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Flying the Flag for Community Housing

Annual Report 2012




Langstane Housing Association is a charitable Housing Association which was founded in 1977 to provide affordable rented accommodation to single people. Although Langstane is still committed to addressing the needs of single people it now also houses couples and families. As a charity, it is committed to providing housing at rents which are affordable to those who are in housing need and who for a number of different reasons, may not be able to find other housing accommodation.

Langstane’s Committee of Management at work


Chairman’s Report This is the fourth occasion when I have written the Chairman’s note and it is always a pleasure to look back on the past year, reflecting on achievements and challenges. Certainly, this year has not been short of challenges. Once again, our thoughts have been dominated by the work we have put in to achieving the Group Structure with Grampian Housing Association. The Sirius Housing Group however is not yet in operation and at the time of writing this report, we await clarification of our 30 Year Projections to complete the Business Case to put to the Scottish Housing Regulator. We all hope that this work can soon be finished and the long awaited Sirius Group finally brought into being. In other respects, the dominant theme has been the reduction in resources for development. With a very restricted budget for new social housing development, and much tighter criteria for grant assessment, the Scottish Government will be making only a fraction of the contribution that it used to make to new house building. Indeed, without more subsidy it is difficult to see how any social affordable rented housing is going to be provided at all. But this is a problem faced by the whole movement and we are always aware that new ideas for new funding streams are constantly being discussed. In partnership with our colleagues in Grampian, we have to make what limited grant is available go a long way to increase the stock of affordable housing available to people in housing need. Because of the funding position, development has seen relatively few starts. We were however pleased to receive funding from the Innovation and Investment Fund for the development of sites at the former Stockethill Church in Aberdeen and the former Coull Cars site in Portlethen. Together they will produce 57 units, mostly for affordable

social rent but some for mid rent, managed by our subsidiary association Next Step Homes. We are also seeing the end of the Devanha Programme. Of all the sites developed under Devanha, only Donside remains on site. The redevelopment of this challenging regeneration site is being led by Tenants First. Langstane is their partner on the site with 37 units out of 144 affordable units, and these are progressing well. The Devanha experience as a whole has been challenging and by no means 100% successful. It was however an experiment worth carrying out because we have been able to deliver almost 1400 houses in a timescale which would not have been possible through conventional funding. Away from development, Langstane has coped with the traditional challenges thrown at us by our client group. We are still the only association in Scotland and possibly in Britain which allocates so many properties to single people. We are proud to do it but it does mean that our arrears levels and void turnaround times are always a challenge. Both areas have been tackled by action plans. While at 5.61%, our existing arrears level may seem high by comparison with other associations, for us it represents positive results after much hard work. Where we had to put more resources into voids turnaround, we set up a dedicated Voids Team and with the voids management contractor Bancon, we have managed to reduce dramatically the average time lost through voids, down from 39 to 28 days. With the increasing cost of development, many associations have considered the possibility of simply putting all of their activities on hold. For Langstane, we do not believe that this is an option. Our waiting list has 6,000+ names on it and our commitment to ending

homelessness by 2012 has meant that we need a Development Programme. Our existing tenants however have faced yet again an above inflation rent rise. We care deeply about affordability and we regard this as a matter of real regret. We feel however we have no real option. I have been greatly supported by my colleagues on the Committee of Management, who have seen the Association through a challenging year, I express my thanks and appreciation of their support and wisdom. The staff have gone through a year of frustration with staff changes, funding challenges and constant uncertainty over the finalisation of the Group Structure arrangements. They have however remained as committed as ever to delivering a first class service to our tenants. As we face a future where the only certainty is the decline in financial support from public funds, and the continuing need for affordable housing Langstane is committed to finding innovative solutions to housing problems, to achieving tenancy sustainability and to meeting tenants’ needs as expressed through the Scottish Social Housing Charter. Since we were founded in 1977, we have been able to deliver in all these areas and to meet the needs of client groups who without our presence would not have access to social housing and support. We are sure that we can go on doing the same in the future.

