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Providing Quality, Value for Money Services Value for Money Assessment 2016/17

We understand how important it is to provide quality, value for money services to our customers. Our value for money strategy is about how we do that by making sure our customers are at the very heart of the services we provide, that we make the most of everything we do and everything we spend, and that our staff understand how their day to day jobs enable all this to happen. This is our value for money statement for customers.

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Supporting our Customers 80% of our customers leave us in the first 12 months because they can’t afford their tenancy. We can stop this from happening. When a tenancy is at risk, our staff can help. This year, we provided advice and support to over 1,700 customers, that’s 40% more than last year. It’s a big jump in demand for our services, and we have responded without any extra staff. Working with our community partners, we sourced more than £200,000 of extra income for customers, reduced customer debt by over £160,000 and accessed £24,000 in grants. We also accessed £18,000 to provide white goods and furniture for customers who moved in with nothing. Sometimes, people come to us with very little in the way of furniture.

With the help of our contact centre and specialist income recovery teams, our tenancy support service has also improved our income collection by £500,000 and helped to reduce our rent arrears to £320,000 – that’s our lowest ever level, and we have worked hard to reach it. Like every saving we make, these savings do not sit in Accent’s bank – they are reinvested back into your services. Our ‘supporting independence’ project in five of the areas where more people leave us showed us which tenancies were at risk of failing. We made more checks, offered advice on how to manage a tenancy, and provided tenancy support. The results speak for themselves, dropping from 30% turnover to 0 in one area. It just goes to show

what a difference a little help can make. When tenancies older than 12 months terminate, a number of those customers leave because they need extra help, like residential or nursing care. Reviewing our service to make sure we can provide for those customers as their needs change so they can stay with us is a top priority. These customers often find themselves in such situations through no fault of their own. This is not about helping those who don’t want to be helped, or not taking action against anti-social behaviour. Our response to anti-social behaviour is quite clear, we don’t tolerate it.

Letting our Homes We have a responsibility to make sure our new customers can manage their tenancies. By making sure the home we let is most suited to the customer’s needs, we have reduced the number of tenancies ending this year by 230. That’s a big number. It has saved us almost £560,000 in the cost of managing our empty homes, and it has brought in over £61,000 more in rent, which we can reinvest back into your services. A well-managed tenancy with happy customers means a happy neighbourhood too.

We aim to reduce tenancy turnover even further and we will review the longer term future of those homes which stay empty for longer. Our website now has over 1,400 visitors each week looking for a home. Finding a home on our website is quick, but our processes are still over complicated.

We will update our website and office processes so they not only provide a great online, self-service system for finding a home, they provide great day-to-day repairs and other services too. We will have to invest £500,000, but we believe we will release £900,000 which we can re-invest in your services in the long run.

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Accent Housing Value for Money Assessment 2017


Scrutinising our services

Getting in touch

The customers who serve on our compliance and scrutiny committees (CSC) carry out a range of scrutiny exercises to make sure we provide a top quality service.

Most of you still prefer to contact us by telephone, and that’s great!

Any recommendations they make are approved by the Accent Board, and become local plans for improving services such as complaints, communications, anti-social behaviour and many more. But many more customers play just as big a part in helping to improve our services by taking part in our surveys and focus groups. With the Accent Hub, and our postal surveys, we can reach many more customers, and many respond – up to 30% which is a great result. With such a response, we know we are making the improvements that customers actually want.

We have invested in our contact centre to make sure our staff provide you with a first class service. Although our advisors handled almost 280,000 calls, our costs for call handling have dropped by 30% since we moved to a national contact centre, but your satisfaction has gone up to 82%. Mobile working is also making a big difference. Our officers have doubled the amount of customer contact they can have with this new technology to over 670,000 contacts this year. Mobile working has also allowed us to reduce the amount of office space we need, and fewer of you have needed to visit us in person, so we have been able to convert our office space into much needed new homes

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Repairs and Maintenance This is an exciting year as we are launching our new repairs contracts. We mean to provide a more reliable and consistent service, with higher standards and better performance. One of the main features of the new service is that we will bulk buy our own materials for quality and consistency, and to save money. We have structured our team so that they can properly manage the new contracts, and deliver an improved service, from day one.

