Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Social Housing Standard #1: Tenant involvement & empowerment

In April 2010, six new standards for social housing were introduced by the Tenants Services Authority which regulates social housing in England.

The standards are part of the national regulatory framework developed in collaboration with tenants, local authorities, housing associations and other partners.

The standards are designed to help improve the services provided for the eight million people who live in social housing in England.
We know that where performance is poor or involvement is weak, this can have a significant negative effect on tenants’ lives. Where this is the case, we will expect speedy self-improvement and where this is insufficient, we have a new graduated range of enforcement powers to ensure that tenants get a fair deal.
The standards apply to all registered providers of social housing in this area, both large and small - including EastendHomes

This post highlights what the standard relating to Tenant involvement and empowerment says about the:
  • required outcomes - what they social housing providers have to do; and 
  • specific expectations - specific performance measures for assessing whether or not providers are delivering what are required to do

    Required outcomes

    Specific expectations

    Customer service, choice and complaints
    Registered providers shall:

    • provide choices, information and communication that is appropriate to the diverse needs of their tenants in the delivery of all standards
    • have an approach to complaints that is clear, simple and accessible that ensures that complaints are resolved promptly, politely and fairly  
    Customer service, choice and complaints
    Registered providers shall provide tenants with accessible, relevant and timely information about:

    • how tenants can access services
    • the standards of housing services their tenants can expect
    • how they are performing against those standards
    • the service choices available to tenants, including any additional costs that are relevant to specific choices
    • progress of any repairs work
    • how tenants can communicate with them and provide feedback
    • the responsibilities of the tenant and provider
    • arrangements for tenant involvement and scrutiny

    Providers shall offer a range of ways for tenants to express a complaint and set out clear service standards for responding to complaints, including complaints about performance against the standards, and details of what to do if they are unhappy with the outcome of a complaint.

    Providers shall inform tenants how they use complaints to improve their services.

    Registered providers shall publish information about complaints each year, including their number and nature, and the outcome of the complaints.

    Providers shall accept complaints made by advocates authorised to act on a tenant’s/tenants’ behalf

    Required outcomes

    Specific expectations

    Involvement and empowerment
    Registered providers shall support co-regulation with their tenants by:

    • offering all tenants a wide range of opportunities to be involved in the management of their housing, including the ability to influence strategic priorities, the formulation of housing-related policies and the delivery of housing-related services  
    • consulting with their tenants and acting reasonably in providing them with opportunities to agree local offers for service delivery
    • providing tenants with a range of opportunities to influence how providers meet all the TSA's standards and to scrutinise their performance against all standards and in the development of the annual report
    • providing support to tenants to build their capacity to be more effectively involved
    Involvement and empowerment
    Registered providers shall consult with the tenants on the desirability and scope of local offers in relation to services to meet the following TSA standards: Tenant Involvement and Empowerment, Home and Neighbourhood and Community. In providing opportunities for tenants to agree local offers by no later than 1 April 2011 they shall offer commitments on:

    • local standards for performance
    • how performance will be monitored, reported to and scrutinised by tenants
    • what happens if local offers are not met (including procedures of redress)
    • arrangements for reviewing the local offers on a periodic basis

    Registered providers shall enable tenants’ opportunities to scrutinise the effectiveness of their policies in relation to tenant involvement.

    Registered providers shall inform tenants about the results of their consultations on issues related to the standards.

    Registered providers shall consult with their tenants, setting out clearly the costs and benefits of relevant options, if they are proposing to change their landlord or when proposing a significant change in their management arrangements.

    Registered providers shall consult tenants at least once every three years on the best way of involving tenants in the governance and scrutiny of the organisation’s housing management service. They shall ensure that any changes to tenant involvement in governance and scrutiny leads to an enhancement of the overall effectiveness of their approach.

    Required outcomes

    Specific expectations

    Understanding and responding to the diverse needs of tenants
    Registered providers shall:

    • treat all tenants with fairness and respect
    • demonstrate that they understand the different needs of their tenants, including in relation to the seven equality strands and tenants with additional support needs

    Registered providers shall set out in an annual report for tenants how they are meeting these obligations and how they intend to meet them in the future. The provider shall then meet the commitments it has made to its tenants. Registered providers shall take the obligations of the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard into account in setting out how they are meeting and intend to meet all the other TSA standards.
    Understanding and responding to diverse needs
    Registered providers shall demonstrate how they respond to tenants’ needs in the way they provide services and communicate with tenants.

    We understand that the Mile End Estate Managment Board may be concerned about how MERA has been promoting tenant involvement and empowerment in relation to making sure that the required standards for planning permission, planning conditions and planning enforcement are observed within the MERA area.

    MERA will always seek to ensure that all bodies providing regulated services in this area observe all the requirements of relevant legislation, regulations and standards which have been set up to protect the interests and amenity of local residents.

    In doing so MERA will certainly not limit itself to planning legislation and regulations.

    MERA will also scrutinise the way social housing providers operating in Mile End comply with all relevant legislation, regulations and standards - in particular the six social housing standards.

    Subsequent posts will hightlight the other five social housing standards.

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