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Annual Report 2015-16





639 Page 1

Welcome Welcome to the annual report for Together Housing which outlines some of our great work over the last year. A major focus of our work last year was the legal, financial and governance collapse of Twin Valley Homes, Housing Pendle, Green Vale Homes, Chevin Housing and Pennine Housing into one legal company – Together Housing Association Limited. This single company now is the landlord for all our customers and employs all of our staff. Although previous housing associations no longer exist as separate companies, tenants rights and local services have been unaffected by the changes. This report reflects the new streamlined and integrated approach but also reports on the legacy companies until Together Housing Association came into being on 1 April 2016.

The way we manage Together Housing has also changed. We now have a single Board to look after strategic issues and an Operations Committee which focuses on issues which affect residents – repairs, letting homes and collecting the rent. This new approach streamlines decision making and is more efficient to run. But we’ve not forgotten the important input of residents and their voice is heard through local panels and improved scrutiny arrangements. There is no doubt we are operating in challenging times. The Government’s decision in the summer 2015 budget to reduce social rents by 1% per year for five years will reduce our income. This is on top of other welfare reforms which have made it harder for some tenants to pay their rent. Reducing income means we need to reduce our costs and change the way we deliver services. This needs to go hand in hand with becoming more efficient by collecting more rent, investing in homes only when they need it and doing repairs quicker and cheaper. We also need more residents to do business with us online, and I am delighted that nearly 7,000 customers had registered to access our services online by the end of March 2016. I hope you find this report an enjoyable read.

Steve Close Group Chief Executive

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Meet the Leadership Team Our Leadership Team is responsible for: • • • •

Implementing the strategy set by the Board Monitoring overall performance Providing key information to the Board to enable them to do their job Making sure that we meet legal requirements

Each member of the team is responsible for leading a particular area of our business.

Steve Close, Group Chief Executive

George Paterson, Group Director of Property Services

Responsible for the effective delivery of the overall business objectives and making sure we meet our statutory and regulatory obligations, as well as making policy and operational changes to reflect the Board’s strategic thinking.

Responsible for stock condition, delivery of maintenance services, investment planning, facilities management, sustainability, partnering and contract procurement.

Kevin Ruth, Executive Director of Operations and Deputy Chief Executive Responsible for our investment in maintaining the current housing stock and for developing new homes to help the Group grow and meet customer needs.

Mark Dunford, Executive Director of Resources Responsible for finance, human resources and organisational development, information and communications technology, value for money and business information.

Michelle Allott, Group Director of Finance Responsible for financial and management accounting, value for money, business improvement and taxation across the Group.

Amanda Garrard, Group Director of Neighbourhoods Responsible for the delivery of housing management and services, including supported housing, environmental services and customer services across the Group.

Ian Clark, Group Director of Strategy and Communications Responsible for corporate strategy planning, governance, marketing and communications, business intelligence, research risk, and regulatory compliance.

Stuart Henderson, Group Director of People and Organisational Development Responsible for human resources and organisational development, particularly focusing on employment law compliance, pensions, payroll, recruitment and staff welfare.

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Meeting our Governance Challenges Effective governance is the key to our business. Previously the five companies in the Group had their own board, in addition to the Group Board, meaning decision making was a slow and expensive process. A large scale review was conducted by independent housing experts in partnership with our management team regarding the governance and legal structure of the Group. The aim was to improve the efficiency of the Group, to spend less on process and more on front line services.

As a result, the Group simplified its governance and legal structures. There is now one Group Board supported by an Operations Committee. To make sure we are keeping residents’ interests at the core of what we do, their voices are still heard through the less formal local panels and new scrutiny groups. These new structures review services and make recommendations for improvements to the Operations Committee. Between November 2015 and March 2016, local boards for each association were replaced with one Group Board.

