Issuu on Google+

THAMES THAMES THAMES

E

Report to residents residents involved

2010 -11


Contents Welcome to your report One: Tenant involvement & empowerment Two: Homes Three: Tenancy Four: Neighbourhood & community Five: Value for money Six: Governance & financial viability

4 6 12 16 20 24 28

Jargon buster We’ve tried our best to avoid jargon in this report but there are still a few terms that might need explaining. Decent Homes Standard – the government has stipulated that all social housing must meet the Decent Homes standard. To meet the standard, properties must have reasonably modern facilities, be warm and weatherproof. Choice-based lettings – choice-based lettings (CBL) schemes are designed to introduce an element of choice for people who apply for social homes. Choice-based lettings allow people applying for a home (including existing tenants who want a transfer) to bid for properties which become available.

2

Leaseholder – leaseholders are residents who own all or a share of their home. Shared owner – a shared owner is someone who owns a share of their home. This can be anything between 25% to 75%. The remaining percentage is owned by East Thames or another social landlord. General needs tenant – a general needs tenant is someone living in rented social housing.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


Introduction

Introduction From the Chief Executive A year ago we set ourselves the aim of reinventing our resident involvement approach. We wanted to involve more residents in service improvements and allow residents to be really open and honest about their experiences. There’s more to be done but we’ve made good progress. As part of the new approach you elected seven residents to our new Housing Scrutiny Panel and we’re still looking for another five members. We’re looking forward to working with the Panel and hearing their suggestions on how we can improve our services. We’ve also seen a lot more residents get involved in estate inspections this year which is very welcome. You can find details of all the involvement opportunities on page 9. We’ve reached some key milestones, 100% of our homes now meet the Decent Homes standard, all our properties comply with gas safety regulations and rent arrears are at an all time low. This is all great news but we’re not stopping there. Over the next year we’ll be working hard to improve our repairs service and the way we deal with your complaints – both areas where you’ve told us we can improve. We know that next year will bring some challenges for our residents and for East Thames. The economy remains problematic, jobs are getting more difficult to find, welfare benefits are changing and funding is reducing for public services and housing.

We’re talking to the Government to see if there are ways to reduce the impact of welfare benefit changes on our residents and customers. Whatever happens we will take steps to ensure residents who face financial difficulties get good advice about their position. We’ve taken on two new welfare benefits advisors who can guide you through benefit applications and advise you on upcoming changes. We also aim to continue to provide our employment and training programmes, which helped 234 people into employment last year. We’re committed to supporting the communities we work with and opening up as many opportunities to our residents as we can. With the Olympics less than a year away and Westfield due to open soon, neighbourhoods in east London and Essex are well placed to reap the benefits in the coming year with many new jobs being available. We’ll be doing all we can to maximise these opportunities for our residents. Finally I’d like to say a big thank you to our resident editorial group who worked with us to produce this report. Their input has been really helpful in shaping the report so it gives all residents a clear and honest picture of how we’re performing.

June Barnes, chief executive, East Thames Group

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

3


Welcome to your report “Having read last year’s report, I felt empowered to get involved and improve the services provided by East Thames. Since then I have been elected as a Scrutiny Panel member, I have become involved in my tenants association and I have joined the Report to Residents editorial team, who helped put this report together. Maybe you’d like to join us?” - O’Gilvie Roberts

4

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


Welcome

Welcome to the 2010/11 Report to Residents This report has been put together so that you know how East Thames is performing, what’s going well, what’s not going well, and how they plan to improve. This is the second year East Thames has produced performance information in this format and we’ve tried to improve and build on the information sent to you in last year’s report. Like the 2009/10 Report, we’ve come together as a group of residents to make the Report more informative, appealing and to provide a greater understanding of the partnership work that residents and East Thames are doing together. Some of us currently involved are members of the new Housing Scrutiny Panel, while the rest of us are active residents, who work regularly with East Thames. We are all really glad to be involved in the Report. We hope our suggestions and guidance mean it is now more vibrant, easier to understand and better represents all East Thames residents, no matter who you are or where you live. We want everyone to feel included and involved, whether you live on an estate, in a street property or in one of the care schemes. As residents, we feel it is really important that our experiences and work are reflected, so each section of this Report now includes a resident’s story. This just shows how many of us are involved in the work our landlord does. If you have a story about how you’re working with East Thames, please get in touch and send your experiences to marcoms@east-thames.co.uk or call 020 8536 8769. We hope you find the 2010/11 Report to Residents interesting, informative and useful. If you’d like to get involved in producing next year’s Report, contact the resident involvement team on 020 8536 3957 or email residentinvolvementteam@ east-thames.co.uk. And don’t forget, joining a panel is just one of the ways you can get involved, find out about all the options on page 9. Yours sincerely The Report to Residents editorial team

