Tuesday 6th of September 2022
We know it’s only your first day in the job with an extensive to do list, but we thought we would drop you a line to introduce ourselves and share some concerns. We are Tpas, England’s leading engagement experts and have been since 1988. We promote, support and champion tenant involvement and empowerment in social housing across England.
Can we be frank - as an organisation are extremely concerned and we know a lot of our nearly 300 members are as well. We are living in troubling times that are causing real anxiety for people. You promised yesterday that you would “deliver” for the country. Well on behalf of the 3million plus social housing tenants that our members work with and serve daily we wonder if you would deliver on their concerns:
Cost of Living
It’s getting harder for all of us to survive from week to week with everything costing more. We have been talking to tenants who are really fearing this winter and the choices they may have to make. This is before you even factor in the new rents for social housing tenants which for many could mean the difference between heating their home or providing food for themselves and their families.
Liz, we need some security that energy bills are not going to keep going up and up and we need support to pay them now. Many tenants are on prepayment meters which are punishingly expensive and need to be changed. With regards to rents, we need a settlement that is fair and for that we need additional support. Tenants and landlords can only do so much and without some assistance from you we face an uncertain future.
We know you’re a big fan of people owning their own home. But for so many that’s not even an option and for a growing number having anywhere to live at all is increasingly difficult. For many social housings is not about being the only option but an option of choice, a choice where people are proud of where they live.
Social housing has huge issues. The abject lack of it for one thing, the need to repair and modernise properties being another. One thing that isn’t an issue though are social housing tenants themselves. Liz, we are afraid that many people make assumptions about those living in social housing. They presume for example that everybody is unemployed when in fact the vast majority are in work. People claim areas of social housing have high levels of crime which isn’t necessarily the case either.
Liz, these stereotypes are harmful as they are a barrier to people’s life choices and create division in communities. We work with some amazing tenants in some fantastic neighbourhoods who collectively are creating communities that are vibrant, safe, and welcoming to all. We would love you to use your role in challenging this stigma and those who preach it. You’re welcome to come with us and meet people living in social housing and see for yourself that we are all more than just a lazy and cruel label.
Now we can say that your predecessors have done some positive work in this area. It may have taken longer than we like and may not contain everything that’s needed, but it’s a good start. Now you’re in charge we need you to keep a steady course on this and pick up the pace. We need the Social Housing Regulation Bill to become law as soon as possible. We also need you to listen to the amendments and suggestions coming from other political parties and organisations such as Shelter.
Ensuring that tenants have a say and can influence the services they receive is vital if we are to avoid the tragedies of the past and the ones that are ongoing. Surely that’s something we can all agree on, right?
It’s important to have all this in place for people locally but we need a strategic approach too. Please continue to deliver on your promise to listen by supporting and resourcing a national voice for tenants. You will then have a valuable new partner to work with, a critical friend to ensure we create a better future for housing.
Most of all Liz we need to be reassured by you that you are firmly behind change, that you expect the social housing sector to embrace the fact that the consumer standards are as equally critical to success as those around finance and governance.
We won’t take up any more of your time, but I hope you take on board our concerns and realise that by working together we can achieve more and create a better future for all.
Yours in hope,