Housing Minister Grant Shapps has today launched plans to give tenants greater support to hold their landlords to account.
The Minister argued that new locally-run tenant panels will put power back into the hands of residents, helping them to build the Big Society in their neighbourhoods.
Mr Shapps announced plans for an £535,000 residential training programme, to give tenants the confidence and skills they need to sit on tenant panels so they can represent their neighbours and resolve local disputes such as making sure repairs are made efficiently, and that complaints against anti-social behaviour are dealt with quickly.
He launched a mini-competition for charities and benevolent societies to bid to offer the training needed. The funding is expected to deliver:
- at least 1,500 social tenants trained to sit on tenant panels
- eight different training courses covering a range of subjects - including tenant panels, influencing landlords, and sharing information and learning; and
- opportunities for interested tenants to work towards accredited qualifications, which could help them onto new career paths.
This training comes on top of plans for tenants to benefit from support and help from their landlords, who will be expected to work with them to set up tenant panels, and make a wide variety of information available so their performance can be properly scrutinised and assessed.
Housing Minister Grant Shapps said:
Social tenants know when things are going wrong with their neighbourhoods. They should be able to expect local solutions to local problems, and not have to wait for a remote organisation from Whitehall to take over.
I want as many tenants as possible to sit on tenant panels, so they have control over their own homes and their own lives and can use their local knowledge to improve their area. But I don’t want them to feel isolated and unsupported - I want them to have the training and help they need to really make a difference.
That’s why I am calling on charities and benevolent societies to step forward and help to deliver this £535,000 residential training programme, which will strengthen the arm of tenants to hold their landlords properly to account - and become true examples of the Big Society in action.
The Government’s champion for Active Safer Communities, Baroness Newlove said:
I’ve seen willing and able individuals up and down the country wanting to be actively involved in tackling the problems of their communities and improving their quality of life, but not knowing quite how to do it.
For too long they have been passengers, reliant on others, when we need to place them right there in the driving seat, helping to make decisions about the services and issues that concern and affect them the most, such as anti-social behaviour.
Too often, good ideas from ordinary people are lost, so this is a fantastic opportunity to give tenants the confidence and the skills they need to make a real difference, influencing the decision makers and getting knowledge out to communities.
By building a base of knowledgeable people in neighbourhoods who can share and mentor others we will help create that web of active communities that forms the foundations of the Big Society.
Notes for editors
Applications are being sought from charities, benevolent societies and philanthropic institutions, as defined by the Charities Act 2006, for grant funding to deliver residential training to tenants living in social housing.
Residential training provides tenants with the skills, confidence and inspiration to play a more active role in their local community. It can inspire participants to lead change in their local community, including holding landlords to account through tenant panels and other scrutiny mechanisms.
Grant funding of up to £535,000 will be made available from the £8 million Tenant Empowerment Programme, announced in February 2011. This funding is intended to support activities over and above those that landlords should provide as part of their regulatory responsibilities. Funding for residential tenant training is currently provided to the National Communities Resource Centre.
The importance of developing local solutions to tackle tenants’ problems, including an enhanced role for tenant panels, was identified in the Government’s Review of Social Housing Regulation: www.communities.gov.uk/publications/housing/socialhousingregulation.
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