From left to right: O’Gilvie Roberts, Waltham Forest Paul Bennett, Newham Paul Nicholls, Harlow Fatima Ali, Redbridge Julie Spalding, Redbridge

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

5


1

Tenant involvement & empowerment After English, the main languages spoken by East Thames residents are Bengali, Somali and French. On the Ocean Estate where a number of residents have Bengali as a first language, we produce a translated copy of the estate newsletter each month.

6

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

Did you know?


1: Tenant involvement & empowerment

We promise you: REGULAR COMMUNICATION • A choice in how to access our services. You can phone us, email us or visit our headquarters or a neighbourhood surgery. • Regular information, provided through a quarterly resident newsletter Streetbystreet which includes service information and performance updates. • An up to date website that includes all the latest news and information. • Additional ways of finding out information, including information fact sheets, leaflets and a repairs handbook. • A quarterly resident communications panel where residents provide feedback and ideas for newsletters, website improvements and communication.

A FAIR COMPLAINTS PROCESS • A range of ways for you to make a complaint: over the phone, by email, letter, fax or in person. • A written response within 21 calendar days. • A simple two-stage complaints process designed to address as many complaints as possible at the earliest stage, but also to set out what action residents can take if they are unhappy with the response. • Honest performance information in Streetbystreet and online showing how we are responding to complaints.

OPPORTUNITIES TO GET INVOLVED • A range of ways for you to get involved, from regular formal involvement to one-off occasional involvement. • An elected resident Housing Scrutiny Panel to examine our performance and services. • Resident inspectors and mystery shoppers to test the quality of our services. • Support and assistance for any residents who want to set up and run tenants’ associations, neighbourhood meetings or any other community activities.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • Resident communications such as factsheets and the quarterly magazine available in a range of formats, including different languages, Braille and audio.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

7


l i ke I f yo u ’ d e d b a c k s fe to give ua complaint o r m a ke i n f o @ e a s t email o.uk or call –thames.c 0830 0845 600

How will we improve? handling complaints

Last year only 50% of you were satisfied with our complaints process. We know this is something we need to improve and we’ve already started making changes. Last year we decided we would respond to complaints in three weeks instead of four, and we managed to meet this target for 94% of all complaints, in fact on average we responded to complaints within 18 days. This year we’ll work with residents who have recently made a complaint, to gather feedback and improve the process. Once that’s done we’ll put together a guide for all our staff explaining the best way to handle complaints and we’ll ensure there’s detailed staff training so that your complaint is dealt with right first time.

How do we compare? Average time taken by customer contact centre to answer phone calls

Average time taken to answer inbound telephone calls 0

10

20

30

40

East Thames

14sec

London’s top 25%

15sec

London’s average

36sec

We’re in the top 25% of London social landlords

2010-11

2009-10

How are we doing?

Performance Target

Phone calls answered in 20 seconds

90%

90%

88%

85%

Your query resolved first time by reception staff

96%

90%

96%

85%

Satisfaction with our complaints process

50%

70%

64%

60%

Complaints responded to on time

94%

95%

81%

95%

Residents satisfied that their views are taken into account

68%

70%

70%

70%

Performance Target

We’ve met our target We’re within 5% of our target We missed our target

8

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


1: Tenant involvement & empowerment

What’s going well? Lots of ways to have your say

e If you’d liklved o v to get in us on contact 36 020 85 3957

Last year we changed our approach to resident involvement to give you more opportunities to have your say. We know residents have different commitments. Some have time to get heavily involved and commit several hours a week, others have only limited time to tell us what they like and dislike about our services. So we developed these four ways for you to get in on the action:

Local engagement – for residents who want to represent their neighbours by forming a tenants or residents association. This provides the opportunity to discuss issues that are important to you and your community, and to work with us to improve your local area.

