Optivo hosts Housing Minister's visit to Kent


18 December 2017

More than 50 social housing tenants were given the opportunity to speak directly to the Minister for Housing and Planning, Alok Sharma MP last week.

Alok Sharma speaks to young residentThe event, hosted by Optivo on behalf of the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG), was designed to gather the views of residents living in social housing. Issues raised included rent levels, fire safety, the building of new homes and creating cohesive communities.

Mr Sharma said he wanted people to be “completely frank” about their experiences of the social housing sector. He promised this was a process of “genuine engagement” and he would personally write to everyone who attended the event, setting out a summary of what had been learnt to improve things for the better. The concerns and ideas raised will be used to inform and contribute to a forthcoming Social Housing Green Paper.

Residents also had the opportunity to speak about their own experiences of social housing and the issues most important to them during the event held at the Coniston Hotel in Sittingbourne.

Group discussions gave everyone an opportunity to feedback their views which were gathered by the team from the DCLG.

Alok Sharma spoke about bringing a sea of change in terms of the number of homes built, the perception of social housing and bringing fairness to the housing market.

Alok Sharma engages with Kent residentsAddressing the audience, Mr Sharma added: “The reality is we live in individual homes, but we also live in communities. That’s another aspect I want to understand – how can we make that community better and stronger in the future? To have this chance to speak directly to people who you are ultimately serving in government is a real opportunity.”

Earlier in the day representatives from 12 Kent and Sussex based social landlords met with the Minister to discuss how they are engaging with residents and what they are doing to ensure continual service improvement.

The group of housing associations and local authorities also outlined to the Minister the services they offer to residents beyond providing a home, such as work and training opportunities. The Minister also sought feedback on recent Government announcements on UK housing policy.
Housing Minister and Optivo CEO, Paul Hackett
Optivo Chief Executive, Paul Hackett, said: “We were delighted to host this event. I am deeply encouraged to see the Housing Minister engaging with residents directly and actively seeking out their views on the shape of social housing.”

“At Optivo, we understand the importance of listening to residents. We’ve seen huge leaps in customer satisfaction levels and service provision, through actively engaging with our residents and placing them at the heart of our Governance structure. I look forward to seeing the results of these discussions.”

If you'd like to contribute to the conversation by feeding in your views of social housing, please complete this survey: https://www.surveymonkey.co.uk/r/tenants2017

The survey is a chance for housing association, council and housing co-op tenants to engage and share their experiences with Alok Sharma, Housing and Planning Minister.