(AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Last night on Channel 4 News the Prime Minister admitted that on ‘too many occasions’, the voice of social housing tenants  ‘doesn’t appear to have been heard’, promising to do more.

Unsurprisingly, we agree.

But here’s the thing: until 2010, such a body did exist, in the form of the National Tenant Voice, an independent body set up under the last Labour government to ensure tenants were able to have a say in shaping national policy on housing issues.

Its fate? It was abolished in 2010, as part of the Conservative/LibDem Coalition’s so-called ‘bonfire of the quangos’, which saw hundreds of quasi-governmental bodies such as the National Tenant Voice scrapped, in the name of cutting costs and reducing red tape.

Today, our Chair Gareth Thomas wrote to the Prime Minister calling on her to do the right thing and to bring back the National Tenant Voice immediately.

For too long, social tenants have had their views dismissed and concerns ignored – sometimes with tragic consequences.

That’s why we’re standing with The Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), TAROE, the National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations (NFTMO) and the Confederation of Co-operative Housing (CCH) in demanding that the Government act immediately to bring back National Tenant Voice, without delay.

The restored body would be set up on mutual lines, with tenants, and tenant-run organisations as its members. Its duties would include:

  • Representing the interests of tenants in England to the government and other public bodies
  • Identifying issues of concern to social tenants, and raising them with local and national government
  • Scrutinising government housing policy and considering its impact on social tenants
  • Supporting the formation and development of independent groups of tenants by sharing good practice.

When even the Prime Minister agrees on the need for such a body, the time for talking is over. It’s time for her to act.