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Stockport at home Stockport Homes’ Customer Newsletter

Blowing the whistle on... HOUSING CHEATS Find out about our successful Housing Fraud campaign - PAGE 8

Issue 23: Winter 2010


Useful telephone numbers Stockport Homes’ contacts Stockport East

0161 856 9973

Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Out-of-hours number

0161 217 6111

ASB Team (Mon-Fri, 9am-5pm)

0161 218 1498

Carecall

0161 218 1655

Customer Feedback

0161 474 2600

Customer Finance Automated Payment Line

0161 474 4050

Animal Warden Service (out-of-hours)

0161 474 4207

Customer Finance Team (East Area)

0161 474 2677

Citizens Advice Bureau (Stockport)

0844 826 9800

Customer Finance Team (West Area)

0161 474 2668

Credit Union (Stockport)

0161 430 5808

Customer Involvement Team

0161 474 2862

Crimestoppers

0800 555 111

East Area Housing Office

0161 474 4372

Derelict properties (non-Council)

0161 474 4268

Governance Team

0161 474 2850

Homechoice (Bidding Line)

0161 474 4567

Homechoice (Enquiries)

0161 474 2975

Homechoice Support Assistant

0161 474 3788

Housing Options Team

0161 856 9786 Stockport North Stockport West

0161 856 9770

Other useful contacts

Environmental Services 0161 217 6111 External Water leaks (United Utilities)

0800 33 00 33

Furniture Station 0161 456 0717 Procure Plus 0303 030 0030 Greater Manchester Police

0161 872 5050

0161 474 4237

Groundwork

0161 237 3200

Housing Support Point

0161 474 3719

0800 111 999

Investment Programme Hotline

0161 474 4407

National Grid (gas emergency)

Leasehold Officer

RSPCA

0300 1234 999

0161 218 1364

Repairs

Samaritans

0161 217 6016

08457 909090

Resettlement Team

0161 474 3772

Stray dogs (office hours)

0845 241 7253

West Area Housing Office

0161 474 4371

Vandalised bus shelters (JC Decaux)

0161 873 8800

Vandalised telephone (BT Payphones Security)

0800 66 16 10

Neighbourhood Policing Teams Stockport Central 2

0161 856 5902

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Welfare Rights 0161 474 3093 www.stockporthomes.org


Features inside this issue of...

Stockport at home young person’s

Young customer survey results

14

New Build scheme in Offerton

15

Board Column

17

Welfare benefits reform

29

The best deal for your gas and electricity

30

Stockport Homes Needs You!

39

Contents... Customer news Customer Involvement news New Build news

4-8 9-14 15

Technical Services news

32-33

Repairs news

34

Housing Management news

35

Board news

16-17

Fire Service news

36

Leaseholder news

18-19

Police Service news

37

Sustainability news

20-21

Partner Agency news

38

Performance news

22-23

Housing Options news

39

Anti-Social Behaviour news

24-27

Directors column

40

Social Inclusion news

28-31

www.stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home - Winter Spring 2010 Issue 20 23

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Customer news

Help tomorrow take shape

2011 Census is coming to a letterbox near you! On 27 March 2011 all residential households in the United Kingdom will be taking part in a Census. Since 1801 a day has been chosen every ten years for this purpose (except in 1941 during the war). The Census provides an excellent source of information about the population. This enables central and local government, health authorities and many other organisations to identify the need for housing, education, health and transport services for years to come. Did you know that supermarkets use Census statistics to work out the kind of foods they need to sell to keep local communities stocked up with their favourites? Water companies use the Census data to plan the pipes for clean and waste water – to make sure there’s enough for everyone. Fire brigades and the police use Census data to help communities, putting fire alarms and crime prevention measures in specific areas. The benefits are far reaching. The Census statistics also feed into the allocation of funding for local authorities and play a major part in identifying the need for local services in communities, so it is crucial the population 4

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estimate is as accurate as possible. When the questionnaire envelope comes through the door you’ll easily recognise it by the purple 2011 Census logo (which you can see at the top of the page). Take care of it. If, like many people, you want to complete the questionnaire on-line, your individual internet code is on the front of the questionnaire. The 2011 Census doesn’t want anyone to miss out – so there is a wide range of help options available (such as language guidance booklets, large print format, Text Relay and Census field staff on hand, as well as on-line help and telephone call centres).

More information about the 2011 Census can be found at www.census.gov.uk If you are interested in helping out with the Census you can find out more about the jobs available, locations, dates of employment and pay rates at www.censusjobs.co.uk www.stockporthomes.org


Customer news

You co u

ld win

love your garden

Home

base

for ‘Be vouchers st gard in the e Borou n gh’

2011 GARDENING COMPETITION If you are a tenant, leaseholder or household member of Stockport Homes, why not enter this year’s gardening competition? If you are not a keen gardener yourself, why not nominate another Stockport Homes’ customer? It could be a friend, neighbour or a relative with a beautiful garden, tasty vegetable patch or colourful hanging basket. Deadline for entries is 17 June 2011.

Gardening Competition 2010 We would like to apologise to Joan Crooks who won 1st prize in the individual garden category of last year’s gardening competition in the East Area. The photo that was shown as Joan’s garden in the autumn issue of the newsletter was not her garden. We have included a photo of Joan’s garden above.

Stockport Homes delivers excellent customer focused services Stockport Homes has passed the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) assessment for the third year running with a 100% rating, which means they retain this customer committed accreditation. Customer Service Excellence is a customer focused standard that looks at the way customer service is delivered by the whole organisation and how Stockport Homes works with other partners and agencies to deliver an excellent service. The CSE assessor, on visiting Stockport and meeting customers and staff, was impressed by the passion shown by all in providing excellent services and continually aiming for improvement. This is a great accolade for Stockport Homes and www.stockporthomes.org

its customers and further shows Stockport Homes is delivering one of the best housing services in the country. Roger Phillips, Chair of Stockport Homes’ Board said: “This fantastic achievement endorses the excellent services that Stockport Homes provides for its customers.” Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Customer news

s

m il e e

p rid

Staff Aw

Smile & Pride STAFF AWARDS SCHEME In December 2009, Stockport Homes re-launched its Staff Awards Scheme, which is based around Stockport Homes’ Culture and Values of “Smile and Pride”, which all employees of Stockport Homes are expected to work to. Most of the categories were open for nomination by all staff. There were also special awards for “Exceptional Customer Care”, to recognise the work that some staff do which goes way above and beyond the call of duty, and makes an outstanding contribution to improving customers’ lives and homes – all helping Stockport Homes achieve its mission of being a customer-driven service.

The 2009/10 Staff Award Smile Awards for Individuals Winner: Rebecca Connolly (Housing Options Officer, Housing Options Team) For developing and championing the housing options service for vulnerable people.

Exceptional Customer Care Awards Team Awards Winner: Focus On You Project Team

The Exceptional Customer Care awards were for the individual and team nominated by their colleagues for providing exceptional customer service, and also for the individual and team who had received the most compliments from customers during 2009-2010.

When you give a member of our staff a compliment, this is recorded on a central database. The individual is then informed of the details of your compliment, and congratulated by their manager. Your compliment is also shown to the member of staff’s Director. 6

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For enthusiastically developing and delivering the ‘Focus on You’ Focus Group for Resettlement and Tenancy Support customers, which are very supportive and enjoyable events, enjoyed by staff and customers alike. www.stockporthomes.org


Customer news

ward winners 2010

ds Winners are... Most complimented team: Carecall Team

Individual Awards Winner: Trevor Bebb (Caretaker, Temporary Accommodation) For going over and above his normal role to provide support and advice to the residents in temporary accommodation.

