Tenant Involvement - Why Bother?

Wednesday 1st of June 2016

Last week I was up on stage at Emirates Old Trafford Cricket Ground speaking at the University of Salford Housing Services Conference. My aim, to persuade housing services staff that in challenging times they should be bothered about tenant involvement.  

Surprisingly, despite talks about welfare reform, innovations in maintenance, customer care and the future of social housing the influence of tenants on the services they receive was well hidden! I am sure many of the organisations at the event do involve their tenants, but it’s funny how when talking about successes the role of tenants in shaping services gets forgotten.

In some organisations there does seem to be a move towards ‘we’ll make the decisions we are the professionals’ with important decisions about cutting or reducing tenant facing services made without tenant involvement. I worry that such decisions may come back to haunt some organisations when they realise the full knock on effects.

I was really relieved to read a piece in last weeks’ Inside Housing by Mike Owen Chief Executive of Merthyr Valleys Homes making the case that tenant involvement will ensure the right decisions are made in tough times. ‘Tenants are best placed to help landlords find ways to cut bills, so why do we shun their involvement?’

As Tpas and the National Tenant Organisations have shown, brilliant tenant involvement is an investment. Involvement done badly can however end up as highly paid staff telling tenants stuff about policy changes they have already made; this really isn’t what it’s about.  Well planned and effective involvement makes use of customer insight, tenant input, co design and tenant testing of services to produce cost effective services that work.

To better develop involvement all staff need to understand the role it can and should play in a successful value for money business. My role as Tpas Training Manager is to ensure we offer the courses that enable tenants and staff to work together to get the best out of involvement.

Courses such as Introduction to Involvement, suitable for all staff and Show the Value of your Involvement are great starting points to make improvements to involvement approaches.  More specific courses such as Planning for Successful Scrutiny and Value for Money  enhance the knowledge and expand the ability of tenants and staff to make a real difference to services.

We offer a range of courses on the Tpas National Training Programme but can run all of these courses and any others designed specifically for you at your organisation.

Contact us to explore your training ideas training@tpas.org.uk or 0161 868 3520.

Val Alker Tpas Training Manager