiment in police ‘naming and shaming’ courtesy of Monty Python’s Flying Circus and YouTube here


  1. Try: Moulds Don’t Bother Many But For Some In Social Housing They Are Deadly
  2. Inside Housing is parsimonious with its free reads, somewhat hampering those who live in other countries and on other continents in particular. If that’s you, you may find yourself ‘first time lucky’ on the following article.