As part of its role as the appointed Independent Tenant Organisation for Northern Ireland, Empowering Communities has been tasked by the Department for Communities (DfC) to develop a Housing Policy Panel (HPP) made up of tenant/residents living within the social housing sector in N Ireland.
The Housing Policy Panel’s role is to act as a consultative body for DfC, with a focus on social housing related matters. The Panel will also represent the interests of social housing tenants in the development of Departmental policies and provide a voice to ensure that tenants’ rights and concerns are represented and taken into account at a strategic level.
The Panel, which held its inaugural meeting in September 2017, is currently made up of tenant/resident representatives from the Northern Ireland Housing Executive, Choice Housing Association, Rural Housing Association, South Ulster Housing Association, Habinteg Housing Association, the Rural Residents Forum and the Disability Forum. At their inaugural meeting, the members agreed their terms of reference and developed an action plan to take forward.
Since its first meeting, the Panel has been provided with presentations on the Departmental process in developing policies as well as an overview of the structure of the DfC’s Housing Division. The Panel has also provided input into the consultation on the Department’s Review of the Allocations Policy and will be working alongside the DfC’s Regulation team to look at how best to report on the Consumer Standard to tenants. It is also intended that the Panel will meet with the All Party Working Group for Housing in early 2018.
Colm McDaid, Chief Executive of Supporting Communities commented, “The Housing Policy Panel is a clear example of how tenants can influence housing related matters at a strategic level. As an organisation, we are delighted with the commitment of the Department in working alongside this Panel to make important changes and improvements to housing services in Northern Ireland.” He added, “I personally wish to thank all the members of the Panel who have agreed to give up their time and to use their skills and experience to influence positive change for all tenants within the social housing sector in Northern Ireland”.