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HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th January, 2017.

 

Present:  Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillor J. Drysdale (Vice-Chairman); Councillors A.G. Bennett, J.C. Bird, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and E. Williams.

 

Also present: Mrs. G. Doyle and Mr. A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group / Panel).

 

 

689     APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE -

 

These were received from Mr. D. Dutch and Mrs. A. Edwards (Tenant Working Group / Panel).

 

 

690     MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 7th December, 2016 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

691     DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

692     REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL TO 30TH NOVEMBER, 2016 (DEH) -

 

The Finance Support Manager presented a report to Committee to make members aware of the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April to 30th November, 2016 regarding those revenue and capital budgets, which form the Committee’s remit.

 

On 14th November, 2016, Cabinet approved the revised Revenue, Capital and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budgets for 2016/17 (minute nos C3362, C3363 and C3364 respectively).  Reports monitoring expenditure were brought to this Committee on a regular basis.

 

The officer acknowledged that the report was short, with nothing new to report with regards to revenue.  There had been one amendment to the capital monitoring regarding the Castleland Renewal Area.  An emergency power was approved on 22nd November, 2016 to request a virement of £73k from the Castleland Renewal Area budget to the Main Street Grant Programme budget, which was part of the Tackling Poverty programme.  The funding was required to extend a works contract for this scheme, which assisted in the redevelopment and conversion of empty shops to bring the space back into use as homes and tackles issues such as housing disrepair and home energy efficiency.  The £73k was unallocated and the virement would not impact delivery of the Renewal Area schemes.

 

The officer also highlighted that as the Main Street grant programme formed part of the Tackling Poverty Scheme, the funding has been transferred from the Committee’s remit, and would be the responsibility of the Environment and Regeneration Scrutiny Committee in future.

 

Having considered the report the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the position with regard to the 2016/17 Revenue and Capital Budgets be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To take account of the contents of the report.

 

 

693     TENANT SATISFACTION SURVEY (STAR) RESULTS (DEH) -

 

The Operational Manager for Public Housing Services and the Housing and Strategic Projects Teams Leader presented the report to advise Committee of the outcome of a large scale Tenant Satisfaction Survey and to provide details on the key service areas requiring attention following completion of the survey. 

 

The officers highlighted that the Tenant Satisfaction data was vital to measuring the effectiveness of services provided by the Council.  The feedback identified things which worked well and areas where people were less satisfied, as well as helping identify issues which were most important to them so they could be prioritised for future action.  The data outcomes also influenced other strategic work across the Council.

 

In the past, tenant satisfaction data had been gathered in a number of different ways, including telephone surveys, postal questionnaires, feedback from Community meetings and events etc.  Whilst this was valuable, the ad hoc way it was gathered along with small sample sizes, meant it was not always statistically significant, i.e. it may not have necessarily been representative of what the majority of tenants think.

 

With this in mind, a large scale survey was commissioned of all Council tenants.  The survey adopted a standardised format, referred to as STAR, which enabled landlords to choose relevant questions from a catalogue of approved questions.  The added benefit of this approach was it enabled the council to compare its results with other landlords in England and Wales.

 

It was important to involve tenants in the process, so a number of tenants from the Tenants Working Group helped choose the questions, agree the survey layout and set incentives to maximise the response rate.  The Group had also received a presentation outlining the survey results.

 

The questions used in the survey were mainly about perceptions; this means people were asked to score a range of things, even though they may not have had first-hand experience of receiving that service.  For example, some tenants may not have had a reason to get in touch; however they were still able to provide feedback on whether staff were helpful and polite.  This approach was adopted as it was important to hear from as many people as possible.  Also, perceptions are a very powerful influencer of opinions regarding the Council.

 

The Operational Manager for Public Housing Services, further described the advantages of carrying out the survey, one being that the Council could now create a baseline, and look at trends over time.  This in turn, would allow for services to be adjusted accordingly.  Tenant opinions would allow the Council the opportunity to do further analysis in order to improve service provision. 

 

Overall the results of the survey were positive and the Council’s results in regard to the seven core questions asked of tenants were positive when compared to others who completed the survey. The highest score achieved by the Council was in respect of satisfaction levels for their neighbourhood as a place to live.  The results also demonstrated that staff were friendly and approachable, with tenants agreeing that rent provided good value for money. 

 

The officer also pointed out that the results showed a lower satisfaction rate with regards to repairs and maintenance, and not all tenants found it easy to make contact with the right person in the authority, which resulted in tenants not feeling listened to. 

 

The results of the survey had already been shared with the Tenant Working Group via a detailed presentation and it would also be shared with the Council staff (via the Communications Team) and through the tenants newsletter. 

 

The officer concluded his presentation by detailing the key next steps, as follows:

 

  • Review and discuss the results;
  • Identify key issues and priorities;
  • Build an Action Plan to address key issues and drive improvements;
  • Improve communication methods;
  • Identify how to gather satisfaction data on an ongoing basis, in order that the Council could built up a pool of data, rather than carrying out a survey every 2-3 years. This would include looking at the approaches used, such as perception versus transactional survey.

