housing The newsletter for Link tenants
Welcome to this extra Housing News. We have so much to tell you we couldn’t wait until the Winter edition! This one will focus on how your views have helped shape a number of issues which are important to you as a tenant, but also on how you can continue to make a contribution to service improvements.
Scottish Social Housing Charter Consultation
INSIDE Have your say
Link’s repairs service
THE SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT has organised a number of events for tenants to give their feedback on the draft Scottish Social Housing Charter. The draft Charter sets out the outcomes a landlord should deliver for everyone who use its services and the Charter provides tenants with an opportunity to have a say in how services such as repairs, estate management, tackling anti-social behaviour, tenant participation, allocations and tenancy sustainment are monitored. We want our tenants and customers to be aware of the importance of the Charter, as
it will govern how our services are monitored from April 2012. A number of consultation events in October will allow you to have your say. These will be held from 10am – 3.30pm on the following dates: Monday 3rd October 2011 Atlantic Quay, Broomielaw, Glasgow Tuesday 4th October 2011 Stirling Management Centre, hosted by Stirling Council Friday 14th October 2011 Scottish Government, Victoria Quay, Leith, Edinburgh
Link Housing – 08451 400 100
A number of places have been booked for Link tenants. If you would like to attend please contact Leah Webb on 08451 400 100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to book your place. If you would like more information about the Charter consultation process, please go to www.scotland.gov.uk/ consultations/current.
The Scottish Housing Regulator wants your views Scotland has a new, independent housing regulator and from April 2012 its role will be to safeguard and promote the interests of tenants and others who receive housing services from local authorities and housing associations. Before taking on its new role, the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) is consulting on its approach. The SHR wants the views of tenants, homelessness service users, landlords and others with an interest in social housing. The consultation begins in September and responses can be given until late November. The SHR is holding a number of events over the next few months. These will be on: Friday 30th September Regional Tenant Network, Thistle Hotel, Glasgow Tuesday 4th October Easterbrook Hall, Dumfries Friday 28th October Thistle Hotel, Glasgow Tuesday 1st November Thistle Hotel, Edinburgh Wednesday 9th November Aberdeen Football Club, Aberdeen If you would like to attend any of these events please contact Leah Webb, Link Tenant Liaison Officer on 08451 400 100 or email email@example.com For further information please consult the Scottish Housing Regulator’s website. http://newregulator.scottish housingregulator.gov.uk/
Have your say on how Link makes decisions on allocating properties
We are currently reviewing the process we use to allocate our properties. The current systems we use are called Homehunt Choice Based Lettings and (in Edinburgh area only) Edindex. The review will be aided by recent guidance issued by the Scottish Government called “Social Housing Allocations: A Practice Guide”. The allocation of our properties is largely governed by the Housing Scotland Act (2010). This tells us what we can and can’t take into account when letting our properties. However, there are some areas where we can make our own decisions and criteria. We want to work with you and our applicants to ensure that we keep the lettings process as straightforward and as easy to understand as possible. We hope that you will be willing to www.linkhousing.org.uk
take part in consultation exercises in early 2012. The consultation will discuss with tenants the impact of the pilots and their priorities for allocating properties. In order to “test the water” for change, we will carry out three pilots over the next six months. A pilot is a test project to see what impact any changes may have before they are rolled out to all policies or procedures. Details of the pilots are on page three.
1. Under occupancy incentive scheme for tenants There is a very high demand for properties that have more than three bedrooms but only 20% of our stock is that size. This means that there is a significant number of people who have more bedrooms than they need or can afford. Link is keen to make sure our tenants live in the right property size and we have a number of incentives to help you downsize. We have a “menu” of options to assist tenants to move up to the value of £1000. These include: ● Assistance with packing and removals to your new home ● Disconnection and reconnection of cooker & washing machine ● Supply of new white goods for the kitchen such as cookers, fridges & washing machines ● Decoration or provision of decoration vouchers ● Clearing outstanding rent arrears (certain criteria will apply)
2. Increased number of transfers offered to current Link tenants Link operates a choice-based lettings system where applicants are shortlisted according to their housing need. In a number of cases tenants who want or need a transfer are “trumped” by applicants with a higher priority. A transfer is when a current Link tenant bids for another Link property.
