Welcome to your Summer edition of our Customer Newsletter.
I am really pleased that for the first time this newsletter has been co-edited with our Resident Voice Panel, including articles that they have written and information on how you can get involved in the future.
This edition also covers a number of other topics including an update on our proposed partnership with Guinness and information on Shared Ownership.
In April we wrote to you to announce our plans to partner with The Guinness Partnership and in July we asked you to complete a survey sharing your thoughts on how you think it could benefit residents and to share any thoughts you had on our proposal. Thank you for your feedback and to those who took time out of their day to join one of the focus groups. Your views and feedback will be shared with our Shareholders and Board later this summer.
Our Resident Voice Panel plays a very important role in making sure we deliver services in a way that meets both resident and business needs.
Later on, you will hear from Michael about what the Resident Voice Panel does, what help they get and how you could get involved and join in. You will also hear from Wendy who talks about the panel’s recent review of the management and delivery of Estate Services and the progress they have seen.
You will also hear more about Shared Ownership, an exciting scheme that we have recently launched in Acton and information about how you can own a bigger share of your property.
I hope you enjoy this newsletter and as always if you have any feedback on what you would like included in the newsletter or how we can improve our services, please get in touch. Our contact details are on the back page.
Thanks for reading,Mark Field Executive Director of Operations and Customer Service
OUR PERFORMANCE DATA
In April we wrote to you to announce our plans to partner with The Guinness Partnership. We believe that by bringing our two organisations together we will be better placed to deliver more reliable and consistent investment in your homes and at a greater pace. We followed up by writing to all residents, in early July , to explain how you can provide feedback on the proposed partnership as well as highlighting some of the key benefits of the proposal.
We believe the partnership will make us stronger and enable us to do more for our customers and the communities we serve across west London. By partnering with Guinness, we will:
Invest more in our local communities
The community will benefit from improved services and maintenance across our local green spaces and estates, and an investment of at least £350k in a new community fund over the first three years of partnership.
Provide more homes
Over the first years of partnership, we hope to create up to 1,000 new homes in west London. With an improved combined financial plan, SBHA will not need to sell as many properties, which will in turn create more choices for rehousing options.
Provide certainty for the longer-term
Improve the quality of our homes quicker
Residents will receive investment to their homes, of over £200 million over the next ten years, which is sooner than we can currently invest as an independent SBHA.
Increase the focus on our customers Resident will have a stronger voice and more chances to engage with us – enabling resident to help shape the future of housing across west London.
By combining our strengths at a national and local level we will create a strong partnership in west London, enabling us to anticipate and respond to the increasing challenges in the sector more effectively.
We recently wrote to you asking you to complete a survey as we want to know what you think about the proposed partnership. The survey results will be shared with our Shareholders and Board before they make a final decision about whether to form the partnership later in the year.
On our website, you can read more about our proposed partnership with Guinness, the benefits of partnership and some FAQs.
recently said goodbye to Jacquie, a longstanding resident and active member of our Resident Voice Panel as she moved out of west London for the first time since the 1970s.
Jacquie has moved to be closer to her family, having first moved to London from Altringham in her mid-20s with her young daughter. It was a while before Jacquie was offered her own home, but this eventually happened in the 1980s, when Jacquie moved into a flat in Acton, owned by SBHA.
“I have always been deeply grateful for SBHA’s contribution to the stable environment I was able to provide for my daughter to continue growing up in. I always shall be. And that is the reason for my commitment to the Resident Voice Panel at SBHA.”
After a couple of moves around west London, Jacquie ended up in Loftus Road. A basement flat with a 30m long garden. Jacquie agreed to move in, before she had even seen the flat, “having gazed in awe at the garden from the street.”
“I was never to regret this decision and spent every hour and every penny I could making the garden the oasis I knew it to be.“ You can see from the surrounding photos that all the love and effort Jacquie put into her garden certainly paid off.
