A positive future for social housing in London: The London Tenants’ Manifesto was launched on 19th January to an audience of tenant representatives from twenty two London boroughs, as well as politicians, think tanks, academics and fellow voluntary sector organisations.
The manifesto, which was jointly produced with the London Federation of Housing Co-ops and the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations, was soon added to Thinkhouse, a library of the best and most innovative publications on UK housing which was launched at the House of Lords. The library contains an archive of publications going back to 2004 and this is the only social housing tenant-led publication to be added so far.
“Unlike other pieces written about social housing, this manifesto brings together organisations led by tenants from across London who have direct experience of living in social housing,” said Pauline Hutchison, regional representative for London Tenants Federation.
“Living in an overcrowded flat during a pandemic, the frustration of dealing with long-standing disrepair or the stress and uncertainty of estate demolition: every one of us has experienced these things, or we have a neighbour who has.
“These issues have a devastating impact on people’s mental health and ability to cope during these difficult times. It’s about time that housing policy was led by the people who have faced these challenges, whose views are too often disregarded.”
Close to one hundred people attended the launch event, which took place via Zoom, with social media and the online chat bubbling over with praise for the manifesto. You can now listen back to the presentations given at the launch event here.
John Boughton, a prominent historian who has documented the rise and fall of council housing, said; “Well done the LTF. The Manifesto is an impressive document, both in its detail and evidence base and in its aspiration. It offers a clear guide to a better future.”
A tenant representative who attended commented: “The London Tenants Federation and Manifesto sounds like it could be really helpful in supporting residents like us, who struggle to get any accountability from outsourced private companies, and Arms Length Management companies who are more interested in PR than actual services like maintenance and repairs. Thanks for giving us some hope!”
The manifesto calls for government housing grant and suitable public land to be ring-fenced for the delivery of new public- and community-owned social rented homes and infrastructure. It highlights the need for new developments of social rented homes to be socially, economically and environmentally sustainable.
Proposals include tenants being involved in developing design briefs for new and refurbished social rented homes in Lifetime Neighbourhoods. Tenants would take the lead in local environmental schemes and would have access to archives containing information on the construction, improvements to, and health and safety of, their homes.
Full integration of democratic and accountable tenants’ organisations in decision-making is a key theme in the manifesto. Landlords would be required to register, support and involve tenants’ organisations for their estates and neighbourhoods, as already occurs in Scotland.
The manifesto puts forward proposals for a new Local Authority Housing Committee model, made up of elected councillors and tenant representatives, who would have the deciding vote on issues relating to their homes.
Other proposals in the manifesto include extending the Right to Transfer and Freedom of Information to housing association tenants, so that all tenants are better able to hold their landlords to account and switch landlords should they wish.