Dennis Wood Chairman

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We are the only Association that allocates so many properties to single people

Development After several years of relatively high volumes of new house completions, our numbers reduced significantly over the last twelve months. During the year, 22 flats were completed at Forbes Court, Elgin together with 22 houses at Nelson Brae, Keith. This marked the end of what we now refer to as “the old regime� through which the Scottish Government subsidised our Affordable Housing output by up to 70%. The availability of grants from the Government all but ceased during the year although we are pleased to learn that at least some funding will become available during 2012/13. We will be starting work on two new development schemes over the next few months. These are at Stockethill, Aberdeen where 35 houses and flats will be built on the site of the former parish church and at Portlethen where we intend to build 20 houses and flats. Government funding restrictions have led us to become more innovative in our approach to developing new housing and at both of these sites we have introduced a mix of tenure. Whilst still maintaining a majority of the properties available at social rent levels, the remainder will be let at mid market rents which, as implied by the name, are higher than social rents and lower than open market rents. These mid market rent properties are aimed at key workers on restricted incomes such as nurses and teachers who cannot afford to buy their own properties or will be working in the area for a relatively short time.

Forbes Court, Elgin

Nelson Brae, Keith

We continue to seek new and innovative ways in which to fund the development of affordable housing

We continue to seek new and innovative ways in which to fund the development of affordable housing and are examining a number of possibilities including participation in the issue of financial bonds, forming alliances with pension funds and exploring the benefits of off-site prefabricated construction. In addition we will be liaising closely with our local authority partners in making the most efficient use of funds generated by the planning process and council tax charges on second homes.

King Street, Aberdeen

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Members of the Your Call Team

Customer Services

180 160 140 120 100 80 60 40 20 0 :0 09 0 :3 10 0 :0 10 0 :3 11 0 :0 11 0 :3 12 0 :0 12 0 :3 13 0 :0 13 0 :3 14 0 :0 14 0 :3 15 0 :0 15 0 :3 16 0 :0 16 0 :3 17 0 :0 0

The Housing Services Team has implemented both the Association’s dedicated online Housing Management System and the newly established Common Housing Register for Moray and Aberdeenshire. They are continuing to look at initiatives to help tenants sustain tenancy in the face of the proposed welfare reforms and to this end the Association has developed the post of Income Maximisation Advisor.

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Your Call is a new initiative which enables customers’ enquiries not only to come through to one point of contact but be resolved there too. The staff of Your Call have been trained to a National Accreditation in Housing Information and Advice.

Incoming calls

number of calls

The Customer Services department is split into four teams - Housing Services, Property Services, Support Services and Your Call. Between them they deal with the whole gamut of customer service including a particular emphasis on information and advice.

time of day

The graph shows our peak call times and volume over a typical month

The Property Services Team has been programming major works to ensure that all our properties comply with the Scottish Housing Quality Standard by 2015. The Team has also rolled out the use of PDAs for our Direct Labour Operatives while within the dedicated Voids Team we continue to work closely with the term contractor Bancon to ensure void turnaround times are reduced. The Support Services Team is gearing up for the Social Housing Charter and is reviewing policies and procedures to ensure that they comply with the Charter and best practice. This Team will also be responsible for drawing up the specification for our three yearly independent Tenant Satisfaction Survey. New initiatives such as telecare are being actively pursued in collaboration with a specialist company supported by Aberdeen University. Close links with this project are being formed with the armed services.

Your Call staff at work

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Wider Role 2011/12 was the last year of the Scottish Government’s Wider Role funding programme. In this year we continued to work with partners to support the Scottish Government to tackle poverty, provide early intervention support for vulnerable households and look to improve employability prospects for local people. While we will be keen to see how we can benefit from support from the new funding regime, it is heartening to see continued income from a variety of funding streams. The New Initiatives Teams of Langstane and Grampian Housing Associations now work collaboratively to support both associations to identify and pursue initiatives that fulfil our wider aims to do more than just provide housing. A variety of initiatives are joint projects with partner RSLs and Third Sector organisations. The Association accessed two Wider Role grants this year to support the work we are doing through the SMART Project at Grampian HA. In addition to continuing to benefit from money advice, we also seconded one of our housing staff to SMART to provide Income Maximisation to RSL tenants in Aberdeenshire. This complemented the project already run by SMART in Aberdeen. Altogether 34 Langstane tenants received money advice and 9 benefited from income maximisation support. The total

tenant financial gain for Langstane tenants in the year was £197,404. Utilising funding from the Climate Challenge Fund, ‘The Community Energy Challenge’ project continued to employ an Energy Advisor whose aim is to reduce the CO2 emissions from tenants’ houses in north Aberdeen focusing on behaviour change. This has resulted in tenants being more aware of climate change and energy efficiency and will help to tackle fuel poverty resulting in an increase in tenants wellbeing. We also received Wider Role funding to develop a Starter Pack project for vulnerable tenants. The purpose of the project is to establish a volunteerbased starter pack initiative to serve vulnerable people in the Aberdeen and Aberdeenshire area. The project will focus on early intervention for vulnerable tenants by helping them become established in the tenancy. This project will build upon Scottish Churches Housing Action’s longstanding success in helping establish the starter pack scheme at Woodside Parish Church, Aberdeen, and seeks to build on this to develop an effective network for the city and surrounding areas.

