Tenants to be trained to take control of their neighbourhoods post-riots

Published on Wednesday, 31 August 2011 09:59
Posted by Matthew Abbott

In a move designed to strengthen tenants say in the running of their local communities after the shocking scenes of rioting earlier this month, Housing Minister Grant Shapps today announced new training to give them the skills for running local 'tenant panels'.

Mr Shapps said that the recent riots showed that when communities come together to take a stand against those inflicting damage and disorder, they can have a real impact; the new training and creation of tenant panels would put powers back into the hands of tenants and give them a greater say on the running of their local community.

And he highlighted how more people came out to clean up after the riots than participated in the riots themselves.

He said that nobody knows their neighbourhoods better than tenants themselves and giving them real power to take control of local housing, could lead to services being better shaped around individual and local needs, benefiting everyone.

New powers in the Localism Bill propose to give tenants the opportunity to lead their local communities and be given a direct say on how the issues that matter most to local people - such as repairs, anti social behaviour and estate management - can be better tackled, by enabling tenant panels to consider complaints before referring them to the ombudsman.

So today, he announced that a registered charity The National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall has been awarded £535,000 to deliver training and support to empower tenants to set up groups to lead on the management of their social housing. The training will focus on developing their skills and confidence to take positive local action to tackle problems that arise in their area. It is expected to deliver:

  • at least 1,500 social tenants trained to sit on tenant panels
  • at least eight different training courses covering a range of subjects - including sitting on tenant panels, influencing landlords, and sharing information and learning
  • seed grants for up to 100 tenants to help them spread learning in their community and kick start local initiatives; and
  • opportunities for interested tenants to work towards accredited qualifications, which could help them onto new career paths.

Mr Shapps said that the training would also help develop the skills and confidence of those who attend, putting real emphasis on social housing as a springboard to help people make better lives for themselves and their communities.

The Minister said that the training would complement the great strides that Government was taking to give new power and opportunities to social tenants:

  • Tenant Cashback - allowing social tenants to take control of the repairs budgets for their homes
  • Right to Manage - allowing tenants to take over responsibility for the management of their homes and estates; and
  • National Home Swap Scheme which will make it easier for tenants who want to move, to exchange properties across the country.

Grant Shapps said:

"We saw during the recent riots that when communities come together to take a stand against those causing deliberate damage, real action results. In fact, more people came out to clean up after the riots than participated in that appalling behaviour. Residents, including social housing tenants, want to make big positive differences to their communities - and I want to put the powers in their hands to be able to do so.

"For too long, when there's a problem in their area, they have been told to sit tight and wait until action is taken on their behalf. The new powers and skills that tenant panels will bring will instead allow them to take control of their area; putting them at the heart of proposing solutions, and no longer simply putting up with the problems.

"I want as many tenants as possible to sit on tenant panels, using their local knowledge to improve their area, and this training will allow them to do so - feeling capable and confident of taking on the challenge, and making a real difference."

Sally Wyatt, Chief Executive Trafford Hall, said:

"The National Communities Resource Centre is committed to helping tenants play a lead role in the decisions that affect their communities and we are delighted at this news. The funding will allow us to offer many more tenants the opportunity to get the training and support they need to tackle some of problems that plague their communities and make a real difference at local level."

Source: Department for Communities and Local Government

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