Customers from leading Midlands landlord whg will head to the House of Commons to support a campaign that aims to change public perceptions about social housing tenants.
Benefit to Society believes that as well as the general public, the media, government and other public commentators all need to be challenged in the way they represent tenants who live in social housing.
A national survey showed that more than 90% of social housing tenants feel they are portrayed in a negative way. Now, those who live and work in social housing are asking their elected representatives to take action.
whg has written to MPs in the 18 Midlands regions it has a presence in, inviting them along to the Benefit to Society launch event at the House of Commons next Wednesday (28th February). The MPs have also been urged to sign an online pledge.
Customers Linda Cole and Noel Maxwell, who have both been whg tenants since 2003, will represent whg at the launch event.
Linda, who chairs whg’s Customer Services Committee, said: “I am delighted to have been invited by whg to attend this event.
“I have always been very proud to be a social housing tenant and my experience as one has helped me become who I am today. My role in the Customer Services Committee is helping to shape the services of whg customers.
“I’m looking forward to meeting MPs and representatives from other housing associations and seeing how we can help to change the negative portrayal that social housing tenants regularly receive.”
Linda and Noel will be joined by Eddie Hughes, Chair of whg Board and MP for Walsall North, Fay Shanahan, whg’s Corporate Director of Operations and Sarah Johnson, whg’s Income and Residential Property Manager at the House of Commons event.
Fay added: “We are very proud to support Benefit to Society, which will look at tackling the unfair and untrue stereotypes that social housing tenants face.
“At whg, we provide customers with a high-quality, affordable home, with access to a range of services that boosts their health and prosperity. Many of our customers are achieving great things in social housing and it is time these stories were heard.
“We hope that our MPs join us at the House of Commons next week and sign the online pledge to affirm that social housing tenants really are a benefit to society.”
Campaign organiser and Director of Tpas (Tenant Engagement experts), Leslie Channon said: “We know that 70% of people living in social housing are in work or retired. Only 7% are unemployed. The remainder of people are unable to work because they are carers or due to disability. Yet if you believed the media portrayal and the awful language used about where people live like ‘sink estates’ you would have a very different and biased view. Benefit to Society is about setting the record straight.”
The launch event will also see the unveiling of new research carried out by Professor Anne Power of the LSE. This suggests that the reduction in social housing from around 30% of the country’s housing stock to around 17%, has had a negative impact on the wider public perception of who lives in social housing. The assumption is often that it’s a tenure of last choice. However, analysis of qualitative data from tenants shows that the reality is that social housing provides good quality homes for a wide range of people.
The 28th February also sees the launch of a social media campaign aiming to give profile to some of the real and untold stories of social housing tenants.