Formal involvement – for residents who want to be involved at the highest level, influencing strategy and policy, examining our performance and working with other residents and senior East Thames staff to improve the way we work. You can join the Housing Scrutiny Panel, which is currently looking for five new members or the East Thames Board, when a vacancy arises.

Y/N Occasional involvement – for residents

Service improvement – for residents who would like to become a resident inspector or mystery shopper. You can test the quality of our services, such as communal repairs, grounds maintenance or customer contact.

My experience

who don’t have much time but do have strong views on the way we provide services. We’re always looking for residents to complete surveys and come along to occasional focus groups.

Shahla Azirani has been an East Thames resident for 17 years and was recently elected by fellow residents to the Housing Scrutiny Panel. Shahla said: “I wanted to get involved because I realised that the Scrutiny Panel was a good way to understand how East Thames works and to help East Thames improve. I want to benefit my community by influencing East Thames and bringing positive thinking to the Panel. And I want to help other residents by promoting high standards in housing. “I think resident involvement is really important because it’s a way for residents to work with East Thames to achieve things. It also gives East Thames a wider understanding of their residents.”

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

9


Your local offers East Thames is landlord to more than 13,300 households across east London and Essex. Many of the services outlined in this report such as complaints and repairs response times, apply to all East Thames residents, no matter where you live. But we know that different areas and communities have different issues and priorities that may need to be tackled separately. One way of doing this is through our local offers. Local offers were drawn up earlier this year after we talked to more than 1,000 residents about their priorities for their local area. An example of how we can localise our services to meet the needs of local communities can include providing support to start a residents association, or specific communal repairs. Our local offer areas, which mainly cover larger housing estates, care schemes and foyers, are outlined below. You can read the local offers online at www.east-thames.co.uk/local-offers or contact your neighbourhood manager for more information. Newham local offers • Winsor Park • Victoria Street E15 • Magpie Close • John Street Waltham Forest local offers • Broad Oak

Tower Hamlets local offers • Grand Union Place • New Union Wharf • Phoenix Court Barking & Dagenham local offers • Barking & Dagenham Foyer

How are we doing? We recently contacted residents who live in an area with a local offer, to find out if it had made a difference. 50% of the residents we spoke to were aware of their local offer and 90% of those said they were happy with progress made against their local offer action plan.

10

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

Redbridge local offers • Haywards Close Essex local offers • Deans Walk • Harlow Foyer • Montbazon Court


1: Tenant involvement & empowerment

East Thames, borough by borough

Waltham Forest 1722 227

Redbridge 1388

1

217

Havering

1

498

46

Barking & Dagenham Newham 732

Tower Hamlets 1974

73

4585

662

169

1

4

Essex

3 604 233

3

As of 31 March 2011

East Thames households (social rent and leaseholders) Supported residents (care schemes and foyers) Local offers in the borough

Did you know? We currently have seven resident and tenant associations. This year we’d like to support another ten groups to set up an association.

11


2

Homes When we monitor resident satisfaction with repairs and maintenance, we break down the results by diversity strands, such as age, gender, disability and ethnicity. The results help us make sure the service is fair and free from discrimination.

12

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

Did you know?


2: Homes

We promise you: HIGH QUALITY HOMES • Warm, safe homes with modern fittings and facilities which meet the government’s Decent Homes standard. 1 • Homes which we endeavour to keep to the same standards that they were built to.

HIGH QUALITY REPAIRS • Repairs to homes and communal areas that are carried out quickly. Residents can contact us 24 hours a day, seven days a week so we can respond to emergency repairs within 24 hours.2 • Annual gas safety checks to make sure your household is safe.3 • Cyclical decoration works to the outside of homes and communal areas normally carried out every six years. • Repairs carried out by professionals who present identification when they visit your home and treat you and your home with respect. • Appointments for all urgent and routine repairs. If we can’t keep the appointment, we will let you know, and arrange another one with you.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • Home adaptations that come recommended by an occupational therapist, if you have a disability or find some day to day tasks difficult. • Priority given to vulnerable residents who need repairs carried out.

1. The Decent Homes standard only applies to general needs tenants. 2. Leaseholders and shared owners only get repairs to communal areas. 3. Gas checks are provided for general needs tenants. Leaseholders and shared owners are responsible for maintaining their gas appliances.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

13


How will we improve?