Meet the Board

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Together Housing Group was originally established in 2011, comprising Chevin Housing Association, Green Vale Homes, Housing Pendle, Pennine Housing and Twin Valley Homes. Creating the Group was driven by the need to become a value for money organisation. In June 2013, Newground joined the group, which consists of a registered charity, Newground Together, and a wholly owned subsidiary, Newground (a Community Interest Company, or social enterprise). To reflect the management and governance structures, the company legal structure changed from 1st April 2016 to one parent company with strategic control and one housing association which oversees the social housing business.

The former local Housing Associations - Chevin Housing, Green Vale Homes, Housing Pendle, Pennine Housing and Twin Valley Homes – were subject to a transfer of engagements into one organisation, Together Housing Association Limited. Staff continue to deliver services locally and although the local companies do not exist as legal or financial entities, they have maintained local brand names in the short term to ensure consistency. Managing over 37,000 homes and affecting 50,000 people’s lives, we are one of the largest owners and managers of social and affordable housing in the North. Within Together’s first five years, 1757 new homes were built, £507 million was invested in improving homes, and £8.7 million went towards community regeneration, with £13 million in efficiency savings.

Together Housing Group Limited (“THG”)

Together Housing Association Limited (“THA”)

Pendleton Together (“PT”)

Harewood Housing Society Limited (“Harewood”)

Newground Together (“Newground”)

Newground CIC (“CIC”)

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To offer customers consistently brilliant services, put social impact at the heart of what we do and be a great place to work.

How we deliver – turning the vision into reality Our vision is supported by three core ambitions and goals to make sure we are heading in the right direction:

The vision, ambitions and goals are the common threads running through all our activity and act as the inspiration for how we carry out the day to day business. We are working hard to develop and support our staff with the overall aim of continually improving our services. Another equally important aspect to our work is to make sure we have a social impact, and we do this with our commitment to improving lives and creating opportunities for our residents and communities.

• Delivering high performance • Striving for continuous growth • Having a social impact

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2015/16 Group Target

Group Performance 2015/16


Rents Rent collected excluding arrears (%)




Current tenant arrears (%)




Former tenant arrears (%)




Property turnover (%)




Asset Management and Cyclical Maintenance Number of homes meeting Decent Homes Standard Repairs




Average duration of responsive repair (days)




Homes with gas safety certificate (%)




Customer satisfaction with repairs







Empty Homes

Customer Services Overall customer satisfaction rating (%)

Demonstrating Excellent Customer Satisfaction We use regular feedback from our residents to check they are happy with what we are offering and to find out where we need to improve. Over the year we have worked with the Leadership Factor, an independent research company, to find out exactly what our residents think. The results also tell us how we are performing compared to other similar housing associations.

Between April 2015 and March 2016, they carried out 5,400 interviews with residents from across the Group. Improvement in overall resident satisfaction has been achieved and is now at the highest it has been for three years. We also carried out a survey of tenants and residents during the year and are using the results to further improve our services.

Customer Satisfaction with our services Page 8

Repairs satisfaction

customer satisfaction with repairs Satisfaction with our repairs service has slightly improved since last year but we are continuing to look at ways to keep this up as we know it is an area that really matters to our residents.



Green Vale Homes

Customer Satisfaction with Repairs




Twin Valley Homes






Housing Pendle




Other customer satisfaction results (%) Satisfied rent is value for money


Satisfied service charge is value for money


Satisfied with quality of home


Satisfied with neighbourhood


Satisfied the organisation listens and acts on their views


Listening to our customers Your complaints and other feedback are treated positively and are a valuable way to learn where we need to improve our services. Everyone benefits from fair treatment and we genuinely aim to put right what we get wrong.

We take our responsibility towards complaints very seriously and we have worked with tenants, residents and staff to carry out a full review of our complaints handling process. The result has created an effective way for our residents to report their issues and for us to record, respond and learn.

