Local tenant groups ‘left out’
Regional groups say they have been excluded from Tenant Voice talks
by Clara Story, Inside Housing
Grassroots tenants are being excluded from high level talks about how the National Tenant Voice will function, regional tenant leaders have claimed.
Michael Hall, chair of Leeds Tenants’ Federation, said a 16-strong project group set up by the government to steer the creation of the NTV had become dominated by national tenant groups.
Although two tenant activists have been appointed to the group to represent north and south England, established regional tenants’ bodies have not been invited to take part.
‘This is not a fair, open, democratic process. You are handpicking people for the National Tenant Voice, it is not tenant-led,’ Mr Hall said.
John Conroy, who is representing the south of England on the project group, said he had strong ties with tenants’ groups but acknowledged there were tensions between the national and regional movements.
‘There was animosity between the regional and the national organisations and the regions were left out of the process,’ he said.
Allan Harley, chair of the North East Council of Tenants and Residents, said the group selection process ‘probably wasn’t done correctly’, but called on the tenants’ movement to work as a united front.
Michael Gelling, chair of the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England, said the government offered it three seats because its member groups spoke for 3.7 million tenants. He said that the project group was committed to tenant involvement and called on tenant groups to get behind it, adding: ‘It is much harder to create things than demolish them.’
Mr Gelling admitted the consultation events were arranged in ‘a rush’ against a deadline of handing proposals to the Communities and Local Government department in September.
A spokesperson for the CLG said: ‘There is obviously a limit to the number of members a board can have, but we have worked hard to ensure that the National Tenant Voice project board is as representative as possible.’
Government will help to pick national tenant representatives
by Clara Story, Inside Housing
The government will have a direct say in who controls the new body being created to give tenants a stronger voice, under proposals seen by Inside Housing.
The move has prompted concern from some tenants who believe that the decision should be left solely to tenants and residents.
Under current plans the Communities and Local Government department would help pick the members of an accountability committee for the National Tenant Voice. Members of existing national tenant organisations would also have a say in decisions.
The accountability committee will then help choose who makes it on to a 50-strong council of tenants and a 15-strong executive group – from nominations that will be open to all.
The information emerged in an unpublished copy of the NTV’s set-up plan.
The council would be made up of 26 independent tenants, nine representatives from existing regional groups, 12 from national bodies such as the Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England, and three from the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (England), the report states.
But tenant John Conroy, a member of the project group, called for full elections and said the national tenant organisations were ‘closing the door’ to ordinary tenants.
‘If the National Tenant Voice is going to be set up not with free-thinking people but by people selected by non-tenants, it isn’t a true tenants’ voice,’ he said.
Phil Morgan, chief executive of TPAS, said: ‘We would like to see the majority of the people coming into the council from an open recruitment process. We believe it is very important.’
The document states the NTV’s main activities will be advocacy, research into tenant issues, communication and support for the tenant movement.
The NTV should commission independent research on strengthening the tenant movement nationally and regionally, and consider representing private tenants as well, it adds.
Capita’s 6th National Tenant Engagement Conference brings
together expert speakers from forward thinking organisations at
the centre of the resident involvement agenda.
Chair: Nic Bliss, Chair, Confederation of Co-operative Housing
Richard Crossley - Co-ordinator, National Tenant Voice
Jez Hall - Associate Participatory Budgeting Unit
Stephen Morgan - Head of Community Engagement Team, Royal Borough of Kensington & Chelsea
Lynn Hanson- Customer Involvement Manager, Whitefriars Housing Group
Alan Rickman - Chair, Tenants And Council Together (TACT)
Caroline Field - Director of Community, Engagement The Riverside Group
The Government’s commitment to ensuring tenants are actively engaged in influencing housing services and shaping their communities continues to be realised through the regulatory work of the Tenant Services Authority and the establishment of the National Tenant Voice.
During this crucial time for the sector it is imperative local authorities, housing associations and tenant groups come together to share their views, identify challenges and find a common path leading to service improvement.
This timely event addresses core issues, including:
• Developing partnership working and strengthening communication between tenants, councils and housing providers
• Utilising resident-led self regulation and participatory budgeting to enable tenants to scrutinise services and direct funding in their neighbourhoods
• Empowering young tenants to mould housing services to their needs
• Promoting social inclusion and increasing resident involvement through new technologies
National Tenant Voice Debate
We wait to see what happens to the report from the National Tenant Voice Project Group.
This should have gone to Dept for Communities & Local Government for presentation to ministers during the week commencing 13th October.
