- Nic Streatfeild
Insights and Inspirations: Our First Social Housing Conference
As relative newcomers to #socialhousing we are excited to have joined the Inside Housing Tenant and Resident Engagement Conference (#treconf) in London. The event brought together practitioners, thought leaders, and individuals with lived experiences in social housing. In this article, we’ll share our reflections on the conference, highlighting the powerful testimonies, regulatory insights, and practical measures discussed by the speakers.
Real Stories: Inspiring Change from Within
The conference began with compelling personal testimonies from Kwajo Tweneboa and Charlotte B., who have first-hand experience with social housing and campaigning for social change. Their stories were both harrowing and inspiring, serving as a poignant reminder of why our work in the sector is so important. We highly recommend seeking out these remarkable individuals and following their journeys.
A Catalyst for Cultural Change
Kate Dodsworth, Director of Consumer Regulation at the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), delivered an excellent session emphasising the upcoming Housing Act as a significant reset of power dynamics between tenants, residents, and landlords. She stressed the importance of using the Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSMs) as a foundation for culture change and continuous improvement, rather than treating them merely as compliance burdens. Kate's vision is to raise the importance of the Consumer Standards even higher. She outlined three essential tests for developing her Regulatory Model:
Making a meaningful difference to tenants: Any regulatory actions should be centred on the well-being and satisfaction of tenants.
Deliverability by landlords: The proposed changes must be feasible and delivered by landlords effectively.
Regulatable by the RSH: The regulatory framework should be enforceable and within the jurisdiction of the Regulator of Social Housing.
Kate also highlighted the importance of robust complaints handling, particularly for small to mid-sized organisations. By offering efficient and transparent complaints management solution and processes, social landlords can foster better tenant experiences and mitigate risks associated with board members' accountabilities.
In the future, the RSH aims to scrutinize TSM scores to ensure they reflect the real-life experiences of tenants. This serves as a reminder that attempting to manipulate or "game" the system will be ineffective and may undermine the credibility of the entire sector. Authenticity and genuine efforts to improve tenant satisfaction should be the focus.
Throughout the conference, repairs and communication were repeatedly mentioned as the two major pain points driving dissatisfaction in the social housing sector.
Louise Taylor from Believe Housing emphasised the importance of adopting a "mix of measures". This approach involves considering various factors, such as complaint handling, transactional surveys, managing customer expectations, TSMs and engagement feedback to improve tenant experience.
Overall, attending the Tenant and Resident Engagement Conference provided us with some really useful insights. The personal testimonies, regulatory perspectives, and practical measures discussed by the speakers reinforced the importance of tenant-centric approaches and robust complaints handling.
Nic Streatfeild is the founder and director of GovMetric, home of the leading Citizen Experience Management solution for the public sector.