Repairs and maintenance service

Keeping you safe at home This year we’re going one step further to make sure you’re safe in your home. We’ll be installing a carbon monoxide detector in every care scheme and general needs home by January 2012. The detector will emit a loud sound if carbon monoxide is detected. We can provide strobe light or vibrating detectors for anyone with a hearing impairment. We’re also checking and upgrading fire doors across our properties, to make sure they’re effective in the event of a fire.

Our repairs and maintenance service is improving. Last year we completed 96% of repairs on time, 96% of all repairs appointments were kept and on average it took us just 11 days to complete a routine repair, that’s ten days quicker than our target. But we want to do more to make sure you’re getting the best possible repairs and maintenance service from us. We’re now being more proactive to make sure we get to things before they break down. See page 24 for details of our property MOTs. And we’re continuing with the handy man service for all supported residents. This involves a weekly visit from the handy man who can fix things for residents in supported housing there and then.

How do we compare? Percentage of reactive repairs

Percentage of reactive repairs completed within target time completed within target time 92%

94%

96%

98%

100%

East Thames

96%

London’s top 25%

98%

London’s average

96%

Our performance is in line with the London social landlord average

2010-11

2009-10

How are we doing?

Performance Target

Homes that meet the Decent Homes standard

100%

100%

98%

98%

Tenants and shared owners satisfied with the quality of newly built homes

96%

90%

89%

90%

Repairs completed on time

95%

97%

93%

97%

Tenants satisfied with repairs and maintenance

67%

80%

74%

80%

Homes with a gas safety certificate

100%

100%

99.8%

100%

Performance Target

We’ve met our target We’re within 5% of our target We missed our target

14

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


2: Homes

What’s going well? A Decent Home for every resident

Making gas safety a priority

We reached an important milestone in March 2011 – 100% of our homes met the government’s Decent Homes standard.

Last year we hit a really important target. We checked the gas safety of 7,959 homes and made sure each one met gas safety regulations. That’s 100% gas safety, something we’ve never achieved before.

We invested £37m over six years making improvements to around 3,000 homes. We replaced kitchens and bathrooms; provided new central heating, insulation and electrical wiring; and fitted new windows and roofs. And we’ll keep going. As our homes get older, we’ll continue to make improvements so they’re kept in good condition.

East Thames is responsible for making sure that the gas appliances in our general needs homes meet gas servicing standards. This means checking that all boilers, gas fires and cookers are safe and in good working order to make sure you’re not at risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.

My experience Maureen Reynolds has been an East Thames residents for over 20 years. In December 2010, East Thames carried out work to Maureen’s ground floor flat, to bring it up to the Government’s Decent Homes Standard. Maureen said: “They tiled and painted my bathroom and it went absolutely fantastically. They did a really good job. They also replaced my windows which were really old. The new windows have made such a difference. It’s quieter now, the difference is unreal.”

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

15


3

Tenancy Last year we helped 23 underoccupying residents move to a smaller property, which meant 23 larger properties became available.

16

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

Did you know?


3: Tenancy

We promise you: FAIR ALLOCATION • A choice-based lettings system which enables any eligible resident wishing to apply for one of our properties, or wanting to move between our properties, the opportunity to bid for the home they want.* • The opportunity to swap properties using the home swapper service, either online or by visiting us in the office. The home swapper service matches eligible social housing residents that want to exchange homes. • Incentives and help for residents who can move into a smaller property, so that larger homes can go to families that need them. • Regular tenancy verification so that we know our homes are occupied by the right people.

AFFORDABLE RENT AND CLEAR COMMUNICATION • Information on how our rents compare with the rents of other registered social landlords and in particular to rents charged by other London housing associations. • A rent and service charge statement every three months. • Annual rent comparison information, information on how we work out your rent and service charges and the answers to some frequently asked rent questions. • Help and confidential advice on debt or applying for benefits for residents who are facing financial difficulties.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • A range of housing options to suit the different needs of people living in east London and Essex, including large family homes, smaller apartments, care homes and supported accommodation for people with particular needs. • A variety of tenure types to suit a range of resident needs including First Steps Rent to Buy which enables residents to rent the home before buying a share of it, shared ownership, intermediate rent and market rent. • Options for residents who want to move into homes better suited to their needs such as mutual exchanges, sheltered housing and private renting. • Annual housing options days that give residents the opportunity to find out about all our housing options.

