Together with Tenants sends a clear message that residents’ voices will be listened to

I was pleased to read about the Together with Tenants plan and delighted my landlord, Optivo, volunteered to get involved at an early stage, as an ‘early adopter’. As a resident, this sends a clear message about my landlord’s commitment to ensuring residents’ voices are heard.

Margaret Ashmead is an Optivo resident

Margaret Ashmead is an Optivo resident

6 March 2019

It feels like resident engagement is now at the forefront of everyone’s mind. In August last year, I was lucky enough to be part of a visit Optivo hosted for James Brokenshire, Secretary of State for Housing. It was the same day as the launch of the Social Housing Green Paper. It was fantastic to have the opportunity to ask questions and hear other residents’ views. This was later followed by a series of roadshows by Kit Malthouse, Housing Minister. It’s great that the Government wants to listen to the people that really matter and that our views are being taken on board.

The Together with Tenants plan is an important next step. It asks for a real commitment from housing associations. This commitment is important, as it helps build trust in their relationships with residents.

I’m also pleased to see the proposal to update the Federation’s Code of Governance, to make boards more accountable to residents. Along with the Together with Tenants Charter, this is a flexible way to ensure landlords must evidence how they’re achieving this.

At Optivo, as well as having resident board members, we have board representation at the Local General Panels. These panels are part of the formal scrutiny structure, where residents look at local service delivery and performance, then work with staff to make improvements. I find this extremely effective, as often board members only get to hear about the big stuff and the resident voice can get lost. This way, the board members also hear what we’re saying ‘on the ground’ and this is fed back into the board. This is an example of something we’re already doing, and I look forward to exploring more ideas as part of being an early adopter for the plan.

The consultation for the plan is still open. I encourage all residents to take part. It’s a simple online survey, which should only take you five to 10 minutes to complete. Let’s all take that time to have our say and ensure the plan has the full backing it deserves.

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