 

Following presentation of the report and presentation, a discussion took place during which the following matters were raised by Members:

 

Matter Raised

Officer Response

A   Member raised concerns that the Council were in the lower quartile for the   net promoter score with regards to customer loyalty and asked why this was.

The   Housing and Strategic Projects Team Leader stated that, in his opinion, the   score reflected the fact that the individuals completing the survey might   feel that they were limited in their choice in terms of where they could go   for services.

In   querying the survey results for service priorities, a Member asked what more   tenants might be looking for in terms of overall quality of home, as only 43%   of General Needs Tenants and 48% of Sheltered Housing Tenants had listed this   as a service priority.

 

 

 

 

The   Operational Manager for Public Housing Services advised that in terms of   service priorities identified by tenants from the survey results, if tenants   had not received a direct service recently, they would be looking back on a service   provided historically, rather than identifying it as a priority for the   future.

Furthermore   he advised that the external programme of WHQS works had not progressed very   far when the survey responses were collected which may have had an impact on   the survey results.

A   Member queried the high satisfaction levels of the survey results in terms of   overall quality of homes, particularly in regard to Barry.

The   Operational Manger advised that tenants took pride in the external look of   their home, furthermore kitchens and bathrooms were also important to them, therefore   there could be a correlation between this and the survey results.  Furthermore, tenants paid attention to their   environment and the way that it is perceived.

 

The   Housing and Strategic Projects Teams Leader advised that tenants who lived on   the estates in Barry took a lot of pride in where they lived, although there   was some variation in the results between estates and they were working with   the Communications Team to address issues, overall the results were positive   and reassuring.

 

The   Operational Manger provided further information on the approach going   forward.  He advised that a ‘one size   fits all’ approach would not work and the Housing Team was aware of the need   to develop area based teams and approaches in order to engage with the local   communities, and this would be included in the Action Plan. They recognised   the importance of going into each neighbourhood and asking more selective and   specific questions of tenants in order to plan services and drive   improvement.

A   Member stated that it was crucial that the Council tackled issues in relation   to repairs and maintenance as this would affect tenants’ opinion of the Council   and therefore survey results.

 

The   Operational Manager for Public Housing Services advised that they were aware   of the importance of repairs and maintenance and confirmed that officers were   doing a lot to make improvements in these areas.

 

There   was still work to be done in terms of how tenants reported their repair and   maintenance issues to the Council and officers were working to improve   methods of communication, with Contact One Vale, to streamline the process   for reporting issues.  Methods of   communication, such as mobile phone applications, were being explored to   assist tenants. They were also looking to expand methods of communication in   order to assist older tenants to report issues.

 

In   terms of customer satisfaction, they recognised the importance of listening   to tenants’ views and reacting accordingly. The Council had recently adopted   a new communications strategy and hoped to see significant gains, in terms of   service improvement, in the next year.

A   Member referred to the results for satisfaction with overall quality of homes,   particularly in regard to those for the Eastern Vale (85%) and the Western   Vale (79%) and asked how this translated in terms of individual numbers and   how significant was the difference between these figures.

 

 

 

 

The   Member also queried the results for local problems and the split between   major and minor problems.

 

 

The   Housing and Strategic Projects Team Leader was unable to provide figures in   terms of the number of people, however advised that the difference in the   percentages was significant as it could place the Council in a different   quartile.  For example, 85% would put   the Council in the upper quartile, however 79% would put it in the lower   quartile for this key question.

 

 

The   officer pointed out that the major and minor results for local problems   fitted in with local feedback. The identified local problems would be   addressed in the Action Plan and would help to identify areas of priority. Officers   would bring an update report to Committee in 6 months’ time.

 

A   Member asked how the Council was going to communicate to tenants in the   future, in terms of forward planning for repairs and maintenance, once the   WHQS programme had finished.

 

The   Housing and Strategic Projects Team Leader confirmed   that tenants would hear from the Council via the tenant newsletter.

 

The   Operational Manager for Public Housing Services commented that the results of   the survey was a good news story for the Council and tenants and very good in   terms of the high level of responses.    Satisfaction rates were in the 80% range in general and the results provided   good motivation for staff. 

 

The   Operational Manager for Public Housing Services also advised the Committee   that there would be significant investment coming on board in terms of   reinvestment in Capital improvements and significant investment in repairs   and maintenance, the budget for which would remain the same.

A   Member raised a concern about capturing the views of younger tenants and   engaging with them.

 

They   were aware of the need to engage with younger tenants and the STAR survey had   provided the Council with some information in order to start engaging them in   terms of online services. There was more work to be carried out in this area   in as part of the Tenant Participation Survey. They continued to do a lot of   tenant profiling, which would link in with the communication work.

 

 

Having considered the report and the officer presentation the Committee

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the contents of the report be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To take account of the contents of the report.

 

 

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