Jacquie has and continues to be a valued member of our Resident Voice Panel, having been asked to stay on to provide support to the group and SBHA through the partnership discussions with Guinness.
Jacquie reflected on how residents can make a difference to organisations like SBHA,
Jacquie has always been a firm believer that organisations can only improve and function well if their customers, or residents, are able to involve themselves in a collaborative way.
Later in this newsletter you will find information about how you can get involved with the Resident Voice Panel and make a real difference, like Jacquie has done for so many years.
We wish Jacquie all the best in her new home.
“when like minded people join together in order to help, listen, share, give straight talking feedback and work hard together, that’s when unexpected and good things happen.”
WANT TO MAKE A DIFFERENCE?JOIN THE VOICE PANEL - BY MICHAEL SAUNDERS
Would you like to know how services are delivered and help to improve them? If so, have you thought about applying to become a member of our experienced and independent resident led scrutiny panel?
We’re looking for new members to join the Resident Voice Panel. Both tenants and homeowners.
SO WHAT DO WE DO?
Every year we select a number of service areas to investigate, usually three service areas. We might choose as part of our investigation to do a survey, interview staff, hold customer focus groups, and arrange site visits, job shadowing and more. You select how you get involved - but everyone has a part to play in the review.
WHAT HAPPENS NEXT?
Once we have completed our service investigation we present in person our report to the Executive Team and the SBHA Board - sharing our key findings and recommendations for change. We then get a formal response to our report and the service that was reviewed. A service improvement plan is then created that we jointly monitor to make sure the changes are implemented.
Sign up to meet and join our independent Resident Voice Panel - you too could be a member helping SBHA deliver an improved service.
WHAT HELP DO WE GET? Michael says:
Mark Field, Executive Director of Operations and Customer Service, is our corporate Scrutiny Champion who plays a key role making sure that we are kept updated on what is happening in the business offering a range of support to the RV.
Mark says, “Our Resident Voice Panel has made a real impact over the last couple of years. The service reviews they have carried out across our complaints service, customer support offer and most recently on our estates has provided clear recommendations for improvement that we have actively built into our plans.
I would encourage residents to apply to join the group. You will be fully supported with training and mentoring, it is a great opportunity to make a difference, improve the quality of service provided to all our residents and learn new skills.”
WOULD YOU LIKE TO JOIN THE RV AND MAKE A REAL DIFFERENCE?
If you would like to find out more about the the Resident Voice Panel, or if you are interested in applying to join the panel, please get in touch by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
Hear from Wendy, one of our RV members. “I have been a resident for over ten years and a member of the Resident Voice Panel for 8 years. I am extremely knowledgeable in housing as I used to work as a supported housing officer, but sadly had to leave this role due to ill health.
Being a member of the RV I have gained a wealth of knowledge and I have met so many great panel members along the way. It has also been great for my mental health especially during the lockdown period, as it kept me really busy and allowed (virtual) human contact daily.
We would love to have new members join our team and help carry out the amazing work we do together. No prior experience is needed and all training will be provided as we go. All you need is a good attitude and common sense!
This has been a great experience for me and I have learned so much more about the housing field than I could ever have hoped for. I hope to be part of the the Resident Voice Panel for many more years to come.”
”As a member of the Resident Voice Panel we have our independent mentor to guide and support us to deliver great service reviews.”
RESIDENT VOICE ESTATES WALKABOUT
CELEBRATING SUCCESS BY WENDY
In late 2022 the RV completed a review of the management and delivery of Estate Services, presenting our report and findings to the Board. We put forward some 22 recommendations for change.
WHAT WE FOUND
• There was not a consistent standard of services across all estates
• Evidence that joint working on estates was not always happening
• Issues around poor grounds maintenance including fly tipping and poorly maintained open spaces
• Communal areas often being misused to store personal items, raising concerns about building fire safety
• Need to review operational procedures making estates places where those living there can take a pride in their community
Darren Reynolds, Programme Director for Service Delivery, in response to the feedback, developed a detailed service improvement plan and tracker and set about looking at how and the best ways to bring about change. Darren said, “The RV report was so helpful at highlighting what was important to our customers and where we could do better, we have had a busy 6 months making changes to get things right. Change takes time but I am pleased with the progress we have made.”
