NEWS AND UPDATES ON LTF PRIORITIES

Fundraising and future work

LTF has recently been successful in gaining funding from Trust for London to support three years work. We are in the process of applying for some match funding.

With our new funding (from March this year), we will work to:

  • Provide a more effective voice for mainstream not-for profit social housing tenants as the only chance of achieving safe secure housing that lower income level households / those with less than median income levels can afford – through:
    (i) facilitating a closer relationship between a diverse range of council, housing association, tenant management and co-operative housing organisations;
    (ii) creating online facilities to provide grass roots groups with information and inspiration (including the creation of a bank of stories about effective tenants ‘activism’);
    (iii) engaging larger numbers of tenants’ groups in trying to influence London housing (and planning) currently being developed;
  • Changing negative attitudes towards social housing tenants through delivering an effective communication strategy by:
    (i) establishing a media group comprising tenant representatives trained to effectively engage with journalists and radio/tv presenters;
    (ii) creating a new website, with clear messages and different layers of data;
    (iii) making effective use of social media.
  • Influencing policy to enable social housing tenants to better engage in decision-making: through developing London Tenants ‘think pieces’ including on (i) ‘promoting participatory democracy in social housing’ and ‘achieving a positive future for social-housing in London’ (ii) producing information resources, including on housing subsidy, estate regeneration and links between local and regional policy.

We will also be working with Professor Loretta Lees on work relating to displacement of social hosuing tenants in estate regeneration schemes during 2018.

London-wide policy work

When a new London Mayor is elected there is a process of statutory London-wide policy being changed. LTF is most interested in the London Housing Strategy and the London Plan (which contains planning policy on housing and regeneration) and London Plan supplementary planning guidance. We feel it important that we try to influnce this as all London boroughs have to conform to London-wide policy, so this effects us locally.

Over the last 18 months LTF has responded to a number of the consultations on Sadiq Khan’s new and emerging policy after holding meetings and events to discuss them. These are listed below with the most recent first..

  • LTF response to the Mayor’s draft guidance on estate regeneration. (March 2017) LTF members had been pleased that during the run up to the London Mayoral election, Sadiq Khan's office had said “In his manifesto, Sadiq has also very clear about his expectations over estate regeneration. He wants estate regeneration only to take place where there is resident support, based on full and transparent consultation. He has said demolition should only be permitted where it does not result in a loss of social housing, or where all other options have been exhausted, with full rights to return for displaced tenants and a fair deal for leaseholders.” His draft guidance however failed to address a number of LTF members concerns. We made proposed changes to improve it. The final guidance has still not been published.
  • LTF response to the Mayor’s Affordable Housing and Viability Supplementary Planning Guidance. (February 2017) This document sets out the Mayors plans for 50% of homes delivered in London to be ‘affordable’. LTF is very concerned about the much of the so-called 'affordable housing' is actually only affordable to households with middle and higher incomes, while very little available or accessible to London households with lower (below the mid-point) incomes.
  • LTF response to ‘A city for all Londoners’ (December 2016) This document set out the Mayor’s direction of travel in respect of developing a new London Plan. LTF also submitted, at the same time, a proposal t the Mayor on engaging community and voluntary sector groups whose key focus is on housing, being involved in developing and monitoring the London Housing Strategy. In the past LTF had representation on the Mayor's Housing Forum. The Mayor did not respond to this proposal - so we have submitted this again with our response to the draft London Housing Strategy.

Fire risk and involvement of tenants in decision-making about their homes post the Greenfield Tower blaze

London Tenants Federation is calling for policy changes around the way that tenants are involved in decisions made about our homes, following the Grenfell tower blaze. Current tenant involvement practices, frequently entail landlord selection and 'training' of individual tenants who have no remit to couch the views of other tenants, nor facilitiy to feed back to them to sit on boards and panels, to support landlord management needs. This has left vast numbers of social-tenants feeling increasingly isolated and made it harder for us to get our collective voices heard.

Most social housing tenants in London live in blocks of flats or estates and experience similar blocks or estate problems; some landlord wide. Without wider representative input, we are much weaker and more vulnerable, as the Grenfell tower example has clearly demonstrated.

We are seeing more and more social landlords dissolving independent tenants’ organisations with them and their often highly paid consultants suggesting that landlord selection of tenants to engage with is more 'fit for purpose'. Since landlord ‘tenant involvement’ is, however, paid for through our rents, we feel it is essential that this operates in a way that is determined by tenants wants and needs in a participatory, democratic and accountable fashion.

We also want commitments from Government, the Mayor’s office and social landlords that social-housing tenant representatives are actively involved in any reviews of fire risk issues. We note that the London Mayor has made some proposals in his draft London Housing Strategy relating to fire risk, but has failed to ensure that these are informed through thorough engagement with tenants. In our response to the draft London Housing Strategy we have made proposals that the Mayor encourage social landlords to establish participatory, democratic and accountable tenants’ groups and facilitate ways for them to network. We also suggested that he might provide a good example to social landlords by enabling direct engagement of tenants and other community and voluntary sector groups involved in housing being regularly involved in developing and monitoring the London Housing Strategy.

LTF has made links with the reformed national tower block network and are encouraging tower block tenants to engage with them. They spoke and facilitated a workshop at our October 2017 joint conference with the London Federation of Housing Co-ops and the National Federation of TMOs. We hope to form stronger links with them.

Analysis of delivery of homes in London (2005-15)

Many analyses of delivery of social rented homes fail to take into account how many news homes that have been built are simply replacements for others that have been demolished. Clearly this is important to know how well any assessed need of people who are homeless or who have languished for years on housing waiting lists is being catered for.

  • LTF analysis of delivery of homes for year 2015/16 from latest (2017) annual monitoring report of the London Plan.
  • LTF's analysis of delivery of additional homes in London (2005-15) (from data taken from the Mayor's Annual Monitoring Reports of the London Plan) reveals that only 17% were social-rented in this 10-year period were social rented, while 70% were private / market homes. The analysis explains how the Mayor's office is able to announce that a lot more is delivered - by (i) referring to 'gross' delivery that does not take into account how many new homes are actually replacements for others that have been lost from supply - mostly through demolition and (ii) by only referring to 'affordable' housing - (much of which is not affordable).

Demolition of social-rented homes

Holding on to what we have now and why LTF's information booklet for and by council and housing association (social) tenants in London on dealing with estate ‘regeneration’ demolition proposals (published 2017)

  • LTF previously produced a document setting out some 'do's and don'ts' for groups looking to give support to tenants in their struggles.
  • See above our response to the London Mayor's draft good practice guide on estate regeneration (in our London Policy work section) and documents that we produced with UCL engineering exchange and Just Space on our information page.