Previous events

Free Tenant Support Events across Wales

two 3d humans keep gears in hands

By the time these events have come around, we may indeed know the composition of the next Welsh Government with many new voices within it that will help shape future housing legislation, policy and practice across the principality.

So what future can we expect for current and future renters. What of our voice! What legislation, policy and practice can we expect to come through a new Welsh Government, and why is it important to maintain and effective representative voice?

CIH Cymru recently released a statement in preparation for Tai 2016 that reinforces their long held view that “the CIH supports a national, independent cross-sector tenant representative body for Wales”,   further adding that, “partnership working and developing a strong tenant voice are all critical to growing a healthy and resilient housing sector”.

These events will discuss the future of representation, advocacy and support and explore what tenant support could look like in the future.

While we have something to say on these matters – we also want to hear your views, using the events as an opportunity to listen to tenants and landlords and take on board how you want to see a national representative voice develop for all whom rent accommodation in Wales.

These events are free to attend but please book your place, as spaces are limited. There are 12 events in all, as well as opportunities to email us with your views if you are not able to attend.  Venues listed below:-

Haverfordwest Learning Centre, Dew St, Haverfordwest, SA61 1ST – 10:00 – 12:00 on 10th May 2016

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National Library for Wales, Aberyswyth, SY23 2BU – 10:00 – 12:00 on 12th May 2016

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Oriel Davies Gallery, The Park, Newtown, SY16 2NZ – 14:00 – 16:00 on 12th May 2016

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Holyhead Hotspur Football Club, Holyhead, LL65 2YE, 14:00 – 16:00 on 16th May 2016

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Wellington Community Centre, Wellington Rd, Rhyl, LL18 1LE, 10:00 – 12:00 on 17th May 2016

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Maesgwyn Community Centre, Mold Rd, Wrexham, LL11 2AF – 14:00 – 16:00 on 17th May 2016

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YMCA Newport, Mendalgief Rd, Newport, NP20 2HF – 10:00 – 12:00 19th May 2016

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Ebbw Vale Insitute, Church St, Ebbw Vale, NP23 6BW – 14:00 – 16:00 on 19th May 2016

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FOYD, 300 Carmarthen Rd, Swansea, SA5 8NJ – 10:00 – 12:00 on 24th May 2016

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Hafan Cymru, Stephen Way, Pensam, Carms, SA31 2BG – 14:00 – 16:00 on 24th May 2016

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Interlink, 6 Melin Correg, Cardiff Rd, Upper Boat, Ponty, CF37 5BE – 10:00 – 12:00 on 27th May 2016

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The Wallich Centre, Cathedral Rd, Cardiff, CF11 9JF – 14:00 – 16:00 on 27th May 2016

Please complete this  Tenant-Support-Event-Booking-form.docx (87 downloads) and return to Sharon@welshtenants.org.uk

Tenants and landlords are welcome, unfortunately we are unable to pay any travel expenses.

Click here for a copy of the flyer Tenant-Support-Event-flyer-and-booking-form.docx (97 downloads)

Hope to see you at our events.

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Step UP – Tenant Support ProgrammeSet up logo final

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.

  1. 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)
  2. Tenants Sustainability learning materials and resources including the development of mobile applications
  3. 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.

Should you wish to contact us to discuss the programme any further please ask for Steve Clarke on 01685 723922.

Right to Buy / Right to Acquire FREE consultation events for Tenants

TPAS Cymru & Welsh Tenants joint Right to Buy / Right to Acquire consultation events.

We will be holding four consultation events around Wales to enable tenants to explore the Right to Buy/Acquire. To debate its relevance today and to give your views on the Welsh Government’s consultation on The Right to Buy and Right to Acquire.

Over the last thirty years or so, the Right to Buy and Right to Acquire have allowed many tenants to buy their homes from their Local Authority or Housing Association. As a result, a very significant number of publicly-funded homes have passed into private ownership, while the majority are still owner-occupied some have found their way into the private rented sector.

Is it right that we should continue to sell off our social housing assets or, should we reduce the amount of discount available?

Is the current power to suspend the right in areas of high demand sufficient?

What are your views about losing your right to buy / acquire in Wales, while continuing to provide support to first time buyers through the home buy scheme?

These are the questions being asked of the consultation exercise launched recently by the housing Minister. These are the questions the debate will be exploring along with other moral questions around the issue of demand and supply

When and where

  • 30th March at the Llandudno Junction Community Club – this event has been cancelled
  • 02nd April at the Morlan Centre, Aberystwyth, please complete form and forward to Sharon@welshtenants.org.uk
  • 09th April at Tenant Resource Centre, Llanelli, please complete form and forward to gail.lewis@tpascymru.org.uk – deadline for bookings 7th April 2015
  • 10th April at the YMCA Pontypridd, please complete form and forward to Sharon@welshtenants.org.uk

All events start at 10:00 and finish around 13:00, unfortunately we are unable to reimburse any travel expenses for these events, refreshments will be provided on arrival but no buffet will be provided.

