Page 1

Stockport at home Stockport Homes’ customer newsletter

Fun days 2011 PICTURES ON PAGE 13

myonline FIND OUT MORE ON PAGES 18-19

Issue 26: Autumn 2011

Useful telephone numbers The 0845 numbers for Stockport Homes / Stockport Council are no longer in use, please use the 0161 numbers that are listed on this page.

Stockport Homes’ contacts Stockport East

0161 856 9973

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) Out-of-hours number

0161 474 3840

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

0161 218 1498


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


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


0161 237 3200

Housing Support Point

0161 474 3719

0800 111 999

Investment programme hotline

0161 474 4407

National Grid (gas emergency)

Leasehold Officer


0300 1234 999

0161 218 1364



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

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Welfare Rights Service 0161 474 3093

Features inside...

Stockport at home


How the welfare reform affects you

H3 win national TPAS award


Fun days 2011


STAR Awards

Gardening competition


Crack House Closure



Contents... Customer Finance


Sustainability news


Board news


Housing options news


Customer Corner


Performance news


Customer news Social inclusion news Customer involvement news Leaseholder news Website news Older persons’ services news

7-8 9-10 11-16 17 18-19 19

Housing management news


Technical services news


Anti-social behaviour news


Police service news


Fire safety news


Diversity and accessibility


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26


Customer finance news news

How proposed welfare reforms may affect you The Government is proposing some radical changes to the welfare system and although the full details of the proposed changes are not yet fully known, Stockport Homes want to keep you updated on the proposals. Non-dependant deductions In April 2011, non-dependant deductions (the deductions made from Housing Benefit (HB) for other adults living in your home) were increased meaning that they are expected to pay more towards the rent. See details in the table opposite. The Government are proposing to continue increasing non-dependant deductions over the coming years and further details will be provided as soon as they are known.

Non-dependant circumstances

In receipt of Income Support, Jobseeker’s Allowance (JSA) or Employment Support Allowance (ESA) aged 18-24 In receipt of Income Support, JSA or ESA aged over 25 Working, gross income less than £120 Working, gross income £120 to £177.99 Working, gross income £178 to £230.99 Working, gross income £231 to £305.99 Working, gross income £306 to £381.99 Working, gross income £382 and over

Weekly deduction from any Housing Benefit entitlement over 48 weeks from April 2011 £0.00 £10.18 £10.18 £23.35 £32.07 £52.49 £59.80 £65.65

Under-occupation From 1 April 2013 there is a proposal to restrict the amount of HB paid to claimants of working age who are deemed to be under-occupying tenancies. It is intended to introduce size criteria for new and existing HB claimants of working age (under 60) living in the social rented sector. The size criteria currently proposed is: One bedroom will be allowed for each person or couple with the following exceptions: • A child aged 15 or under would be expected to share with another child of the same gender. • A child aged 9 or under would be expected to share with one other child regardless of gender.


The reduction in HB is proposed to be at a rate of 15 per cent for the first room under-occupied and 25 per cent for two rooms or more.

Universal Credit The new Universal Credit system which will include the Housing Benefit currently paid to Stockport Homes for rent aims to: • simplify the system, making it easier for people to understand, and easier and more cost effective for benefits staff to administer; • improve work incentives; • smooth the transitions into and out of work;

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Customer finance news news • reduce in-work poverty; and • cut back on fraud and error.

who would then be expected to make their own arrangements to pay the full weekly rent.

The switch to Universal Credits is expected to start in April 2013, subject to Parliamentary approval. At this stage, it is proposed that Universal Credit (including HB) will be paid directly to tenants

For more information, please contact the Customer Finance Team on 0161 474 2677 (east area) or 0161 474 2668 (west area).

Direct debit - now even more convenient Paying by direct debit is now even easier and there is no need to complete any forms. One phone call is all it takes. If you pay by direct debit you will receive a £10 a year discount on your rent and water charges or £5 per year if you rent a garage from Stockport Homes.

You can pay your rent and water charges weekly on a Monday or on the 1st, 8th, 15th or 22nd of each month. If you wish to arrange to pay by direct debit, please ring 0161 474 2677 (east area) or 0161 474 2668 (west area) today.

Are you worried about repossession or eviction? Contact Lisa at Stockport Homes on:

0161 474 4151 to see how we can help you Solicitors

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Board news Spotlight on our newest Board member Daniel Hawthorne I am a frontline Housing Advisor for New Charter Homes in Tameside and have previously worked on a social housing contract for British Gas as well as for the Co-operative Group, Manchester College and Stockport Council. At 24 I can bring a youthful perspective to the Board. I have been an elected member on Stockport Council for just over a year and this year I am leading a scrutiny review as part of my role as Corporate Resource and Management Governance Vice-Chair. In addition, I am the Council’s representative for The Association for Public Service Excellence, sit on the Corporate Parenting Working Party and am also the ward traffic spokesperson for the Manor Ward.

I meet social housing tenants on a daily basis in my current role and thus have a thorough understanding of housing issues from the user perspective. I am a customer focused person and will always look to see how Board decisions will trickle down and affect the living conditions of the service-user. I want to ensure that safeguards are in place in order that homelessness doesn’t increase as a result of the impending welfare changes, in particular the changes to Housing Benefit. I also look forward to learning from the experience, expertise and knowledge of the current Board members.

