Recently, the Welsh Government decided it will no longer continue to provide core funding to the independent representative voice for tenants, Welsh Tenants. Funding will cease in 100 work days, on the 31st March 2017. Although we had an opportunity to bid for project funding, we were unsuccessful.
Rents paid in Wales generates billions to the Welsh economy in the housing association, LSVT and private rented sectors, with increasing amounts not paid wholly through housing benefit. Wales needs a strong consumer advocate voice that gives renters a platform from which to speak collectively.
According to landlords there are 1200 volunteers working for them generating approximately £4.3m of voluntary effort and that’s just those recognised or approved by them. According to recent government backed research, giving tenants an independent voice to challenge service delivery generates around £23million of potential value for money savings annually to the sector in Wales, in addition to the unquantified other social benefits that strong confident communities can bring.
Our role is different to one of supporting tenant involvement through promotion and training. Welsh Tenants is your organisation, its mission is to enhance and promote the rights, representations and housing standards for people who rent in Wales, a role that we will have undertaken for 30 years in 2017. While we support the good work being done in housing, our role is to also challenge decisions and highlight in whose interest decisions are made.
As you already know, for the last ten years, we have seen social tenants demonised, welfare claimants penalised, and paying tenants demoralised, as we argue for a better deal for renters regardless of the sector they are in.
There are now 7.6m people living in the UK below the poverty line (less than 60% of median income), a million more since austerity programmes were announced, with hundreds of food banks having to be set up, and 4.6m working poor struggling to pay rent and other housing costs. Tenure security is being eroded, with greater reliance on insecure forms of tenure with high risks of eviction.
These are national conversations, that need strong representation not just locally, but regionally, nationally, and indeed internationally as a member of the International Union of Tenants. We don’t want landlords to speak for us, we want to speak for ourselves.
We need 108k per annum to continue to provide a basic national representative voice in Wales, that’s 9,000k a month to continue to facilitate that role. If we want to attend conferences, undertake research, provide support to tenant representative structures and provide testimony to people in power. If you believe there should be an independent voice for renters beyond the 100 days remaining, we are ask you to do one thing. Get in touch with us 01685 723922 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or indicate your support here: