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December 2011

a newsletter for tenants of Crosby Housing Association

The Board and Staff at Crosby Housing Association wish you all a very happy Christmas and a peaceful New Year

Christmas Hours The Crosby Housing Association office in Church Road, Waterloo closes at 4.00 p.m. Friday 23rd December 2011 and re-opens at 9.00 a.m. Tuesday 3rd January 2012 For emergency and urgent repairs only, please call:

0845 057 7096 24 hours Crosby Housing Association is an exempt charity incorporated as an Industrial and Provident Society No 19175R.

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Energy efficiency and fuel costs We want to discuss with you, our tenants, an enhanced and accelerated programme of renewal and improvement works to increase energy efficiency, reduce fuel poverty and improve homes. Energy costs have been rising rapidly for some years. This year alone all the major utilities have announced double-digit increases in gas and electricity prices. The number of people being pushed into fuel poverty is accelerating – and most of our tenants are at risk. Nothing on the horizon suggests energy costs will fall in real terms, while most economists expect the increases to continue. Our current business plan, and the current year’s budget which flows from it, is based on the projected costs of maintaining and repairing (including renewals of major elements) the housing stock over a 30-year period. In the current economic climate we can choose to do more, and more quickly. There are government initiatives aimed at reducing energy waste. Under one such initiative – the Community Energy Saving Programme (CESP), some funding is available for packages of energy-saving measures being applied to homes within certain designated areas. Crosby Housing Association has 116 dwellings within CESP eligible areas.

Communication strategy for energy improvements The diagram below shows ways that we can consult with you. Have we missed any? Are there some ways you feel work better than others?

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CHA standards for energy efficiency If we go forward with CESP, we effectively set a new standard which we will need to apply across the whole stock within a reasonable timescale – we can’t have higher standards in a subset of housing because of arbitrary funding conditions. Inevitably, additional investment on this scale is a major change to the base plan, and requires loan finance. The current estimate of the maximum loan required over three years is over 2 million pounds. Some of the programme costs represent work brought forward from future years. The standard we want to provide will apply to all of our homes. Although works may differ due to the physical structure of the property the aim will be to ensure that your home is as energy efficient as possible. To maximise energy improvements to homes to support our tenants in terms of their health and wellbeing and to address some of the issues they face in respect of financial inclusion, measures will include:

Measures will be reviewed on a regular basis with the aim of learning from our experience, new technologies and costs of commodities (e.g. solar panels).

What do you think? Your views on such large-scale plans are very important. If you have any immediate comments or questions about Crosby Housing’s energy programme, please get in touch with us through any of the contact details on the back page of this newsletter.

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Welfare benefit reforms Many of you will have heard that the government, via its Welfare Reform Bill, is proposing to change to the way in which welfare benefits are calculated and paid. It’s the biggest shake-up of the Welfare Benefits system in 60 years so, if you receive any benefits, including Housing Benefit, it could affect you and your household. The exact changes have not yet been agreed but from April 2013 the government is proposing.... To pay housing benefit directly to tenants All tenants would be required to pay the full amount of rent, plus any service charge if applicable, to their landlord. To review the way housing benefit is calculated For instance if you are under-occupying a property, your housing benefit may be reduced by approximately 13-23%. This could happen if you are single or a couple and living in a two or three bed-roomed flat or house. Again, you would be required to make up the difference and pay the full amount to your landlord. At the moment we are trying to find out how it will affect our tenants but to do this we need to make sure that the information we have about your household is correct. Please help us to help you by filling in the enclosed questionnaire and returning it to our office in Church Road, Waterloo. In the New Year we will be contacting those tenants who are at risk from the changes and we will work with you to tackle them. Please note that CHA tenant and board member, Lee Mattocks, has advised that there are weekly surgeries at Waterloo Town Hall between 11.00 am & noon every Saturday, where you can have your say on the Welfare Reform proposals. Or if you prefer, pop a letter into the CHA office voicing your concerns. We are still lobbying for changes to these proposals to ensure a fairer deal for all.

Merseyside Police new non-emergency number — 101 If you have a less urgent enquiry or issue to contact Merseyside Police, rather than use 999, you should call 101. Calls to 101 will cost 15 pence per call, no matter how long the phone call - this applies to both land lines and mobile phones. Deaf, hard of hearing or speech impaired callers can access the service via textphone on 18001 101. In an emergency you should always call 999, such as when a crime is in progress, when there is danger to life or when violence is being used or threatened.

Did Santa bring you a new phone or computer this Christmas? If so, please let us have your new phone number and email address so that our records are up-to date for when we need to get in touch.

Rent reminder At this busy time of year some of our regular, important tasks can slip our mind. Please make arrangements to ensure that your rent is paid on time. Banks and Post Offices will be closed over the holidays and payments will take longer to come through. The Crosby Housing Association office closes at 4.00 p.m. on Friday 23rd December and re-opens at 9.00 a.m. on Tuesday 3rd January. Thank you for your co-operation.

