‘Recognise our benefit to society!’ say tenants

Last week [28 February 2018], social housing tenants from across the UK* travelled to the House of Commons to meet their MPs for the launch of Benefit to Society.

A new survey** shows that more than 90% of tenants feel the media portrays them in a negative way.

High-profile ministers from the main political parties pledged their support for the tenant-led campaign to challenge media stereotypes and public perceptions, and urged others to do the same.

The Housing Minister Dominic Raab (right) said that stigma was the number one issue raised at the tenant consultation roadshows last year.

He said that “the stigma is very ugly indeed and we have to do something about it. It’s time for positive stories to dispel those myths.” 

Shadow Housing Minister Melanie Onn commended the work of housing associations on the Benefit to Society campaign, and in ensuring that tenants’ voices are heard.

She said: “We’ve seen serious issues arise in the last few years; we see poor doors being used in new developments to segregate social tenants and mean they enter by the bins, we’ve seen the children of social renters having less rights to communal areas than other tenants’ pets and we’ve seen tenants complain about having Grenfell survivors being rehoused in their housing block.

“This segregation and mistrust prevents cohesive neighbourhoods from developing. Stable, cohesive and happy neighbourhoods are vital to stopping this stigma, but understanding neighbourhoods is complex. Tenants’ voices are vital in this, they are the people who understand the complex relationships that form and know how to improve cohesion. 

“I am pleased that tenants will lead this campaign, and pleased to pledge my support for this campaign.”

Professor Anne Power from the London School of Economics presented her team’s research (pictured) on overcoming stigma in social housing. It seems Britons on average estimate that around 1 in 4 (24%) of people living in social housing are unemployed, when in fact the true figure is only 1 in 14 (7%). Now tenants say they want to “set the record straight”.  

There was lots of coverage of the event in the media, including an interview with Vanessa Feltz on BBC Radio London, and news items on BBC local radio in Jersey, Wales, Cornwall, Oxford and Nottingham.

The principles underpinning the Benefit to Society campaign will inform the Social Housing Green Paper.

Broadland sponsors the campaign and is shaping the debate nearer home too (see panel), with a series of events highlighting the rich variety of people who live in our homes.

*due to poor weather, our tenants Richard and Mo, who contributed to Fair Press for Tenants, were unable to travel down to London from Norfolk for the event.

**YouGov survey commissioned by Soha Housing, February 2018.