Saturday, August 25, 2007

Social housing - time to give consumers some clout?

It is disappointing to read in Inside Housing that fewer than one in three of social housing residents in a National Consumer Council (NCC) study said their landlords took on board tenant suggestions for service improvements.

It is noteworthy that residents said local authorities were less likely to provide a flexible housing service or foster a sense of community than housing associations. (Something for the "Defend Council Housing" campaigners to ponder. How about campaigning to "Transform Council Housing"?)

There is a real need to give consumers clout in social housing. That can be done in all sorts of ways. Hopefully we will see a national voice for residents as recommended by the Cave Review. But new forms of accountability and governance are needed with a key role for community gateway housing associations and co-operative housing. Interestingly, the NCC has suggested an approach based on “markets and mutuality”.

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