New residents’ pilot scheme in Hampshire takes off

Nearly 200 residents and officers from across Hampshire have celebrated the launch of a unique Residents’ Forum that changes the way they work together to raise housing standards across the county.

The Hampshire and Districts Residents’ Forum is the biggest and only county-wide scheme in England. It represents 100,000 tenants from 10 social housing landlords and is one of 39 national pilot schemes supported by the Tenants Services Authority (TSA), which regulates social housing.

TSA chief executive Peter Marsh, who attended the launch in Southampton, said:  “We are about securing a fair deal for tenants. With a shortage of 1.5 million social housing homes across England, if you are not getting a fair deal you can’t just hand back the key and walk down the road to get a new key.”

He praised Hampshire for getting together in this novel way and added: “I am most proud of creating an environment of empowerment and involvement. To have brought landlords and tenants together has been a remarkable achievement”

The new Forum aims to make residents and landlords equal partners in delivering excellence in service delivery, such as:

  • Involving more residents in the running of their organisation
  • Developing service choices
  • Taking account of different customer needs

For the very first time there will be a single county-wide standard in how housing providers involve residents in determining their local services, and give residents better value for money.

Residents will also be able to compare services from the other landlords - something that has never happened before.

Beryl White, a Winchester City Council tenant is convinced Landlords will deliver on the new standards. She said: “We are all working to the same end, we’re all working together as partners in the forum and we have an equal say in what goes on. Landlords who fall behind will be encouraged to come up to standard.”

Her view is echoed by Sandra Feenan, Group Resident Involvement Manager at First Wessex. She said: “I am so pleased to be part of this project.  I’m amazed at the commitment and the dedication of the residents.

“I think it makes a difference in the residents’ ability to make changes and for us, as the landlord, to listen to them.”