Change is the word
Wednesday 3rd of August 2022
Tpas Policy and Insight Manager, Caritas, reflects on the Tpas National Conference, and the idea of 'change' in the Housing sector.
I came back from Tpas conference, my first as a fully signed up member of Team Tpas bursting with enthusiasm and energy and with one word ringing in my head: “Change.”
Now for a lot of us in the world of engagement we are more than used to change and more often or not it is a negative one.
We have seen cuts to budgets a lack of resources and at times what has been seen as a mammoth struggle to get the tenant voice heard at all. This year it felt different. It’s felt like in the distance we might find the green shoots of something emerging, something positive. Could we be about to see a new beginning.
Caritas taking a photo at this year's National Conference
Now I know we should approach the new consumer standards regulation with a wary eye. We have seen many false starts before, and we must look at this in the context of the world around us. We have shocking housing stories hitting the national headlines, a cost-of-living crisis coupled with a climate emergency and that is just for starters. But despite all that, the positive is out there, and I find much to be hopeful for. So, to steal the name of a popular song are my “Reasons to be cheerful” when it comes to the new Consumer Standards Regulation.
1. Everyone wants it!
It's rare you find an issue that all political parties, campaign groups, charities and yes landlords agree on, but they do. The only differences are around how far they want it to go and how its measured.
2. Everyone is talking about it
The Tenant voice after what seems like decades in the wilderness is now something on everybody’s lips from magazine specials, seminars, and briefings it is “the” topic of discussion.
3. It's already happening
From a slow and frustrating start, we are now seeing momentum building with consultations on the satisfaction measures, the introduction of tenant advisory panels to legislation going through parliament as we speak. We can see that things will never be the same again.
Kate Dodsworth, keynote speaker at this year's National Conference.
But for those with a sceptical side (I have one too) here are some words of caution. At the same Tpas conference I was excited to deliver a couple of sessions on how “Ready to Regulate” people are and with self-assessments set to start next year here some challenges the two groups highlighted.
Whether tenant or staff member, everybody at the sessions identified communication as the number one hurdle to cross for effective engagement. The regulator will be expecting to see that tenants are fully aware of their rights and how they can have their say and influence the services they receive. Feedback back and how we effectively reach out to those that providers have previously struggled to reach out to will need to be addressed.
Data, Data, Data
With effective communication we need to see a sea change in how we look at the tenant experience of services and how we measure what good looks like. The groups felt we needed to look at all forms of information statistical and experiential. How do we monitor this to ensure that tenants and staff are seeing the fruits of the new ways of working?
It's about Culture
The hardest and most resonant topic at the sessions was on how we create the culture that gives the regulations some significance and impact. Let us be honest with ourselves we have challenges in our organisations to bring everyone on board be it tenant, staff, or board member. It may be for a variety of reasons be it fear, lack of understanding, resource, or indifference. Every person felt they had allies to work with on this but that changing the culture was by far the highest mountain to climb.
Like I said at the beginning I am full of hope and eager to go to get us to that promising horizon. As the new policy and insight manager for Tpas its my job to ensure that your kept abreast of that change and that your views are heard at all levels.
Being part of the Tpas collective family gives us all a very loud voice in shaping what is to come and I for one cannot wait to start.