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Housing annual report

Welcome to the latest edition of our Housing Annual Report that lets you know what we’ve achieved, whilst dealing with the challenges we’ve faced over the past year. It also highlights some of the excellent work done working together with tenants proving that we can make a real difference.

We put tenants at the heart of our Housing Service and we will continue to provide you with high quality homes, support the communities you live in and improve the services that we provide to you.

The annual benchmarking of performance we undertake against all other social housing providers shows that the quality and effectiveness of services continues to improve and in many cases be amongst the top level of any housing provider in the country.

Whilst this report features results of the last financial year just gone, we continue to look to improve what we do in the future.

We already have plans in place to:

  • put in a COVID-19 Recovery Plan for the Housing service that will identify the key issues and ensure all services are back on their feet and fully functioning as quickly as possible in line with Government guidance
  • review our Tenancy Agreement and introduce a new version that is up to date and meets operational and legal requirements and protects both tenants and the Council as landlord.
  • further develop our approach to transforming our agile housing services across our housing management, repairs and lettings teams.
  • undertake a full review of the Housing Revenue Account to ensure sufficient funds are available over the next 30 years to maintain, enhance and add to our housing stock.
  • acquire and/or build over 100 new social housing properties over the next 5 years (affordable housing delivery strategy).

Through the year 2019/20 we:  

  • adapted how we managed the roll out of Universal Credit and operated an early intervention approach to support our tenants on to this. With our knowledgeable officers we worked with DWP and our tenants to resolve any issues so that the claims were processed as quickly as possible and payments received
  • made strides to develop agile housing services so that our housing management, repairs and lettings teams are able to interact with tenants to deliver services in a way which suits them (aligned with our digital transformation programme)
  • were successful in bringing in external funds to set up a Welfare Support Fund of over £8,000 which enabled us to support 13 vulnerable new tenants to buy essential goods to be able to move into a property and sustain their tenancy
  • redesigned our Housing Repairs Service to put in scheduling for repairs and improve the customer service to tenants
  • reviewed and improved our approach to tenant co-regulation, engagement and scrutiny in line with the regulatory framework for social housing in England
  • we brought in 8 completions on new properties to add to the stock – 6 of which were agreed and completed within the year and 2 which were agreed in 2018/19 and completed in 2019/20
  • spent over £5m on major repairs and improvement works to tenants homes, including:
    • central heating boiler replacements
    • electrical Installation replacements
    • external door replacements (composite doors)
    • window replacements
    • roof covering replacements
    • bathroom replacements
    • external wall finish replacements such as render
    • improvements/major repairs to Common areas in flat blocks
    • disabled adaptations. 

We also received recognition through awards and nominations which included:

  • Ashfield District Council named as one of the 50 best housing landlords in the country, and the only local authority in the country on a prestigious list of the top 50 housing landlords published by 24Housing in 2019
  • our Welfare Reform Apprentice won Apprentice of the Year at the D2N2 Apprenticeships Awards in 2019
  • our Joinery Apprentice was nominated for Apprentice of the Year at the D2N2 Apprenticeships Awards in 2019
  • our Welfare Reform Apprentice was shortlisted for the Charted Institute of Housing, Housing Heroes Awards Apprentice of the Year 2019
  • our Senior Repairs Technician was nominated for the Charted Institute of Housing, Housing Heroes Award Apprentice Mentor of the Year 2019
  • Shortlisted for Efficiency East Midlands (EEM) awards – Affordable Housing Development Strategy.
Housing annual report 2019/20 infographic showing key stats

 

Lettings      

Our Lettings service is responsible for the allocation of our Housing stock. We have around 6,800 properties and have 4,000 people on our waiting list. As less than 500 properties become available to let each year applicants need to be selected in bands which prioritise their need for housing.

We do this through our on line Choice Based Lettings system available at www.amhomefinder.co.uk

Properties let in 2019/20:

  • 419 properties were let in 2019/20 at an average of 18.1 days. This performance puts in an Upper Quartile position against Housemark’s 2018/19 benchmarking of less than 24.2 days
  • of these 137 applicants were in band 1 ‘emergency’ need and 154 in band 2 ‘urgent’ need.
  • the 419 properties included 97 bungalows, 87 houses and 235 flats.

Mutual exchanges

In 2019/20, 37 tenants moved home by way of mutual exchange.

2019/20 headlines

  • added 8 additional units to the social housing stock of which 6 were agreed and completed within the year and 2 which were agreed in 2018/19
  • improvements were made to the lettings process through the implementation of some of the functionality of our agile working solution
  • during the last few weeks of 2019/20, we started to see a negative impact on the number of lettings able to be completed due to the lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Tenancy Services

Collecting Rent

Rent is our only income. If we don’t collect rent, we have less money to spend on the upkeep of our properties as well as the wider tenancy management services we provide such as Tenancy Sustainment and Money Advice.

End of year performance has been affected by COVID-19 during March 2020 impacting on the ability to collect rent and take appropriate action. The continued roll out of Universal Credit continues to impact on the collection levels. There was almost £150,000 more current tenant rent arrears for Universal Credit claimants at the end of the financial year, compared to the previous years. However, current tenant rent arrears were only around £77,000 higher than at week 52 last year.