Highly Commended: Kimberley Harrison (Team Leader, West Area) and Linda Brooks (Neighbourhood Housing Officer, West Area) For providing an individual service and exceptional customer care to all the residents of Lancashire Hill being moved during the decant programme, at an extremely difficult time for the customers.

www.stockporthomes.org

Most complimented member of staff: Karena Law (Resettlement Team) To reward this year’s award winners for their achievements and hard work they were all presented with a certificate and small prize at the Stockport Homes 5 Year Anniversary Dinner, which was held to celebrate the successes of the staff and the organisation. The cost of Shobna Gulati presenting the awards was paid for by one of our Stockport Homes’ contractors. Karena and the Carecall Team in particular were thrilled with their Staff Awards for Exceptional Customer Care, saying how wonderful it was to be recognised by their customers and Stockport Homes in this way. So please, do keep on giving us feedback about our services – whether you want to thank us for a job well done, or suggest how we can do things better. You can find out about ways to provide feedback in the box below. You can give compliments to any member of Stockport Homes’ staff who you feel you would like to thank, as well as passing on any comments or complaints that you have about Stockport Homes. You can do this in a variety of ways: • by filling in a Customer Feedback form; • by phoning the Customer Feedback Officer on 0161 474 2600; • through our website www.stockporthomes.org; • in person at any office or Stockport Homes event; or • by emailing quality@stockporthomes.org Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Customer news

Housing Fraud campaign recovers 12 properties Stockport Homes has been working with the Stockport Housing Partnership, which includes Contour Homes, Guinness Northern Counties, Johnnie Johnson Housing, Mossbank Homes, Equity Housing Group and Manchester and District Housing Association to crack down on housing fraud in Stockport. The housing fraud campaign has included press, bus, radio and taxi adverts, which aim to increase awareness of the issue of housing fraud in Stockport. Through the housing partnership there has been a total of 78 tip offs, with 29 of these still under investigation. Stockport Homes have recovered 12 properties which have been re-let to people in housing need across Stockport. We are working hard to track down housing cheats. If you suspect someone is committing housing fraud, please contact Stockport Homes by calling 0161 218 1364, emailing housing. fraud@stockporthomes.org or texting 07624 811481.

For more information about Housing Fraud, please pick up a copy of the ‘Help stop housing cheats’ leaflet or visit www.stockporthomes.org and go to ‘Our Services / Housing Fraud’.

Making Stockport even ‘safer’ Stockport residents are the faces of a new initiative, which aims to make Stockport even safer. The Council, in partnership with the Police, have launched ‘Safer Stockport’ to show how working together with local communities can help to create safer places in which to live, work and visit. 8

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The initiative will focus on real life examples of how local people have worked with the Council and Police to play a positive role in their community. It is hoped that these role models will encourage people who live in Stockport, to get involved and tackle crime together. To find out more about Safer Stockport, how you can get involved and the services on offer visit www.stockport.gov.uk/safer www.stockporthomes.org


Customer Involvement news

The Quality Panel The Quality Panel is a group of customers who test the services that Stockport Homes provides and look to see whether they “do what they say on the tin”! Recently, the Quality Panel have been: • reality checking the Grounds Maintenance Service; • checking the quality of work done on empty properties before they are re-let; • asking other customers what it is like having major repairs works done; • checking customer satisfaction with the day-to-day Repairs Service; and • seeing how user friendly Stockport Homes’ website is.

Please see the ‘You said, we did’ article on pages 10-11 for examples of changes we have made following comments from the Quality Panel. You too could be a part of the Quality Panel. You can sign-up for as many or as few exercises as you like! We provide full training and support where it is needed. All we ask is that you complete at least one exercise per year. If you have any suggestions for a Quality Panel exercise or are interested in becoming a member, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2968, email customer.involvement@ stockporthomes.org or text 07891 949153.

Get hands on with Skills for Life! You have told us that you are enjoying Skills for Life more and more with each course that goes by. And it shows as customer satisfaction for the last quarter (July-Sept) was 100%. Recent surveys have shown that our courses and sessions have helped you to:

      

Set up an Individual Savings Account (ISA) Help someone who was choking Trace your family history Make cards for charity Get a job Keep in touch with grandchildren Take GCSEs in English and Maths Teach my children how to bake

- - - - - - - -

Money Matters Emergency First Aid Living with Computers at Home Make your own Seasonal Cards How to get a job Living with Computers at Home How to get a job Credit Crunch Cooking

You will have received your new Skills for Life leaflet in your last newsletter. Many of you said that you wanted a basic sign language course, which we are now offering. If you have any suggestions for courses, please contact Georgia Bradshaw, Customer Involvement Officer on 0161 474 2862 or email customer.involvement@stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org

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Customer Involvement news

You We Said... Did... You were unhappy one of our contractors failed to keep an appointment.

This was a one-off incident. The contractor has reviewed their practices to ensure this will not happen again.

You were unhappy with the service provided by our Carecall Team following your relative having fallen.

The member of staff concerned has received further training.

You were unhappy a Manager at one of our Sheltered Schemes was not responding to your emails.

It is now displayed on the notice board when the Scheme Manager is not in work and customers will be made aware of this when it happens.

Members of the Quality Panel said that it was hard to find information about paying your water charges on Stockport Homes’ website.

The ‘Paying your rent’ quick link on the homepage of the website has been changed to ‘Pay your rent and water’.

You were unhappy having received a survey which asked you to provide your ethnic origin, religion and sexual orientation.

Please see the article on page 31 of this newsletter, which explains why Stockport Homes ask these questions.

You were unhappy with the service received from Repair 1st following problems with your shower.

In-house training on the particular type of shower has been provided to Repair 1st operatives.

Customers who attended the ‘How to be A Customer Inspector’ Skills for Life course suggested playing music in the reception area of the Housing Information Centre to make it more welcoming for customers.

Background music is now played in the Housing Information Centre reception area.

The Customer Readers’ Group suggested changing the phrase ‘Annual Health Check’ for Tenant and Resident Groups in the Community Group Starter Pack as it could be misleading.

We have changed the term from Annual Health Check to Annual Review.

Customers who attend the Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) Customer Action Group (CAG) said that response times for responding to reports of ASB should be shortened and a section covering the ‘Out-of-Hours’ service should be included in the Policy.

We have reviewed and changed the timescales for responding to reports of ASB and have added an ‘Out-of-Hours’ section to the Policy.

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www.stockporthomes.org


Customer Involvement news

You Said...

We Did...

Customers who attend the Financial Inclusion CAG said that customers should be able to send text messages to the Customer Finance Team as well as receive them.

We have implemented a facility that enables customers to send text messages to the Customer Finance Team about their rent.

Current tenants should receive priority over non-tenants for any garage vacancies and should be given longer to decide if they want to accept the offer of a garage.

The Garage Management Policy has been changed to give priority for garage allocation to current tenants and the timeframe for accepting an offer of a garage has been increased from 24 hours to 48 hours.

Members of the Sheltered Housing Working Group asked for more information on the Carecall Service and water meters.

These items were included in the agenda for the Sheltered Housing Forum.

Members of the Quality Panel said it was difficult to find where Stockport Homes’ films were on the website.

The ‘Publications’ main menu on the homepage of the website has been changed to ‘Publications and films’.

Customers who are members of the Newsletter Editorial Panel suggested adding a contents page or index in the newsletter to make it easier to reference information.

We have added a contents page in this issue of the newsletter (see page 3).

Customers who attend the Area Forums asked for a ‘Homewatch’ and Community Safety theme for future Forum meetings.

We themed the November Area Forums and invited guest speakers from the Community Safety Unit and the Police and provided information on the Anti-Social Behaviour Service.

Members of the Berrycroft Tenant and Resident Group said they wanted to get more involved in local activities and events for young people in the area.

We arranged for members of the group to visit Werneth High School to discuss ideas for future joint projects.

Members of the Lancashire Hill Family Group asked us to help them to find funding that would enable them to take young children out on trips during the school holidays.

We supported the group to complete a Community Fund application form and secure funding that paid for trips out to ‘Run of the Mill’ play centre and the Blue Planet Aquarium.

Customers who attend the Oldham Drive Residents’ Group meeting asked us to provide training on Committees and roles and responsibilities.

We arranged a bespoke Committee Skills session for Oldham Drive residents.

