Friday, 1 July 2011

Real action to give tenants more power

The press release below is the next step in our plan to work with people in improving housing - not just for people:

Council tenants are to have more of a say in the way housing services are provided in Reading through a new independent tenant panel.

The tenant scrutiny panel will be made up of Reading Borough Council tenants and will review the Council's housing services, such as repairs, rents or estate cleaning. Tenants will choose what they want to investigate and the panel will look at how well the housing service performs and determine whether tenants are receiving the best value for money by comparing costs with other social housing providers.

The Council is particularly keen to involve tenants who have not been involved before but have ideas and would like to help to improve the service. This will give tenants a real say on how services are run, and challenge the way they are delivered.

The panel will develop a programme of scrutiny work which will be reviewed each year. Priorities for scrutiny will be driven by tenant feedback, surveys and complaints.

Reports, recommendations and progress resulting from the panel's work will be made available on the Council's website and will be also reported in tenants' annual reports.

Rachel Eden, lead councillor for housing and neighbourhoods, said: 'We are committed to ensuring the Council works with tenants, not just for them. The tenant scrutiny panel will be able to hold services to account and will have the responsibility to scrutinise all areas of housing services. By working with the Council, tenants will have a great opportunity to improve services and get value for money for their fellow tenants.'

Maggie Barnes, chairperson of RFTRA, said: 'It is a brilliant idea to have an independent body that can scrutinise all areas of the Council's housing services. The panel provides a way for tenants in Reading to look at how services are run and how they are financed. The tenant scrutiny panel will always be seeking to improve services and ensure value for money for tenants. Tenants should get in touch with the Council and find out more about being involved.'

The new panel will hold a minimum of four meetings a year and will have a range of powers. The panel will commission reviews, call on Council staff to attend meetings, make recommendations for service improvements and check that these are being implemented.

The Council will recruit panel members over the summer and will hold an open day in October with more information on what is involved and how the panel will work. Full training and support will be given to anyone who is willing to give some time to make the housing service better able to respond to the needs and concerns of Reading Borough Council tenants.

In the meantime, anyone who wants to find out more can contact neighbourhood services on 0118 9372161.

The Council's Cabinet committee will hear more information about the introduction of the tenant scrutiny panel on July 11th. Members of the public are welcome to go along and find out more. The meeting will take place in the Kennet Room of the Civic Offices and begin at 6.30pm.