I want to take this opportunity to introduce you to the Tenant Sustainment Programme being delivered by the STEP –UP partnership. The STEP Up partnership is a not for profit programme helping to deliver support to tenants and landlords by OCLearn and Welsh Tenants.
We, as I’m sure you do, recognise that change is no longer something that happens, once in a while – change is constant. For landlords this brings new challenges such as managing rent arrears caused by the spare room subsidy, sudden benefit withdrawals, loss of a job, or shorter working hours. There are no more certainties – there are no more guarantees. The new norm is constant change.
No doubt your organisation as with others across Wales, are concerned at the increased pressures now being placed on your tenants and your staff on responding to welfare reforms and cost of living pressures.
We know you are doing a great deal on making sure your tenants have access to information and intervention through enhanced risk profiling and ‘your benefits are changing’ campaign, responding with comprehensive financial inclusion support. But the risks are greater than that. There are other new priorities.
The prevention agenda for example has moved forward considerably with the expectation from the courts that landlords have done everything in their power to prevent the loss of the home. This brings new responsibilities for landlords, identifying risks and helping to mitigate them, risks for their tenants as well as themselves.
With the advent of universal credit, direct payments, further competition in the jobs market, access to work programes and sanctions, wise landlords are preparing their tenants as well as their staff for these challenges. Having the right tools at hand and cost effective ways of helping to deliver them that don’t substantially increase operational costs are imperative.
In our view landlords need to approach the future challenges from two perspectives, first ensuring that new tenants, have the appropriate tools to manage their tenancy, being responsible in managing your investment and being good neighbours and secondly the changing pressures be that welfare reform or loss of income might bring. Proactive as well as reactive tenancy sustainment support should therefore be a clear priority to both help support tenants through crisis and mitigate your risks. This is the new context…
Our STEP UP partnership provides a solution, it equips your intervention team with the tools to better support and enable your renters to manage their homes more effectively.
The Tenancy Sustainability Programme has been designed in consultation with key stakeholders, as a cost effective method for housing providers to prepare, new and vulnerable, tenants for the challenges of managing a tenancy.
The Tenants Sustainability Programme (TSP) is a unique community capacity building toolkit designed to give tenants both the financial and practical knowledge, skills and confidence to successfully manage their tenancy, with particular emphasis on addressing the challenges introduced by welfare reforms.
The TSP programme consists of 3 distinct elements, all of which have been designed in consultation with housing providers, tenant representative organisations, tenants and other key stakeholders.
- Initial Teacher Training for your staff and/or volunteers – focused on delivering a Tenants Sustainability Programme leading to a national teaching qualification (Award in Education and Training AET)
- Tenants Sustainability learning materials and resources including the development of mobile applications
- Quality Assurance is guaranteed through an Approved by Tenants Accreditation Scheme (ATAS).
Tenants and staff members are certificated through ATAS – The quality mark is fully compliant with the Government’s RARPA Quality Standards for Adult and Community Learning and the Welsh Government’s Quality and Effectiveness Framework for Adult and Community Learning.
The quality assurance scheme supports annual external verification of the course delivery through annual regional tenants’ sustainability forums, to share good practice and support tutors continuous professional development, whilst promoting regional and national standardisation of quality across all delivery partners.
People receiving the training can use the skills, knowledge and experience obtained to carry on into, further volunteering, education or existing community and financial inclusion work.
Tom, a tenant participating in the Tenant Support Programme said “It’s taught me things I was unaware of before like energy tariffs and how to save money.
“I also learnt more about my rights as a tenant and what is expected of me and of Tai Ceredigion as my landlord. It was also great to have group discussions about issues with other tenants in similar situations and hear about other people’s point of view.”
This exiting project is currently being delivered by housing providers in Wales, the midlands and the northwest. Please visit Tai Ceredigion Press Release and Coastal Housing website for more information about how the programme is being used to support tenants.
If you would like further information about the project, please ask for Steve Clarke on 01685 723922