Housing Associations, Cooperatives, Tenant and Arm’s Length Management Organisations are uniquely well placed to initiate and lead participatory budgeting (PB), as they often already have well structured tenant engagement processes, and much of their income comes directly from rents. PB is an ideal way to take that engagement further, and respond to the interests, concerns and needs of their residents and the wider community.
That is why PBPartners, administered by Shared Future CIC has produced guidance for using PB to improve tenant engagement within Social Housing.
The added value of Participatory Budgeting for Social Housing Providers
The trend towards greater engagement and consultation is common across the UK Housing sector. But not always without some very real tensions, and too often in a reactive way, when something goes tragically wrong. The Grenfell Tower fire has exposed how tenants living within communal or social housing don’t always feel their concerns are being responded to by their landlords or by government.
Whilst an extreme example, Grenfell is sadly not a unique one. But it has generated a new Social Housing Green Paper for England and Wales, which includes five core themes:
- Tackling stigma and celebrating thriving communities;
- Expanding supply and supporting home ownership;
- Effective resolution of complaints;
- Empowering residents and strengthening the regulator;
- Ensuring homes are safe and decent.
This paper argues that PB helps build trust and enables better conversations across many of these themes. Tenants need to be given genuine choices as to what existing rents are spent on, what is ‘affordable’ and also how any increases might be spent.
‘The (PB) funding has allowed our tenants and residents to address the issues most important to them. All our PB projects have generated a great deal of interest in local areas where engagement with the Council has previously been low’.
We believe this will be a useful guide and introduction for all social housing providers wishing to engage with tenants and their wider community through the best practice in PB. If you would like further information, or wish to start a PB project please contact PB Partners for further help and advice.