AT OUR SIX MONTH REVIEW WE FOUND
There is no doubt that estates’ services have improved. We noted that overall on the day of our visits, a number of positive changes:
• The overall lack of litter and absence of fly tipping
• Hedges have been trimmed and pathways clear of over grown foliage
• Grass areas cut
• Weeding of flower beds and borders completed
• Graffiti removed
• Notice Boards updated
• Cleaning of communal areas and lifts improved
• Caretaking service schedules and standards provided
• No bicycles, prams or mobility scooters stored in communal areas
Wendy said, ”Overall the general feel on estates was one of improvement, and the RV are encouraged that standards of grounds maintenance are being met and that the new photobook reporting of sites with before and after photographs is very helpful to monitor standards.”
The RV recognises that there are still things to improve. Overall change is happening and SBHA want to provide estates that offer a safe and cared for environment to live. We know there is more to be done but there are exciting plans for the future.
“The RV would like to thank SBHA for their hard work to help improve estate services and a thank you to all the front line grounds maintenance and caretaking staff for their support to make change happen, and success is being achieved.”
The RV knows that they have not visited all estates but are confident that by getting the basics right that change is happening.
By signing up to our customer portal you’ll be able to view your rent balance, download your rent statement, pay your rent, update your details and much more, 24/7. In order to process requests such as changes to your tenancy, we often require this in writing and with supporting documentation. By registering on our portal or using our online form we will be able to resolve these enquiries for you quicker. Over time we will be improving the functionality so you’ll be able to do even more.
CUSTOMER PORTAL ESTATE INSPECTIONS ON WEBSITE
By using our portal and online forms your enquiry will get to the right place more efficiently than if you email us.
To register, please visit: www.sbhg.co.uk/customer-registration
Please ensure you are the main Account Holder for your property and have your Account Reference Number to hand, you will find this on our recent communications with you. If you can’t find your Account Reference Number or you are having issues signing up to the portal please call our Customer Service Team on 020 8996 4200 , who will be able to help.
On our website you can now find out when we are due to clean your block, carry out estate walkabouts or when your Housing Services Manager is due to attend.
Estate walkabouts are a great opportunity for us to meet with residents and understand what is going well and where we need to make further improvements to your neighborhood and estate.
If you would like to attend an estate inspection, please get in touch.
Link to estate inspections
CUSTOMER SUPPORT OFFER
We understand that it’s a worrying time for our shared owners and leaseholders with the current level of interest rates. Coupled with the rising cost of living it can be a particularly tough time. We are here to help and our Customer Support Offer has been designed with you in mind.
To get in touch, call 0208 996 8874 or email email@example.com
If you are a tenant, it’s really important if you are struggling to pay your rent and service charge or have recently had a change in circumstances that has affected your income, to get in touch with the Income Team. You can reach the team on 0208 996 8874 and they will be able to discuss access to our Customer Support Offer which includes making an application for food or fuel vouchers.
There are more than 300,000 sewer blockages a year in the UK. It’s estimated that 75% of these blockages are caused by people flushing wet wipes down their toilet.
Even wipes described as “flushable” cause blockages and the biodegradable ones often don’t spend long enough in the sewer to start to decompose.
We have recently had a number of incidents of blocked drains caused by wet wipes. Not only does this impact the residents with the blockage, but also other residents with repairs as we often have to reschedule other repairs to attend to these blockages urgently.
Please do not flush wet wipes down your toilet (even the ‘flushable’ ones), instead bag them and bin them. By binning wet wipes you will help reduce the chance of a blockage at your home. The three Ps is the best rule to remember when it comes to what’s flushable; pee, poo, paper. Nothing else!