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Scrutiny Panel A seasonal checklist of reminders from our tenants’ Scrutiny Panel: Always fill out your repair slips and send them into the office. Use air vents when cooking so that food odours do not permeate into your neighbours’ flats. Remember to lock all windows and doors when you leave your home. Do not leave rubbish or unwanted furniture in your garden. Give Sefton Council a call to come and collect it - 0845 140 0845. If you are up late, consider your neighbours who may have to get up earlier than you. If you own a cat or a dog, do not allow it to leave its mess in gardens or on the public highway. This is unpleasant and someone else will have to clear it up. If you have a party over the holiday period, consider inviting your neighbours or at least let them know what to expect. Thank you and a Merry Christmas from the Scrutiny Panel.

3tc computer courses Early in the new year, 3tc are organising free computer courses for beginners. The course is designed for anyone new to computers. You don’t even have to own one - you may be wanting to use those freely available at libraries, community centres, etc. For more information, call into 3tc House, Crosby Road North, Waterloo or call Debbie or Karla on 0151 285 4000.

CHA staff news To support our plans for the energy efficiency and asset management programme, Steve Evans has been appointed to the new post of Finance and IT Manager, with effect from 1st January. Steve (left) has been working with Doug this year in the Finance Team during Gayle’s maternity leave. Gayle is returning to her role of Finance Officer in the new year following the birth of her son, William, who celebrates his first birthday at the end of December - was that really a year ago!

Business Planning Day Crosby Housing Association is holding its annual business planning day on Tuesday 31st January 2012. The Association’s Board, staff and a group of tenants will meet at the Crosby Lakeside Adventure Centre to consider objectives, issues and priorities which will feed into our planning and budgeting process for the next financial year. If you wish to attend on the day, please get in touch with us no later than Friday 6th January so that we can confirm booking arrangements. To allow all staff to take part in the planning day, the office will be closed on 31st January and our out-of-hours cover and emergency phone number will be in operation.

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You said ... We did As part of our update to you on our Local Offer service agreement, here are a few of the actions we have taken in response to tenants’ requests and feedback. Water butts You said .... We want to be able to keep our gardens and plants watered in summer using rainwater where possible. We did ... We have been installing water butts at various properties and communal garden areas. This enables tenants who want to water and care for their plants and lawns etc to do so without the need for an exterior tap. Only certain properties are suitable for this installation. Please contact the office so we can survey the garden area and rain water piping, for suitability. Winter grit You said ... Last year the grit provided at some of our supported schemes was not effective. We did..... Ruthven Court/Mary Stockton Court/Vale Court and Church Road all have grit bins in place. This year they have been topped up with an improved type of grit. Lock changes You said ... Having different types of locking systems on communal front and back doors causes access problems. We did ... Geoff Wall, CHA’s Housing Maintenance Officer, has been busy installing new locking systems which have thumb-turns on the inside and master locks on the outside. The new locks make exiting easier and enables tenants, staff and contractors to use a master key for easier access and to cut down repair times. The majority of locks used for the new systems have been re-cycled anonymously from other CHA properties to keep costs down to a minimum. We are continuing this roll-out to all of our properties that have a communal front door and hope to have it completed by August 2012.

Charity Shop 2011 saw record takings in our Charity Shop in Lorne Road, Waterloo. This success is directly due to the support given by customers who donate and buy goods and to Steph and the team who work so hard in the shop. The income from the Charity Shop provides valuable support to housing and community initiatives at a very local level. The shop also provides purchasing and employment opportunities in the local area. If you have a few hours to spare during the week to work as a volunteer in our Charity Shop, please contact Steph Morris at the Charity Shop, Lorne Road, Waterloo tel 928 6120. Any time you can give would be greatly appreciated - but especially on Wednesdays or Thursdays. We are also in desperate need of donations, particularly men’s, women’s and children’s clothing. Thank you to everyone who supports us. Page 6


Local Offer performance to 30 September 2011

Target

Actual

100%

99.52%

Are we on target?

Your Home Offer Properties with an up to date gas certificate

Emergency repairs that were completed within target time 100%

100%

Urgent repairs that were completed within target time

99%

100%

Routine repairs that were completed within target time

99%

98.50%

Repairs that were completed right first time

90%

93.69%

Tenants satisfied with the repairs service 99% 96.40% 209 Gas Services - 208 completed in time 38 Emergency repairs all completed within 24 hrs

     

203 Urgent repairs all completed within 5 working days 1067 Routine repairs completed – 1051 completed within 1 month Involvement & Empowerment Offer We have developed and launched our website with tenant input on the design and content. We have published information regarding our values, goals and targets and other information on the website. We have circulated performance and other relevant information to a variety of groups including the Board, Scrutiny Panel, the Tenants Advisory Panel and tenants via the newsletter. We have held 5 Board meetings since April and held our Annual Tenants open meeting in September. We meet with the Scrutiny Panel on a six weekly cycle and the Tenants Advisory Panel quarterly. We have developed focus groups for asset management and staff review and have board representation on these groups. We continue to ask for feedback on our repairs and communal services performance via satisfaction questionnaires. There have been 16 complaints to date and we have responded to all within 10 days. We have not yet included a ‘You said, we did’ feature in the newsletter, but will do in the next edition.