Regards, Daniel Hawthorne

Board elections result Thanks to all the customers who voted in the Board elections! We are pleased to announce that the successful east area candidate was Maureen Rowles with 68 per cent of the area’s votes and Jane Clayton was elected from the west area with 53 per cent. They both retain their seats on the Board and will serve for a further three year term where they will have the opportunity to make on going contributions to the development of the Board. Commiserations to David Kirwan from the east area and Colin Spencer from the west area, who we hope will continue their valuable roles as involved customers with Stockport Homes. 6

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Maureen Rowles

Jane Clayton

For more information about becoming a Board member at Stockport Homes, please contact Jeremy Beatty, Governance Manager on 0161 474 2850 or email

Customer news Customer corner

A well-kept secret By Colin Lennard, Stockport Homes customer

Finding where to learn about computers (especially if you are elderly) is a problem. There you are, wanting to learn how to communicate through the computer, but embarrassed enough to not tell those around you. When your friends or family offer to help they either show you quickly or say that they will show you later, which never comes! Well now you can learn by attending Stockport Homes’ computer course for beginners, which covers switching on your computer, working the mouse and much more.

To book on a course, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email Hope you enjoy your new found skills!

Do you want to write an article for Stockport at home? If so, email your articles to Nicola Poulter at

The Act Family Team is working with families in Adswood, Bridgehall, Brinnington and central Stockport / Lancashire Hill to improve their prospects and opportunities. If you are linked into support services already they may be able to make a referral by calling 0161 474 3161 or email

Supporting families towards a brighter future

A partnership between:

Community Health Stockport Your Partner in Health

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26



Customer news


Self-financing update Stockport Homes are now into full planning mode for the Government’s introduction of self-financing - the new system for council housing finance. You will recall in the summer issue that we asked for volunteers to set up a customer panel to work with Stockport Homes officers on the production of

a 30 year Asset Management Strategy and Business Plan which will show how your rent and service charge monies are going to be spent over the next 30 years. There is now a Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Customer Panel in place that will discuss these issues and be instrumental in agreeing the way forward. The Government will release a final draft offer for Stockport in November 2011. Whilst we expect the figures to change due to changes in inflation, we still envisage a sustainable plan for the future. Watch out for our autumn roadshow where more information about the development of these longer term plans will be showcased.

Football event scores a hat-trick! Stockport Homes’ third annual football event for the children of Stockport Homes’ tenants and leaseholders was held on 24 August. It was a fantastic success, with 96 children aged 8-14 years old attending. To see more photos of the event, please visit the ‘Young Persons’ Zone’ of our website or check out our Facebook page. 8

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Social inclusion news

Stamping out loan sharks An estimated 310,000 households across the UK are currently borrowing from illegal money lenders, more commonly known as loan sharks. How would you know if you were being sharked? • Most loan sharks start out by being friendly, although their behaviour often changes when payments are missed. They rarely advertise and are mostly heard of by word of mouth. • They rarely offer paperwork. • They refuse to tell you how much you owe, how long you will be paying or the interest rate. • They may take items such as bank or benefit cards ‘as security’. • They are often intimidating, threatening or violent.

If you believe you or someone you know is the victim of a loan shark, help is at hand from a specialist team. Please call the Illegal Money Lending Team in the strictest confidence on 0300 555 2222, text ‘loan shark + your message’ to 60003, email or visit

Stockport Credit Union collection point


Great Underbank

at St. Peter’s Square

St. Petersgate

To open an account, make deposits or take out a low interest loan visit the Housing Information Centre at 1 St. Peter’s Square every Thursday between 10am and 11am. Alternatively, call Stockport Credit Union on 0161 430 5808 or visit

Head Office Fletcher Street

St. Peter’s Square

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Social inclusion news

New Local Standards launched! Stockport Homes’ service standards have been reviewed and improved in line with a national drive to create standards which meet specific customer needs. We consulted with customers about our current standards and it was decided to rename them ‘Local Standards’. The new Local Standards fall under four main headings: • Tenant involvement and Empowerment; • Home; • Neighbourhood and Community; and • Tenancy.

A full list of Local Standards have already been published on Stockport Homes’ website and in the new ‘Customer handbook’. There is also one set of customer care Local Standards that cover all our services, some of these are shown below.

Customer care Local Standards • Staff will wear identification badges at all times. • Staff will introduce themselves by name in interviews and when you contact Stockport Homes by telephone. • You will be able to speak to someone regarding a query within five minutes when visiting Stockport Homes’ offices. • A member of staff will take ownership of your enquiry and will resolve or appropriately pass on your enquiry on first contact. • We will answer all telephone calls within 15 seconds. • We will ensure that private interview rooms are available upon request. • We will adapt access to our services and will provide information in a range of formats to ensure we meet the needs of our customers. • We will provide all standard documents, including letters, in plain language, which is clear and easy to understand. • We will display all opening and closing times (including bank holidays) and out-of-hours or emergency numbers on the outside of our buildings. 10

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If you have any comments or queries about these standards, please contact Lauren Atherton, Policy and Performance Officer on 0161 474 2859 or email lauren.atherton@

Customer involvement news

new young persons’

‘Bring it On’ Brinnington! During August 2011 young people, aged 8-14, in Brinnington took part in a scheme to raise awareness of and improve their local environment. The scheme involved an arts session to create a banner made from recycled materials to raise awareness of recycling in the Brinnington community, and gardening sessions at Rutland Crescent to improve the visual appearance of the communal gardens. The scheme has taught the young people about their local environment as well as teaching them valuable practical and team working skills. As a reward for all their hard work the young people went on a trip to Linnet Clough Activity Centre in Mellor to undertake a range of outdoor activities and it was a fun filled day all round!

This project was run in partnership with Stockport Council, Brinnington Educational Achievement Partnership, the Youth Offending Team and Sports Trust.

NEW! Reward scheme Are you aged 18 – 25 living in a Stockport Homes property? If so, why not sign up to our new reward scheme yeah! Yeah is a points based reward scheme for young people who give their views on Stockport Homes’ services. By telling us what you think you can build up points which can be turned into high street vouchers! youngengagedactiveinhousing

For more information, please visit the Young Persons’ Zone on or text yeah followed by your name and address to 07800 617695.

