News story

Support for social tenants to have their say on local services

Housing Minister Mark Prisk today launched a new training programme designed to put power firmly in the hands of social tenants.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

Keys

He launched the £1.2 million Tenant Training and Support Programme to give residents the skills they need to hold their landlord to account, whether on their own, by setting up a tenant panel, or by taking over the management and maintenance of their homes and neighbourhoods themselves.

The boost in funding will offer a way for residents to ensure they get the service they deserve and that landlords offer the best possible value for money.

Mr Prisk said this new training programme would empower residents to take the first crucial step to having the necessary know-how to use their powers and take control in their neighbourhoods.

Empowering tenants

Run by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service, the programme offers advice, training and support to tenants by:

  • bringing tenants together from different neighbourhoods to discuss their experiences and inspire new tenant panels
  • helping individual tenants to engage with their landlords on a range of issues and services
  • offering face-to-face training with expert advisors for around 5,000 tenants
  • providing a tenant training programme to help them make the most of the powers they have, from accredited courses to local training systems and e-learning

By doing this, new and existing social tenants will be equipped with the skills they need to engage and negotiate confidently with their landlords.

They will also be able to sign up to Community Cashback, which enables tenants to take over the management of their neighbourhood, from overseeing maintenance and minor repairs to signing up new contractors to run cleaning services.

Mark Prisk said:

“Communities across the country want to use the powers they have to ensure their needs are reflected in the services they receive. But many simply lack the confidence to challenge the people in charge.

“That is why we’ve put this new tenant training scheme in place, helping make their voices heard and giving people the skills they need to ensure the changes that matter to them are made.

“And by playing this enhanced role tenants can help landlords improve the efficiency of local services and their work will help inspire even more communities to take control.”

Steve Meakin, Tenant Participation Advisory Service chair said:

“This is exactly the programme we’ve all been waiting for. I urge any tenant who wants to be involved and make a difference in their community to get in touch and take advantage of the free support and training on offer.”

Examples of effective tenant involvement

Helena Partnerships has set up the tenant-led customer excellence panel to challenge their landlord on performance and service delivery. It sets its own review programme, commissions mystery shoppers and has unfettered access to Helena’s performance and complaints information, customer surveys, activity-based costing and customer insight data.

The panel carries out tenant-led peer reviews and hosts a series of webinars to engage with other organisations involved in scrutiny.

It works closely with Helena’s young inspectors - a group of under 25’s who play an active role in testing and challenging services while gaining transferable skills for employment.

The panel’s work has been responsible for a number of practical changes to Helena services to reflect the needs of tenants and delivered value for money savings, including tailored rent statements, extended repairs appointment times and changes to the complaints service.

In Tower Hamlets, Poplar HARCA (8,500 homes) is committed to helping social tenants to play a key role in their local housing. Recognising the benefits of tenant empowerment, the association enables democratically elected residents to monitor services on each of the association’s 12 estates, where they have delegated budgets enabling them to make community improvements. Additionally, tenant board members scrutinise the association’s policies and initiatives, challenging senior managers and making recommendations for improvements.

Residents can also use their local knowledge to try to resolve complaints about the association’s services. A youth empowerment board has been set up, comprising 30 young people drawn from across the estates, to ensure that the views of young people are heard. In total, over 300 residents are directly involved in decision making, performance monitoring and complaints handling at the association.

Further information

The tenant empowerment programme is designed to inspire tenants to lead change in their communities by having the skills and confidence to scrutinise, influence and control local services through tenant panels and other scrutiny mechanisms.

Grant funding of almost £1.2 million will be made to the Tenant Participation Advisory Service to deliver a training and support programme. For further information on the programme visit their website.

Follow DCLG’s Tenant Empowerment Team on Twitter (@TenantPower) for all the latest news and updates on this programme and other activities to empower the lives of social tenants.

Published 7 January 2013