Tenancy Offer We have provided all applicants with a copy of our allocations policy and let all of our properties in accordance with this. We published and circulated to tenant’s information regarding our housing management performance in the annual review.

Average time it took to re-let empty properties

20 days 18.5 days

Neighbourhood and Communities Offer We have published a full schedule of communal services for those tenants who live in flats and these are displayed in communal areas. We carry out monthly block inspections and random spot checks to ensure that services are being delivered. We have met with communal services contractors to inform them of the revised monitoring regime and investigate lower than anticipated satisfaction levels. We are reviewing satisfaction rates for communal services via a second questionnaire. This was circulated with the October newsletter and we will enhance the response rate if necessary via a dedicated telephone questionnaire.

Tenant satisfaction with communal cleaning

98%

87%

Tenant satisfaction with gardening

98%

98%

Tenant satisfaction with window cleaning

98%

63%

Block Inspections

monthly

100%

   

Neighbourhood Offer We have commenced neighbourhood walkabouts with partner agencies to identify hot spot areas. We will publish a timetable for future walkabouts and encourage community attendance. We are developing Neighbourhood Plans to ensure that we have a better understanding of our neighbourhoods. Anti Social Behaviour Offer There have been 34 incidents of Anti Social Behaviour received. These have been investigated and responded to within the target time of 5 days. We have adopted a satisfaction survey to be used at the conclusion of a case, currently we are awaiting a response from the first two surveys that have been issued. Page 7


Christmas in Waterloo

Crosby Housing Association teamed up with Waterloo Traders, Merseytravel, Sing+, Dune 107.9 and a host of local schools and performers to present the switch-on of the Christmas lights at the Interchange in South Road, Waterloo. The hundreds that attended were warmed with free festive goodies from local suppliers including Greggs, Subway and the Little Pizza Kitchen. Father Christmas was very busy providing selection boxes to 150 local children and the crowd was entertained by Sefton Sea Cadets, In Another Place Gospel Choir and local schoolchildren. Primary school pupils helped the Mayor of Sefton to switch on the Christmas lights and great fun was had by all.

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Christmas in Seaforth

CHA also teamed up with local organisations in Seaforth including the Expect Centre, One Vision Housing, Merseytravel, Seaforth RAG, and Sing+ to co-ordinate the Seaforth Christmas lights extravaganza. What a fun time we had. Once again, local schools and performers entertained the crowd: with a pulsating dance act from Mitch Mimms, a hilarious performance of Scrooge by the Expect Centre, wonderful performances from the Chester Brass Ensemble, In Another Place Gospel Choir and local schools. We were again delighted to have the Mayor Of Sefton and local pupils switch on the Christmas lights. Many thanks to all involved. Roll on next year.

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Recipe - Boxing Day Treats A recipe from Waterloo tenant, Jane Kellie, to treat yourself with Christmas Dinner leftovers. Ingredients Vol-au-vent cases (e.g. ÂŁ1 for 50, Iceland, Asda, Tesco). Left-over turkey, Chipolata sausages, Cooked vegetables, Roast and mashed potatoes, Gravy, cranberry sauce, seasoning. Pre-heat oven to 150F/gas mark 6.

Method

1. Place vol-au-vent cases onto greased oven tray and cook until lightly golden brown. 2. Remove from oven. Separate vol-au-vent lids from cases. Allow to cool. 3. Chop ingredients into a mixing bowl, add small amounts of cranberry sauce, gravy & seasoning. 4. Using a little oil, heat mixture in a frying pan, stirring occasionally, until fully warmed through. 5. Fill vol-au-vent cases with the warm mixture, topping each case with a lid. 6. Cook the filled cases in the oven for 5 - 10 minutes, until vol-au-vents are browned. 7. Serve hot or cold with your favourite Christmas relish.

Out of hours Emergency Repair Service 0845 057 7096 If you would like this document in another language or format, or if you require the service of an interpreter, please contact us.

CROSBY HOUSING ASSOCIATION

Office Address 10 Church Road, Waterloo, Liverpool L22 5NB Tel. 0151 920 7300 Fax 0151 949 0717 email info@crosby-ha.org.uk www.crosbyhousing.org.uk Page 10


CHA Newsletter Dec 2011