Adswood and Bridgehall drama group Are you aged 11 – 16 and live in Adswood or Bridgehall? Have you always fancied yourself as a star of stage or screen? Are you interested in finding out more about your local community and what goes on in it? If so, you should join the Adswood and Bridgehall drama group. Through a series of workshops the group will explore the ideas of community and crime through performance art. You can get involved as a performer or learn more about the technical side, or you can simply come along to find out more about the place where you live.

Contact Me :) Nicola Green Customer Involvement Officer (Young People) Phone: 0161 474 5811 Text: 07800 617 695 Email:

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Customer involvement news news

nd m u n it y F



’ es


The Area Forums are a great way to find out how Stockport Homes are working to improve your area. But did you know that you can also decide how much money is given to Community Fund projects?

Sto c

Find funding for your community project at the Area Forums kport Hom

Below are some of the projects granted funding at the recent Area Forums: • Football kit and nets for a football club - £955 • Drumming tutor and materials for a samba band - £1000 • Plants to maintain a community flower bed - £1000 • Benches for a communal area - £409.96 • Cheerleading outfits and competition fee - £1000 • Hollywood Park fun day - £1000 • Socials for groups across Stockport - Various up to £1000 • Sports sessions for children - £960 If you have an idea for a project that needs funding, please contact the Customer Involvement Team who can support you to complete the application form. You can contact the team on 0161 474 2862 or email To book onto the next Area Forums, look out for your invite in this newsletter.

Customer Scrutiny Panel Chair’s blog Hi, I am Monique Dutot, Chair of the Customer Scrutiny Panel. We are a group of customers who review and challenge how Stockport Homes is performing. We started our first service review in November 2010 and we chose to look at what happens when a customer leaves a property and the repair work done to make the property a suitable standard for the next person. We have been very busy reviewing documents and ways of working, interviewing managers and repairs operatives, speaking to customers and viewing some empty properties. 12

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

We have found many good things about the way the service works and worked with our Independent Mentor to write a report of our findings to present to the Board. We made a number of recommendations for things that we think can be improved to make the experience even better for new tenants.

For more information or to get involved, please contact Rebecca Horton, Customer Involvement Officer on 0161 218 1368 or email

Customer involvement news news Look out for customer involvement coming soon to an area near you (see the enclosed flyer for details).

Fun days 2011 Adults and children have had fun in the sun at fun days across the Borough this summer. See if you can spot anyone you know in the photos below. You can also find more photos on our Facebook page.

! s e s s e c c u s ig b s e h c n lu Big The Oldham Drive Estate Tenants’ Group and the George Lane Community Social Club held a big lunch on Sunday 5 June. The Cherry Tree residents group at Romiley held their big lunch on Saturday 11 June. Residents and Police Community Support Officers attended both events and were treated to a BBQ, bring and buy sale, raffle and of course a big lunch! Volunteers provided various plates of food, which provided plenty for everyone.

A local resident said, “I think it’s been a very enjoyable afternoon. If people look back on the day, it shows that people can really mix and help each other. Lovely day.”

Over 30 customers attended each of these events which turned out to be a great success. Thank you to all the volunteers who made this happen.

For more information, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email

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Customer involvement news news

You said...

We did...

The Quality Panel customer inspectors asked us for training on customer care and working safely on their own.

We arranged for members of the Quality Panel to take part in training sessions with staff on customer care and lone working.

Young customers chose a new name, logo and brand for the new young customer incentive scheme yeah.

We used your feedback to develop the logo design to make it attractive and suited to our young customers (see page 11 for details of yeah).

You were unhappy one of our contractors put white tiles in your kitchen when you had purchased your own.

The contractor has tightened up their procedures to prevent a recurrence. Where a gap is observed in customer choice forms then a subsequent attempt will be made to finalise all areas of choice in future.

You said you wanted more articles in Stockport at home related to activities and events for children and young people.

We now have a dedicated ‘Young Persons’ Zone’ in every newsletter to update you (see page 11).

Customers who attend the Resettlement ‘Focus on You’ meetings wanted to know how to make the best of their outdoor spaces in an economic way.

We invited Jim McGarrie from Woodbank Park nurseries to attend the June ‘Focus on You’ meeting. Jim discussed how people can be ‘green’ no matter where they live.

At the Area Forums, 21 customers wanted to find out more about our Quality Panel of customer inspectors and mystery shoppers.

16 customers have completed the Quality Panel induction programme and are ready to start checking our services are up to standard.

Customers who attend the H3 meetings wanted more information on Homechoice and the bidding system. This was needed to give people more information about what happens when they are ready to move on.

We incorporated a Homechoice question and answer session into the June H3 meeting; customers also had the opportunity to speak with a Housing Assistant on a one-to-one basis to discuss private enquiries.

You tried to register with Homechoice on our website on behalf of your father. However, the questions were only applicable if your father had been doing it.

The online application process was reviewed and a new system has been purchased that will allow direct entry onto our systems, offering a better customer experience and potential efficiencies for the Homechoice Team.

You complained about residents breaking the rules when using the car park.

The Area Housing Office will work with concierge to improve the security of the car parking facility and tackle the abuse of fobs.


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Customer involvement news news

You said...

We did...

Customers who attended the Skills for Life ‘Discover your green fingers’ gardening course at Woodbank Memorial Park asked us to provide further courses on this topic.

We have arranged two ‘Edible crops’ follow on courses and will continue to look for further opportunities at Woodbank Park Nursery.

Members of the Customer Involvement Customer Action Group (CAG) recommended that the categories for the customer STAR Awards were streamlined to make it easier to nominate.

We slimmed down the number of awards categories this year based on customer feedback. See page 16 for details of this year’s winners.

