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Tenant involvement could save millions says Communities Minister Stephen Williams

Two new reports show that involving residents in decision making helps improve the standard of housing services.

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

social housing

Communities Minister Stephen Williams last week welcomed 2 new reports that show involving residents in decision making helps improve the standard of housing services, satisfaction, confidence and self-esteem among tenants, and make substantial cost savings.

The ‘Investment not a cost’ report by the National Tenants Organisations with University of Birmingham drew evidence from hundreds of tenants and landlords alongside workshops. Twenty landlords identified specific savings brought about by tenant involvement which amounted to £29 per property annually. If these savings were replicated across all social housing providers the sector could see savings of around £118 million a year.

Getting residents to suggest and shape services, scrutinise existing service providers and new contracts, and help improve governance brought about the most benefit to housing associations and councils.

The summary report ‘Success, satisfaction & scrutiny: the business benefits of involving residents’ from AmicusHorizon and University of Westminster complements and builds on ‘Investment not a cost’. This provides an in-depth review at the organisational level, of benefits of tenant involvement.

The approach to tenant involvement shows resource savings of at least £2.7 million per annum and resident satisfaction with services at 97% - the highest levels of satisfaction of any large housing association in the UK attributed largely to the effectiveness in designing and refining services on the basis of resident input.

Stephen Williams said:

Social housing tenants know their homes and communities better than anyone else and with that insight comes the ability to make a huge contribution to the areas in which they live.

Over the past 5 years we’ve empowered local people with a range of tools to help them run their neighbourhoods and now we can demonstrate that not only is this good for residents but it’s also good for housing associations and councils too.

By giving tenants greater control the sector could create savings of up to £118 million a year helping to create a stronger economy and fairer society at the same time.

We are continuing to invest in supporting social housing tenants to engage in their communities. I’m pleased to be able to agree £165,000 funding to Cabe at the Design Council to work with social housing tenants and landlords. The funding will provide direct support to communities, equipping tenants and landlords with the skills they need for successful community-led development.

Professor David Mullens, University of Birmingham said:

This report provides a call to action to all social housing providers who wish to boost the value for money and responsiveness of their services. We have known for some time the benefits to tenants of inclusion in decisions affecting their homes. This report collates important evidence and useful case studies on the wider business benefits for landlord organisations.

Nic Bliss, Chair of the Confederation of Cooperative Housing said:

The investment not a cost report is important in that it focusses on the excellent work being done by many landlords and tenants to produce positive benefits through tenant involvement, and because it highlights the need for all landlords to be clearer about and articulate the benefits they get from working in partnership with their tenants.

Paul Hackett, Chief Executive of AmicusHorizon said:

‘Success, satisfaction and scrutiny’ represents a fantastic opportunity to showcase what we know about involving residents in our business: the more we do it, the more we raise customer satisfaction and drive down costs. We’re delighted the Department for Communities and Local Government is giving this crucial agenda attention.

Clare Devine, Director of Built Environment and Architecture for the Design Council said:

For Cabe at Design Council working with local communities is key to creating successful places. We are delighted to be working on this exciting programme to help empower tenants and residents to become more involved in creating new housing in their area, and to work with their partners to deliver good quality new homes and neighbourhoods.

Further information

The government’s tenant empowerment programme supports social housing tenants to engage in, manage or control local services. It provides training, funding and support that enables social housing tenants to, for instance, manage a service, or take control of their housing through the Right to Manage. For more information contact tenantempowerment@communities.gsi.gov.uk

Further details of the National Tenant Organisations programme of work can be found at nationaltenants.org.

See further details of the work at Amicus Horizon.

People care about their neighbourhoods and want a say in how they evolve. Figures from the 2013 to 2014 Community Life Survey found that 70% of citizens have a strong sense of belonging to their neighbourhood, 69% of citizens think it is important for them personally to feel they can influence decisions and 63% of citizens say they would be more supportive of house building if local people were given greater control and say over what gets built.

Community rights are enshrined in law by the Localism Act 2011. The first rights came into force on 6 April 2012.

The new programme of work with Cabe, at the Design Council will bring together the available knowledge base and provide direct support to local communities to realise the benefits of community-led development by equipping tenants and landlords with the skills and insight to work with communities to deliver the best possible design for new build housing in a way that empowers the local community.

Further details are available by contacting tenantempowerment@communities.gsi.gov.uk.

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Published 23 March 2015