This is my first contribution to the Tenant Participation newsletter and since my appointment last year as Minister for Local Government and Housing, I've been meeting tenants, landlords and other stakeholders to get a better of idea of how the housing sector is working for everyone in Scotland.
We have high housing standards in our country and that's something we can be proud of. When I spoke at the International Union of Tenants ( IUT) conference in Glasgow last October, I was able to tell the delegation of our tradition of social housing and how we put tenants at the heart of our policy and decision-making. I was amazed by the number of delegates from overseas who commented on how well they thought the Charter was working here and who hoped that something similar could be introduced in their own country. However we can't be complacent: I want to make sure we continue to improve, and that landlords get into the habit of identifying what they are doing particularly well, of sharing their good practice, and of learning from others in the sector.
At the beginning of February I was delighted to join tenant representatives and others to give evidence to the Scottish Parliament's Local Government and Communities Committee, when it was considering the revised Scottish Social Housing Charter. I was pleased to hear of stakeholders' support for the current Charter, and for the revised version; and I welcomed the Committee's decision to recommend that the Scottish Parliament should approve the revised version.
It's clear that the Charter has worked well in helping landlords to deliver good services for tenants, and encouraging tenants to hold their landlords to account. I was pleased in particular to learn that the Charter has enabled the development of tenant-led scrutiny of landlords' performance and that this has led to positive changes in the services that landlords deliver. I wholeheartedly support tenants and landlords working together in this way.
The revised Charter will take effect from April 2017 and I encourage you to build on the achievements that have been made so far. When I met the Registered Tenant Organisation ( RTO) Regional Networks last October it gave me a chance to hear from tenants and residents directly about the impact of our housing policies on their communities. Using the collective expertise and knowledge of tenants is extremely important to meet our targets and understand the impact of our policies. I greatly value the work that tenants and residents do locally and nationally. They positively contribute to and influence our housing policies. I value their voices and will ensure they are involved in shaping a housing sector that works for us all.
This is just a snapshot of some of the exciting things happening in the housing sector at the moment. There is much still to come and I look forward to working with as many of you as I can in the future.
Minister for Local Government and Housing
Email: Annabel MacMillan