Tenants' conference 2013 24/07/2013 Labelled as Tenants

Self-financing and the impact of welfare reform

 

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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 attended.

 

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 self-financing arrangements.

 

Pinnacle

 

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.

 

A warm welcome from ARCH tenants' group chair

 

Jenny Hill

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 20 years.

 

...and from the Great Yarmouth council leader

 

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 together'.

 

ARCH awards

 

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 winners. See the webpage for more details about the winners.

 

Question time panel

 

Panel 2013

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.

 

Workshops

 

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 member

 

Download the presentation

 

2. The impact of the welfare reform act 2012

 

  • Sam Lister, Policy and Practice Officer CIH
  • Chair Jim Nicholl, Tenant Rep Birmingham City Council and ARCH Tenants Group member

 

Download the presentation

 

Click here to view all the photos from the tenants' conference 2013

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