For Immediate Release

The Co-operative Party has today written to Prime Minister Theresa May calling on her to immediately re-establish the National Tenant Voice organisation that was disbanded by the Coalition Government in which she served.

The call follows the Prime Minister’s comments last night that the Grenfell Tower disaster showed tenants’ voices need to be heard.

In an interview with Jon Snow on Channel 4 News on Tuesday 3rd October, Theresa May said:

“The voice of social housing tenants doesn’t appear to have been heard on too many occasions.
“We have got to find a way to make sure the voice of those people is heard.”

The National Tenant Voice was set up to speak directly to Government on social housing issues, with 15 Board members and a council made up of 50 tenants from across England. But it was closed down when its funding agreement was cancelled in July 2010 by then Housing Minister Grant Shapps MP as part of the Government’s so called ‘bonfire of the quangos’.

In a letter to the Prime Minister today, Gareth Thomas MP, the Chair of the Co-operative Party says:

“There already was a way to make tenants’ voices heard until the National Tenant Voice was abolished by the Coalition Government in which you served.

There is justified concern that the tragedy at Grenfell Tower could have been avoided if issues raised by tenants had been listened to.  Sentiments that I believe you share.

You have the power to correct this mistake by requiring the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government Sajid Javid to bring back the National Tenant Voice immediately. There is no need to wait for the outcome of the Grenfell inquiry.

We also ask that you place a new statutory duty on the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government to publicly respond at least twice a year to issues raised by the National Tenant Voice.

The new National Tenant Voice should have a mandate to:

  • Represent the interests of tenants in England to the government, regulator and other public bodies
  • Identify issues of concern to social tenants across the country, identifying trends and emerging problems, and ensuring they are raised with government locally and nationally
  • Consider how government policy on housing and other relevant areas, from benefits to building regulations, impact on social tenants
  • Supporting the tenants’ movement to grow by identifying and sharing good practice in empowering tenants

The National Tenant Voice should be established as a mutual with individual tenants, tenant and resident associations, tenant management organisations and housing co-operatives as members. It should have democratic structures that ensure it is accountable to and representative of its members.

In addition, the Prime Minister should also consider steps to support the development of the UK’s co-operative housing sector, given that tenant voice is an intrinsic characteristic of these and other alternative ownership models.”

Following the tragedy at Grenfell Tower, many residents complained that their concerns were not listened to, even within an organisation that was meant to be ‘tenant run’1.   The Co-operative Party, which has 38 MPs jointly with the Labour Party, is supporting four major tenant organisations2 who called for the re-creation of a National Tenant Voice in July.

In her recent interview in the Guardian, (Tuesday 29th of August), the incoming President of the Chartered Institute of Housing Alison Inman also stated her support for the restoration of an independent, properly resourced tenant body.

Gareth Thomas MP, Chair of the Co-operative Party, said:

“The Grenfell inquiry will be critical in establishing what went wrong in that horrific case. The pressing issues of accountability and a proper voice for social tenants across England also have to be addressed.  The Coalition Government was wrong to scrap the national body representing social tenants in England in 2010 and Theresa May should correct that mistake immediately when Parliament returns.


Further information from Gez Sagar on 07711 036723

  1. Grenfell Tower was managed by Kensington and Chelsea Tenant Management Organisation
  2. The Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), TAROE, the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO) and the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH) wrote to Communities Secretary Sajid Javid in July calling for the re-establishment of National Tenant Voice. They have set up an interim NTV board in anticipation of the organisation receiving financial backing.

Notes to Editors

  1. A copy of the Co-operative Party’s letter to the Prime Minister can be downloaded here. It been published on the party’s website, accompanied by a petition which members of the public can sign.
  2. The Co-operative Party is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year, with more MPs and more members than at any time in its history, and growing influence over the formulation of Labour Party economic policy.
  3. New policies for a massive expansion of housing co-operatives, public ownership and affordable university tuition fees will be debated at the Co-operative Party’s Centenary Conference, to be held in London from 13 to 15 October.
  4. The Party’s Centenary Conference will be addressed by Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn on Saturday 14 October under the banner ‘Ideas to Change Britain.’
  5. The Co-operative Party was founded in 1917 as the political party of the co-operative movement and has an electoral agreement with the Labour Party which sees the two Parties standing joint candidates at elections. There are 38 Labour & Co-operative MPs, 7 Labour & Co-operative MSPs, 11 Labour & Co-operative Welsh Assembly Members and hundreds of councillors across Britain.