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Housing minister Kevin Stewart launches new best practice guide for tenant scrutiny

A Scottish government minister launched a new guide to scrutiny for social tenants during a keynote speech to an annual conference of housing professionals.

Kevin Stewart MSP, minister for local government and housing, presented the best practice guide to embedding tenant scrutiny in social housing, at Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) Scotland’s conference in Glasgow this week.

Scrutiny involves adopting a tenant-centred approach to landlord activities. It gives tenants the power to work collaboratively with landlords on decisions about service delivery through a detailed understanding of performance, including performance data. The new guide sets out the opportunities and challenges of establishing effective tenant scrutiny activities.

Entitled ‘Developing effective tenant scrutiny: A practice guide for landlords and tenants’, the guide is one of the outcomes of a three-year training and learning programme ‘Stepping Up to Scrutiny’ delivered on behalf of the Scottish Government through a partnership between CIH Scotland and HouseMark Scotland.

“I am delighted that our ‘Stepping up to Scrutiny Programme’ has empowered tenants to work collaboratively with their landlords and develop their skills, knowledge and confidence in performance monitoring to continually improve service standards,” said Stewart.

“I have been very impressed that many landlords have incorporated tenant scrutiny into their routine business planning. Having the Trainer Toolkit and Scrutiny Practice Guide for Tenants and Landlords will help the sector continue the excellent work developed in this Programme and keep scrutiny at the forefront of landlords’ activities.”

The guide features several examples of scrutiny in practice. It concludes with a number of tips on how to ‘get it right’. These include being clear about what you want scrutiny to achieve and emphasising that, in order to deliver meaningful outcomes, tenant scrutiny panels need to be empowered to have a real impact on decision-making processes.

As part of a longer term legacy, the training materials used during the programme have been developed into a training toolkit, which is also available to download for free.

The guide and Toolkit sets out the role tenant scrutiny can play in delivering four key objectives:

  • To support better tenant engagement and empowerment
  • To ensure effective and efficient governance
  • To review and challenge performance, identifying options for service improvements and efficiencies
  • To provide better outcomes and standards for tenants and other customers

“This new practice guide and training toolkit are an important contribution to CIH Scotland’s role as the home of professional standards for the Scottish housing sector,” said Annie, Mauger, executive director of CIH Scotland. “We hope it will be a huge support to our members in the social housing sector in their ongoing work to deliver services that are responsive to the needs of their tenants.”

Kirsty Wells, head of HouseMark Scotland added: “HouseMark Scotland is well known for its work on the Value for Money agenda in social housing. Given our experience, we were very pleased to have been able to make an active contribution to the preparation of this practice guide and toolkit I think they will be really useful tools for encouraging a best practice approach to tenant scrutiny, as well as helping social landlords achieve improved value for money."

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