Oldham Drive Tenants’ Group and Cherry Tree Tenants’ and Residents’ Association were interested in hosting more community activities and events in their local area.

We helped both of the groups organise and hold a ‘big lunch’ event in June with food, fun, face painting a raffle and bring and buy sales (see page 13 for details).

You complained about an area at the rear of your property which had become overgrown and the matter was not getting resolved despite having raised this previously.

The Neighbourhood Housing Officer is to carry out a consultation with customers with a view to improving the communal area from the Estate Improvement Budget 2011/2012. This will be subject to customers’ approval at the Area Forums in November.

Customers who are involved in the CIRCLE peer review group gave us feedback on our annual report and made suggestions for how we can improve it.

We have used the feedback to write our next annual report which has been produced with customers (enclosed in this newsletter).

Children who took part in ‘Bring it On’ Brinnington asked us to include more arts and craft based activities for them to do during the school holidays.

During ‘Bring it On’ Brinnington in August, the children were involved in turning their trash into treasure by making a banner of recycled materials to promote recycling on the estate (see page 11 for details).

You suggested the criteria for the Assisted Gardening Scheme should include families with disabled children, cover a wider area and the age limit should reduce from 70 to 65.

The Greenspace Contracts Manager will be requesting additional funding for these changes to take place next year. Changes to the Assisted Gardening Scheme criteria will be supported by an updated booklet available from Area Housing Offices and when customers are being signed up to the scheme.

For more information, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email

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Customer involvement news news

Stockport STARS shine once again in 2011! A big thank you to all who nominated Customers and staff were invited to nominate people or groups who have strived to improve the lives of others and have made a difference in the community. It has always been known that there is a lot of good work happening out there, but it is fantastic that once again this has been recognised by so many. A total of 75 nominations were received – an amazing result!

The judging panel of customers and staff had a difficult task as there were many remarkable achievements. However, after much discussion the winners of the four categories were agreed upon.

Customer of the Year Award Winner: Monique Dutot Runner up: Catherine Lacin Young Person’s Award Winner: Lancashire Hill Young Photographers Group Runner up: Leon Ince Community Award Winner: Lancashire Hill Family Group Runner up: Friends of Offerton Green Award Winner: Alan Sweeney Runner up: Future Footprints

STAR Awards




r All winners were invited to attend a joint custome t and staff event. This newsletter had gone to prin g before the event, so we hope everyone attendin enjoyed the evening! Photos of the winners e of receiving their awards will be in the winter issu rg the newsletter, on www.stockporthomes.o and our Facebook page.


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Customer news Leaseholder news

Leaseholders, get covered Did you know as a leaseholder you can apply for the same low cost home contents insurance that Stockport Homes’ tenants qualify for? Benefits include: • up to £9,000 worth of cover for as little as £1.75 per week. If you are over 60 the cover can be reduced to £6,000 at a rate of £1.17 per week; • comprehensive cover including accidental damage; • no excess; • personal and quick claims service; and • flexible payment options at no additional cost.

the If you would like more details on k up policy or how to apply you can pic ng a Housi an insurance pack from our Are Centre at 1 n Offices, the Housing Informatio mail one out St. Peter’s Square or we can also to you if you call 0161 474 2820.

Are you thinking of moving out of your leasehold property? If you do not live in the leasehold property and allow someone else to live there or it is left empty for a period of 30 days or more you need to advise the Leasehold Officer on 0161 218 1364 as this may affect the building insurance cover or any claims. Stockport Homes have no objections to those who wish to sub-let their leasehold properties but would like to ensure that you have all the information to do this successfully without incurring any additional insurance charges. We will also need to update your contact information so that you get your service charges on time and so we can contact you if there are any problems.

olved For more information or to get inv please contact your Leasehold Officer on the details opposite.

Thinking of selling your leasehold property? Why not ask for a copy of the ‘Guide to selling your leasehold property’?

Tracy Nield Leasehold Officer T: 0161 218 1364 M: 07800 617810 E:

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Website news

myonline In July 2011 Stockport Homes introduced an online facility for tenants called myonline, allowing registered tenants to securely access their account balances, payments history, as well as ensuring their contact details are up-to-date. Many customers already use online banking facilities and online accounts for their energy bills. Following consultation with customers in 2010 there was a clear demand for Stockport Homes to introduce similar online facilities.

payment reference and your date of birth. Within a few days of registration you will receive in the post separate letters detailing your unique username and password, which when correctly entered will allow you access to the secure myonline site.

Registration for myonline not only provides access to account details, but also allows customers to choose to stop receiving paper rent statements and receive other communications from Stockport Homes electronically. In fact, those myonline customers who have chosen to go paper free will be reading this newsletter electronically!

We are also planning to extend the range of services available within myonline. The next development will include the facility to report repairs online and view the repairs history for your tenancy.

The registration process is straightforward, and requires basic information including your account


These initiatives will reduce the amount of paper used by Stockport Homes, which in turn reduces the impact on the environment and any associated costs. We all like to do our bit for the environment!

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Website news myonline users who choose to go paper free will be automatically entered into a quarterly prize draw for the chance to win a

£50 high street voucher. Please see for full terms and conditions.

Whilst it is recognised that not every customer has regular access to a computer to access online services, it is hoped by the end of this year that 5 per cent of all customers will be using this service, and by the end of 2012 at least 15 per cent. Since the launch, over 30 new customers each week have registered for this service, which means that we are well on our way to exceeding this goal.

If you have any questions about registering, accessing or using myonline, please email

Older persons’ services news

Oaktree Court goes live! Customers living in Oaktree Court sheltered housing scheme in Cheadle can now go online using a computer in the communal lounge provided by Stockport Homes. Two of the residents at Oaktree Court, Tony Smith and Dorothy Harrison have volunteered to be IT champions and will be on site most days along with the Scheme Manager Hayley Penkett. Dorothy said, “Being able to help other customers at Oaktree Court with basic computer skills is very rewarding. Most people have never switched on a computer and do feel intimidated by them, hopefully this will change.”

