Equal opportunities case threatens tenant involvement

24 Jan 02
A housing association that paid £1,000 to a man who unsuccessfully applied to work as a sheltered housing manager has warned that the case could lead to tenants having less say over the management of their homes.

25 January 2002

Paul Jepson, who lost out to a female applicant when he applied to work at Norfolk-based Broadland Housing Association, was represented by the Equal Opportunities Commission, which subsequently warned that it was up to registered social landlords to ensure tenants had a proper understanding of anti-discrimination law.

Tenants at the sheltered housing scheme in King's Lynn were invited to meet Jepson and the female applicant after the RSL had drawn up a shortlist of two. They later passed their views on to the association.

But Bob Prince, director of operations at Broadland, claimed it was ridiculous to suggest tenants, most of whom are women, had discriminated against Jepson because they preferred the female candidate. The £1,000 payment was made to avoid the costs of an employment tribunal.

'These are elderly people in their mid-80s. It's not always reasonable to ask them to go through equal opportunities training,' he said.

Like most RSLs, Broadland appoints tenants to its boards and committees, whose members then receive equal opportunities training. Meetings with job candidates are meant to be informal. 'We're encouraged to give tenants a meaningful say in the management of their homes. This is going to make people [running RSLs] think twice,' added Prince.

A Housing Corporation spokeswoman said it expected tenants to receive training and have expertise relevant to their position on RSL boards. Interview procedures should be at the discretion of associations, she added, although they were expected to follow good practice.


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