32 people attended the workshop held on Thursday 11th October 2018 at Springwell Gardens Community Centre. This complemented the consultation by Federation volunteers at Rotherham Show in September 2018 and an online consultation by RMBC in September and October 2018.
Rotherham tenants from the Federation have also been involved in discussions on the Green Paper at the ARCH (Association of Retained Council Housing) Conference in Kettering on Tuesday 18th September 2018 and the North East Tenants Alliance meeting in Barnsley on 24th September and as well as Board meetings in August 2018 and October 2018.
Rotherham Federation is pleased tenants for whom social housing is their home are being widely consulted on their views. We also welcome the changed language from Government that recognizes social housing tenants as equals in society. However, we do believe there are too many questions, too much jargon and feel many tenants found it difficult to engage with such a document.
Though the number of questions was overwhelming, Rotherham Federation wish to highlight 4 particular issues in their response to the Green Paper. These are:
Green Paper Workshop 11th October 2018
Question 20: Effective Engagement and Scrutiny
Whilst tenant engagement and scrutiny is of high quality in Rotherham with the recognition by RMBC as landlord of the important role of an independent tenant organisation locally (Rotherham Federation) unfortunately the important role of tenant involvement and scrutiny is not universally recognised by all social housing landlords in England. We believe mechanisms to ensure all social housing tenants have effective means to independently engage and scrutinise their own landlord services is critical.
Question 21: A National Tenant Voice
The Federation believes that the national tenant voice should be recognised as powerful and heard, influencing government policy in all areas affecting communities. It should be an organisation that is involved in potential housing legislation, overseeing the condition of housing, increases in affordable housing, promoting the right to rent and encourage renting as a tenure of choice. It needs to be a key route into government, influencing and shaping government policy
Key would be recognition of the importance of an independent and active tenant movement supporting active tenants and TARAs to have a say. We see that social landlords have a role to support the tenant movement locally which would feed into regional networks like the North East Tenants Alliance. We would expect national government to resource the national tenant voice.
The national tenants voice should be unifying and representing tenants, taking up their concerns with a view of empowering all parties in the aspirations of their quality of life. It will unify tenants federations, regional tenants organisations, supporting good practice and ensuring effective collaboration. It needs to be one voice representing all tenants but recognising the specific local needs of tenants and the different needs in each area and of different individuals.
Representing and providing support to tenants needs to be core to the work of the National Tenant Voice. It will ensure tenants rights are maintained. A key task needs to be communication – both ensuring tenants receive information and their views reach government and key agencies. Tenants need to be told of what is happening. It needs to involve itself and help tenants become meaningfully involved in major consultation activities.
Question 38: Tackling Stigma
Irresponsible reporting in the media unfairly promotes the perception that social housing tenants are troublesome. Some high profile politicians occasionally reinforce this misconception by stereotyping tenants.
The allocation of social housing on the basis of need leads to few homes being let to those without significant needs. The Decent Homes Standard, unaffordable house prices and high quality landlords offering a level of security, means social housing is the tenure of choice for renters.
While social housing is principally used to house those in acute need, social housing tenants will continue to be stigmatised- this will increase as the number of social housing homes decreases and the number of people in acute need increases.
Only a significant increase in social housing number and the accompanying opportunity to house more than just those in acute need, will destigmatize social housing tenants.
Question 45: Extending Supply
Rotherham Federation recognises increased supply of housing is critical to resolving our present housing crisis and must be taken forward developing housing of mixed tenure and ultimately mixed and thriving communities.
Getting Peoples Views 11th October 2018