For more information, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email customer.involvement@stockporthomes.org www.stockporthomes.org

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Customer Involvement news

Have your say on Stockp Here are some of the key commitments in our draft Local Standards: Standards for involving you in our services

Have your say! Over the past few months, we’ve been busy working with our Customer Action Groups (CAGs) to draft new Local Standards, which set out how we will meet and exceed the national standards set by the Tenant Services Authority (TSA). Although the Government has announced that they will abolish the TSA in the future, we still need to show how we meet the requirements and expectations in the national standards. Our Local Standards are specific commitments to you, our customers. They ensure that we are meeting your needs and focusing on your priorities. We’ve used your feedback and refreshed our Service Standards, which explain the level of quality you should expect when using any of our services, to develop our draft Local Standards. 12

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• To provide an inclusive service which values its diverse communities and treats all customers fairly taking into account needs. • To provide high quality and customer focused services. • To increase customer satisfaction with opportunities to get involved through providing a wide range of ways that enable customers to be involved at a level that suits them. • To increase the number of involved customers, particularly those from under-represented groups including young people, customers with disabilities and customers from a black or minority ethnic background. • To increase customer satisfaction including being kept informed by giving ‘You said, we did’ feedback at all formal customer meetings, in the newsletter and on the website. • To increase opportunities for customers to scrutinise our services through the completion of two customer-led scrutiny reviews per year.

Standards for improving and maintaining your home • To consult with customers to develop enhanced appointment slots in the early evenings and Saturday mornings for certain types of repairs. • To work in partnership with customers to further develop our ‘Lettable Standard’ to ensure it clearly sets out what standards customers can expect when they move into a Stockport Homes property. • To enable customers to directly influence the development of the Investment Programme for 2010-15 on a yearly basis through surveys and consultation. www.stockporthomes.org


Customer Involvement news

port Homes’ Standards Standards for managing where you live Local area co-operation • To produce Neighbourhood Plans with customers, staff and partners that identify local issues, solutions and timescales and give progress updates to customers every six months in the Neighbourhood News newsletters. • To ensure that existing and new strategies, action plans and policies contribute to the objectives of the Stockport Partnership and the Stockport Community Strategy. • To implement a range of sustainable projects and activites with local partners to improve the quality of services and support to customers. • To maximise customer income and minimise customer debt and help people who want to progress and get into education, training and employment. Neighbourhood management • To implement an estate inspection regime that involves Neighbourhood Housing Officers walking every street, communal area and garage site on their ‘patch’ every three months to identify and action any issues. • To measure and monitor estate cleanliness and report performance to customers at the Area Forums. • To arrange community ‘clean-ups’ and provide free skips. • To carry out monthly health and safety inspections in multi-storey blocks and Sheltered Housing Schemes and at least every three months in low rise blocks. • To enable customers to choose which projects receive funding for physical improvements from the Estate Improvement Budget and for community projects from the Community Fund. • To consult customers on the Grounds Maintenance and cleaning contracts and involve customers in monitoring them.

www.stockporthomes.org

Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) • To identify vulnerable complainants (people who report ASB) through completing a Risk Assessment Matrix (RAM). • To refer all Level 1 (high risk) vulnerability complainants to the specialist ASB Team who will contact the complainant within 24 hours. • To contact Level 2 (medium risk) complainants in 48 hours to arrange an interview. • To contact Level 3 (low risk) complainants within five working days to arrange an interview.

Have your say! We would like to know what you think of our draft Local Standards. Are we focusing on the right things? Is there anything you think we have missed? You can let us know your views by:

completing a short survey online at www.stockporthomes.org;

filling in a paper survey available from any of our Area Housing Offices or on request from the Customer Involvement Team;

telephoning us on 0161 474 2862; or

emailing us at customer.involvement@ stockporthomes.org

Prize Draw! Anyone who fully completes and returns a survey to us will be automatically entered into a prize draw. 1st prize £100, 2nd prize £50 3rd prize £25. Please see our website www.stockporthomes.org for full prize draw terms and conditions. Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Customer Involvement news

Young Customer Survey Throughout summer 2010 the Customer Involvement Team were out and about at events across Stockport getting the views of 18 – 30 year olds through the Young Customer Survey and this is what you said: • surveys, telephoning and contacting your Neighbourhood Housing Officer are your preferred way of giving us your views; • benefits, Anti-Social Behaviour, re-housing and money were the most important issues to you; • vouchers, prize draws and discounts at local leisure facilities were the best ways to encourage you to give us your views; • your top five most popular ideas for free training were cooking, apprenticeships, First Aid, childcare / parenting and beauty courses;

• just under 70% of you said you would attend events for young people with the most popular ideas for events being cooking, music and football, and just over 60% of you said you would like to get involved in helping us to organise these events; • just under half of you said you have visited the Stockport Homes website; and • what the best ways to contact you are so we can always use this when we get in touch.

Watch this space for what we did as a result of your views and suggestions.

young person’s

Don’t forget – we have a ‘Young Persons’ Zone’ on our website, which includes details of events for young people, useful contacts and details about our VIPs Group. You can also have your say about our services on our website discussion forum under ‘Our services / Getting involved / Discussion Forum’. If you are between 18-30 years old and want to get involved, please contact Nicola Green, Customer Involvement Assistant on 0161 474 5811, text 07891 949 399 or email nicola.green@stockporthomes.org

Congratulations...

...to Danielle Barnett, Jessica Donlon and Matthew Kealy who won the survey competition prize draws for £50, £25 and £10 worth of High Street vouchers!

DID YOU KNOW? You can pay rent and water charges on-line at https://interactive.stockport.gov.uk/payments/ 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. You can also pay at any Paypoint or Payzone outlet with many of these also available late at night and during weekends.

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www.stockporthomes.org


New Build news

New scheme at Bideford Road, Offerton We are pleased to inform you that funding has successfully been secured from the Homes and Communities Agency, and we now have planning approval for the small new build scheme at Bideford Road, Offerton. This scheme will incorporate in its design energy saving materials like high wall and loft insulation (beyond building regulations) and a Zenex gas saver unit. The Zenex gas saver is a unit which sits on top of your boiler and helps capture heat to pre-heat cold water. The winning contractor for this scheme is Jimsul Construction Ltd. We commenced work on site on the 12 November 2010 and we expect the new homes will be complete and available for customers to rent by June 2011. The Bideford Road scheme runs in tandem with a landscaping scheme at Woodcroft, Offerton. The former garage site is going to be transformed into a green public open space for residents to enjoy. Local school children and residents will be involved in a planting and seeding day in Spring 2011. The Assets and Development Team from the Technical Services Directorate have already committed to volunteering on the planting day, to help transform Woodcroft into a green Community space.

Proposed Scheme at Bideford Road, Offerton The Bideford Road site in Offerton is a former garage site which fell into disrepair and was demolished in August 2009. The proposed scheme compromises four three bed houses (semi-detached) and it is our third scheme built to Code for Sustainable Homes level four standards. www.stockporthomes.org

For more information, please contact Chris Munby, Development Officer on 0161 474 2927 or email chris.munby @stockporthomes.org

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Board news The heart of decision-making - Stockport Homes' Board Introducing the Board Stockport Homes’ Board is made up of 14 members, including Councillors, tenants, Independent Board Members and a representative from the Tenants’ Federation. The Board leads on the strategic direction of Stockport Homes and monitors the company’s performance towards achieving its aims. You can see below Stockport Homes’ Board Members.

