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Nationwide Foundation gives private tenants ‘stronger voice’ with £800,000 fund

The Nationwide Foundation will award £800,000 of funding to support private rented sector tenants by giving them a ‘stronger voice’ in the debates on around housing in their area.

The charity says tenants should be a central part of any changes to the private rented sector, yet their voices are often absent and excluded from meaningful debate.

Organisations will use the funding to provide tenants with greater access to information and advice on the private rented sector, enhanced understanding of their rights, safe places to come together, support to speak up and opportunities to work together.

The Nationwide Foundation’s tenants’ voice programme currently supports projects that specifically help tenants whose personal circumstances – such as low-income, disadvantaged and vulnerable households – mean that they cannot avoid the potential problems of living in the private rented sector.

Last month, a report by the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint found that young people are increasingly reliant on the private rental sector, where they face higher housing costs despite relying on more precarious incomes.

The seven funded organisations are:

  • Camden Federation of Private Tenants, working with local authorities in London, connecting key officers and politicians with renters, so that issues are better understood, tenants’ voices are clearly heard, and local authority practice is improved.
  • Citizens Advice, establishing a panel of private rented sector tenants across England to speak out on behalf of tenants, giving them a voice in policy decisions.
  • Housing Rights, strengthening the voice of private renters in Northern Ireland by building capacity among tenants and contributing to a culture among stakeholders which values tenant participation.
  • Living Rent, testing the model of tenant union neighbourhood branches to support tenants on low-incomes or from migrant backgrounds in Glasgow.
  • Shelter, using a community organising model to bring together and empower tenants across the West of England Combined Authority.
  • Tenants Union, elevating the voices of Greater Manchester’s tenants through the creation of a tenant-led housing manifesto.
  • Z2K, helping tenants who were homeless or vulnerably housed to use their voices and have their stories heard, while campaigning on issues identified by these tenants.

The Nationwide Foundation’s programme manager, Bridget Young, said: ‘Too often the voices of private tenants, especially those on low incomes or facing other disadvantages, are not sought or heard.

‘There’s real appetite to grow an energetic, purposeful tenants’ voice movement, and we hope this funding will lead to tenants becoming a normal and expected part of the advisory process.

‘Giving tenants the freedom and space to have stronger voices in debates on the private rented sector and housing, will mean positive changes in policy and practice, including better rights for tenants.’

Thomas Barrett
Senior journalist - NewStart Follow him on Twitter

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