Reflecting on policy activity

Tuesday 5th of January 2016

A piece by our Policy Adviser Abi Davies on Tpas policy activity in 2015

As we gear up for Tpas policy work in 2016 I’ve been reviewing what we did and where we played a part over the past year. Against a backdrop of policy announcements that could reshape social housing provision and tenant involvement, 2015 saw some real highs in terms of the level of Tpas involvement with important national agendas.

Gathering and sharing members’ views

We sent responses in to several consultations and inquiries, including on welfare reform, housing association borrowing capacity and pay to stay. We also met with civil servants to discuss Right to Buy, regulation of social landlords, sales of high value council homes, pay to stay and other pressing matters. We discussed tenants’ views directly with associations piloting the new Right to Buy scheme. Social media, online surveys and tried and tested face to face contact were all used to gather members’ views to help develop a Tpas opinion about various policies.

Giving evidence to MPs

We were very pleased to be invited to Parliament to give evidence to a committee of MPs considering the future of housing associations. We were able to directly tell MPs our members concerns about replacing homes sold through Right to Buy and about tenants’ voices being heard as social landlords deal with reduced income and other pressures created by new government policies. This led to some media opportunities, with the chance to remind social landlords to remember the poorest in society and to involve tenants in big business decisions.

Holding other influencers to account

We organised a round table for involved tenants to discuss key housing policies with David Orr, the influential chief executive of the National Housing Federation. Tenants were able to make their views and concerns clear to him and gained a better understanding of why NHF had offered to voluntarily give the Right to Buy. David took some of the views on board and offered to help tenants be heard by government decision makers.

Joining forces for a stronger voice

We worked with Taroe, National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO), Confederation of Cooperative Housing (CCH) and several of our member organisations to showcase the value of tenant involvement to ministers, MPs and social landlords. By doing this we’ve created an evidence base for advocates of tenant involvement to use. We also worked with SHOUT to make the case for social housing in the Spending Review, and to oppose proposals for Pay to Stay. Work on Pay to Stay will continue into 2016, as will a Tpas commitment to championing social housing.

Seeing some results

We told government that the Housing Ombudsman should not be merged with other ombudsman services. Government has listened to this argument and the Housing Ombudsman will continue in its current form, which should protect its focus and strength.

What's next

2016 starts with the Housing and Planning Bill about to be considered by the House of Lords, five housing associations taking applications for the Voluntary Right to Buy, and all social landlords firming up how they will work with the government’s policy framework. There is a lot for Tpas to do, and lots of good work for us to build on!