Roger Phillips, Chair

Maureen Rowles, Vice-Chair

Councillor Chris Baker

Councillor Christine Corris

Councillor Paul Porgess

Councillor Chris Murphy

John Bowker, Independent Board Member

David Wright, Independent Board Member

David Beckett, Independent Board Member

Peter Fury, Tenants’ Federation representative

Barbara King, Tenant Board Member (East Area)

David Kirwan, Tenant Board Member (East Area)

Colin Lennard, Tenant Board Member (West Area)

Jane Clayton, Tenant Board Member (West Area)

If you would like to ask the Board a question, please contact Jeremy Beatty, Governance Manager on 0161 474 2850, email jeremy.beatty@stockporthomes.org or complete the on-line form on www.stockporthomes.org under ‘About us / Our Board / Get involved with the Board / Ask the Board a question’. 16

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www.stockporthomes.org


Board news Board Column I have been a resident on the Brinnington Estate for six years. In my early career, I worked in management at Stepping Hill Hospital. Since taking early retirement after working in retail, I have studied psychology and counselling through the Open University. I was elected to the Board in September 2009 and have taken positive steps to increase my understanding of the services Stockport Homes provides. I have sat on the Maintenance and Investment Sub-Group and am currently on the Finance and Audit and Human Resources and Governance Sub-Group. The Sub-Groups are excellent for getting to grips with Stockport Homes’ day-to-day issues. I have taken a particular interest in how Stockport Homes is governed and completed the University of Derby Award in Social Housing Governance in 2010. I have registered for an Institute of Leadership and Management Award which is being run around the North-West for Board Members of ALMOs and Housing Associations. I am enjoying meeting people with different experiences to my own and learning about how their organisations approach governance. I am also an active customer and am involved with the Customer Action Groups (CAGs). There will be two Tenant Board Member seats available for election in 2011 and I’d encourage any customer to put themselves forward for these – it’s a great way to contribute to improving services and a very interesting role.

Kind regards, Barbara King Board Member (East Area) www.stockporthomes.org

Board News Following the Annual General Meeting (AGM) in September the Board’s Sub-Group Membership has been reviewed. New members Jane Clayton and Colin Lennard will be strengthening the Performance and Maintenance and Investment Sub-Groups whilst Barbara King has joined the Human Resources and Governance Sub-Group. The Board Away Day was held on 22 November. It was great to be joined by Alistair McIntosh, Chief Executive of the Housing Quality Network who spoke about the future of housing policy and regulation and considered what the Coalition Government mean for social housing and Arms Length Management Organisations (ALMOs). The Board also discussed how Stockport Homes can sustain and improve the positive relationship with Stockport Council. The long-term priorities of Stockport Homes were considered including planning for the company’s investment plans over the next 30 years. There will be two Tenant Board Member vacancies in September 2011 – one from East Area and one from West Area; with elections held in July. Board membership is a great way to get new skills, meet new people and help improve services. Information sessions will be held on Wednesday 16 March at 12.00pm and 6.00pm.

To request an information pack or book your place on an Information session, please contact Charlie Martin, Business Support Assistant on 0161 474 3577 or email charlie.martin@ stockporthomes.org Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Leaseholder news

Let’s talk money In the current economic climate Stockport Homes are being contacted by more Leaseholders who are experiencing financial difficulties. This can range from not being aware that you can claim assistance with finances to having your home repossessed for non-payment of mortgage. To help Leaseholders, Stockport Homes has produced a booklet giving some guidance on: • how to get help managing your finances and where to get further advice; • identifying priority debts and who you should pay first; • how Stockport Homes can help and support you; • increasing your income; and • reducing your outgoings. If you are interested in receiving a copy of this booklet, please contact Tracy Nield (see contact details at the bottom of this page). Thank you to those Leaseholders on our email database who took the time to give comments on the new booklet. A Leaseholder in Cheadle suggested that we include details of our new Repairs Service, which we have now included. If you are on Income Support, Job Seekers Allowance, Pension Credit or Employment and Support Allowance, you may be able to ask the Department for Works and Pensions (DWP) to pay some of the interest on your mortgage or help with service charge payments.

If you are not entitled to benefits, you can still save money. You could save money by getting a water meter installed in your home or by changing your water tariff charges. Stockport Homes’ customers collectively saved over £12,000 during 2009 -2010 on their water bills and it is estimated that this will have increased to £30,000 in 2010 - 2011. Please call Paul Wallington, Water Metering Project Officer on 0161 218 1669 or email paul.wallington@stockporthomes.org for more information or to book a home visit. You can also save money on your gas and electricity bills through Stockport Homes Energy (see page 30 for details). Do you want to talk to an expert? There are plenty of organisations in Stockport who can give you advice and guidance, such as the Citizens Advice Bureau, Welfare Rights, Age Concern and the Information and Advice Service. You could also make an appointment to see Paul Robinson, Stockport Homes’ Debt Outreach Worker on 0161 218 1304 or by emailing paul.robinson@stockporthomes.org Stockport Homes ran a two day Skills for Life course on ‘Making the Most of Your Money’ during September. Mavis Hauge, one of our Reddish Leaseholders, said she really enjoyed the course.

Please cut out Tracy’s business card opposite and keep it in a safe place just in case you have any Leasholder questions. You can also contact Tracy to book an appointment to speak to her in person.

Contacting your Leasehold Officer

Tracy Nield Leasehold Officer T: 0161 218 1364 M: 07800 617810 E: tracy.nield@stockporthomes.org

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Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

www.stockporthomes.org


Leaseholder news

It is never too late to get advice If you are at risk of losing your home you may wish to consider the Mortgage Rescue Scheme which is a government initiative to help vulnerable households to stay in their home as a tenant paying rent, rather than as a homeowner. What will it mean? A local Housing Association may buy your home. An independent surveyor will value your property to make sure that you get a fair price. If you are eligible it will help you pay off your mortgage and any loans your home is security for. If there is any money left over you will receive it and you can use it to help pay off other debts. If the price you are offered for your home does not cover all of your mortgage or the loans your home is security for, the Mortgage Rescue Fast Track Team will help you to manage this situation by negotiating with your lender. You will then stay in your current home and become a tenant of the Housing Association and

pay them rent. The rent will be lower than your mortgage – and may be lower than if you were renting a similar home from a private landlord. This should make your monthly payments more manageable and ease your money worries. Also, Housing Association tenancies are more secure than tenancies with private landlords. You may also be entitled to other benefits as a tenant.

For more information, please contact the Housing Options Team on 0161 474 4237, visit the Housing Information Centre at 1 St. Peter’s Square or email housing.options@stockporthomes.org

You Said, We did You said...

We did...

The increased insurance charges incurred when sub-letting the property were unfair (this was a charge we passed on).

The new contract from July 2010 included varying premium loading depending on the risk. Following the tendering process most Leaseholders have now benefited from a reduction.

At the Customer Action Group meeting on 29 April 2010 a Leaseholder suggested we give more guidance on gas safety.

We included some information in the summer 2010 customer newsletter including how to instruct a Stockport Homes contractor to do work.

www.stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Sustainability news

Future Footprints Working in partnership with young people in Lancashire Hill Stockport Homes is working with the Groundwork Trust and young people living in Lancashire Hill and Heaton Norris to deliver a youth leadership project. This is part of a national project, which aims to create groups of young community leaders in neighbourhoods across Greater Manchester and Leeds. The project is match funded by the Youth of Today and Stockport Homes. As part of the project the young people are planning to deliver a project that encourages awareness of climate change amongst the residents in their community. They hope to raise peoples understanding of the impact of climate change and what they can do about it and help to reduce any negative perception of young people from other members of the community. What has happened so far? • Weekly sessions have been held at Heaton Norris Pavilion with a core group of eighteen young people aged 13-19. • Sessions have helped to identify and understand key issues that affect their neighbourhood, develop team building, communication and leadership skills. • Support to Heaton Norris Fun Day – the young people organised events and activities, which included developing a project plan and the risk assessments. • 12 young people attended a residential course where they met over 75 young people from Greater Manchester and Leeds participating in the programme. • Young people have used experiences as case studies as part of Citizenship studies. What next? • The young people will continue to meet on a weekly basis to develop their skills and knowledge. • A community questionnaire about climate change will be carried out. 20

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“We have done lots of things over the past 10 weeks. I enjoyed going on the residential and finding out about climate change.” Courtney, aged 13 • Agree and implement a project around climate change before Christmas. • Present the project to the community and partners. • Attend a national event in London to present project and experiences. • Attend a second residential course. • Share best practice and lessons learned from the project with practitioners, which will lead to adaptations of youth leadership models and engagement techniques. This project will be completed by March 2011. Stockport Homes will continue to support and work with the group of young people, building on the knowledge and skills the group has developed as part of the programme. www.stockporthomes.org


Sustainability news

Helping to improve the environment Working in partnership with Stockport’s Community Payback Team Stockport Homes has been working in partnership with the Community Payback Team, Probation Service, Stockport Community Safety Unit and Stockport Parks and Recreation Services to improve sites in a number of neighbourhoods, including Bridgehall and Offerton. Community Payback is a team of individuals who have all received community sentences from the courts who have dealt with their various cases of criminality for which they have been found guilty and ordered to carry out work which will be of benefit to the community.