You can find more information about the issues caused by flushing wet wipes at Water UK
Are you feeling uncertain about investing in your home?
Do you want to pay less rent?
Are you confused about interest rates?
Would you like to have a free, confidential talk about your financial options?
Do you want more freedom to own your home?
Would you like up to £500 in Cash?*
We are offering our Leaseholders a Special Limited Time Offer to Investment in your Home!
This event is held for existing Leaseholders. Whether you are considering purchasing more shares in your home (staircasing), extending the lease years on your current property, or simply looking for some free, confidential financial advice, than this event is for you!
We have arranged for SRC Financial Services Limited, an independent specialist mortgage broker, to provide free financial advice to determine how much additional equity you may be able to afford to purchase in your home.* Additionally. an independent Solicitor will also be available to discuss the legal aspect and provide additional support and information for Leaseholders.
SHARED OWNERSHIP 50 YEARS Q&AWITH MARK FIELD
IS THERE STILL A MARKET FOR SHARED OWNERSHIP, 50 YEARS ON FROM THE SCHEME FIRST BEING LAUNCHED? WHAT DO YOU THINK OF SHARED OWNERSHIP AS A PRODUCT?
Yes, we believe so. The Shared Ownership scheme has helped thousands of first time buyers over the years to purchase their first property and the scheme and model continues to adapt over time to stay relevant. As a product, it is an invaluable scheme which offers a more preferable option to renting, as the portion of the home that you own will grow in value if the price of the property goes up. If this happens, you’ll have some equity that will help you take your next step on the property ladder.
WHAT IS THE IMPORTANCE OF SHARED OWNERSHIP?
Shared Ownership allows you to get on the property ladder as an owner-occupier, offering long-term stability without overstretching yourself. Deposits are generally lower than buying on the open market. Shared Ownership makes mortgages more accessible, even if you’re on a lower wage.
WHAT TYPES OF PROPERTIES ARE SBHG SELLING THROUGH SHARED OWNERSHIP? WHAT SETS SBHG/BE WEST’S HOMES APART FROM THOSE OFFERED BY OTHER PROVIDERS?
SBHG and BE WEST are proud to sell a diverse range of properties from Modern and Eco New Build developments, to period resale properties.
Our Stock is west-London centric and offering such different types of properties in areas with high demand such as Ealing, Chiswick and Hammersmith and Fulham, sets us apart from the rest.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A FIRST TIME BUYER TODAY?
We would advise all First time Buyers to contact us, if they are considering all options for buying their first home. We will always encourage buyers to have a full financial affordability assessment to get an idea of what they can afford and what their outgoings will look like.
HOW DOES THE SCHEME DIFFER TO ITS AFFORDABLE HOUSING SCHEME COMPETITORS? WHAT LOW INCOME HOUSING SCHEME IS, IN YOUR OPINION, THE MOST BENEFICIAL AND WHY?
We believe Shared Ownership is the most beneficial scheme. It differs to other schemes in that it is a part-rent/part buy scheme which is not only limited to First time buyers. Eligibility assessments are carried out to ensure affordability for the scheme but as long as the buyer is either in the process of selling their previous property or has already sold it, it does not matter if they are not a First Time Buyer. We think this is a really unique selling point for the scheme and makes it a far more inclusive affordable housing scheme option.
HOW DO THE CURRENT HOUSING MARKET CONDITIONS AFFECT THE SCHEME? DO YOU THINK THE SHARED OWNERSHIP PRODUCT WILL CONTINUE TO CHANGE BASED ON THE CURRENT MARKET?
The current inflation and cost of living crisis has affected the housing market massively. That being said, Shared Ownership continues to be an attractive option for buyers, especially with falling house prices. This could be seen as an opportunity for both new buyers and current Shared Owners looking to purchase more shares in their property at a lower price point.
“We can then go through the properties we have in their budget and find something that is perfect for them and will be financially affordable for them.”