Housing Sector Overview

…some examples of our work in the Housing sector

Award winning Tenant and Service Scrutiny is “sector leading. ” Clare Mailer, Perth and Kinross Council’s Director of Housing Services described the work of its Service User Review and Evaluation (SURE) Team as “sector leading” and as “really making a difference to improve the services we deliver to all tenants and customers”.

Following a recent, unannounced inspection of the Council’s Housing Support Service, in March 2016 the service was graded as excellent for the six areas inspected. The Inspectorate was very impressed by the way that service users are involved as customers in assessing and improving the quality of the Council’s housing services. The ability of the SURE Team to identify and highlight areas for improvement is “professional, balanced and evidence based.”

This follows the success of the SURE Team in being selected in December 2015 as one of three finalists for the first Excellence in Scrutiny Award at the Scottish Chartered Institute of Housing (CIH) in Edinburgh. The Scottish Government’s Housing Policy Services Unit sponsored this Award to recognise and to commend the new and innovative approaches that are being made by tenants and landlords to achieve excellence in their scrutiny activities and to improve their housing service.

Perth and Kinross Council was the only Council Registered Provider landlord to reach finalist status across all nine categories of the CIH awards.

The SURE Team have now completed six scrutiny reports plus 5 evaluation exercises where they assess and grade all the council’s housing services as part of the Scottish Housing Regulator’s ‘Annual Report to Tenants’ programme.

Housing Service Complaints (pdf)
Communication around Responsive Repairs Service (pdf)
Preventing and Tackling Anti-Social Behaviour (pdf)
Tenant Participation Strategy (pdf)
Estates Based Initiative Programme (pdf)
Operation of the Common Repairs Policy and Tenement Management Scheme (pdf)

In 2014 we worked for the Burnley-based Calico Housing Association to carry out a consultation exercise with the residents of its Royal Court sheltered scheme to look at their long term needs , and the future of the scheme itself.

Between 2012 and 2015 we acted as Independent Tenant Advisor in Northampton Borough Council. Our first job as ITA was in respect of a Stock Options Appraisal. We were then subsequently re-appointed to support the development of the chosen option , and ALMO (Northampton Partnership Homes). During that time we worked mainly with the Northampton Tenant Panel . Our work with them included developing the ALMOs Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Strategy.

In June 2013 we were chosen by the Salford Customer Panel as the Independent Tenant Advisor on the proposed transfer of 8300 council homes in Central Salford. At the outset of the project that homes were managed by Salix Homes, then an ALMO. Part of out work was to advise on the choice of potential future landlord (a process that included a strong tenant voice). Salix was chosen as that potential landlord, and tenants as whole approved the stock transfer in 2014.

In 2013 we completed the development of Rochdale Boroughwide Housing’s first Scrutiny Panel. We also produced a ‘Scrutiny Toolkit’ to guide subsequent scrutiny activity in RBH.

Evaluation of the Newport ‘Bridge Model’ We recently completed for Newport City Council an evaluation of the ‘Bridge’ Model used in the transfer of council homes to Newport City Homes. As developed by the council, the ‘Bridge’ model envisaged the transformation of the Newport City Homes legal structure into a mutual organisation some time after the 5th anniversary of transfer. Our report assessed NCH’s progress against that objective and identified a number of issues in delivering the vision of a member-driven mutual organisation.

The World’s Smallest Independent Tenant Adviser Job? After having worked as ITAs in the two largest stock transfer ballots in the UK, Glasgow and Birmingham with around 80,000 properties each, we were very pleased to be appointed in October 2011 by Liverpool City Council to be ITAs to a proposed stock transfer of just 3 homes in Liverpool. The homes were never transferred when Liverpool City Council transferred its homes in the South Liverpool area following a tenant ballot. As ITAs we have been working directly with the tenants involved to understand their options and to make an informed choice about them.

In 2011/12 we were chosen as Independent Tenant Advisor in the proposed transfer of 10,900 council homes to a new RSL. This was our second ITA Commission in Wales, after acting as ITA in Gwynedd.

Fife Tenant Participation Review. With around 31,000 homes Fife Council is one of the biggest council housing landlords in the UK. We were appointed in late 2010 to review its tenant participation system as a prelude to the production of a new three year Tenant Participation Strategy (the development of which is a legislative requirement of the Scottish Government). Fife is unusual in having three active Tenant and Resident Federations, which it supports to employ directly their own professional staff, and which have direct responsibility for developing and supporting individual tenant and resident organisations. Our proposals take account of the latest proposals from the Scottish Government on the ‘outcomes’ that will form part of the Scottish Social Housing Charter. They centre on the development of a much stronger area focus for tenant participation and a re-balancing of the relationship between individual and collective forms of involvement.

Following an adverse inspection report on its housing service and its approach to tenant participation, we were appointed to review all Tenant Participation activities in the City and develop proposals for a new approach to TP.

Following on from work we did as the ITA in the Oldham Stock Transfer we worked with the Holts Estate Management Board to develop a new Management Agreement between it and First Choice Homes Oldham.

In May 2011 we were also chosen by tenant representatives of Charnwood Neighbourhood Housing in Loughborough to work with them to train tenants and staff on the principles of resident scrutiny, and then to work with them to develop a resident scrutiny function across all service delivery areas.