The team have helped to clear a large area in Bridgehall Estate, following concerns raised by customers and partners of Anti-Social Behaviour issues in this area. The works were extensive and included clearing and removing overgrown vegetation including various shrubs, trees, brambles and fly-tipping. Stockport Homes will continue to work with the Community Payback Team across the Borough to identify projects to ensure that the work of the team has a positive impact across neighbourhoods.

Nine new play areas Stockport Homes has been working with the Stockport Play Partnership, plus children and customers who were actively involved in helping to design the new play spaces choosing the types of play equipment and where the equipment should be located, the play spaces will have a range of facilities from climbing rock stacks, aerial runways, adventure trail, rotators and birds’ nests. Works have started on site and are due to be completed by spring 2011. The areas include: Gorsey Bank Park, Edgeley; William Scholes Playing Fields, Gatley; Bean Leach Road, Hazel Grove; Riversdale View, Woodley; Grafton Street, Heaton Norris; Brindale Road, Brinnington; Crescent Park, Didsbury; Ince Close, Heaton Norris; and Lancashire Hill. www.stockporthomes.org

The new play spaces have been funded with support from the Playbuilder programme, Stockport Council, Procure Plus and Stockport Homes.

For more information, on any of the projects on pages 20 and 21 please contact Jo Cole, Sustainability Manager on 0161 474 2918 or email joanne.cole@stockporthomes.org Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Performance news

Spotlight on... performance a A customer-driven update, giving you information that you want to know. In each issue of Stockport at home, we will be providing you with updates on how we’re performing in your top ten areas, whether we’re really pleased with how we’re doing, or are still striving to get better.

So you can be sure that when it comes to our performance – we’re always putting it in the “spotlight”. Here is an update on Customer’s Top Ten performance indicators for quarter two (July September 2010).

Customer priority

Performance indicator

How we are performing

Decent Homes

% properties which meet the Decent Homes standard.

100%

Repairs quality service

Average time for completion of non-urgent repairs.

9 working days

Repairs satisfaction

% of customers satisfied that their repair was right first time.

97.2%

Repairs speed

% of urgent repairs completed on time.

96.5%

Households in hostel accommodation

Number of households in hostel accommodation.

25

Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) – action taken

Number of legal actions taken against ASB perpetrators so far this year.

49

ASB – satisfaction

% of customers satisfied that they were kept up-to-date with the progress of their ASB case.

97.7%

Empty property management

Average number of days taken to re-let vacant properties.

14 days

Investment satisfaction

% customers satisfied with investment works.

93.9%

Customer feedback

% customers satisfied with the complaints procedure.

100%

= performing well (compared to our target) 22

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On target?

= under target www.stockporthomes.org


Performance news

at Stockport Homes There have been improvements to the performance indicator measuring urgent repairs completed on time and it is expected that this will soon meet target.

proportion of kitchen and bathroom replacement works have been delayed in some high rise blocks as the soil vent pipe needed to be replaced, and this has had an impact on satisfaction levels. Therefore this indicator should be back on target.

The performance indicator relating to satisfaction with investment works is below target. A large

Spotlight on... Empty Property Management At the end of Quarter Two (July – September 2010), empty properties have been re-let to new tenants in an average of 14 days. This is a great achievement as it means customers on the housing register are able to move into a property sooner and there aren’t as many empty properties within your neighbourhoods. By re-letting properties quicker we can also ensure that we are able to increase our rent collection level as more homes are occupied.

If you have any questions about this article, or if you would like to know how Stockport Homes is performing in an area please get in touch with Samantha Donigan, Performance and Improvement Manager on 0161 474 3279 or samantha.donigan @stockporthomes.org

DID YOU KNOW? You can report a repair by telephoning 0161 217 6016 at any time, day or night. Only emergency repairs will be responded to outside of normal working hours.

DID YOU KNOW? www.stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Anti-Social Behaviour news

Positive action against Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) In each issue of Stockport at home we provide you with a breakdown of the different types of legal action against perpetrators of ASB. Stockport Homes has continued to drive forward taking legal action against perpetrators of ASB.

Type of Legal Action

Quarter one (April - June 2010)

Quarter two (July – September 2010)

Notice of Seeking Possession

3

2

Postponed Possession Orders

1

0

Outright Possession Orders

1

0

Evictions

1

0

Notice to Terminate (Introductory Tenants)

3

3

Notice to Extend (Introductory Tenants)

1

1

Demotion Notices

2

0

Injunctions

8

17

Undertakings

3

0

Noise Abatement Notices

0

1

Closure Orders

1

1

24

25

Total 24

Here is a breakdown of the number of legal actions we have taken during quarter one and two of 2010/11.

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www.stockporthomes.org


Anti-Social Behaviour news

Focus on... Neighbourhood Watch What is a Neighbourhood Watch or Home Watch Scheme? Neighbourhood Watch (also known as Home Watch), is one of the biggest and most successful crime prevention schemes ever. It is based on getting together with your neighbours to reduce local crime and disorder in the bid to make your neighbourhood a safe and better place to live, work and play. Neighbourhood Watch is not just about reducing crime, it is about building community spirit and good relations. It brings local people closer together with common goals; to tackle crime and disorder and to keep an eye on each other’s property. Neighbourhood Watch and Home Watch Schemes are community initiatives that are supported by the Local Authority and the police, but are owned and run by their members. A scheme can be large, covering most of the houses on an estate, or it might involve just a few houses. It depends on the area and what the members want. Neighbourhood Watch is about looking out for each other, building a community spirit and acting together as the eyes and ears of the neighbourhood and picking up on anything that could cause concern or worry. It is not about being a nosey neighbour or interfering in other people’s business, but about being a good neighbour and caring for your community. The aims of Neighbourhood Watch Schemes are to: • reduce the opportunities for crime and Anti-Social Behaviour to occur in your neighbourhood by deterring would-be burglars and vandals; www.stockporthomes.org

• build a community spirit so that all residents can contribute towards the protection of their property through co-operation and communication; and • inform the co-ordinator or the police of any suspicious activity. Neighbourhood and Home Watch works by developing a close liaison between households in a neighbourhood and the local police. It aims to help people protect themselves and their properties and to reduce the anxieties of becoming a victim of crime by means of improved home security, greater vigilance, accurate reporting of suspicious incidents to the police and by fostering a community spirit.

For more information about how to set up a scheme, please visit www.direct.gov.uk/ neighbourhoodpolicing or www. homeoffice.gov.uk or contact Jon Faulkner or Jonathan Headlam at the Community Safety Unit on 0161 474 3142. Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Anti-Social Behaviour news

CASE STUDY

Nuisance Premises Closure Order Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Police have successfully secured another Nuisance Premises Closure Order at Frobisher Place in August 2010.

