Housing Minister makes borough visit to discover improvements in social housing service

Council tenants in Cheshire West and Chester are at the forefront of transformational change in the social housing sector following the Grenfell disaster.

The Government’s Social Housing White Paper responds to concerns raised after the 2017 tragedy by taking steps to improve the safety and quality of social housing and overhaul the complaints procedure and the way social landlords work with their tenants.

Cheshire West and Chester Council’s housing management provider ForHousing is already acting on many of the proposals in the White Paper by empowering tenants, increasing their influence, and being more accountable as a landlord.

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, visited Chester on Tuesday to meet with tenants to hear first-hand about their improving experiences of living in Council housing in Cheshire West.

One of the tenants he met was Antony Spurway who lives in Cheshire West, he said: “It was great to meet the Minister and tell him about my positive experience of living in a Council home. As an involved tenant I really feel the relationship is two way – I have learned and developed myself but ForHousing and its partners also listen and learn from what tenants say on how services are being delivered.”

The ForHousing Tenant Voice Strategy was launched in May 2020 to strengthen the relationship between landlord and tenant and put tenants’ views and perspectives at the heart of the organisation.

ForHousing has now started discussions with tenants and leaseholders about their commitment to the National Housing Federation’s new Together with Tenants’ Charter, which will help ensure that ForHousing and Cheshire West and Chester Council as landlords are meeting the requirements of the White Paper.

Henry Terefenko, Managing Director of ForHousing, said: “We are dedicated to creating quality homes and places where people are proud to live – making more things possible for more people. Our Tenant Voice Strategy which launched last year, is all about collaborating with and listening to tenants to shape and improve our services together.

“We are proud to pledge our support for the National Housing Federation’s Together with Tenants Charter which builds on this, and sees us working in partnership with tenants and Cheshire West and Chester Council. It will help ensure we stay on track to continue to deliver on the White Paper proposals.”

Councillor Louise Gittins, Leader of Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “Everyone living in social housing should expect to be able to live in a safe home, be treated with respect, have their voice heard and have any complaints dealt with fairly.

“We are proud of the work of our partner ForHousing in putting tenants at the forefront of everything they do. It is the right approach. Signing up to this new code of governance, the Together with Tenants’ Charter, demonstrates that we aim to place the views and needs of residents at the heart of decision making in the future.”

Eddie Hughes, Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, said: “It was great to visit Chester yesterday and speak to residents about their experiences of living in Social Housing in the area.

“The Government’s reforms to Social Housing will drive up standards, ensuring homes are safe and fit for purpose as well as giving residents a clear pathway to raise concerns when things go wrong.

“I was delighted to hear that ForHousing and Cheshire West and Chester Council are already working together to put these improvements in place.”

The Social Housing White Paper was published November 2020 and is considered a significant change within the housing sector.

It aims to realign the relationship between landlord and tenant, through greater transparency and accountability, and deliver a new consumer social housing regulatory regime.

It sets out how the Government will ensure that social housing customers are safe, are listened to, live in good quality homes, and how complaints will be addressed.