Last Friday, we hosted an engagement session with around a dozen tenants in Liverpool as part of the ‘Together with Tenants’ consultation. For two hours we listened, answered questions, and received lots of healthy challenge on all aspects of the plan and the detail of the charter commitments.
Jacqui McKinlay is Chief Executive of Centre for Public Scrutiny
7 March 2019
Overall, the feedback was supportive of the need for all tenants, no matter where they live, to experience a consistent standard of service and to be listened to by their landlords. The group was clear that this needs to be locally owned and the value and benefits that having good relations with tenants bring to landlords. Many had good experiences to share, others talked about the difficulty in getting issues sorted if you don’t know the system. Some talked about complexities around communication when works are sub-contracted or other organisations are involved and the frustration this brings.
When we left, we made a clear commitment that we had heard, listened and would ensure their views shaped the next version of the plan.
“When people talk, listen completely. Most people never listen.”
As this Ernest Hemmingway quote indicates, listening is a skill that many people struggle with, and organisations can find it even more difficult. Providing assurance that it’s worth investing time and effort in sharing your views in these sorts of consultations is vitally important but difficult to achieve. We’ve all had experiences where the consultation is obviously a tick-box exercise in motion, and no-one is really listening or seems to care.
This is however a genuine opportunity to influence what happens next with the plan. As a charity specialising in good governance, we only support where we can see there is a commitment to listen and change – however hard that change may be to bring about. The National Housing Federation is clear that it doesn’t have all the answers. It knows – and we know from our experience – that the only way to bring about change is to be clear how these actions will tackle real problems, for there to be local leadership and ownership, and for there to be true accountability and oversight.
Ways to get involved
There are many ways to get involved and get your voice heard. The more people we hear from, the more diverse voices and views, and the more challenging the questions – the better chance there is that this plan will lead to real change, resulting in a better relationship between all tenants and landlords.
Tenant advisory panel
As well as sharing views on the plan, tenants and residents can also apply to join a tenant advisory panel that will advise, support and challenge the ongoing development of the National Housing Federation’s Together with Tenants work. The closing date is Friday 15 March, It’s easy to apply, and no prior experience of tenant involvement is needed.