Local Authority Area
Total number of re-lets last year 2010-2011
Argyll and Bute
Perth and Kinross
The areas where we had 15 or less vacancies We believe that a transfer meets both the needs of the current tenant and the incoming tenant. In order to address the issue of tenants being “trumped” we intend to increase the proportion of properties we allocate to internal transfers to 20% of all allocations. As of 1st September details of this will be in our newspaper adverts.
3. 100% nomination rights to the local authority in areas where we have less that 15 lets per year There are a few areas where we have a relatively small amount of housing stock and we have very few vacancies. In the eight areas where we had 15 or less properties per year (details in the table above), none of the allocations (with the exception of Stirling Council) was given to applicants who were classed as homeless and in priority need. Link Housing – 08451 400 100
This means we are not meeting our statutory duty to allocate at least 50% of our properties to priority needs. Our intention is to stop advertising these properties through Homehunt and give 100% nomination rights to the local authority’s housing list. We will hold a separate list for current tenants who wish to transfer to another Link property. A letter will be sent to all tenants who live in these areas, explaining this in more detail. If you want further information on any of the pilots contact your housing officer through the Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100. All the pilots will be monitored closely and results reported to the Link Housing Association board of management. Look out for more information in the Winter newsletter.
Tenant satisfaction survey action planning
BECOME A MYSTERY SHOPPER OR TENANT INSPECTOR
A number of focus groups were held recently to feedback the results of the tenant satisfaction survey and to discuss your ideas for service improvements highlighted by the survey. This included reviewing how we communicate planned maintenance to tenants. More information will be in the Winter newsletter and the report will be available to review in November on www.linkhousing.org.uk
ARE YOU INTERESTED IN LEARNING NEW SKILLS?
Planning Link’s future repairs service
We are currently looking for tenants to join our team of volunteer inspectors. A tenantled inspection is a way for tenants to evaluate how we deliver our services. This can be on a range of issues such as estate management, repairs, voids and re-lets. Support and training will be provided, as well as expenses and incentives paid for participating. Receiving an incentive will not affect any benefits you may receive. If you are interested in taking part please contact Leah Webb, Tenant Liaison Officer, 08451 400 100 or firstname.lastname@example.org
In September, Link tenants from Edinburgh, Falkirk, Glasgow, Paisley and North Lanarkshire took part in consultation on Link’s repairs service. We are aware from feedback that we are not yet meeting your expectations in relation to speed of response and quality of work carried out by our current repairs service arrangements. The purpose of the consultation was to identify your priorities and expectations for delivering an excellent repairs service, and to identify the service standards
that you expect from Link. This information will be used to inform how we make decisions about planning service delivery in the future, and to ensure that standards on customer service have been set in consultation with tenants. More information will be in the Winter newsletter.
Equalities and diversity consultation We are currently reviewing our Equalities and Diversity Policy. We are looking for tenants to give feedback on a range of issues. Some of these are: ● Is the policy easy to read? ● Are the aims easy to understand? ● Does the policy cover treating people fairly and creating equal access to employment and our services? ● What information should we hold in relation to the groups who are protected by legislation? All Link tenants are invited to come along to Link’s offices at New Mart Road, Edinburgh, EH14 1RL on Wednesday 28th September at 2pm. We are particularly interested in people who may face the potential for discrimination as a result of their – age, disability, gender, race, religion and belief, pregnancy and maternity, marriage and civil partnership, sexual orientation and gender reassignment.
Link will produce this information on request in Braille, Audio Tape, Large Print and Community Languages. To find out more, please telephone the Customer Service Centre on 08451 400 100. Link Housing Association Limited is a company registered in Scotland. Company registration number SC216300. Registered Office: Link House, 2C New Mart Road, Edinburgh EH14 1RL. Part of the Link group. © LinkGroup Ltd 2011.
Link Housing Tenants Newsletter Autumn 2011