Support for Tenant Participation: Priorities and Shape of Future Provision Report

In the autumn of 2013 the Welsh Government commissioned a report to gauge stakeholders views on the progress made in relation to its tenant participation policy. This study ‘Support for Tenant Participation: Priorities and Shape of Future Provision’ has been undertaken against the backdrop of fiscal constraints and evolving policy approaches.

In conducting the study, we welcome the examination of the Welsh Governments own approach against other countries in the UK, in addition to the funding it provides the Welsh Tenants, TPAS Cymru and the Tenant Empowerment Grant Fund, and of course the direct positive outcomes tenant involvement has achieved at local levels with the support of social landlords.

We are pleased to see the continued commitment by the Minister to the tenant involvement policy, albeit under a tighter fiscal regime. It was also useful to have acknowledged the role each has played in helping to deliver improvements in tenant involvement across Wales and the acknowledgment that they are very different.

Although the funding landscape has and is changing still, the support requirements of people whom rent, have not. Those that wish to get involved require extensive support to understand, articulate and jointly and commonly resolve problems that impact on them and their community.  In this respect landlords alone are not always best placed to provide that support to tenants.

It is critical that tenants continue to have access to independent support to engage with wider public policy issues such as affordability, welfare reform impacts, building the right homes in the right places among others. History proves that decisions are often best made when service users are able to shape them; this is true of national decisions as well as local ones. However, we acknowledge that how we meet the needs of a very different and diverse renter in the future requires a different way of working, one in which we at the Welsh Tenants have embraced.

The collaborative agenda and putting tenants at the heart of decision shaping is akin to turbo boosting service user involvement with tenants requiring new skills. Techniques such as tenant scrutiny, tenant challenge processes, using complaints and reparations as an improvement tool, dealing with antisocial behavior and getting more young people (including women) involved in helping to shape housing services and supply, all require considerable effort and support, these are mutual aspirations common to all.

We do of course welcome the continued commitment of the Minister to support tenant involvement that has been so influential in helping to shape housing provision in Wales over the past 25 years. We also applaud the recommendation to extend the parts that have worked well, to other parts of the housing sectors.

But we are also realists; we recognise that we will need to deliver more with less going forward, and that that process requires better, smarter collaboration with like-minded organisations that support our mission. For us this does not mean withdrawing core support but being more innovative about how we share key resources and bring others on board to help deliver in a society that will require a greater emphasis on self-help. To do that well takes time and considerable effort.

Time is moving on, and while much has been achieved in many aspects of housing, we are just beginning on the journey of emerging challenges in many different parts of the housing sectors. Developing systems and taking the time to properly examine, measure, evaluate and share learning, will require imagination and joint responsibility by all.

It would be a mistake to conclude that the job is done, or that the roles that organisations play is less important now than it was yesterday, despite the scarcity of resources. This is an important function that needs to be properly resourced to do the job well. In that respect the support offered to help re-shape tenant support here in Wales is welcomed but we must ensure that we do not inadvertently undermine the huge gains achieved by the collective tenant voice in that journey.

The summary and full reports can be found here:

http://wales.gov.uk/statistics-and-research/support-tenant-participation/?lang=en

For further information please contact:

Tenantiaid Cymru / Welsh Tenants

Twitter: welshtenants