You are advised to book early as these events are sure to be an interesting debate.

For further information, please contact either:

Sharon Dean, Welsh Tenants, Milbourne Chambers, Glebeland Street, Merthyr, CF47 8AT tel:01685 723922

or

Gail Lewis, TPAS Cymru, 3rd Floor, Unit Building, 1 Cathedral Road, Cardiff, CF11 9Sd tel: 029 20237303

save the date englishOur next annual conference is on 23rd & 24th September so save the date, further information will be posted shortly.

Welsh Tenants – It’s Good to Rent conference

Tenants are the best barometer for capturing the mood of a sector, so said a group of delegates sitting in the lounge of the Metropole hotel in Landrindod Wells awaiting their transport after the close of conference. They were discussing the sessions facilitated by Michelle Reid, CEO of Cynon Taff housing Group, that discussed the title of the Welsh Tenants conference, It’s good to rent. ‘But that was not the case for all aspects of the sector’ said one of their number. ‘If we don’t hold on and protect what’s been achieved, it can quickly diminish’.

There was a general acknowledgment that the social housing sector had come a long way since the Welsh Tenants was formed in 1988 and indeed since campaigners first raised awareness of conditions and standards of housing in 1977, and indeed since devolution. There was however a concern that there was still a great deal to be achieved, if the negative perceptions of social renting was to be overcome and indeed renting in general regardless of the sector. This positive affirmation of the good that had been achieved needed to be ‘taken up’ by tenants themselves, they said.

The overall conclusion of the discussion was that tenants needed to be better at defending what they see as ‘their sector’ and that needed to be begin with taking ownership of a response to the negative portrayals by the media and, as the session suggested’ more active engagement through boycotting media companies who on the one hand were responsible for ‘benefits street’ and on the other hand the very successful ‘Bake-off’ series fronted among others by everyone’s granny, the sweet toothed Mary Berry. We needed a better “co-ordinated front”.

As one might expect at these events, this was not universally supported. Tenants who had experience of the private sector suggested that we needed to strike a balance between advocating what was good and working to address what was failing. This applied to the challenges we still face in the social housing sector, as well as the private sector.

This was reaffirmed by the session on the challenges the sector faced facilitated by John Puzey of Shelter Cymru, where delegates were asked for example ‘what concerned them most’ from a selection of security, supply, affordability and conditions in the social housing sector. The clear majority was ‘security of tenure’ with supply a close second, however following up on the responses during the breakouts the selection had expressed concern about tenancy sustainment as a consequence of austerity not just the right to stay in your home. This was in contrast to the situation in the private rented sector which was markedly more widespread, with security, affordability and conditions all featuring equally high among their concerns.

In the final plenary session of the two day event, facilitated by Julian Birch tenants were treated to a view of the housing crisis by politicians including Peter Black AM, Jocelyn Davies and Matthew Dorrence (a parliamentary candidate for the labour party). Panel members highlighted the great strides had been taken since devolution with WHQS and stock transfer, that has brought record investments in standards and regeneration opportunities, a focus on empty homes and supply of affordable housing, with a commitment to deliver 10,000 affordable homes looking achievable.

Wales’ first housing act that received royal assent on the day of the debate was also highlighted as a way in which we can do things with greater connectivity here in Wales. The abolition of the Housing revenue account subsidy system and the introduction of self-financing for local authorities, a compulsory a registration scheme for private landlords. All were highlighted as progressive responses to improvements in renting.

But in gauging the mood, over the two days, I got a sense of concern about how tenant engagement was to feature in the maintenance of those achievements and of the role they need to continue to play as we role out ever more changes, and particularly in the ‘third wave’ of tenant engagement as we seek to inform, involve and empower tenants who don’t yet have the structures in place to drive improvements in the private sector.

The right to adequate housing a synopsis by S.Clarke

Citizens of the United Kingdom have a ‘right to adequate housing’. That individual right is contained in many international treaties of which the most prominent is article 11.1. of the Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural rights, of which the United Kingdom is a signatory. Having been in touch with the newly appointed United Nations special rapporteur (SR) for the ‘right to adequate housing’, Leilani Farhar I was encouraged by the messages that she wanted to portray about her mandate.

For those that may not be aware, the United Nations Human Rights Council appoints the special rapporteur, it being the highest human rights body within the UN system. The SR has responsibility to investigate any potential breaches of the covenant and the convention rights – among other duties.

