This was the focus of the 2013 ARCH annual tenants conference on
the 19 September which was organised by the ARCH Tenants' Group for
tenants of the 62 ARCH member councils who have retained their
housing stock which was kindly hosted by Great Yarmouth Borough
Council at their beautiful town hall: 115 delegates and speakers
It is the 7th conference that the ARCH Tenants' Group have been
involved in organising. They worked with Chartered Institute of
Housing events team and HouseMark to plan the venue, the programme
and speakers. Members of the group chaired workshops and registered
delegates on the day to ensure that the event ran smoothly.
The conference was a chance for tenants from stock retained
councils from across the country to hear about and discuss the key
topical issues affecting council housing and what this means for
tenants. The main focus of the conference was on the impact of
welfare reform and how Councils are managing with the
The three ARCH awards for excellence in participation,
sustainability and innovation and tenant of the year were kindly
sponsored and presented by Pinnacle psg. Read more about
the award winners.
ARCH tenants' group's chair and tenant of Runnymead Council,
Jennifer Hill opened the conference by welcoming delegates and
thanking Great Yarmouth Council and Pinnacle psg for supporting the
event. She mentioned that it has been an exciting time for Great
Yarmouth over the last year with the new self-financing
arrangements has allowed Great Yarmouth to build its first homes in
Cllr Trevor Wainwright, the leader of Great Yarmouth Council
followed Jenny with a warm welcome to Great Yarmouth. The council
also hosted a drinks reception for delegates staying overnight the
evening before which was well attended and a great start for some
delegates to get to meet each other.
Delegates were also welcomed by Peter Kirkpatrick previous ARCH
tenants' group chair and chair of the Great Yarmouth tenants' forum
who was instrumental in securing the venue for the conference.
Director of community housing, Robert Read gave a brief overview
of Great Yarmouth's housing challenges and how the council has
addressed this, with particular reference to the important role
that council housing had played in Robert's own family history and
Robert felt passionately that 'council housing is not an historical
artefact it is part of the future' and 'it can help provide part of
the solution for those in housing need'.
Robert also told delegates that 'the council and involved
tenants may not always agree on everything but recognise that
whatever challenges they face we are better doing that
Straight after the welcomes and introductions the three awards
were presented to both organisations and individuals for excellence
in the sector. These were presented by Andy Cook from Pinnacle who
sponsored the awards Well done to short listed nominations and the
the webpage for more details about the winners.
A lively and interactive question time session was chaired by
Marlene Price, Vice Chair of the ARCH Tenants Group. There were
lots of questions mainly about welfare reform from delegates which
were addressed by the panel of four:
- Cllr Paul Ellis, Chairman ARCH Executive
- Sam Lister, Policy and Practice Officer, CIH
- Ben Taylor, Assistant Director, CIH consultancy
- Jenny Hill, Chair of ARCH tenants' group
Most of the questions raised were about welfare reform as well
as flexible tenancies and rents. Councillor Ellis stressed that it
was important that councils don't repeat mistakes of the
past…'there's nothing like active resident involvement to drive up
standards and Councils need to use their assets better'.
ARCH's role is to ensure councils and their tenants have as much
information as possible to help them make the decisions that
they need to make and although ARCH are not a lobby group they
strive to get the best deal for councils.
Sam Lister explained how important it was to have some real
human impact stories from tenants about how the welfare reforms
were affecting tenants with some positive stories too.
There were two breakout sessions at the event on self-financing
and welfare reform impact. This ensured that delegates could go to
both sessions as they were repeated in the afternoon.
1. Reflection on first year of self-financing with an
overview on new build and repairs work
- Ben Taylor Assistant Director CIH Consultancy
- Chair -Wynn Marshall, Chairman, Tenants and Leaseholders
Federation, Epping Forest DC and ARCH Tenants Group
2. The impact of the welfare reform act
- Sam Lister, Policy and Practice Officer CIH
- Chair Jim Nicholl, Tenant Rep Birmingham City Council and
ARCH Tenants Group member
Click here to view all the
photos from the tenants' conference 2013