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TENANT PARTICIPATION SHOWS THE WAY FOR BEST VALUE

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What Works, a report carried out nationwide on behalf of The Tenants and Residents Association of England (TAROE) a...
What Works, a report carried out nationwide on behalf of The Tenants and Residents Association of England (TAROE) and The London Housing Unit (LHU), shows that tenants and housing departments lead the way in implementing the consultation needed under best value. Other council departments can learn from the structures and techniques that many housing departments use to consult their tenants.

The report, launched just before the government announces its Tenants' Compact, also recommends that councils are very careful when implementing new democratic structures such as cabinets so that they preserve and promote tenant involvement.

The research also showed that tenant participation reduces vandalism, combats anti-social behaviour, increases the efficiency of services such as ground maintenance, and leads to money for improvements being spent more appropriately. But the findings emphasise that tenant participation requires additional funding if it is to succeed.

Additional rights for tenants are needed through legislation, suggests the report, as in some areas local politicians may be reluctant to listen to tenants' groups. The Housing Best Value inspectorate must include a high proportion of tenants who can comment from their experience, the researchers say, as otherwise inspection teams will not understand the needs and concerns of people using the services.

The research was carried out through six detailed case studies of councils and their relationships with tenants. Interviews are recorded with tenants, members and officers where they relate their experiences of tenant participation in everyday language. Photos are used throughout the report to show what Gary Glover, a tenant representative in Southwark might do in a typical week and they portray very effectively the wide range of activities undertaken by a tenant rep.

Says Cora Carter, secretary of TAROE: 'This report highlights the real benefits of tenant involvement to the individual, the council and the community.'

George Meehan, chair of the London Housing Unit says: 'This research shows how councils can learn from the successes of tenant participation when they implement best value.'

The report costs£6 including postage and packaging, and can be ordered by organisations on the London Housing Unit's fax line: 0171-267 9334 or by writing to Maureen Henry, Publications, The London Housing Unit, Bedford House, 125-133 Camden High Street, London NW1 7JR. Individuals wishing to order the publication should accompany their order with a cheque.

Notes

1. The Tenants and Residents Organisations in England (TAROE) is the main representative body for tenants.

2. The London Housing Unit (LHU) is a national and regional policy, research and information body on housing issues.

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