Category: All, Customer Engagement, Social Housing
Resident Involvement is the term used in the UK social Housing sector to describe a range of activities in which housing providers engage with their residents, to help facilitate improvements to the services they provide.
Such activities can range on a continuum from resident engagement and awareness activities, focus groups and tenant scrutiny panels, to more time intensive activities such as setting up resident neighbourhood inspectors, helping residents gain the skills to become resident board members and enabling tenant management of services (e.g. repairs).
Resident Involvement is performed for a variety of benefits. Benefits include; driving service improvements, enhancing accountability to residents and providing social value to individuals and the communities they live in.
Resident Involvement the Historical Context
Resident Involvement has been on the Social Housing Agenda for many years. The original legislation giving tenants a legal right to be informed and consulted about matters relating to their housing management dates back to Housing Acts in the 1980’s. In 2000 Tenant Participation Contracts (TPCs) were introduced and required council landlords to describe how they would involve their tenants in decisions involving their homes and communities. Around this time the Audit Commission was used to carry out inspections on housing providers. One of the key areas they looked at was Resident Involvement. This provided a strong drive at the time for housing providers to deliver and evidence their resident involvement activities. However with the change of government and the disbanding of the Audit Commissions role in housing in 2010, a more self-regulatory approach within organisations occurred.
Resident Involvement and Current Legislation
In 2010 the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) became the overarching regulator of social housing. Current legislation published by them (HCA, 2012) states that Registered Providers should ensure that tenants are given a wide range of opportunities to influence and be involved in; a) the formation of policies, b) setting standards for service delivery, c) scrutinising performance, d) suggesting improvements, e) managing their homes and services where applicable and f) agreeing local offers for service delivery. This legislation once again reiterates the importance of resident involvement from a regulators view.
The Benefits of Resident Involvement
The benefits of good resident Involvement can be considerable. Benefits can be at an organisational level, an individual resident level and a community level. Benefits to the organisation can include; cost savings on the design and delivery of new projects, reduction in voids and transfers, provision of a value for money service and being accountable to residents and regulators. Benefits to residents include; having resident focused services, opportunities to gain new skills (e.g. gain qualifications and work experience) and making a difference to the communities they live in. Benefits to the community can include; better social cohesion and reduction in ASB.
Resident Involvement today and in the Future
In an era when every penny counts, any activity or project performed by housing organisations needs to show more than ever the clear benefit of such activities. Financial benefits are often easier to identify and quantify but it is the personal and community benefits that have been harder to demonstrate. The Social Value Act (2012) and the attribution of social value figures to personal and community enhancements is starting to make this evidencing easier. It is this recognition of adding social benefit that may lead resident involvement and community development teams to become even more closely linked in the future.
Technology and the digital age are also helping with the evolution of resident involvement. Many organisations are using resources such as social media, communicating via email, text message, tenant apps and using software platforms such as our own TP Tracker to enhance their strategies.
If you would like to find out more about how our software helps the efficiencies of resident involvement teams view our brochure here.