* Fair allocation relates to general needs tenants, not leaseholders or shared owners. East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

17


How will we improve? Welcome Visits When someone moves into a new East Thames property, our neighbourhood managers should arrange a welcome visit. This gives the neighbourhood manager the chance to introduce themselves, so that residents know who to contact should they have any questions. We also want to check that the people who signed the tenancy agreement are indeed the people who have moved in. And finally, the welcome visit gives us the chance to find out if everything is running smoothly and if there are any additional ways we can help our residents, such as our employment and training services or floating support for people with particular needs. We try to carry out these visits within the first eight weeks of your tenancy. We know it can be difficult for new residents who have just moved to find time to meet us, so we’re changing our approach slightly. We will now arrange a suitable time for the visit in advance, usually when you sign your tenancy agreement; and we are also using our customer contact centre staff to call ahead and remind residents of the appointment. And for busy residents, especially those working office hours, who are not at home during the day, we’re conducting welcome visits by phone.

How do we compare? Timeitittakes takes re-let general properties Time to to re-let ourour general needsneeds properties (days) 10

15

20

25

30

East Thames

22days

London’s top 25%

24days

London’s average

29days

We’re in the top 25% of London social landlords

2010-11

How are we doing?

Performance Target

Time it takes to re-let our properties*

23 days

Percentage of total rent and service charges lost due to properties standing empty

Residents satisfied with our lettings service

less than

26 days less than

2009-10

Performance Target 23 days

less than

25 days less than

1.4%

1%

87%

85%

88%

85%

Properties that receive tenancy verifications

110%

100%

99%

100%

Residents who receive a welcome visit within 8 weeks

76%

90%

84%

90%

1%

* including general needs and supported housing

18

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

1.4%

We’ve met our target We’re within 5% of our target We missed our target


3: Tenancy

What’s going well? Tenancy verifications Our neighbourhood managers visit several homes a month to check who is living there, we call these checks tenancy verifications. We’re now adopting a more targeted approach to tenancy verification. We are carrying out verification visits at homes we think may be unlawfully occupied and where we are not in regular contact with the resident. We do this for three reasons. The first is to check that the legal tenant is living in the house. We want to make sure none of our homes are being unlawfully sublet. Secondly we like to regularly check that tenancy conditions are being met, such as keeping the property in good condition. Finally, we carry out these tenancy verification visits so we have a chance to meet our residents and discuss any needs they might have.

My experience

t To reporletting, b l su u n l a w f ua c t u s o n cont 3953 or 6 3 5 8 0 02 eas t sublet@.co.uk –thames

Tackling tenancy fraud

Last year we ran a successful campaign with the Government’s Audit Commission, to tackle unlawful subletting. Through this work we repossessed eight properties using court action and seven properties were handed back to us during our investigations. That gave us a total of 15 properties that we used to house people who really needed them. If you think one of your neighbours may be unlawfully subletting an East Thames home, please do tell us so we can take action, we’ll make sure we handle any information you give us with the strictest of confidence.

www.g15londonmoves.org.uk We are working with London’s 15 biggest housing associations on G15 London Moves, a scheme which helps residents who need to move across London, by providing another social housing property that suits them better. The scheme is available for residents who are under occupying or who need to be closer to work. Former East Thames resident, Toby Lynch, used the scheme to move closer to his place of work. Toby said: “G15 London moves is the ideal scheme for me. Moving across London is going to make a huge difference to my life, as without the lengthy travel for work, I’ll be saving around £70 per week and gain an extra four hours a day. I’m looking forward to enjoying a better quality of life, having more time to see my family and a much easier route to work.”

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

19


4 20

Neighbourhood and community Last year 30 people took part in East Thames’ accredited training programme Community Champions, designed to tackle unemployment and equip people with the skills and knowledge to bring about positive changes in their community.

Did you know?


4: Neighbourhood and community

We promise you: SAFE NEIGHBOURHOODS • An antisocial behaviour (ASB) team who can help you deal with ASB cases, draw up acceptable behaviour contracts and, when necessary, take legal action. • New developments built to the Secured by Design standards, which means potential for ASB is considered and addressed at design stage. • Monthly estate inspections to make sure the communal areas on our estates are clean, well maintained, free from graffiti and well lit. • A range of activities, including mentoring, sports and creative workshops to divert young people from antisocial behaviour. • Partnership working with the Police safer neighbourhood teams to tackle ASB.