Pictured above is Chris Kielty, ASB Officer with a local Police Community Support Officer The order came after weeks of planning and evidence gathering by Stockport Homes’ staff and Greater Manchester Police. The tenant had been causing serious nuisance, disorder and supplying cannabis in the Frobisher Place area for some time. Residents living nearby were subjected to: • intimidation, verbal abuse and threats; • large numbers of callers to the address at all times of the day, evening and the early hours of the morning; and • loud parties continuing into the early hours. 26

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Through the Safer Stockport Partnership staff from Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Police gathered enough evidence of serious Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) to serve a Closure Notice under the ASB Act 2003. The court found that the closure order was necessary to protect the public, in particular local residents, from further disorder at the property. The closure order was granted for three months during which time no one is allowed to enter the property. This is an excellent example of partnership working, whereby a multi-agency partnership has made a determined stand against ASB. www.stockporthomes.org


Anti-Social Behaviour news

National Anti-Social Behaviour award Safer Stockport Partnership is runner-up in national Anti-Social Behaviour award The Safer Stockport Partnership (SSP), which is made up of different agencies including Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Police were runners-up in the Social Landlords Crime and Nuisance Group (SLCNG) ‘Group Award’. The SSP were recognised for exemplary practice by a group or team in resolving Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) incidents or issues in a specific neighbourhood and delivering measurable results.

Dave Kirwan, Stockport Homes’ Board Champion on Respect said: “It is a fantastic achievement for the Safer Stockport Partnership to be runners-up for the ‘Group Award’ at the SLCNG awards. The work carried out by Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and Greater Manchester Police has demonstrated the commitment of the Safer Stockport Partnership in tackling nuisance and ASB and has made a real difference to the residents of Stockport.”

The Safer Stockport Partnership have responded to residents’ concerns of severe Anti-Social Chief Superintendent, Rebekah Sutcliffe said: Behaviour (ASB) by taking Nuisance Premises “Anti-Social Behaviour is one of our main Closure proceedings against five properties within priorities and my officers work tirelessly 18 months. One of these was the first time a with other agencies to solve local problems Children’s home was closed using such powers in that members of the public have told us the UK. Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and about. We use all the powers available to Greater Manchester Police have worked in close us to directly target offenders and hotspot collaboration listening to concerns of residents and areas to ensure our communities do not working together to gather evidence needed to suffer.” bring much needed respite to communities. Stockport Homes also recently secured a three month extension to the Closure Order on Ruskin Grove in Bredbury. This will ensure that the community surrounding Ruskin Grove will not continue to suffer the effects of the chronic ASB that they previously had. This extension is the first of its kind in Stockport and is only the second one in the country. ASB Manager Liz Ellis and Nigel Hudson from the Community Safety Unit receive their certificate.

DID YOU KNOW? Anti-Social Behaviour can be reported at any time, even on weekends and bank holidays. In the first instance always contact your Area Housing Office on East – 0161 474 4372, West – 0161 474 4371. When the housing offices are closed, you can report ASB on 0161 217 6111. This is not an emergency response service, but they will forward your report onto the housing office. www.stockporthomes.org

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Social Inclusion news

Join Stockport Credit Union and get £10 from Stockport Homes Many of us are feeling the pinch after Christmas and often this can leave us in a vulnerable position, especially when it comes to dealing effectively with any unexpected events or changes. With Stockport Credit Union you get easy and flexible ways to save, access to low cost loans as well as free life insurance on savings and loans. Being with Stockport Credit Union is an ideal way to financially prepare for the unexpected and plan for the future. Stockport Credit Union is regulated by the Financial Service Authority (FSA) so you can save as much and as regularly as you like safe in the knowledge that, just like with a bank, your money is safe and secure. What’s more, Stockport Credit Union offers low cost loans. This means that if you take out a loan from Stockport Credit Union it will cost you very little to repay it compared to if you had borrowed money from a doorstep lender or a high street creditor. The first 50 successful applicants joining Stockport Credit Union for the first time during January and February 2011 will each receive £10 from Stockport Homes. Please see full terms and conditions on Stockport Homes’ website. The money will be paid directly into the Credit Union account. The scheme is open to all members of a household renting from or leasing a Stockport Homes managed property. This means that as well as adults, children can also open an account and a family of four could gain £40 in total! To make a claim, mention the “Stockport Homes join and gain £10 offer” when opening an account. 28

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

Doorstep lender Borrowed = £300 Paid Back (with interest) = £546 Stockport Credit Union Borrowed = £300 Paid Back (with interest) = £318.48

Total Saved = £227.52 For more information about the opening hours of your local collection point and how you could join, call Stockport Credit Union on 0161 430 5808, visit www.stockportcu.com or email mail@stockportcu.com. www.stockporthomes.org


Social Inclusion news

Welfare benefit reforms: how does it affect me? Are you worried about how the Government is going to reduce the amount of money it spends over the next few years? Or how this may affect you? One of the biggest areas the Government is making changes to is welfare benefits; these are the payments some people receive when they are temporarily out of work due to things such as illness or having young children, or are too sick to work in the longer term. For example, you may get help with your rent and Council tax, or payments such as Job Seekers Allowance (JSA) and Income Support for your everyday living costs. Whilst not all Stockport Homes customers will be affected by benefit cuts, it is useful to be aware of how your current income may change next year: • Housing benefit deductions for other adults living at home will increase, meaning they will be expected to pay more towards the rent. • Yearly benefit increases will rise more slowly than previously, meaning the cost of living may get more expensive. • VAT, the tax which is added to everyday goods such as food and clothes, will rise by 2.5% in January, to 20% • Lone parents on Income Support whose children are over five will be moved to JSA (providing they have no serious health issues), so must make themselves available for work. More changes will be introduced in 2012; we’ll all feel the pinch so start thinking about how you can save money or maximise your income now. Stockport Homes offers help with this including finding employment, budgeting, and signposting towards other specialist advice agencies. www.stockporthomes.org

If you have debt and welfare problems, you can contact Stockport Homes’ Debt Outreach Worker, Paul Robinson on 0161 218 1304 or email paul.robinson@stockporthomes.org Don’t let worries about finances affect your tenancy; if you are struggling call the Housing Options Team on 0161 474 4237 or email housing.options@stockporthomes.org Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Social Inclusion news

Get the best deal for your gas and electricity Stockport Homes Energy is a new price comparison service that allows you to compare gas and electricity prices and arrange a transfer to the cheapest provider. This service, powered by Energylinx, compares your usage with all the major suppliers to find the best deal that matches your personal situation. You can access this service over the telephone by calling the freephone number where an agent will guide you through the process, or you can do it on-line. The service is accredited by Consumer Focus, a statutory organisation, via its Confidence Code. This means that you can be confident that the service you are using is reputable and 100% impartial.

“Great savings. Easy to use and so quick!” (Customer saved £203, August 2010) To see how much you could be saving call 0800 410 1245 (call is free of charge if made from a landline) or log on to www. stockporthomesenergy. org.uk (free internet access is available at your local library). You can pick up a copy of a leaflet explaining the service from your Area Housing Office or on our website www.stockporthomes.org

Specialist employment rights advice With the current climate of job cuts and people facing redundancy, more and more people are finding themselves in need of advice regarding an employment issue. Stockport Homes, through the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), is now providing access to specialist employment rights advice. The service is open to all residents of Stockport and the specialist advice and service offered can include resolving disagreements with employers within the workplace, giving advice on unfair 30

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dismissal and arranging suitable representation for employment tribunal hearings. If you require any employment rights advice, please contact your local CAB Office. They can offer advice on many issues and if required, a referral to the specialist Employment Rights advisor will be made for you. You can contact your local CAB on 0844 826 9800 or visit www.adviceguide.org.uk www.stockporthomes.org


Social Inclusion news

You want to know what? Why we ask equality related questions in our surveys How do I answer? Equality monitoring forms often give a number of pre-set categories and then an “Other” category. If the category you prefer to be identified with, is not specifically stated, please feel free to tick “Other” and, if required, add your own description. If you do not wish to answer a particular question, tick the “Prefer not to answer” option.

¸

Why do you ask? Collecting information about people and which communities or groups they might belong to, helps us analyse the use and experience of services by these groups and identify any necessary and appropriate actions to improve services. We want to ensure that our services reach and meet the needs of everyone in Stockport.

¸

What will you ask? Different surveys will collect a variety of different information about the people completing the survey. This might be because: • we already know there are differences between how people experience services (and we want to check if changes we make are affecting this); or • we simply want to check if there are differences (then work out why they occur).

