3rd April 2019
Two national strategies that can impact on our work, and the Association is very supportive of, are the National Housing Federation’s (NHF), Together with Tenants and the Rural Services Network’s (RSN), Time for a Rural Strategy.
Recently, and following the tragic events of Grenfell Tower, housing associations have faced a number of questions about their relationship with tenants and residents such as:
- Are tenants and residents listened to when things go wrong with their home or the service they receive?
- Do they have the chance to influence decisions that are made about their home or the services they receive?
- What can they do if they don’t think their landlord is taking their concerns seriously?
The NHF has been working with tenants and tenant representative groups across the country to help understand what practical change might be needed. It is anticipated that a new charter providing greater clarity to what tenants and residents should expect from their landlord will result. A national Tenant’s Advisory Panel will help to steer this work and we have provided information already to our involved tenants and residents about how, if they are interested, they can apply for a place on the Panel.
We like to think, based on the regular feedback we engage in, that more often than not we get our relationship about right however, we don’t get it right all of the time and that means we can still improve. We will look to follow the NHF’s developing plan with interest and implement any practical good practice changes that are recommended to benefit tenants and residents.
The Time for a Rural Strategy call is based around the problem that rural communities are not a focus of Government decision making and are frequently overlooked in a policy environment dominated by urban thinking and urban policy concerns. As a result, areas such as Eden and Cumbria can miss out or experience unintended consequences from policies, which are poorly thought through from a rural perspective. The RSN are calling for action that raises rural opportunities and challenges up the political agenda.
There are many strands to this but from a housing perspective the RSN claim that for every eight rural homes sold under Right to Buy, only one replacement home was built severely depleting the stock of affordable and social rented homes.
A way forward would see planning policy require affordable homes on all small sites and grant programmes that were specifically designed around this. There is a growing demand for affordable homes and we must keep pace with this.
John Clasper, Chief Executive
1 April 2019