VIBRANT COMMUNITIES • Neighbourhood managers who look after a local area and as a result build relationships with residents and local organisations. • A range of employment and training programmes open to anyone living in the area to provide local people with new skills and employment opportunities. • Support and advice for residents who want to set up resident or tenant associations.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • Employment and training opportunities for a diverse range of people, including young people at risk of offending and programmes for people who have been out of work for some time. • Programmes run by our floating support team, providing support to vulnerable residents to improve their well being and sustain their tenancies. • Out of school activities for young people, such as our after school class for children at risk of becoming NEETs (not in employment, education or training).

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

21


e To becom ector p s in t n e id s e r, r a y shoppe0 r e t s y m or us on 02 contact 57 or email 8536 39tinvolvement residen ast-thames. team@e o.uk . c

How will we improve? More residents involved in estate inspections

tackling aSB

Ideally we’d like to have residents involved in every estate inspection we carry out. Last year, residents were involved in 56% of inspections, a big improvement on the 22% involved the year before, but it’s still not enough. As part of our new resident involvement approach, we’ve undertaken a huge recruitment drive to find residents who want to play a more active role in helping us improve. We made contact with residents who want to become resident inspectors and mystery shoppers, we held skills workshops to help residents decide which role to take on and we’re providing training so everyone has the knowledge they need to carry out their new role.

We want to improve the way we deal with antisocial behaviour so that you feel safe in your home and when out and about in your neighbourhood. We’ve got quicker at dealing with reported antisocial behaviour cases, but we know residents want us to do more about the way we handle these cases. That’s why we’re now working with Common Ground, a mediation group who can help resolve conflict and disputes between neighbours. Common Ground will listen confidentially and impartially, to any problems you might have with your neighbours and will help you find a solution. If you think you and your neighbours could benefit from mediation, get in touch with your neighbourhood manager on nmenquiries@ east-thames.co.uk or call 0845 600 0830.

How do we compare? Percentage of closed antisocial behaviour cases that were Percentage of residents satisfied with the resolved way their ASB complaint is handled 20%

40%

60%

80%

100%

East Thames

49%

London’s top 25%

89%

London’s average

75%

How are we doing?

Our performance is below the London social landlord average

2010-11

Performance Target

2009-10

Performance Target

Residents satisfied with estate services (gardening, cleaning and maintenance of communal areas)

77%

80%

77%

80%

Estates rated silver or gold during the estate inspection

82%

80%

82%

80%

Estate inspections that involve residents

56%

60%

22%

50%

Residents satisfied with the way we handle antisocial behaviour

41%

60%

61%

60%

22

We’ve met our target We’re within 5% of our target We missed our target East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


4: Neighbourhood and community

What’s going well? A job a day

A new community sets sail

Our employment and training team helped an impressive 234 local people into employment last year. This is almost one job per working day and a huge jump from the 145 people supported the year before.

We’re carrying out a £200m programme of regeneration works to transform the Ocean Estate in Stepney. 1,200 existing homes are being extensively refurbished and more than 800 new homes built. But creating a community is about more than bricks and mortar, so we’ve run training and employment programmes on the estate and we’ve enrolled a number of Ocean residents in our Community Champions course. Our Community Chest fund has also funded youth football sessions, Bollywood dance classes and weekly coffee mornings.

The team’s success was helped by their push to engage with as many new people as possible and by their strong partnerships with employment agencies and local businesses to secure vital opportunities for local people.

My experience

Paul Bennett has been an East Thames resident for more than 30 years and has been involved in his local community for the last four years. When antisocial behaviour in his local area became a concern for him and his neighbours, Paul decided to work with the local foyer and the police to set up a problem solving group so that together they could find a solution that worked for everyone. “I wanted to make this area a better place for my children to grow up and I saw that other residents were experiencing problems so I thought, let’s do this together. When I set up the problem solving group I wanted my neighbours to get involved and have their say, along with other local groups. I contacted East Thames, the local police, the council, two local councillors and our local MP and staff at the foyer. Lots of different organisations needed to come together. I persevered, did a lot of research and I feel we’ve achieved a lot. We made a lot of changes that have really worked. We’ve transformed the area.” Paul is now a member of the newly formed Housing Scrutiny Panel where he is using his experience of antisocial behaviour and his expertise in working with partners to benefit other East Thames residents.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

23


5

Value for money We saved nearly ÂŁ500,000 last year, by finding a new contractor to carry out our Decent Homes work.

