Independence...Integrity...Value

Fenland Independent Tenant Advice: Summary

During 2004 and 2005 Fenland District Council undertook a rigorous tenant-led Stock Options Appraisal known as the "Options Fenland". The recommendation following the appraisal was to commence a proposal to transfer as it was the only ownership and management option that could meet the aspirational standard set by the tenants (called the Fenland Standard).

'AWICS' was appointed as Independent Tenants' Advisor at Fenland District Council for their housing stock options appraisal in May 2004. The tenant-led working group that carried out the appraisal concluded that stock transfer would be the best way for Fenland tenants to secure the improvements in homes, neighbourhoods and services that tenants sought. In May 2005, a consultation with tenants, managed by 'AWICS', showed that of the 27% of tenants who responded, 51% of tenants agreed with this view.

Following the decision to embark on a stock transfer 'AWICS' was re-appointed by the tenants as Independent Tenants' Advisor in the autumn of 2005. In this capacity we worked with tenants to ensure that the best possible 'offer' was made and that all tenants had access to impartial and accurate information. The ballot of tenants was held during November and December 2006. It was undertaken by the Electoral Reform Services and had a turnout of 71.6%. 53.9% (1,747) tenants voted 'Yes' to transfer while 46.1% (1,497) tenants voted 'No'.

Fenland Independent Tenant Advice: Details

We were successful in tendering for the position of Independent Tenants' Adviser at Fenland District Council during their Housing Stock Options Appraisal.

Our role was to ensure that the tenants of Fenland were empowered to take a decision on the future of their homes and neighbourhoods and were able to do so from a position of knowledge. We worked with the Tenants' Forum, Tenants' Associations and the tenant body at large to ensure that everyone understood all the issues and could participate in all the decisions. We did this through holding meetings, visiting housing estates and sheltered housing schemes, issuing newsletters, working through the press and other media and providing a freephone service for tenants with questions and issues to discuss.

We also provided a website and tenants were able to make contact through the Internet. We advised the tenant-led Options Appraisal Working Group that managed the whole process and provided training to members of the Working Group and other active tenants.

We identified the needs and aspirations of tenants for their homes and neighbourhoods through a survey, carrying out workshops and analysing the issues that were raised on the freephone service. We provided tenants with a critical analysis of information that was provided by the Council and the Lead Consultant, and supported the Tenants' Forum in lobbying successfully for changes in the Council's financial strategies.

At the conclusion of the process, the Options Appraisal Working Group identified stock transfer as the option that was most likely to deliver the improvements that tenants were seeking and we managed a consultation with all tenants in the district on this conclusion.

The consultation was managed through a real-time internet-based data analysis system that we developed that provided not only the totals in support and against each option but a sophisticated analysis at geographical and tenant-type level. On a high turnout, 52% of tenants who responded supported the conclusion that stock transfer should be pursued.

Following the housing stock options appraisal, the Council decided to develop its stock transfer option and we were re-engaged as Independent Tenants' Advisor by the Tenants' Forum in October 2005. Our role was to ensure that the tenants of Fenland were empowered to take a decision on the future of their homes and neighbourhoods and were able to do so from a position of knowledge.

We worked with the Tenants' Forum, Tenants' Associations and the tenant body at large to ensure that everyone understood all the issues and participated in all the decisions. We did this through holding meetings, visiting housing estates and sheltered housing schemes, issuing newsletters, working through the press and other media and providing a freephone service for tenants with questions and issues to discuss.

We advised the tenant-led Transfer Options Development Group that managed the whole process on matters including the selection of the housing association partner. We also advised tenant members of the Shadow Board of the new Roddons Housing Association.

Fenland District Council balloted its tenants on stock transfer in November 2006. The result was that 54% of tenants supported the transfer. The transfer to Roddons Housing Association was made in November 2007 and has been a success.

Related Documents

Please find below links to some of the documents published as a part of the Options Fenland ITA'project:

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AWICS is a Management Consultancy and Training Business that specialises in providing support to those who provide public services.

Our mission statement is: 'Independence, Integrity, Value...'

We have been adding value to clients' businesses and services since 1998.

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