In a move designed to strengthen tenants’ say in the running of their local communities after the shocking scenes of rioting earlier this month, Housing Minister Grant Shapps today announced new training to give them the skills for running local ‘tenant panels’.
Mr Shapps said that the recent riots showed that when communities come together to take a stand against those inflicting damage and disorder, they can have a real impact; the new training and creation of tenant panels would put powers back into the hands of tenants and give them a greater say on the running of their local community.
And he highlighted how more people came out to clean up after the riots than participated in the riots themselves.
He said that nobody knows their neighbourhoods better than tenants themselves and giving them real power to take control of local housing, could lead to services being better shaped around individual and local needs, benefiting everyone.
New powers in the Localism Bill propose to give tenants the opportunity to lead their local communities and be given a direct say on how the issues that matter most to local people - such as repairs, anti social behaviour and estate management - can be better tackled, by enabling tenant panels to consider complaints before referring them to the ombudsman.
So today, he announced that a registered charity The National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall has been awarded £535,000 to deliver training and support to empower tenants to set up groups to lead on the management of their social housing. The training will focus on developing their skills and confidence to take positive local action to tackle problems that arise in their area. It is expected to deliver:
- at least 1,500 social tenants trained to sit on tenant panels
- at least eight different training courses covering a range of subjects - including sitting on tenant panels, influencing landlords, and sharing information and learning
- seed grants for up to 100 tenants to help them spread learning in their community and kick start local initiatives; and
- opportunities for interested tenants to work towards accredited qualifications, which could help them onto new career paths.
Mr Shapps said that the training would also help develop the skills and confidence of those who attend, putting real emphasis on social housing as a springboard to help people make better lives for themselves and their communities.
The Minister said that the training would complement the great strides that Government was taking to give new power and opportunities to social tenants:
- Tenant Cashback - allowing social tenants to take control of the repairs budgets for their homes
- Right to Manage - allowing tenants to take over responsibility for the management of their homes and estates; and
- National Home Swap Scheme which will make it easier for tenants who want to move, to exchange properties across the country.
Grant Shapps said:
We saw during the recent riots that when communities come together to take a stand against those causing deliberate damage, real action results. In fact, more people came out to clean up after the riots than participated in that appalling behaviour. Residents, including social housing tenants, want to make big positive differences to their communities - and I want to put the powers in their hands to be able to do so.
For too long, when there’s a problem in their area, they have been told to sit tight and wait until action is taken on their behalf. The new powers and skills that tenant panels will bring will instead allow them to take control of their area; putting them at the heart of proposing solutions, and no longer simply putting up with the problems.
I want as many tenants as possible to sit on tenant panels, using their local knowledge to improve their area, and this training will allow them to do so - feeling capable and confident of taking on the challenge, and making a real difference.
Sally Wyatt, Chief Executive Trafford Hall, said:
The National Communities Resource Centre is committed to helping tenants play a lead role in the decisions that affect their communities and we are delighted at this news. The funding will allow us to offer many more tenants the opportunity to get the training and support they need to tackle some of problems that plague their communities and make a real difference at local level.
Notes to editors:
1. In June 2011, applications were invited 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.
2. 22 applications were received and evaluated against criteria such as understanding of the aims and objectives, evidence of ability to deliver a national programme, experience and value for money.
3. 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.
4. The National Communities Resource Centre is a registered charity offering training and support to develop the skills, confidence and capacity of those living and working in low-income areas, to tackle housing-related problems and reverse poor conditions. It was set up in 1991 by Professor Brian Able-Smith, Lord Rogers of Riverside and Professor Anne Power with the aim of providing training and small seed funding grants to community groups to enable them to have a practical and positive impact on their local community.
5. Case studies of training provided at Trafford Hall include:
Beacon Hill Tenants and Residents Association (Sedgley, West Midlands)
Following an anti-social behaviour course, the group, in discussions with the police and other local groups applied for a small grant of £100 so that they could contribute to the cost of alcohol restriction zone signs that would enable the police to legally enforce the ban in the designated area.
Where the alcohol ban has been enforced there has been a reduction in street drinking and most significantly underage drinking. The police have reported a reduction in alcohol related anti social behaviour and there is a feeling that it has helped change for the better the profile of the area.
Brickwell Estate Residents Group (Hull)
- The local Area Housing Board members attended a training course to give them the skills and knowledge to provide an effective housing service. The course covered responsibilities of Board Members, effective committee skills, budgeting and forward planning.
- Following the training Board Members have been able to transfer this learning into their own localities. All those involved will now have better skills and confidence to contribute effectively and make full use of the opportunity that the meetings provide to help improve their local areas.
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