Where do you want to be on the scale of resident engagement?
Wednesday 6th of February 2019
Our consultancy manager, Emma-Jane Flynn led a research project alongside the Local Government Association (LGA). In this blog Emma talks about what she learnt from sharing good practice around what councils are doing to engage their tenants.
When I received the invitation to tender to work with the LGA to research and develop a report into how councils are engaging with tenants and to promote good practice, I jumped at the opportunity. Partly because I wanted to be able to hear first hand what the state of play is and partly because I wanted to be able to share more good practice around what councils are doing to engage their tenants. Also I was really keen to understand how tenants are really able to effectively influence their services, how they are involved in decisions that are made that greatly impact on them. The critical requirement here was to hear from tenants, involve them in this review- this is right up Tpas street.
Since the fire at Grenfell in 2017, questions have been raised about whether social housing tenants are adequately involved in decisions that affect their homes, particularly when they live in high-rise accommodation. This was a national disaster that has thrust tenant involvement and the tenant voice, amongst other issues into sharp and political focus. I included tenants views on involvement and living in high-rise and views on safety communication and involvement.
Tpas have been at the forefront of the housing minister roundtables, the government wanted to do these as a result of Grenfell; we wanted to do them in respect of the legacy of this tragedy and ensure that tenants had a voice. We do this by tenaciously sticking to our values and advocating day in and day out the value of involvement.
Tpas are really proud to have been at the table for years for lobbying government into creating better regulation and making sure the voices of our members and all tenants are heard.
During this review I met some really engaged tenants and many not engaged at all, staff that were in a jam and staff secure in the knowledge that they are on the right track with it all.
I don't think the findings are that surprising at all, there are some that are doing really well and some that need to get much better indeed.
When tenants/residents have an issue and there is no engagement framework this is now manifesting in the form of feedback, to Tpas or through wider networks, as we are seeing more frequently via social media with posts ‘calling’ out issues in services that were impacting negatively on those who receive them. Some tenants have no other way of voicing their concerns at all this must change.
You know I find that tenants are great in telling you how it is, honestly and from the heart from their experience.
As a landlord you have to ask yourself where do you want to be?
“Senior managers are not visibly involving residents making it more difficult to engage, making us seem like we are not resident friendly”.
“Resident engagement is not a key part of our culture and sometimes there seems a barrier to higher-level management support”.
“Need buy in from management and councillors. They need to understand the value of engagement and how it can link to business objectives”.
“They are good at listening. They are focused into making home better for the future. Also they are diverse and promote inclusion for all not the few”.
“Has started to listen to the tenants and there is improvement on the estate where I reside due to the estate housing manager and new ideas from the council”.
“Listens and engages with customers and supported involved customers”.
Many are doing some really great work and they intend to do better, some who participated in the review felt that there is a lot that needs to get better.
Our message as a result is just that- doing well but can do much better.
Landlords need to make sure that they have this covered. Read the report which contains case studies, findings, tips and self-reflection questions that you need to ask yourselves;
So in summary....
The key to great engagement is a combination of the following;
- has a positive resident centred culture
- has firm foundations and strategic base for engagement
- ensures residents and staff are trained and well resourced
- ensures organisations know who lives in their homes
- has a range of activities to involve residents
- has an effective complaints service
- has effective ways to measure and report on outcomes
- has a wider role in improving communities
For more information about our research services click here