Around half of our tenants who have gone on to Universal Credit have accrued arrears, with the average arrears level being much high than that of those tenants who are in arrears but have other forms of income. This resulted in a higher total arrears figure and lower overall rent collection figure then the previous year.

We know arrears usually rise when our tenants go on to Universal Credit, so if you are about to go on to Universal Credit then we would encourage you to contact us. We would be happy to offer you some advice and pointers in order to assist in managing your finances as you adjust to the new payment.

The current tenant arrears figure is a key performance indicator for the Income Recovery Team.

Current Tenant Arrears

 

Performance

Target

Housemark Quartile Position

2019/20

1.47%

1.3%

Upper Quartile position based on Housemark’s 2018/19 benchmarking performance of less than 1.51%

2018/19

1.17%

1.3%

Upper

 

Our target for 2020/21 has been increased to reflect the current situation to 1.6%

In 2019/20:

  • 415 Notice of Seeking Possession were issued to tenants due to rent arrears and tenancy issues
  • 20 households were evicted for non-payment of rent.

Tenancy Support

 In 2019/20, the Housing Service has worked to deliver outcomes for our customers with:

  • Over £267k has been accessed in welfare benefits, housing and council tax benefits and grants and white goods from charitable trusts for tenants
  • 921 Council tenants assisted with Welfare and Money Management Advice
  • 251 Council Tenants provided with Tenancy Support of which:
    • 73 were prevented from being evicted
    • 246 were assisted with support to connect essential utilities e.g. gas/electric
    • 121 elderly or vulnerable tenants were supported to remain living independently in their own home e.g. prevented from being rehoused into care homes or supported accommodation
    • a total of 31 families were supported throughout the year to prevent the children going into care and to access additional support for the children
    • 52 identified as being in fuel poverty and were supported to obtain grants and other support  from utility companies.
  • 100% of tenants in their tenancy after 6 months, following the completion of the support package provided by the Tenancy Sustainment Officers.

Tenancy and Estate Management:

Did you know we undertake regular inspections of our estates?

These are publicised on our website, with other services, Council Departments, and Councillors invited. During 2019/20, we carried out 39 planned estate inspections across the district to ensure the estates which have Council owned stock are maintained to a high standard.

Tenant Involvement:

Our services are all about tenants and we would like you to have your input in to our policies and procedures. Getting involved in our resident groups is both rewarding and you can actually see how your views and suggestions shape our service.

During 2019/20:

  • we actively supported 5 community groups
  • officers attended over 50 community groups/tenants and residents meetings in the district
  • we held 6 Tenant Gateway Meetings. Tenant representatives scrutinised our performance and complaints, developed our new Tenants Charter and were involved in the development of the Terms of Reference for the new Tenants Scrutiny Panel
  • developed and recruited to the newly formed Tenant Scrutiny Panel.

Technical Services Section

Property repairs is our busiest service, we appreciate that having something go wrong or break in your home can be frustrating and so we aim to offer a service which is both easy to get through to and prompt in attending to the property at your convenience. £5 million was spent in 2019/20 on improvement works.

During 2019/2020 our Repairs Service performed as follows:

All repairs

  • 35,476 repairs completed
  • Including 5386 emergency repairs

Responsive only

  • 28,854 repairs completed
  • Including 5386 emergency repairs

Average time taken to complete repairs

  • 77 calendar days per property (This performance puts in an Upper Quartile position against Housemark’s 2018/19 benchmarking performance of less than 7.30 days)

Repairs completed on time

  • Repairs completed on time – 98.37% (All Repairs)
  • Repairs completed on time – 99.33% (Responsive only)

Repairs Call Handling Centre

  • Total calls received – 40,426
  • Total calls answered – 39,495
  • 97.70% calls answered
  • Average call ring time 24.33 seconds

Customer Feedback

  • 28 formal complaints received.
  • 75 days was the average time taken when responding to a complaint, a reduction in nearly a day on average to resolve each complaint from the previous year.

Learning from feedback

Over the past 12 months, we continue to learn following feedback from tenants. Listed below are examples of how we have taken on feedback from our tenants and used this to make a positive difference across the services we provide.

Feedback

How we have improved our service

 

Repairs need to be undertaken in a timely manner and with timescales agreed with tenant.

 

We are committed to maintaining a high quality service by completing repairs within the agreed timescales set out in our procedures and as agreed with our tenants.

 

Officers need to ensure that financial details are correct when making amendments.

 

When matters relate to finance/payments and changes to these, officers have put further checks in place to ensure that these details are correct.

 

Commitments need to be kept when agreeing to actions with tenants.

 

When making commitments to visit, call or respond in a timely manner we have put arrangements in place to ensure officers meet these commitments or if they are unable to do they keep the tenant informed of progress.

 

Effective communication is key in terms of keeping tenants updated when dealing with tenancy matters.

 

We have highlighted the importance of clear communication with officers so that our tenants are kept up to date with any ongoing tenancy matter.