Tenants handed ‘real power’ after riots

By Alex Stevenson

Social housing tenants are to be given more responsibility in the wake of this summer's rioting.

Housing minister Grant Shapps justified his decision to hand more power to social tenants by arguing that more people had come out to clean up after the riots than participated in the violence.

Proposals being added to the localism bill will see tenants given a 'direct say' on issues like repairs, anti-social behaviour and estate management, the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) said.

Tenant panels will be given the power to consider complaints before referring them to an ombudsman. Courses training at least 1,500 social tenants will be funded by £535,000 allocated to the National Communities Resources Centre at Trafford Hall.

"We saw during the recent riots that when communities come together to take a stand against those causing deliberate damage, real action results," Mr Shapps said.

"Residents, including social housing tenants, want to make big positive differences to their communities – and I want to put the powers in their hands to be able to do so.

"For too long, when there's a problem in their area, they have been told to sit tight and wait until action is taken on their behalf.

"The new powers and skills that tenant panels will bring will instead allow them to take control of their area; putting them at the heart of proposing solutions, and no longer simply putting up with the problems."

Mr Shapps said he hoped to see as many tenants as possible sitting on the new panels. Course subjects will include 'influencing landlords' and 'sitting on tenant panels'.

The latest response to the rioting comes a day after David Cameron chaired the first meeting of the coalition's social policy review group, which involves ministers from the DCLG, the Home Office and the Department for Work and Pensions.

Extra funding for tenant training has been in the pipeline for a while, however. Applications for grant funding were first invited from charities, benevolent societies and philanthropic institutions in June.