¸

Without asking the question, we can’t be certain whether a factor is, or isn’t, relevant.

What happens to the information? All information is confidential. We will only use it to help analyse responses to this survey. We do not store the information you give us in surveys on your records.

¸

What might happen as a result? By comparing survey feedback across monitoring groups, we can: • check if we are promoting equality, complying with equality legislation, and promote community cohesion; • reveal discrimination or identify policies or services that adversely affect people from different communities; • monitor the diversity of communities using services and what outcomes they experience; and • identify the need for new or changed services and measure the effectiveness of service changes.

¸

Prefer not to answer? Although having this information does help us get the most out of your survey responses, you are under no obligation to take part in the monitoring process (or any part of the survey). It will make no difference to the service you receive.

¸

For more information, please contact Phil Rhodes, Social Inclusion Officer on 0161 474 2860 or email phil.rhodes@stockporthomes.org

DID YOU KNOW? You can bid for a home with Homechoice through the website http://searchforahome.stockporthomes.org/ Bids can be made at any time when the advert is open.

www.stockporthomes.org

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Technical Services news

Are you gas safe? In the UK, more than 50 people die and 200 are seriously injured every year from Carbon Monoxide poisoning due to faulty gas appliances. You can’t smell it, see it or taste it, but it can KILL you. Carbon Monoxide (CO) is produced when carbon fuels don’t burn completely. Common sources of CO in the home include faulty or poorly maintained central heating systems, gas appliances and fires. In high doses CO can cause immediate death, and in lower, prolonged doses, it can cause severe health problems, including brain damage. Danger signs of CO poisoning include: • headaches, dizziness, nausea, breathlessness or chest pains when using gas appliances; • sooting or staining marks on or around a gas appliance; • a yellow or orange lazy flame – not crisp and blue; and • more condensation than normal in a room where there is a gas appliance. If you suspect you are suffering from CO poisoning, open windows and doors to get fresh air, turn off all gas appliances and leave the house. If your symptoms are serious you should seek medical assistance from your doctor or casualty department. If CO poisoning is confirmed, please contact us immediately by calling the Repairs Contact Centre on 0161 217 6016. What does Stockport Homes do to protect you? As your landlord, Stockport Homes has a legal obligation to ensure all its gas appliances, fittings and flues are checked every 12 months. The check is carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer from The Dodd Group and they will ensure the appliances are safe to use and any faults found are repaired. If you have your own appliances in the property, we will check they are safe to use. We will advise you if there are any defects and if necessary, for 32

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your own safety, disconnect the appliance from the gas supply. It is your responsibility to arrange for a Gas Safe registered engineer to repair any defects. If you buy your home under the Right-to-buy Scheme, under the new agreement between Leaseholders and the Council, you will be required to carry out this safety check and provide Stockport Homes with a copy of the annual gas safety certificate at your own cost. Please pass on any comments to Tracy Nield, Leaseholder Officer on 0161 218 1374 or email tracy.nield@stockporthomes.org

Help us to help you stay safe Five to six weeks before the safety check is due you will receive a letter from The Dodd Group. The letter will either provide you with an appointment for the safety check or advise you of the week when an engineer will be in your area. It is your responsibility to ensure that access is gained to the property. If you are not going to be available for the appointment or you wish to arrange an appointment during the week stated in the letter, please contact The Dodd Group immediately on 0800 085 4837. Failure to provide access is a breach of your tenancy conditions and legal action can, and will, be taken if necessary. If this happens you could face court charges and possible eviction from your property. Don’t become a CO statistic - let us in to check for gas safety. If The Dodd Group gain access to your property on the first visit your details will be entered into their quarterly prize draw for £50 of High Street vouchers. www.stockporthomes.org


Technical Services news

Improvements to your home Now that the Christmas and New Year celebrations are over, you may be considering improvements works to your home. Please remember that changes to the structure or the fabric of the property are not permitted under the Tenancy Agreement without prior approval in writing from Stockport Homes. Examples of improvements works that require permission are: • creating openings through walls and ceilings; • replacing / repairing soffits and associated roofing products; • all plumbing and heating works; • renewing and removing doors and fittings; • all electrical works, including rewiring, replacing new sockets, switches and light fittings; and • installing your own kitchen and bathroom.

If you personally carry out or permit others to carry out work without our written approval, you will be totally liable for any costs of dealing with any asbestos incidents as well as the cost of reinstatement.

For professional advice and information on asbestos, please contact Alan Brocklehurst, Asbestos Surveyor on 0161 218 1280 or email alan.brocklehurst @stockporthomes.org

Environmental policy Stockport Homes commits to protecting the environment Stockport Homes’ Environmental Policy is available on the website under ‘About us / Policies and Strategies’. The policy outlines that Stockport Homes will minimise its impact on the environment by ensuring efficient management of energy, water, waste and natural resources. The Environmental Policy is the foundation of the Stockport Homes Environmental Management System. The Environmental Management System sets targets with yearly review dates to ensure continual improvement. www.stockporthomes.org

For more information on the policy, please contact Louise Whan, Environmental Officer 0161 474 2401 or email louise.whan@stockporthomes.org Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

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Repairs news

Repairs updates via text message

omes

H From: Stockport

Your repairs appointment is at 2/10 2.30pm on 10/1

As a caring landlord, we know the day-to-day strains of managing where you need to be and what needs to be done at any given time: getting the children to school, going to work or visiting the dentist. We are hoping that our appointment text messaging technology will create a solution to improve customer service and operations’ efficiency; this text phone message will give you, our customer, a reminder call of your repair appointment and help us enhance customer relationships and consistently improve our service to you.

to your property please be expecting the confirmation call after the repair has been raised, then a further call 24 hours before the appointment as a gentle reminder, and a final call when the operative is onthier way.

Receiving a text message to your home landline number If someone sends a text message to your home landline number, BT will convert this to speech, ring you, and read the text message to you. Receiving a text message is free, and you don’t need to register for this service.

Why have I been called by 0845 602 1111? This is the BT Text service. Someone has sent a text message from their mobile phone to your home phone number. BT converts this text message to a voice message and uses an automated service to read the text message to you.

You will receive the automated call from Stockport Homes (this may come from BT / Orange / T-Mobile or whoever your service provider is). This is an example of what you should hear when you receive the call: ‘You have an automated message; press one to accept or two to reject.’ Please accept the message. Your message should then inform you that your message is from Stockport Homes. You will then need to follow the instructions and listen to your up-to-date information.

How do I retrieve messages? Call 0845 602 1111 to hear recent text messages. You will hear an automated message saying “Welcome to the SMS text store from BT”, and then you can listen to or delete your text message. Please note: text messages are only held for 24 hours.

This call is free, and the information you will receive about your appointment will save you time and money booking the next repair following the missed appointment. Remember: If you reject this call, then you will not have any further information about your appointment or repair; if you have reported a repair 34

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Changing your settings? If you don’t want to get BT text messages on your home phone, call the automated BT Text Options service on 0800 587 5252. You can control the “curfew time”, or turn off messages altogether from the Curfew menu.

For more information, please contact the Repairs Contact Centre on 0161 217 6016.

www.stockporthomes.org


Housing Management news

Assisted Gardening Scheme The Assisted Gardening Scheme is available to customers who are 70 years or over, or physically incapable of doing their garden because of a disability (there is no age restriction for this). Two operatives will visit the garden twice a year for one hour. Customers can request help with planting, grass cutting, hedge cutting, strimming, weeding, hoeing and pruning (but not tree work) within the hour period.

“Excellent job would like to compliment them. The work is a wonderful standard. Very happy indeed.”

Customer comments on the scheme:

“Lovely job, did weeding, cut grass. Very knowledgeable. Very happy with it.”

“Very good, the best it’s ever been. Really pleased and would like to pass on my thanks to the staff.” “Excellent job. Did the hedges on three sides, weeding, cut grass. Can’t thank them enough, looks lovely.”