The Flat continues to provide access to a multitude of services for the local community. We provide professional support to the Administrator and Management Committee along with an HR and payroll service. Our partnership with Workingrite continues to provide employment opportunities with contractors for 16-19 year olds. This project, supported by both Wider Role and Skills Development Scotland funding, provided 15 youngsters with placements. Leading by example Langstane has provided training spaces within its own staff structure and now employs the first work placement trainee on a permanent full time basis. With that success, we have engaged another Workingrite trainee.

We continue to receive Fairer Scotland Funding to support the operation of the S.T.A.R. Community Flat in Seaton where S.T.A.R.’s Headquarters are based.

Workingrite Trainee

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Finance

The financial year 2011/12 shows a surplus of £ 699,000 During the year the Association drew down £ 2 million from before transfer to reserves. an existing £ 10 million loan facility with Santander plc to fund scheme developments. A transfer of £ 118,000 was made to During the year a donation of £ 150,000 was received from designated reserves which will be used to fund future major Next Step Homes, our non charitable subsidiary. repairs. Income and Expenditure Account Balance Sheet as at 31 March 2012 for the year ended 31 March 2012 Restated Restated 2011 2010 2012 2011 £’000 £’000 £’000 £’000 Housing land and buildings 42,595 41,008 less depreciation & grants Turnover (including exceptional item) 9,702 8,909 Other fixed assets 3,979 3,940 Less: Operating costs (7,472) (7,629) (including exceptional item) Total fixed assets 46,574 44,948 Surplus on operating activities 2,230 1,280 before interest Current Assets 3,499 2,899 Interest receivable and similar income 6 11 Creditors: amounts falling 2,675 2,658 due within one year Interest payable and similar charges (1,537) (1,226) Net currrent assets 824 241 Surplus on ordinary activities 699 65 Total assets less current liabilities 47,398 45,189 In the year to 31 March 2012 the Association instituted Creditors: amounts falling due 39,291 37,781 the requirements of the 2010 Statement of Recommended after more than one year Practice on Accounting for Housing Associations which involved the implementation of Component Accounting to account for property assets. The figures for the year ended Net Assets 8,107 7,408 31 March 2011 have been restated to reflect the results that would have been recorded had this change in accounting Designated reserves 5,463 5,345 been in place during that year. Revenue reserve 1,889 1,297 Capital reserve 755 766 The change involved a reduction in net assets in previous years amounting to a total of £ 124,000. 8,107 7,408

How we use funds raised

How we raise the funds Housing Hostels Lead Tenancies Commercial Leases Managed Associations Contributions Other

Services Management Maintenance Depreciation Development Managed Associations Other Interest Surplus

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Flying the Flag for Community Housing Langstane’s Committee of Management and Members of the Senior Management Team

Committee of Management

designed by social enterprise foyer graphics

Mr Dennis Wood - Chairman Mr Forbes McCallum - Vice Chairman Ms Sandra Macdonald - Treasurer Mr Erik Bjorkelund Cllr Gary Coull Mrs Jeannie Felsinger Mr John Fraser Mr Kevin Hutchens – Convener of Tenants Services Sub-committee Mr Prospect Maduforo Cllr Nathan Morrison Mr Kevin Ogilvie Mr Gurudeo Saluja Ms Debra Storr Mr Bob Tait – Convener of Policy and Development Sub-committee



If you require this Annual Report in an alternative format, please contact us and we will do our best to help. I.&P. Register No. 1916R(S) Registered with Communities Scotland No. HEP 145 AL Registered Scottish Charity SC 01 1754 A member of the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations

680 King Street Aberdeen AB24 1SL Tel: 01224 423000 ALSO AT: 7 North Guildry Street Elgin IV30 1JR Tel: 01224 423000 email: info@langstane-ha.co.uk www.langstane-ha.co.uk


Langstane Housing Annual Report 2012