24

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

Did you know?


5: Value for money

We promise you: INFORMATION ON HOW WE SPEND MONEY • Annual information about rent setting and how East Thames compares to other landlords.

OPPORTUNITIES TO INFLUENCE HOW WE SPEND MONEY • A Housing Scrutiny Panel and customer groups who discuss value for money in relation to service areas and strategic decisions. • Opportunities for residents to get involved on panels to appoint contractors.

VALUE FOR MONEY IMPROVEMENT PLANS • An annual value for money plan which highlights the areas where we’re looking to save money, do more for less or invest in different services. This links in with our main strategies for the year. • Information on how our services compare with other London housing associations and social housing providers in terms of cost and performance.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • A range of formats including paper surveys, online questionnaires and telephone surveys to check you are satisfied with our services and that they are good value for money.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

25


How will we improve? Reducing the average cost of a repair We’ve made good progress reducing the cost of repairs. In two years, the average cost of a repair has gone from £144 to £92. This is a big reduction, but we know we need to do more, so we’ve been working with our contractors to bring down costs and we’re driving a hard bargain so we get a better deal from our suppliers. Thanks to this new approach, several of our maintenance contractors have now reduced their prices by between 10-15%. We’re also carrying out property MOTs, which involve a surveyor spending one full day at one of our more problematic properties, working out how we can fix things before they fail. We’re hoping that this preventative work will save us from organising repeat contractor visits which will in turn save us money.

How do we compare? Percentage income due to general Percentage ofof income lost lost due to needs standing emptyempty generalproperties needs properties standing

Rentarrears arrears - percentage of allowed rent owed on Rent - percentage of all rent general propertiesnot notpaid paid on generalneeds needs properties

0%

2%

0.3%

0.6%

0.9%

1.2%

3%

4%

5%

6%

East Thames

0.4%

East Thames

4.2%

London’s top 25%

0.5%

London’s top 25%

3.7%

London’s average

0.9%

London’s average

5.3%

We’re in the top 25% of London social landlords

How are we doing? Rent arrears - percentage of all owed rent not paid* Average cost of minor works carried out to general needs homes Housing management cost per property Percentage of total repairs that are urgent repairs (these are most expensive to fix)

Our performance is in line with the London social landlord average

2010-11

Performance Target

Performance Target

3.7%

5.0%

4.3%

4.6%

£2,235

£1,823

£2,090

None set

£279

None set

53%

None set

£303 35 None set 52%

* including general needs, shared owners and supported housing

26

2009-10

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

35%

We’ve met our target We’re within 5% of our target We missed our target


5: Value for money

What’s going well? Reducing rent arrears Our rent arrears currently stand at 3.7%. That means that only 3.7% of all rent due by current tenants has not been paid. This is the lowest we’ve ever achieved and not far off the lowest rent arrears of any G15 landlord (a group of London’s 15 largest housing associations) which is 3.2%. Our customer accounts team has changed its approach to rent collection in order to achieve this great result. The team is now taking to the phones for one full day each week and is making sure any residents who are struggling to pay their rent get help from our welfare and debt advisors or our floating support workers. We are also using text messaging to encourage residents to contact us in the early stages of arrears so that we can support them before things get worse. Low rent arrears are really important to us because the more money we collect, the more money we have available to spend on your home and your community. It also means fewer residents are in debt.

My experience When we needed a new supplier to carry out resident satisfaction surveys, East Thames resident, Tina Fuller got involved to help us select the right organisation that presented best value for money. Tina said: “It was a real eye opener to see what East Thames goes through to find a supplier. I found the whole process fascinating. “We had to take a lot of things into consideration, it was a very in depth selection process but I’m really happy with the decision we made. “I think it’s very important to keep residents involved in decision making. It’s nice to see the process yourself and see the work, effort and commitment from both suppliers and East Thames staff.”

