The Changing World of Scrutiny Event - 17 January 2019
Thursday 24th of January 2019
Emma Gilpin, Neighbourhood Manager from Weaver Vale Housing shares her experience of Tpas's Changing World of Scrutiny event hosted by Cobalt Housing in Liverpool which took place on 17 January 2019.
‘You can go your own way’ (Hang on wasn’t that a song?)
… oh yes but also a good way to describe ‘The Changing World of Scrutiny’ Tpas event held at Cobalt Housing on 17 Jan 2019.
‘There is no right and there is no wrong’ - well there’s a philosophical way to start thinking about Scrutiny! But that’s what sticks in my mind after a thoroughly enjoyable day. It was great to have so many organisations and engaged Tenants giving their views with Tpas Associate, Jackie Grannell, facilitating and keeping us all in line (no easy task!) What a timely reminder of how far we’ve come since 2007 when we first came across the word ‘scrutiny’.
We cantered through the different ways you can manage this most mysterious of topics! Traditional groups are still working like trojans to choose an area of service from data like complaints, then investigate how things are being done and make recommendations for improvement. Groups are doing all this and checking that organisations do what they say they would. The work put in is vast and let’s remind ourselves people are volunteering, so shouldn’t be asked to do the work of staff and must feel they are appreciated and making a difference for all this effort.
Throw in new ways of doing things – the dirty word ‘technology’ (there starts a debate!) It’s not going away and can really help to get different people involved plus there’s the option to have ‘task and finish’ groups where tenants can come in for short periods of time to help out on a topic that interests them.
Wow - a whole smorgasbord of options!
Conversation rightly turned to, ‘well what should we do, what is this mythical best practice’? Is there a template for success? If only life was so easy! We’ve got a Regulator, time to remind ourselves what that Consumer Tenant and Involvement Empowerment Standard says. The answer, nothing too specific, so where does that leave this group of people full of passion and desire to do the best they can? Well fundamentally it’s up to tenants and organisations to do what works for them, exciting but scary too.
I look around the room and remember though - we’re not in it alone. Some great tips come from Tpas along with case studies from other organisations. Focus on outcomes, don’t count numbers think about the changes you recommend that improve things. Do what suits you but keep your principles steady, record how you do it so you can prove you make a difference. You can see what others do – Tpas have a great Resource Hub for members to access on their website. Get ideas from that but don’t be a slave to it.
Oh, and one last thought - what is this ‘scrutiny’? It’s as simple as making sure tenants can look at what an organisation is doing (with access to the right information to do that properly) and be able to recommend improvements. Do that right, making sure they are reporting to Board, and you’re meeting your obligations as a landlord. Even better - it will help you to improve services to Tenants, without whom we wouldn’t exist!