This is the first scheme in a pilot project to provide IT equipment for residents to use in the communal lounge to encourage them to become ‘silver surfers’ and if it proves popular it will be rolled out to other sheltered schemes in the Borough.

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Customer news Sustainability news

‘Making a difference together in Offerton’ National ALMO Award 2011 A partnership project between Stockport Homes, residents, Friends of Offerton, Stockport Council, Greater Manchester Police, Harvest Housing Group and a range of other services has delivered a range of projects and has been recognised by being made a runner-up in the annual awards of the National Federation of ALMOs, whose 63 member organisations manage almost one million council homes in England.

The partnership has had a really positive impact in Offerton and is helping to develop and build sustainable relationships between individuals living in the community and voluntary groups and organisations working in Offerton.

• •

What’s been happening in Offerton? • A range of events and activities to positively engage the community, including: Offerton in Bloom, a sports day, festive celebrations, street theatre events, twelve community clean-up days and domestic violence workshops. • 27 community groups receiving a total £64,100

• •

of local funding, including a portion from Stockport Homes’ Community Fund. Offerton named a “Newlove Neighbourhood” in partnership with Baroness Newlove. A neighbourhood agreement is under development, overseen by the community, to review the key priorities for the Offerton area and defines roles and responsibilities of residents and partners. 12 week back-to-work course delivered in partnership with Groundwork and Successful Transitions course. Nine new homes built on former sheltered housing scheme at Marlhill Court.

For more information please contact Jo Cole, Sustainability Manager on 0161 474 2918 or email 20

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Customer news Sustainability news

Play time! Over the last two years Stockport Homes has been working with residents and partners to provide 22 new, exciting, challenging and accessible play spaces.

This has been possible with funding secured from Big Lottery, Play England, Stockport Council and Stockport Homes. These projects have had a real positive impact on our neighbourhoods and customers, helping to increase physical activity, reduce anti-social behaviour, use a variety of techniques to engage with residents, children and helped to inspire young and old to shape their views on what, how and where play provision is made within a community.

Over the summer, in partnership with Stockport Council’s Play Team, weekly play sessions, have been supported in various places. Children have been using the new play spaces and equipment, playing traditional games such as cricket, football and rounders and participated in more imaginative play activities from tig games, making picture games, den building, cardboard dolls, painting with marbles, making animals out of cardboard and muck and rock painting.

• 1,000 children were involved in the design and development of new play spaces. • 78 per cent of children indicated that they were more active than they were before. • 81 per cent of children now use their local spaces more than once a week. • 89 per cent of parents agree their children are more physically active. • 72 per cent of parents identified a positive reduction in anti-social behaviour. • £1.5 million of investment was secured for play related activities.

Stockport Homes has also been working with partners to identify further improvements and funding sources for play areas and activities. Watch out for more information in your next Neighbourhood News newsletter (due out in January 2012) and on our website

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26



Customeroptions Housing Options news news news

Do you need housing related support? If so, we have services in Stockport to help you maintain your own home or access supported accommodation.




The Housing Support Point is the central point of contact for all of the short-term (up to two years) Supporting People funded housing related support services in Stockport.

If you think you may benefit from these services, contact Sarah Higgins, Housing Support Point Officer on 0161 474 3719 or email

Picture praise for Penny Lane Thanks to the Penny Lane Photography Club, who kindly donated their time and talents to help homeless residents in Stockport.

Volunteers from the club came to the three temporary accommodation schemes to take photographs of the rooms, buildings, communal spaces and gardens to feature in a new handbook for each scheme. These handbooks provide a really useful ‘welcome’ to homeless people moving in to temporary accommodation, and help them to understand the services they can receive. Penny Lane Photography Club (based at Lancashire Hill) meet regularly to share and learn new skills, work on photography projects and enjoy looking through the brilliant pictures they have taken. For more information on the group, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 474 2862 or email 22

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Tem po ra ry Ac commod at ion

St rath clyde Ho us e

Customeroptions Housing news news

Stockport Homes and H3 win national TPAS award!

Well Done H3 and Stockport Homes have beaten some tough competition to win a national Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) award for ‘Best Practice in Supporting People’. Big congratulations to all customers and staff involved!

Helping the Homeless into Housing

Through winning the award, H3 have gained well deserved national recognition for their continued efforts and determination to make a difference.

is supported to engage and make informed comments and decisions about the way in which the TA Schemes operate.

The award recognises the innovative work of Housing Need and Support Services and Customer Involvement staff working in partnership to develop the H3 temporary accommodation group.

For more information about H3, please contact the Customer Involvement Team on 0161 464 2862 or email customer.involvement@

H3 is a constituted group of current and former residents of Stockport Homes’ three Temporary Accommodation (TA) Schemes who meet every two months to discuss issues and improvements relating to the schemes. H3 enables residents to share their experiences of the service and

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26


Customer news Performance news

Spotlight on... performance a At the Performance CAG on 24 May 2011, a consultation exercise was undertaken which asked members of the group to review all of the performance indicators reported in the organisation’s performance report. This led to the creation of an updated ‘top ten performance indicators’ (please see below). Performance indicator Quarter one Is this on 2010-11 target? Per cent anti-social 92.6 per No behaviour cases dealt cent with to the satisfaction of the customer.

What are we doing to improve performance? Our target is 95 per cent, there is room for improvement here. There were five cases where a customer was unhappy with the outcome even though anti-social behaviour has been resolved. We are working to make clearer to customers at the out-set what solutions are possible. We are pleased to be performing well in this area.

