“We must recognise that for too long in our country, under Governments of both colours, we simply have not given enough attention to social housing. It should not take a disaster of this kind for us to remember that there are people in Britain today living lives that are so far removed from those that many here in Westminster enjoy. Just a few miles from the Houses of Parliament and in the heart of our great city—people live a fundamentally different life, do not feel the state works for them and are therefore mistrustful of it. So, long after the TV cameras have gone and the world has moved on, let the legacy of this awful tragedy be that we resolve never to forget these people and instead to gear our policies and our thinking towards making their lives better and bringing them into the political process.”
Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons following the Grenfell Tower Fire (Hansard, 22 Jun 2017 column 166)
A Voice for Tenants (AV4T) was set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower tragedy to seek the establishment of a national body in England to speak on behalf of social housing tenants.
AV4T is not a tenant representative body. It is currently set up as a steering group with one aim – to establish a national body for tenants.
AV4T steering group includes representation from all of the existing National Tenant Organisations from the social housing sector alongside members of the former National Tenant Voice Board and other tenants who have played national roles. AV4T seeks as best it can to reflect the breadth of tenant opinion, but it currently does not purport to be a formally democratic or representative tenant body.
AV4T seeks constructive and positive dialogue with Government, with the national bodies that represent social housing landlords and with others.
AV4T worked in partnership with Government to carry out a series of 12 events to enable the two former Housing Ministers to engage with tenants. Over a thousand tenants participated in this dialogue. Our summary of the issues raised by tenants in the events are set out here.
AV4T has subsequently based its activities on the issues raised by tenants in these events, given that this activity currently represents the only recent event where the views of tenants have been gathered. AV4T shall use its best endeavours to ensure that Government and other housing strategies – including the Social Housing Green Paper – reflect the issues raised by tenants in the Ministerial events.
AV4T’s aim is that there should be tenant-led process to establish a national body to speak on behalf of tenants. The first part of this process needs to be widespread dialogue and consultation with tenants. AV4T has proposed that the Government supports such tenant-led dialogue and consultation. Until this happens, we consider that:
- neither AV4T, nor Government, nor landlord bodies, nor anyone else – is in a position to speak on behalf of social housing tenants
- the Prime Ministerial commitment to bring tenants into the political process will not have been achieved.
AV4T Steering Group currently has 21 members of whom 15 are tenants. It is considered that this number is sufficient for the purposes of the steering group. Our view is that a project to establish AV4T should engage nationally with tenants in a range of different ways. The short-term aim is that many tenants will be able to participate in and influence whatever gets set up in the long term.
AV4T currently has no financial resources. All of the participants in the steering group are acting in a voluntary capacity and have to find their own resources to cover any expenses incurred.
Who forms the A Voice For Tenants Steering Group?
The existing national tenant organisations include:
- TAROE Trust – national tenant charity that works on behalf of tenants living in or seeking to access social housing in England
- Confederation of Co-operative Housing – the UK representative body for co‑operative housing – representing social housing co-operative housing organisations and mutual housing associations (as well as other forms of community-led housing)
- National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations – the representative body for Tenant Management Organisations in England
- Tpas – a social enterprise that provides tenant involvement and community engagement advice and support to tenants and landlords in England
AV4T also includes representation from ARCH (the Association of Retained Council Housing) Tenants Group and the National Federation of ALMOs and the National Communities Resource Centre at Trafford Hall.