Many tenant campaigners and activists may have given evidence or seen the reports regarding the visit of Raquel Rolnik, Ms Farhar’s predecessor, who visited the UK between August and September 2013 culminating in the presentation of a report to the Human Rights Council, and how that report was responded to in February 2014 by the UK government. During her visit Ms Rolnik took evidence from people impacted by welfare reforms including, bedroom tax, sanctions and those with severe disabilities impacted by changes to disability living allowance following assessments by ATOS.

In the report for example, Ms Rolnik reiterated her press conference call for the ‘bedroom tax’ policy to be suspended and reviewed because it negatively “impacts on the right to adequate housing and general wellbeing of many vulnerable individuals and households”. This being argued as a potential violation of the right to adequate housing under UN treaty ESCR obligations.

Central to that argument were the principle under Human Rights international law of non-discrimination, equality and the principle of non-retrogression. While many human rights challenges have focused on equality and disability and it has been acknowledged have not been very successful, few have used the argument of non-retrogression.

This argument of non-retrogression was reinforced by Ms Farhar in her video presentation to the It’s Good To Rent conference, stating that under international human rights law there is an obligation of ‘non-retrogression’, whereby signatories to the convention are not allowed under any circumstances to introduce, laws, policy’s or programmes that are regressive to the convention rights – “even in a situation of global economic crisis or austerity measures”. The presentation was a fascinating insight into the work of the SR and indeed the mandate.

Ms Farhar, also raised concerns about other principles in international HRC law, suggesting that ‘measures to restrict access to justice in the realisation of the right to adequate housing’ may also be a serious violation of the treaty obligations. Within the discussion there was a commitment to look at how the convention rights are delivered at a subnational level, this being of particular interest to housing in Wales with a commitment to look into a study on the impacts of homelessness as well as any diminution of security of tenure in the private rented sector.

The video presentation and discussions with Welsh Tenants gave a fascinating insight to the meaning and interpretation of convention rights including when devolved to sub-national government such as seen in our devolution context and even local housing authority levels. Further details about the mandate and Ms Farhar’s work can be obtained by contacting info@welshtenants.org.uk

A copy of the conference report will be made available to all delegates via our web site shortly.

As a thank you for attending all delegates have been sent a conference disc with all presentations from the conference. Should you with a copy please contact

Sharon@welshtenants.org.uk or 01685 723922

Bedroom Tax Seminars

Following his successful workshops at our Annual Conference, we arranged for Joe Halewood to provide a series of seminars on the Bedroom Tax.

The benefits of attending would be to learn how to appeal housing benefit deductions due to the Bedroom Tax, Learn the impacts of the Bedroom Tax in Wales, Gain information about Wales Against the Bedroom Tax Campaign, Learn what you can do to get involved and understand the changes to the review and appeal procedures.

Thank you for those who attended.

Comments are closed.

Cardiff Against the Bedroom Tax

When
26 October 2013

Where

Outside Cardiff City Hall

BEDROOM TAX POSTER

Housing in Our Hands

When
19 September 2012

Where

Hotel Metropole, Llandrindod Wells

Destination Unknown - 2011 Conference

When
14 September 2011

Where

Metropole Hotel
Llandrindod Wells

This conference asks the question – What is happening to our social housing?

The focus of the event will be to create an understanding of what is happening now and what may be happening in the future to social housing in Wales, to take forward tenant led recommendations to our Make the Difference –Shape the Change initiative, so that we can influence the policy movers and shakers!
Invited Speakers include:
The Housing & Regeneration Minister, Head of Regulation in Wales and key motivational speakers and facilitators.

Rent Setting Policy Consultation Event

When
08 June 2011

Where

Suite 1,
Sport Wales National Centre,
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff,
CF11 9SW

You may be aware that the Welsh Government have drafted a proposal to set out a revised rent setting regime for Wales to replace the rent benchmark and guideline rent systems. The proposal formed part of the recommendations of the Essex review undertaken in 2009 and have been developed in partnership with the housing sector.

The Welsh Government are keen to get the views of tenants on board in relation to the key principles and the potential impacts the proposals might have for tenants across Wales.

This is your opportunity to help make a difference and shape the change to future rent setting policy for the Welsh Government and for you.

We are pleased to state that there will be no charges for this event, reasonable travel expenses can be claimed from the Welsh Tenants Federation, however we do encourage car sharing and the use of public transport where possible. Book now as there are limited places available.

Best wishes

Gail McFee Chair, Welsh Tenants Federation

Please RSVP to:
Welsh Tenants Federation
Tel: 01685 723922
Fax: 01685 722801
Email: sharon @welshtenantsfed.org.uk