Per cent of vulnerable people who are supported to maintain independent living. Per cent of responsive repairs where an appointment was made and kept.

99.2 per cent


96.7 per cent

Satisfaction with the repairs service. per cent of households with a valid Landlord Gas Safety Record. Proportion of rent and water charges collected.

96.9 per cent 99.8 per cent

No, our target Some repair jobs require separate pieces of work is 97per cent to be carried out under separate appointments. We are working to make sure that operatives record when they arrive at each individual appointment rather than recording when the entire job has been completed. Yes We are pleased to be performing well in this area.

per cent rent lost due to empty properties (voids).


No, our target is 100per cent

Specific appointment dates and narrower appointment times will be used to ensure access is gained to all properties where an appliance requires a service. 100.61 per No, our target Performance has been affected at the start of the cent for the end year due to there being two bank holidays in April. of Q1 was Rent arrears are £42,000 lower than this time last 101.91per year though, which is an encouraging sign. cent 0.4 per cent No, our We have seen increased numbers of empty target is to properties in the first quarter. We have found that keep this low more properties are becoming empty in our at 0.35 per multi-storey blocks. As these blocks are looked cent after through dedicated block management, staff have been able to identify properties which have been abandoned much earlier.

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Performance news

at Stockport Homes Performance indicator Quarter one 2010-11 Rent arrears of current 1.22 per tenants as a per cent cent of rent due. Average time taken 13 days to re-let empty properties.

Per cent of customers 81.9 per that told us their repair cent was carried out ‘right first time’.

Did you know... ..the next Performance CAG is meeting on 22 November 2011? If you would like to attend, please contact the Performance and Improvement Team on 0161 474 3764.

Is this on target? Yes

What are we doing to improve performance?

Our target is to keep this low and by the end of June we wanted this to be less than 1.37 per cent. No, our This figure is slightly over target and this is due to target is 12 a small number of properties that had been empty days for a longer period. Partnership work has enabled these properties to be re-let. We are the second best performing ALMO in the country. No, our target Feedback received from customers will lead to a is 90 per number of service improvements in this area. The cent, there most common reason of dissatisfaction relates to customers wanting new items fitted rather is room for improvement than repairs carried out. In order to ensure value for money, Stockport Homes will continue to here repair items where practicable and consider the feedback obtained when policies are reviewed.

If you have any queries about Stockport Homes’ performance, please contact Samantha Donigan, Performance and Improvement Manager on 0161 474 3279 or email

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r Ap p ro


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Readers Group Stamp

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Your chance to approve our literature! You can join our Readers’ Group, who approve all Stockport Homes’ new leaflets or our Editorial Group who approve this newsletter. For more information, please contact Nicola Poulter, Marketing and Communications Officer on 0161 474 3768 or email


Customermanagement Housing news news

Stockport Homes’ annual gardening competition 2011

Prizes provided by:

Thank you to everyone who took part in this year’s gardening competition! Over 100 entries were received and the standard of gardens entered from our green fingered customers was very high. The first, second and third prizes of £50, £30 and £20 of garden centre vouchers were awarded in each category as follows:

East area

West area

Individual garden 1st - Ms G Harding, Romiley 2nd - Mrs C Woolridge, Woodley 3rd - Ms K Dow, Brinnington

Individual garden 1st - Miss C Wardrop, Heald Green 2nd - Ms L Stead, Heald Green 3rd - Mr & Mrs Boland, Heaton Norris

Fruit and vegetable garden 1st - Mrs C Woolridge, Woodley 2nd - Mrs B Wood, High Lane 3rd - Ms G Harding, Romiley

Fruit and vegetable garden 1st - Ms L Stead, Heald Green 2nd - Mr & Mrs Boland, Heaton Norris 3rd - Mr R Porter, Adswood

Container / basket 1st - Ms J Bartley, Spring Gardens 2nd - Mrs C Woolridge, Woodley 3rd - Ms G Harding, Romiley

Container / basket 1st - Ms L Stead, Heald Green 2nd - Mrs K Malaney, Cheadle Hulme 3rd - Ms J Simpson, Edgeley

Best communal garden 1st - Pembry Close, Brinnington 2nd - Strathclyde House, Offerton 3rd - Middlesex Road, Brinnington

Best communal garden 1st - Russell Gardens, Heaton Norris 2nd - Edgeley Road flats, Edgeley 3rd - The Beeches, Cheadle Hulme

Best in the Borough The winner of the ‘Best in borough’ award was Ms G Harding – congratulations! To see photos of all the winning gardens, please see our website or visit our Facebook page.


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

Customer services Technical news news

Don't get caught out in the cold... Last winter temperatures fell to record lows and the Repairs Contact Centre experienced an unprecedented number of calls for central heating breakdowns. During November and December an average of 300 calls a week were received on this issue. Help us to protect you this winter - make sure you allow prompt access for your annual gas safety check.

to drain, during periods of prolonged sub zero temperatures it can freeze causing your boiler to stop working.

Regular checks of your boiler help to ensure it is running effectively and efficiently. This ensures you keep warm all winter and saves you money on your energy bills. A poorly maintained boiler can also result in deadly Carbon Monoxide poisoning.

For those areas affected by this last year, during the gas safety check the Dodd Group will see if the condensate pipe can be rerouted internally. If this is not possible a boiler buoy may be fitted. This device indicates when the condensate pipe is frozen and allows you to turn a bypass switch to route the excess water into the boiler buoy container allowing your boiler to keep working.

A large number of boiler breakdowns last winter were due to frozen condensate pipes. Condensate pipes transport excess water from your boiler into a drain. As the pipe runs outside the home

For more information on gas safety please contact Kate Crowther, Administrator on 0161 218 1944 or email

Remember: legal action will be taken against you if you do not provide access for the gas safety check. If this happens you could face court charges and possible eviction from your property.

