Agenda item

Phase 2 discussion

Tenant Voice Panel presentation followed by discussion and initial thoughts of TSB


JG recalled the previous discussions surrounding the new Tenant Voice Panel, and the reasons shared previously by the service in order to create a sustainable and effective way to involve tenants.  The new panel seeks to create a more streamlined way of working, promote and increase membership, and provide a direct link to the Tenant Scrutiny Board. The opinions of the current citywide group members will invited at the next meeting, and there will be invitations to speak with TPAS representatives who will be asked to provide expert insight. 


IM gave a presentation with more detail about the Tenant Voice Panel, for example, outlining its proposed position to support the Strategic Housing Board, to provide editorial input into wider tenant communications, and to participate in consultations across a variety of topics. Members will be invited to attend and participate in regional and national forums held by TPAS and other relevant forums.


Membership of the new panel will be open to all of the existing citywide forum members including the TSB, Housing Advisory Panels, and Tenants and Residents Associations. Members may also be leaseholders as they also receive services from Housing Leeds. Two members from the panel will be asked to sit as tenant representatives on the strategic housing board.


Initial membership is proposed for up to one hundred individuals so that all members have a chance to be involved, but this number will be under review as the panel grows over time. There will be a focus on recruiting a diverse membership including geographically. Members who are inactive will be consulted on an annual basis to be asked if they still wish to be a member.


There will be no chair or vice chair of the panel, instead the panel will be supported by Tenant Engagement and led by an appropriate officer or expert depending on the topic. Activity will mostly take place digitally using Your Voice Leeds, with meetings largely held via Zoom, but there will be some opportunities for face-to-face meetings. Members will also have a space to communicate and share ideas with each other using the platform.


Customer satisfaction will be a key driver of debate, with six-monthly STAR surveys carried out and the results shared with the panel. The survey results can be used to encourage debate and generate ideas over several weeks, with a conclusion meeting arranged to share service feedback and responses taken. The outcomes will also be shared more widely via social media, internal and external email bulletins, and in annual reports.


The Tenant Scrutiny Board will remain a separate board with a standing chair. The proposal is to retain six regular TSB members, with up to ten members invited from the Tenant Voice Panel for individual reviews, all of whom will have equal voting rights as TSB members. Proposed reviews will take a more bite-sized approach with a mixture of formal and informal methods which will allow for more dynamic and engaging work and faster overall outcomes. The Tenant Engagement Framework has been updated to reflect the new makeup of the tenant forums, identifying individual, local, and strategic branches that all feed into the larger structure. The new framework improves upon the previous version by being more effective at receiving feedback, more accessible to all users, and more cost-effective overall.


The Tenant Voice Panel will be promoted through a variety of means, including updated web content; social media posts; new team flyers; business cards; sharing with staff in 'Housing Leeds Matters’; and regular email updates to tenants, residents and community groups.


The next steps will be to invite TPAS to take an appraisal of this approach, and to clarify how the wider service improvement group members will be invited to the November TSB meeting. The new promotional content will be designed so that it is ready to be utilised as soon as possible. IM opened the floor to any questions or comments.


YD informed the panel that the outlined approach is consistent with the direction being taken within the sector, including by the ombudsman. The housing white paper clearly obliges authorities to conduct tenant engagement as widely and as effectively as possible, and this approach creates a ‘funnel’ of feedback that captures all voices and allows the feedback to be used for service improvement. Since the feedback will reach the TSB and Strategic Housing Board this will also allow for strategic involvement.


MS agreed that the new framework provides a more effective method to gather feedback than the previous model, and forges stronger links between the TSB and the other forums by reducing duplication across multiple panels and creating a more seamless line of communication between all of the involved members.


SBa asked how staff will be notified of the changes to the engagement framework and how they will be involved. IM responded that the framework will be shared with all staff through internal updates and team meetings, and the forward plan includes briefing partners and contractors about the updates so they are also aware.


JG asked for more clarification about the role and membership of the Strategic Housing Board. MS answered that the Strategic Housing Board was set up in 2018 and is made up of six elected members, one independent member, and two tenant or leaseholder members. The board oversees the Leeds Housing Strategy which includes private and housing association properties, and reviews themes including neighbourhoods, housing for older people, and health and housing. The meeting schedule has fluctuated over the lockdown period but the previous meeting was towards the end of September 2021. IM clarified that the tenant representatives on the board will be selected in the same way as present, through an expression of interest followed by an interview to determine suitability.


JG questioned the need for a new members code of conduct for the Tenant Voice Panel, IM replied it is not quite as formal as the old requirement, however it would be beneficial to refresh the expectations for behaviour and interactions and is happy to consult with YD for best practice in this area.