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Number of complaints Association



Chevin Green Vale Homes Housing Pendle Pennine Housing 2000 (Calderdale) Pennine Housing 2000 (Sheffield) Twin Valley Homes Not allocated Total

293 391 117 366 8 526 38 1,739

203 304 90 555 n/a 368 n/a 1,520

The complaints recorded for the Group increased slightly to 1,739, compared with 1,520 in 2014, but less than the 1,845 recorded in 2013. A key element to come out of the review was that there is sometimes confusion as to what should be classed as a complaint. For example, early recording included those for anti-social behaviour incidents and service requests. A comprehensive training programme is being rolled out to front line staff and managers, so we expect to see the number of complaints to drop.

very expensive. As part of the review, we identified that it is better to respond to complaints, where possible, at the first point of contact. We have introduced the ‘Get it Sorted’ (Stage 0) to achieve increased value for money and higher levels of customer satisfaction.

Dealing with complaints, particularly if they are referred to different members of staff throughout the organisation, can be

Following the review, under our new system, we are delighted to see that 72% of complaints are now being dealt with at the point of first contact.

During 2014, 75% of complaints were referred or escalated to a manager or a team leader, and only 20% were dealt with at the first point of contact. On average, more complaints were escalated to a manager/ team leader (Stage 1) than being dealt with immediately (Stage 0).

Stage Escalation Rates



Stage 0 Stage 1 Stage 2

72% 27% 0.6%

37% 53% 1%

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We’re listening and learning Tenants and residents can report complaints and compliments in a variety of ways including online and over the telephone. We have also carried out detailed, regular surveys and have learned that the biggest impact on customer satisfaction is “being told what was going to happen next” and “being kept up to date”, so we have built this in to our complaints process.

Compliments As with complaints, compliments are useful for telling us what our residents and tenants like and appreciate about our services. This helps us to identify the positive parts of the service we offer. The Group received 715 compliments this year, compared to 567 last year and although repairs receive a high proportion of complaints, they also attract compliments with 35% relating to the repairs service. The remaining compliments were for staff and other service areas.

‘’Mrs G called to compliment a gas service engineer - stating he was ever so good. He carried out thorough checks and explained everything, overall, an excellent service was provided.‘’

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Being recognised as a great employer Investing in our people We make sure we involve staff to increase our long term success as we recognise that it is not plans, processes or procedures that make change happen, it’s our people. In support of our company vision we have invested in improving employee communications to make sure staff are always up to date with the latest business news. We are also engaging with our employees through regular team meetings, ‘Back to the floor’ sessions with our senior managers and a monthly Question and Answer roadshow with our Chief Executive, Steve Close. Our STAR Awards scheme continues to recognise and reward the contribution of colleagues and teams from across the Group.

“The Investors in People specialist was satisfied that Together Housing Group meets the IIP Standard and are implementing strategies to ensure that they are embedded across the entire workforce.” “The workforce consistently describe the company as a good place to work and understand the approach to leading, managing, developing and supporting people.”

In recognition of this great work, we recently received Investors in People (IIP) accreditation. Overall the assessor described the company as the following:

“One which lives by its values, is regarded as a good employer and has a friendly and relaxed culture for working. There is a high sense of pride in the company and people are strongly committed to ensuring the company success is for the customers and for the business.”

Mark Dunford, Executive

Director of Resources,

goes ‘Back to the Floor’.

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Going the extra mile

Buying goods and services

Our staff are committed to providing consistently brilliant services but often go further than their role requires to make sure our residents are happy.

We know that as an organisation we need to make sure we consider value for money every time we buy or procure our goods and services. Whether we are buying new boilers, kitchens, bathrooms or parts for repairs, being efficient on cost and getting value for money does not necessarily mean we will buy the cheapest, we also consider the lifespan and availability of the goods and products we use.