Switch and save with Stockport Homes Energy

Recent users of Stockport Homes Energy saved over ÂŁ100 off their gas and electricity bill by switching to a cheaper tariff (June 2011). To save money on your energy bills, please visit or call us free on 0800 410 1245.


Customer services Technical news news The repairs service Your feedback and what we do with it Stockport Homes’ repairs service (Repair 1st) is driven by our mission statement: “To deliver a customer-driven service providing quality homes where people want to live”. Your feedback is essential to us and enables us to regularly review and improve the service we deliver to you. You provide us with your feedback in a variety of different ways: • Comments – when a repair is completed, a satisfaction survey is sent to you and the feedback you give us is used to identify service improvements. • Complaints – when you are unhappy with the service we have provided to you. • Queries – these are mainly made to our Repairs Contact Centre when you want to find out the status of your repair.

including operatives, the Repairs Contact Centre and a group of customers. The objective of this was to raise awareness of what happens to the customer feedback that we receive, what we do with it and the role it plays in the identification of service improvements. Another key aim was to ensure that all staff understand that they play an important role when dealing with the things that you are telling us. Feedback received from customers has resulted in a number of service improvements which we believe have been a contributing factor in the reduction of complaints about the repairs service. The two charts below show the number of complaints dealt with from April 2009 and the number of escalated enquiries from April 2010.

The repairs service has a dedicated Customer Feedback Team (formed in July 2010) that deals with your comments, complaints and queries. The team has recently delivered a series of presentations to all staff within the repairs service

Please note: an escalated enquiry is one where the Repairs Contact Centre cannot provide an answer because Technical Services need to carry out a more in-depth investigation.


Escalated enquiries Extreme weather conditions cause an increase in complaints Escalated enquiries transferred to Customer Feedback Team

Please continue to provide us with your feedback, it really does make a difference to the way we deliver our service.


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

To report a repair, please contact

the Repairs Contact Centre on 0161 217 6016.

Customer services Technical news news Let the sun... The new solar panels are unveiled at Russell Gardens in Heaton Norris.

As I write this article the sun is beaming down on a hot July day and I can’t help think of the ‘free’ power that is being generated by the solar panels that have been installed under the SHINE project. SHINE stands for Stockport Homes Investing in Natural Energy and is a commitment by Stockport Homes to invest in renewable and clean energy technologies that offer benefits to our customers. The project aims to deliver around 1,200 installations of solar power panels across the Borough by December 2011.

This innovative project will deliver customer benefits in reduced electricity cost and reduced carbon emissions by using ‘clean’ renewable energy from the sun. To find out more about the SHINE project and whether you are eligible:


0161 474 4407


or visit By Joe Keating, Environmental Projects Surveyor


Lancashire Hill ‘leading on renewable heating system’ At the time this newsletter went to press the upgrades to the district heating system at Lancashire Hill were in progress and on target for completion in autumn 2011. The scheme, which is nearly 80 per cent externally funded, is to install a new biomass district heating system which will reduce carbon emission by over 40,000 tonnes over the life of the project, that’s the equivalent of making around 230 homes completely carbon neutral for the next 30 years! This innovative scheme will become one of the first projects in the country that will use

European funding in conjunction with a contribution from British Gas under the Community Energy Saving Programme and also qualify for payments under the UK’s Renewable Heat Incentive. This means Stockport Homes are leading the way on delivering innovative renewable technologies! For more information, please contact the Maintenance and Investment Team on 0161 474 4407 or email investment.

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26


Customer services Technical news news

Roof repairs If you have a problem with your roof, you want it sorting out straight away. Keeping your property wind and water tight is a basic function of the Repairs Team. Like all repairs though, some of the problems that we experience can get highly technical. Not surprisingly, customers sometimes get upset when we aren’t able to complete the repair as quickly as they may have liked. Having looked into the specific details of past roofing complaints it was discovered that customers were not upset because we weren’t always able to get the roof fixed quickly, but because they didn’t always know what was happening after the first operative left. They thought that they would be left with a temporary repair and there was no follow-up. We have now put together a clear procedure with clear timescales that identifies the officers

responsible for each stage up until the final repair has been completed. This new procedure went live on 23 May and will ensure that systems are updated and, more importantly, that customers are kept informed at every stage of the repair process. Another change that is making things easier is that Repair 1st is required to identify the priority of all roofing jobs to help Technical Surveyors speed up the decision-making process. So far there has been a significant reduction in the level of queries and complaints we are dealing with as a result of follow on roofing repair works. Another example of where we listen and customers make a difference. Thank you.

Leaving your home To enquire about the tenancy termination process, please contact your Area Housing Office (see page 2 for contact details). You can pick up a copy of the leaflet from your Area Housing Office.


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

g A guide to leavin od go a in e m ho ur yo e th r fo condition next occupant

er Appro om


d ve

To enquire about the recharge process or dispute a recharge, please contact Catherine Arden, Technical Services Administrator on 0161 218 1281 or email

Leaving Your Home

Cu st

To help you understand how to prevent charges being made against you when you leave a Stockport Homes property, we have produced a ‘Leaving your home’ booklet.

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Customer news Anti-social behaviour news

Positive action against anti-social behaviour In each issue of Stockport at home we provide you with a breakdown of the different types of legal action against perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. Stockport Homes has continued to take legal action against the perpetrators of anti-social behaviour. Here is a breakdown of the number Type of legal action

of legal actions taken during April, May and June 2011 compared to the same period in 2010.

