As the chairs of the three national tenant organisations, and members of the NTV project group, we make the following points.
First, he suggests that tenants have ‘overwhelmingly rejected’ the NTV proposals. Not true.
While the NTV project group has taken into account a number of points made by tenants, the vast majority consulted have been in favour of the proposals – particularly the proposal that the NTV should be independent and not based in the National Consumer Council as originally proposed. Of course, some tenant groups have different views than others. This is the NTV’s challenge – to develop a structure that can best represent all strands of tenant interest – from existing groups to the large body of tenants whose voices are never heard.
Second, Mr Grayson suggests that the NTV will marginalise local tenant groups. The NTV consultation paper makes it clear that strengthening local, regional, and national tenant organisations is one of the NTV’s three core aims – the other two being to advocate for tenants, and to research what tenants want.
It is not proposed that the NTV take on being a representative body for tenants, because such bodies already exist nationally, regionally and locally, and they work hard to represent tenants. However, the reality is that none are yet as strong and accountable as tenants need them to be, and it will take many years to develop an effective democratic structure.
Third, Mr Grayson is suggesting that the NTV will take a ‘consumerist’ rather than a citizen-based approach. We agree that a purely consumerist line would not be appropriate for the NTV. The NTV should promote and support collective tenant approaches including tenant management, and several people involved have been strongly campaigning for these approaches for many years. But collective and consumer approaches are not incompatible with each other and each only works successfully if both are options available to tenants. Again, the challenge for the NTV is to ensure that it reflects all tenant activity and viewpoints.
Generally, the response to the tenant consultation has been that the NTV proposals, while not perfect, are as close to reflecting the different strands of tenant interest as they could be at the moment. We would urge all tenants to unite to support the NTV and other housing practitioners to respect the views of tenants.
Nic Bliss, chair, Confederation of Co-operative Housing; Terry Edis, chair, National Federation of Tenant Management Organisations; and Michael Gelling, chair, Tenants’ and Residents’ Organisations of England