We will invest in your homes individually, making sure we make the right improvement, at the right time, in the right home and at the right price – but without any reduction in quality. In fact, we expect to make savings of around £400,000 each year which can be reinvested back into your homes in the shape of future improvements.

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Left: In November 2016, our new Contact Centre celebrated its one year anniversary. Right: A selection of some of our most recently completed developments and work continues to convert our old office into 12 new homes.

How do we know how well we are doing? This is something customers often ask us, and this year we can tell you.

Accent People We want to make sure our staff have the skills to provide you with the best possible service. We offer courses on, for example, equality and diversity, benefits, debt, mental health and anti-social behaviour. We also have a number of staff studying professional housing qualifications which bring new skills into Accent and help to further improve customer service. We have also been involved with the

national apprenticeship programme and recruited a number of apprentices. They have all done very well, and have either moved to other roles within Accent, or found a permanent job elsewhere. Investing in our staff creates a sense of value and loyalty and we retain these skills as our people choose to stay with us and not move on.

We have become members of Vantage Business Solutions, a data comparing agency, so we can check our costs and performance against other housing associations. We can see we have better than average performance in first time fixes, rent arrears, and customer satisfaction. It’s good to know how we compare, and that we compare well in some services, but this won’t stop us always trying to improve the services we provide to you.

Future Strength and Security In 2016, our three housing associations merged and became Accent Housing. Being a single housing association puts us in a much stronger and safer position. We are less prone to the risks facing smaller associations, and we have increased our financial capacity to do more by £200M. This will enable us to grow and build more much needed new homes.

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Accent Housing Value for Money Assessment 2017

But this is not just about growth, it is about investment too. We may have a strong focus on delivering value for money services, but we will never compromise on the quality of our investment in our customers’ existing homes.

We will launch our new service offer over the next two years, which will bring change for the better for all customers as we match their needs and expectations, whilst moving into an ever more digital age. As our resident, you can rest assured your home and tenancy is secure with us.


Building new homes Our country is in a housing crisis. There are simply not enough affordable, good quality homes to go round, so our work as a housing association to provide these homes becomes ever more important.

As the number of visitors to our offices drops, and demand for more online and interactive services grows, the redevelopment of our Bradford and Peterborough offices have been included in our plans for new homes.

Last year, we completed 79 new homes. We had 63 on site and more at planning and acquisition stage. In January, we received £15m in grant through the Shared Ownership Affordable Housing Programme (SOAPH) to provide 500 new homes for shared ownership and rent to buy. Our new development plan will see us building 2,263 homes by the year 2021, and looking at every opportunity to build even more.

In Bradford, the office and car park are being converted in 16 new homes. In Peterborough, the office is being converted into 24 new homes.

The office redevelopments will not only provide new homes, they will generate over £250,000 each year in rental income. That’s more money to reinvest in your services. For those customers who are Accent homeowners, a top priority will be to improve our homeownership service in 2018.

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Our Board & Executive Team

Tom Miskell Chair

Paul Dolan Chief Executive

Sally Ormiston Board Member

Ken Wood Board Member

Rob Seldon Board Member

Maggie Punyer Board Member

Archana Makol Board member

Claire Stone Executive Director

Andrew Williams Executive Director

Gail Teasdale Executive Director

Shaun Finegan Housing Director (North West)

Robert Mills Housing Director (South)

Damian Roache Housing Director (East)

Pete Caffrey Board Member

Our Regional Director team

Deborah Kelly Housing Director (Yorkshire)

Tony Grainger Housing Director (North East)

Contacting Us  Registered Office: Accent Housing Ltd Charlestown House Acorn Park Industrial Estate Charlestown, Shipley BD17 7SW

 Telephone: 0345 678 0555

 Website: www.accentgroup.org

 Email: customerservices@accentgroup.org

 Twitter @accenthousing

Neil Cox Director of Asset Management

Value for Money Assessment 2017  

This is our value for money assessment for customers