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

27


our Board Members

Tina Tietjen East Thames Chair

Johanna Holmes East Homes Chair

Debbie Sorkin East Living Chair

June Barnes East Thames Chief Exec

Alec Dick

Mehban Chowdery

Philip Fearn

Rohan Hewavisenti

Dominic Jebb

Sheila Lewis

Andrew Newell

Marianne Skelcher

Shirley Watson

Ashley West

Angela Williams

6 28

Terry Price

Governance & financial viability

Did you know?

The Chair of the East Homes board, Johanna Holmes, was recently awarded an OBE in the Queen’s birthday honours list for services to the housing industry.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011


6: Governance & financial viability

We promise you: transparent leadership • Opportunities for residents who have the right skills and experience to join all our boards, with three specific places for residents on the East Homes board. • A governance approach which involves board members working closely with elected residents on the Housing Scrutiny Panel to reach strategic decisions, scrutinise performance and implement improvements. • Information about our governance and board members available on our website. • A Group Governance and Remuneration committee which considers standards, ethics and governance issues.

EFFECTIVE AND ACCOUNTABLE MANAGEMENT • An executive team which oversees legislative and regulatory requirements from the Tenant Services Authority and other regulators. • Several groups at board level which include independent members who make independent and fair decisions around housing management, development and asset management, risk and remuneration.

A COMMITMENT TO DIVERSITY AND EQUALITY • A fair recruitment process that welcomes applications for senior positions and board members that reflect the diverse communities we work in.

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

29


How will we improve? Changing our board structure We’re changing our governance structure, so it’s simpler and easier for our boards to make decisions on East Thames’ future and direction. Currently we have 32 board members who sit on the boards of East Thames, East Homes, East Potential and East Living. We’ve changed this so in future these boards will have an overlapping membership and will meet as one group. From August we will have a core of six members who sit on all four boards with an additional two independent members per board. On top of this, the East Homes board will also have three resident board members. This has reduced the total number of board members to 17, which will simplify decision making and reduce our servicing and board salary costs.

East Thames Group Board 2 independent members: Tina Tietjen - Chair Ashley West

East Homes Board 2 independent members: Johanna Holmes - Chair Terry Price 3 resident members: Angela Williams - resident Philip Fearn - resident Dominic Jebb - resident

All Boards 6 core members: Andrew Newell Marianne Skelcher Sheila Lewis Shirley Watson Mehban Chowdery June Barnes

East Living Board 2 independent members: Debbie Sorkin - Chair Rohan Hewavisenti

30

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

East Potential Board 2 independent members: Vacancy - Chair Alec Dick


6: Governance & financial viability

What’s going well? Resident representation Resident representation on our boards is really important. It helps us make sure that resident views and experiences are considered at the highest level. It also means resident representatives are involved in making strategic decisions about East Thames’ future. We aim to have at least three residents on the board of East Homes at all times. Our newest recruits started earlier this year. Philip Fearn is a leaseholder at Vickery’s Wharf in Tower Hamlets and was the founding Chair of the Abbots & Vickery’s Wharf Residents Association. He is currently a director of the Abbots Wharf Management Company and is managing director of Fearn Events & Communications Ltd. Angela Williams is a Newham resident and currently works with the London Borough of Newham as a street scene enforcement officer. Dominic Jebb has been a Newham general needs resident since 2006 when he successfully completed the foyer programme. He is a customer relationship management executive with Reynolds Porter Chamberlain and previously worked for the Group’s solicitors, Trowers and Hamlins.

My experience Dominic Jebb first became an East Thames resident back in 2004 when he moved into Focus E15 foyer in Newham. East Thames helped him find employment with a law firm and he now lives in an East Thames flat in Newham. Dominic was recently appointed to the East Homes board as a resident representative. “The reason I applied to be on the board is because of the path I’ve walked. I feel like I’ve walked through the whole system, which means I can help people who are in the same situation I was in. “Being a board member is quite exciting, particularly when we look at the development that the organisation is getting involved with, like the Athletes Village. “One big area I’d like to look at is housing for first time buyers, getting young people on the housing ladder. And I’d love to get involved in the foyer again.”

East Thames Group | Report to residents 2011

31


THAMES THAMES

29-35 West Ham Lane, Stratford London E15 4PH Tel: 0845 600 0830 | www.east–thames.co.uk Fax: 020 8522 2009 | Minicom: 020 8522 2006

THAMES

0998-AUG11

Registered under the Industrial & Provident Societies Act 1965 (22557R), an exempt charity.


Report to residents 2011