Grenfell should make the sector look again at engagement

Tuesday 29th of August 2017

Tpas Chief Executive, Jenny Osbourne discusses the shift in Government Policy and observes the social housing sector becoming focussed on tenant voice again.


One of the significant changes I’m witnessing from Government in response to the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower is an intense renewed interest from the regulator into not only looking at the safety and security of tenants but also how tenants access and influence quality services delivered by their landlord.


As an organisation dedicated to tenants and landlords working together this is a welcome crucial shift in interest from the regulator and Government.


I don’t think it’s just me that’s noticed this change.  Tap the term ‘resident’ or ‘tenant’ into Inside Housing’s website for example and you’re met with article after article, penned by a range of people and organisations, discussing ideas on what needs to change in social housing.


I would say that the common theme to all these thoughts is the principle that it’s time to listen to more tenants.


The positive indications are that Government is prioritising this and we will continue to press for that.


But I hope our sector embraces this shift to put pressure on ourselves to be better at it.  To talk more with tenants, to engage more with tenants. To work in partnership.


Tpas are built upon this principle and are only too happy to support it in any way we can. 


The past few weeks have been a busy period for us as we’ve met with the Homes and Communities to discuss how tenants can have a stronger voice in policy and regulation, especially about safety.


And despite chief executives obviously looking at the cladding to their buildings and understanding the ongoing safety of their homes , many are also prioritising talking to us to review their current tenant engagement strategies. 


I am thrilled to see the likes of Matthew Gardiner, CEO at Trafford Housing Trust, talking about taking a positive, proactive approach to “unwittingly creating a new operating model...putting their customers and their needs at the front, left and centre” of what they do.


We’re pleased that change is on the horizon and we’ll continue to take a proactive stance in representing and informing the sector and government on modernising tenant involvement delivery. 


But, a little thought for today - Ask yourself these three questions ..


  1. How does my organisation genuinely ensure that tenants are an integral part of improving and monitoring the services they receive?
  2. How does my board, or senior staff, really know what tenants are thinking about the services we provide?
  3. What more could we be doing to enable more tenant involvement, not less?


If you want any help and advice on answering those questions then, as ever, don’t hesitate to get in touch. We’d love to help you and your tenants get engagement right.

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