Please contact your Neighbourhood Housing Officer for more details (see page 2 for contact details).

Grounds Maintenance Service customer satisfaction survey Each year a random selection of customers are asked to complete our questionnaire regarding the Grounds Maintenance Service. The leaflet which details what is maintained and when, is also included as a guide. In 2010 Customer Satisfaction with the Grounds Maintenance Service was 78.3% which is an increase from 2009, where customer satisfaction was 72.4%. Customer comments on the scheme:

“They do a good job no matter what the weather, well done guys.”

“The Grounds Maintenance service is excellent.”

For more information about the Grounds Maintenance Service, please contact Tony De-Beaufort, Greenspace Contracts Manager on 0161 474 2953 or email tony.de-beaufort@stockporthomes.org

“Continue with the good work, Victoria Park is looking lovely, Thanks.” www.stockporthomes.org

“The staff who cut the hedges did a fantastic job, the best they have ever been.” Please find enclosed in this newsletter a Grounds Maintenance Questionnaire. Please complete the questionnaire and return it in the envelope provided.

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Fire Safety news

Did you know? • 5,000 fires a year are caused by faulty electric blankets. • In the UK 12,000 chimney fires occur every year (on average). Heating your home

If the electricity fails

Open fires • Be careful when using open fires to keep warm. Make sure you always use a fire guard to protect against flying sparks from hot embers. • Make sure embers are under control and properly put out before you go to bed. • Keep chimneys and flues clean and well maintained.

Alternative lighting • Keep a battery operated light or torch handy in the event of a powercut or failure. • If you have to use candles or matches always take special care. Put them out completely before leaving the room or going to bed. Use a snuffer or a spoon to put out candles as it’s safer than blowing them out when sparks can fly. • Make sure candles are secured in a proper holder and away from materials that may catch fire – like curtains. • Keep a mobile phone handy so you can still make an emergency call if there is a power cut.

Using portable heaters • Keep heaters away from curtains and furniture and never use them for drying clothes. • Always unplug electric heaters when you go out or go to bed. • Try to secure heaters against a wall to stop them falling over. • Only use gas or paraffin heaters in well-ventilated areas. Heaters consume oxygen so you could suffocate if a room is not properly aired.

Test your smoke alarms every week! For a free Home Fire Assessment, call 0800 555 815.

Keeping warm Using electric blankets • Never use hot water bottles in the same bed as an electric blanket, even if the blanket is switched off. • Unplug blankets before you get into bed, unless they have a thermostat control for safe all-night use. • Don’t leave electric blankets folded as this damages the internal wiring. Store them flat or rolled up instead. • Test electric blankets every three years. Age Concern may be able to do this for you. Try not to buy second-hand blankets and check regularly for wear and tear. Replace your blanket when it is more than 10 years old. 36

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

www.stockporthomes.org


Police Service news

www.stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

37


Partner Agency news

Free help and guidance for starting a business The Stockport Intensive Start-up Support Programme (ISUS) is being delivered by Train 2000 and Blue Orchid and is aimed at helping people start their own business in Stockport. Individuals with the ideas and motivation to run their own businesses are welcome to take part in the programme. No formal business training is required.

The ISUS Programme can be accessed through Business Link Northwest, the region’s business support gateway. Specialist advisers from Blue Orchid (for men and women) and Train 2000 (for women only), are in place to provide a comprehensive package of support, advice and training for start-ups and young businesses. The programme is being delivered in easily accessible venues within Stockport including the Stockport Business Enterprise Centre in Broadstone Mill, Reddish, libraries and community centres. The service is free to Stockport residents and is supported by a programme of business training workshops. Business advisors are able to help with a broad range of issues including researching the business opportunity, writing a practical business plan, 38

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

creating realistic financial forecasts, developing marketing strategies, assisting in obtaining financial support, considering tax and related issues and company registration. The programme also aims to encourage business start-ups within minority groups including people with disabilities, black and minority ethnic groups and those living in social and economically disadvantaged areas.

For more information, please contact either of the Training Providers: Blue Orchid on 0161 485 4949 or visit www.theblueorchid.co.uk Train2000 on 0161 833 8899 or visit www.train2000.org.uk www.stockporthomes.org


Housing Options news

Stockport Homelessness Strategy: Your Views Stockport Homes and the Council asked for your thoughts about the new Homelessness Strategy back in the summer newsletter, and through a survey on our website. So far our customers who responded have told us that:

• most people want to see more welfare and debt advice services.

• 86% agree that homelessness has links to other issues, including unemployment and offending; • over half want us to tackle youth homelessness; • a third want better links with health services; • a quarter have mental health or alcohol issues which are affecting how they manage their current home; • a quarter said they have been struggling with rent or mortgage payments and would like more help; and

These findings and actions to tackle them have been included in the Homelessness Review and Strategy, which will be published early in 2011.

For more information, please contact Fiona Carr, Homelessness Strategy Development Officer, on 0161 474 3726 or email fiona.carr @stockporthomes.org

Stockport Homes Needs You! Do you have extra time on your hands and want something to do? Would you like to get work experience but never had the chance? Stockport Homes is setting up its very own Volunteering Scheme, and we want you to get involved. As one of our volunteers you could be working on a one-off project such as helping clean-up your estate or a longer-term project such as helping out at one of our Temporary Accommodation Schemes and making a real difference to the lives of some of our most vulnerable customers. www.stockporthomes.org

Volunteering is a great way for people who have been unemployed for a long time to gain some confidence, get their foot back on the career ladder, give something back to their community, as well as it looking great on a CV. To find out more about this scheme, to apply as a volunteer or find out what other help we can give you in getting back into employment, training or education, please call Martyn Preston, Employment Support Officer on 0161 474 2836 or email martyn.preston@ stockporthomes.org

Stockport at home - Winter 2010 Issue 23

39


Directors column Hi there, I hope you are well and are looking forward to cosy nights in front of the fire over winter… At the end of July 2010, we met our commitment to the Government and you, our customers to reach the Decent Homes Standard in all our properties. This equates to an investment of around £150 million on new kitchens, bathrooms, roofs, heating systems and energy efficiency measures. We will continue to invest around £9 million each year in maintaining your homes. We are working hard to keep you warm and safe within your home and to help reduce your heating bills. I am pleased to say

that we have been awarded nearly £1.4 million towards a new biomass heating boiler at Lancashire Hill and just over £1.3 million for insulation measures across Stockport. The installation of solar panels is also becoming a practical option with Government grants becoming available and the possibility of ongoing payments, from the creation of electricity from the panels, to Stockport Homes and additionally free electricity for our customers. There are many new ways of saving and creating electricity and we are looking at the most cost effective solutions. To find out if your home is energy

Diversity and accessibility

For more information, please contact Phil Rhodes on telephone 0161 474 2860 text 07891 949 399 email phil.rhodes @stockporthomes.org or write to Social Inclusion Team, Directorate of Housing Management, 2nd Floor, 1 St. Peter’s Square, Stockport SK1 1NZ The paper which is used for this newsletter is from a sustainable source. Please recycle it in an appropriate way.

If you are interested in deciding how our services should be delivered and to what standard, why not attend the next Stock Investment Customer Action Group (see ‘Dates for your Diary’ for details). Best Wishes for 2011 Mark Hudson Director of Technical Services

This newsletter includes information about Stockport Homes’ events and services. A free interpreting service is available if you need help with this newsletter. Please telephone Stockport Interpreting Unit on 0161 477 9000. Email:eds.admin@stockport.gov.uk Portuguese

You can get copies of newsletters and other documents from Stockport Homes on audiotape or CD, or in large print free of charge.

efficient or see how you can reduce energy consumption, please contact Louise Whan, Environmental Officer on 0161 474 2401 or email louise.whan@ stockporthomes.org

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Issue 23-customer_news_winter2010  

Blowing the whistle on... HOUSING CHEATS Find out about our successful Housing Fraud campaign - PAGE 8 Stockport Homes’ Customer Newsletter...

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