Qtr one (Apr - Jun 2010) Notice of Seeking Possession 3 Postponed Possession Orders 1 Outright Possession Orders 1 Evictions 1 Notice to Terminate (introductory tenants) 3 Notice to Extend (introductory tenants) 1 Demotion Notices 2 Injunctions 8 Undertakings 3 Noise Abatement Notices 0 Demotion Orders 0 Closure Orders 1 Committal 0 Acceptable Behaviour Contract (ABC) 0 Anti-Social Behaviour Order (ASBO) 0 Total 24

Qtr one (Apr -Jun 2011) 6 0 1 0 4 2 0 2 1 1 0 0 0 4 1 22*

* Whilst the total number of legal actions in this quarter is slightly less than in 2010, Stockport Homes is committed to working with its customers and other partner agencies to tackle and resolve anti-social behaviour early through a variety of interventions such as warning letters, interviews, and mediation. The total number of cases which were in addition resolved through these methods for this quarter is 52.

Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26


Customer news Anti-social behaviour news


Stockport Homes closes Adswood crack house Stockport Homes has successfully secured a Crack House Closure Order on 36 Culver Road, Adswood.

side 36

B Officer, Stockport Homes) out

Lumsdon (AS PC Stephen Webster and Caroline Culver Road, Adswood On Wednesday 6 July 2011 the Crack House Closure Order was granted in Stockport Magistrates Court. As a result of the order the tenant has to vacate the property for a period of three months. In addition, Stockport Homes has issued a Notice of Seeking Possession against the tenant and are in the process of applying to the court for possession of the property. The tenant of 36 Culver Road had been causing serious nuisance, annoyance, disorder and class A drug use at the property for some time. Residents living nearby were subjected to:


Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26

• 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; • drug and alcohol abuse on Culver Road and in the property; • violent incidents in the street; and • loud parties continuing into the early hours. The work carried out by Stockport Homes, Stockport Council and the police demonstrated the commitment of the Safer Stockport Partnership in tackling nuisance and anti-social behaviour in Stockport.

Customer news Anti-social behaviour news

Focus on... Neighbourhood Resolution Panels

On the 27 July 2011 the Ministry of Justice announced that it is inviting expressions of interest from local authorities, criminal justice agencies and others to test Neighbourhood Resolution Panels.

Overview These panels bring local victims, offenders and criminal justice professionals together, using restorative and reparative approaches and facilitated by a community volunteer, to agree what action should be taken to deal with certain types of low level crime and disorder. Neighbourhood Resolution Panels involve the victim and community in the justice process, enabling meaningful outcomes and a proportionate response to some of the problems that matter most to that neighbourhood.

Neighbourhood Resolution Panels should be available for both adults and youths, referrals could come from a range of agencies such as the police, the local authority and housing associations (for dealing with, for example, antisocial tenants. The panel should also be able to deal with perpetrators of criminal or nuisance behaviour that have been identified by the community, for example through beat meetings, as having an adverse impact on local quality of life. They are not intended for the resolution of serious cases.

Locally An expression of interest is currently being drafted on behalf of the Safer Stockport Partnership, of which Stockport Homes is a key member, for a pilot panel to be developed within an area of Stockport. It is hoped that this will be approved and that the pilot will be evaluated once it is up and running. Should the pilot prove to be a cost effective and efficient way of tackling low level anti-social behaviour within the community, it is envisaged that this will be rolled out across Stockport in the future.

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Police service news Customer news

Lock up and keep ‘em out Police in Stockport have pledged to leave no stone unturned in their fight to bring burglars to justice. As the weather gets colder and the nights get darker officers are asking you to help keep your home safe from burglars by: • locking all doors and windows whether you are at home or not; • getting a burglar alarm fitted and using it every time you go out or go to bed; and • leaving a light on or using plug-in timers to operate lights and radios if you are going out in the evening. Help us bang up burglars by reporting suspicious activity to police on 0161 872 5050 or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.

Looking for a

garage to rent? Stockport Homes have garages for rent throughout the Borough. To find out the availability in your area, go to and type renting a garage in the search facility. You can also contact your Area Housing Office for details. East Area Housing Office (Brinnington) West Area Housing Office (Adswood) 34

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0161 474 4372 0161 474 4371

Customer Fire safety news news

Bonfire safety advice Robert McHugo, Stockport Community Fire Safety Officer, offers the following advice for having a safe Bonfire Night.

DO NOT use the following to light the bonfire: • petrol; • paraffin; • diesel; or • white spirit or methylated spirit.

Please consider attending an organised event rather than risking your safety by having your own bonfire. But if you still want your own bonfire, please ensure that you know about the guidelines: Bonfires should be 18 metres from buildings, trees, fences, overhead cables and car parking areas. Only clean, dry timber should be burned. Bonfires should be no more than three metres in height. There should be a suitable barrier around the bonfire to keep spectators five metres away. DO NOT burn: • aerosols; • batteries; • bottles; • foam-filled furniture; • tins of paint; or • tyres.

Use firelighters instead! • Always check that no children or animals are hiding in the bonfire before lighting. • Keep some buckets of water nearby in case of emergency and to damp down after the event. • Bonfires built on council land without permission will be removed.

For more fire safety tips, please visit Stockport at home - Autumn 2011 Issue 26


- Help at the touch of a butt n For more information call Carecall on freephone:

0500 130 585

Email: Website: and click on Our services / Carecall Telecare and Mobile Warden Response Service

Diversity and accessibility

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. Portuguese

You can get copies of newsletters and other documents from Stockport Homes on audiotape or CD, or in large print free of charge. For more information, please contact Phil Rhodes on telephone 0161 474 2860 text 07891 949 399 email phil.rhodes 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.






Issue 26-customer_news_autumn2011  

Fun days 2011 Stockport Homes’ customer newsletter Issue 26: Autumn 2011 PICTURES ON PAGE 13 FIND OUT MORE ON PAGES 18-19

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