Our current work priorities are focused on - providing a more effective voice for social housing tenants in London, challenging negative stereotypes of social housing tenants and influencing housing policy.

Achieving a more effective voice for social-housing tenants

Over the last 30 years social housing has become increasingly segmented as government funding for new social housing has been provided to housing associations rather than local authorities. There are more than 350 social housing landlords in London, including 28 London boroughs and the City of London, 11 large housing associations and around 320 small housing associations (with less than 1000 properties each). Some social housing is managed directly by tenants (mostly in the local authority sector) and some is co-operatives or mutual housing.

Differences around tenure, funding, management, rights and the way tenants are involved in decision-making about our homes has added to the difficulties in bringing social housing tenants together to provide one collective and effective voice.

What are we doing about this issue? We are increasingly looking for ways to bring all social housing tenants groups in London together on issues that impact on us all - either through LTF membership or working closely with groups and organisations on issues where we have a consensus view.

  1. We have called for a change in policy and practice around the way that tenants are involved in decision-making about their homes (post-Grenfell).. Current practice has increasingly focused on landlords selecting tenants to sit on boards or scrutiny panels that relate to the running of 'the business', rather than on empowering tenants having an independent, democratic and accountable voice. We feel this not only creates disempowerment and decreased engagement but has also made social housing tenants more vulnerable to issues where we are at risk, with the Grenfell tower disaster being the most extreme example.
  2. We are engaging with close contacts around the London Assembly Housing Committee's investigation into social-housing tenant involvement in decision-making about our homes post-Grenfell. We are facilitating a discussion / open mic session with the committee on 24th May 2018 and are encouraging tenants groups to make written submissions.
  3. We will produce and publish a tenants 'think tank' proposal around the importance of all social housing tenants being involved in a participatory, democratic and accountable way in decision-making about our homes and will lobby to get our proposals adopted.
  4. We feel the Mayor could involve tenants and other groups in a forum around developing and monitoring his London Housing Strategy (as a good practice example to social landlords) and have twice submitted a proposal to him - engaging tenants and other community and voluntary sector groups involved in housing.
  5. We are developing a 'media group' of tenants who will be working to increasing our media / social media profile.
  6. We have developed 'associate membership' to encourage wider tenant involvement in our organisation.

Challenging negative stereotypes of social housing tenants and social housing

We feel that the negative stereotyping of social-housing tenants (that we are mostly good-for-nothing scroungers on the state; heavily subsidised and lacking in aspiration) has contributed significantly to negative perceptions of social housing. We feel that this in turn has resulted in failures to deliver homes that are really affordable for around 60% of households that need housing in London. Despite numerous organisations lobbying for more social housing, we fear that there will be no change in the status quo (policy focus on home ownership), unless the negative stereotypes of social housing tenants are effectively challenged, by social housing tenants.

  1. We plan to update our 'Setting the record straight on subsidy' - which makes it clear that most government housing subsidy supports developers and homeowners - not those needing social housing. We will distribute this widely.
  2. We will renew our web site to include videos and pod casts that present strong articulate and positive images of social housing tenants.
  3. We will challenging negative depictions of social housing tenants in the media / by politicians as best we can.

Influencing London-wide housing policy

The London Housing Strategy and London Plan

The London Mayor has two strategic and statutory documents that include housing policy - the London Housing Strategy and the London Plan. The London Plan is the more important of these when it comes to policy on delivering new homes, large-scale developments and regeneration. It is important that social housing tenants try to influence both documents as they are developed or amended, as all London boroughs have to conform to them - so they impacts on us at the local level.

Delivery and loss of social-rented homes

Delivery: The London Plan and London Housing Strategy set targets for delivery of all types of homes in London. The London Housing Strategy sets 'gross' targets, while the the London Plan sets 'net' targets (both London-wide and for each borough) which take into account loss of social-rented homes, such as through demolition.

Delivery of social-rented and affordable rent homes have consistently failed to meet London Plan targets.

LTF produces annual briefings showing London-wide and borough delivery compared to targets (see our publications page - section Delivery of New and Additional Homes in London).

We will continue to do this and are working with one of our member representatives who is looking at the data on delivery of homes in more detail, including highlighting wide variations in borough and individual housing association delivery.

Demolition: LTF has long lobbied around loss of social-rented homes in London, particularly through demolition (which is significant in terms of failure to delivery housing targets). In 2014 we engaged (with Just Space) in a special London Assembly Housing Committee Meeting about demolition v refurbishment, which resulted in the publication of the London Assembly's Knock it down or do it up in February 2015. In this debate we put forward key bullet points on what we wanted the London Mayor to do in order to prevent unnecessary demolition of precious social-rented homes.

We also worked with Just Space and UCL in publishing a number of documents providing advice to social housing tenants on demotion issues (see our publications page - section Definitions, Guides and other Publications). LTF members put together a guide for tenants by tenants entitled - 'Holding on the homes we have now and why' and 'some do's and don'ts' for groups looking to give support to tenants in their struggles on this issue.

Our efforts influenced the new London Mayor who we were told, by his election team, “in his manifesto, Sadiq has been 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.”

The Mayor has now published a good practice guide on estate regeneration and has recently consulted on a estate regeneration ballots. Below is LTF comments on the Mayor's draft guidance (which we were not entirely happy with) and on his estate ballots consultation. We will publish analysis of the impact we made on the Mayor's published good practice guide.

LTF and Just Space are also working with Loretta Lees on her Economic and Social Research Council funded research on Gentrification, Displacement, and the Impacts of Council Estate Renewal in C21st London. Links here to Loretta's response to the Mayor's consultation on estate ballots, the database produced through the project so far on homes demolished on estates of 100+ homes since 1997 and her witness statement for the Aylesbury Estate Inquiry (2)

Fire risk issues

LTF has made links with Tower Blocks UK - set up in the wake of the Grenfell Tower disaster as a hub to share information and resources with all who live in them, or are concerned about tower block housing safety in the UK. They call for:

  • A Review of all Large Panel System Blocks
  • Improvement to Building Regulations
  • Sprinklers in all tall blocks
  • Removal of dangerous cladding.
  • Government£s

They will:

  • Support tenants and residents to be heard
  • Share examples, from tenants, residents and landlords, of good practice in tackling tower block safety
  • Exert pressure on decision-makers to prevent risk and inaction
  • Develop resources, tools and pro forma

One of the Tower Block UK organisers spoke and and facilitated a work shop at our 2017 conference, held in partnership with London Fed of Housing Co-ops and the National Federation of TMOs.