An indication of its content was given by an article that appeared in Inside Housing on 10th October 2008 entitled:-"Government will help to pick national tenant representatives."
Well what could be better?
The Cave Review Every Tenant Matters called for:-
"the creation of a national tenant voice to be an advocate for tenants in national debates and undertake dialogue with the government, regulators and providers’ representative bodies, on more equal terms".
There can be no smoother way of handling this than to have Government choose the tenant representatives.
The question now is to whether it is worth maintaining this web site given that there are so many real issues upon which tenants' time could be better spent!
Oh Well! While we are at it, note the input that the Chair of the Project Group, Steve Hilditch, has made that follows the article as seen on the Inside Housing Website and note from the Digest of the 8th NTV Project Group meeting on September 30th. that:-
"CLG will be commissioning research on regional and national structures (tenant organisations?) The remit of this will come to the Project Group".
If and when we have sight of the Project Group's report will we will find that they failed to start by collecting all necessary information, failed to involve all existing players, failed to attempt to ensure that they themselves were representative and failed to address the issue of accountability in favour of being a body that should have corporate responsibility?
Do tenants really need a united single voice that fails to reflect the views of anyone other than those who get to sit on the committee, council or whatever?
Is this any better than what we have had for years?
Aren't tenants' needs better summarised as a need to have their voices heard and to have the resources to facilitate this?
Inadvertenlty Steve Hilditch has illustrated the inherent danger that lies within the National Tenant Voice that his group is apparently recommending.
Each time that representatives of regional and national tenant organisations have met together they have found many issues upon which they agree and can work together by consensus but they lack the resources to develop this activity further.
It would appear that the National Tenant Voice Project Group has consciously ventured into decisons that lie beyond consensus into an area guaranteed to be rejected by any properly constituted tenant organisation.
Just what was the intention behind this?
Is it some naive attempt to demonstrate division amongst tenants where none exists?
But it is Steve Hilditch's reaction to John Conroy's comments that is most unsettling for what it presages for the National Tenant Voice itself. Clearly if the NTV is set up as currently planed and any minority on the council or the executive group dares to speak out for some wild tenant aspiration - such as democracy in this case - then they will be made an example of - told that they are not playing the corporate game.
Could anything else be better designed to ensure that tenants who value representative democracy and accountability will not apply to be considered for the NTV Council?
Sadly it looks as if the NTV will prove to be irrelevant and we must just hope that they do not waste too much of our rents on it.
CLICK ON THE LINK HERE AND JOIN
THE 'NATIONAL TENANT VOICE DEBATE' GOOGLE GROUP:
16 meetings were held at 8 venues around the UK facilitated by TPAS
At the London meetings that took place on Saturday 2008 June 28th. the following 5 part resolution was put to each session and passed by the overwhelming majority of those present.
The following question was asked on behalf of the London Tenant Federation
"There are in existence 6 regional tenant organisations, innumerable citywide, boroughwide, estatewide, landlordwide and more local tenants and residents organisations that are accountable to tenants and leaseholders.
When will these organisations be formally consulted on the formation of the National Tenant Voice?"
The answer received was that all such bodies should complete and return the consultation document that is being forwarded to those who obtain a seat at any of the 16 consultation meetings and available via various web sites.
Taken from http://www.hays.com/jobs/ntv/:
At the heart of National Tenant Voice will be a National Tenant Council of fifty tenants that will meet to debate and discuss key housing policy issues. Twenty-four of the tenants on the National Tenant council will be nominated by existing tenants' organisations. The remaining twenty-six will be recruited. This web-site tells you how you can apply for one of these twenty-six places.
The aim is for the National Tenant Council to reflect the diversity of social housing tenants. It will have on it tenants from local authorities, housing associations, housing co-ops, tenants managed by Arms Length Management Organisations and Tenant Management Organisations, and leaseholders of social landlords. To be really effective it will need to have on it tenants of different ages, tenants from all parts of England, and tenants from a range of different ethnic backgrounds.
There is in place an Accountability Committee to oversee the process of recruitment to the National Tenant Council and the Board. None of the seven people on this committee will be eligible to stand for the National Tenant Council or the Board. They have been chosen by tenants for their integrity and their knowledge and understanding of tenants’ organisations and issues affecting tenants.
National Tenant Voice Project Group
The proposals for the National Tenant Voice have been developed by a project group, set up by Communities and Local Government (the government department responsible for housing). The project group has a tenant majority. The Accountability Committee is a sub-group of this project group.