Rent First In July 2015, the Customer Services Centre in the Lancashire region (Housing Pendle, Twin Valley Homes and Green Vale Homes) launched an initiative to improve rent collection, aiming to collect payments totalling £1,000,000 before the end of the financial year to reinvest back into our services and benefit residents. As a result, since April 2015, our Customer Service Centres have directly collected rent totalling nearly £3.7 million, taking a pride in delivering both quality and high performance. Following this success, our Customer Service Teams have now launched the new Direct Debit initiative, which aims to encourage tenants to make their rent payments through Direct Debit therefore cutting down their chances of getting into rent arrears.

Being efficient on cost The collapse of five associations into one landlord and business entity has enabled us to merge our supplier lists and contractor management frameworks. Now our future buying arrangements will be improved greatly by being able to buy in bulk and create further savings.

Due to the size of the Group, we have greater buying power than many other housing associations. Throughout the year, we have made value for money gains of over £3 million from our procurement activities.

Area of business


Planned maintenance




Single supplier and contract for grounds maintenance


Multi-function devices


Use of a single £26k contractor for fire safety Reduction in the annual cost of utilities in our offices and communal buildings (gas/electricity)



£3.024 million

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Investing to save – looking after our assets Improving and maintaining our residents’ homes, along with an effective repairs service is essential to make sure we take care of our assets. 99.98% of our homes meet the Decent Homes standard, which is an increase on last year’s figure. Our asset management priorities: • Improve our existing properties to a high standard and deliver energy efficient homes to meet residents’ expectations. • Actively manage our portfolio of properties to make sure we know when to improve or demolish poorly performing stock. • Reduce the cost of repairs and re-letting expenditure. • Develop new, high quality, well designed homes to stand the test of time.

Safe and efficient We have seen an improvement in gas safety again this year; 99.97% of our residents’ homes have a valid gas safety certificate. We need access each year to carry out the gas check to make sure equipment is safe and performing efficiently.

99.97% gas safety checked

Repairs – right first time During the year, 135,535 reactive repairs have been carried out across the Group, 9,448 less than last year. The number of emergency repairs has reduced from 24.2% to 19.8%.

Meet Decent Homes standard

% Emergency Repairs completed on time Standard Repairs completed on time


Green Vale Homes

Housing Pendle


Twin Valley Homes


















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Together Energy Services Just as it is important to the organisation to be efficient on cost, we are also working to help residents with energy efficiency and to tackle fuel poverty. Our dedicated Together Energy Services team (formerly Together Roof Energy) help deliver energy saving schemes and support our residents with advice on how to improve energy efficiency around the home.

Throughout 2015/16, the team has: • Installed 334 solar panel systems. • Carried out a pilot retrofit technologies scheme to replace old systems with newer, more energy efficient equipment. • Undertaken 300 home visits to give energy advice to support our vulnerable residents. • Worked with an external partner to help 914 residents to switch energy provider, saving a total of £64k – an average saving of nearly £70 per household. • Run eight energy advice sessions with larger resident groups as part of the Citizens Advice Bureau’s Best Deal programme.

Solar PV Panels installed

Any additional income generated from the work of this team is reinvested into future energy saving schemes to benefit our residents.

Energy efficient new homes

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Funded Newground Projects Page 16

Providing more homes

Joint ventures

One of the key ambitions for the Group is to continuously grow, so we are always looking at ways to increase our supply and tackle the need for affordable housing.

Working as a key player in the RTB Joint Venture Partnership with Rossendale Borough Council and Barnfield Construction, during the past year we delivered on two sites providing 20 new homes and helping the local authority to meet their strategic housing needs.

Our focus is on helping people to get access to the housing market by: • Increasing the supply of affordable housing. • Offering a choice of tenure to meet individual aspirations. • Helping to move people up the housing ladder. • Reducing the number of unfit or empty properties. • Encouraging independent living for an ageing population.

Partnerships Our partnership with Derbyshire County Council and construction partner, Willmott Dixon Limited completed two further independent living schemes in 2015/16 with the opening of apartments at Smithybrook View in Clay Cross and Maple Mews in Alfreton. Between both developments, 142 one and two bedroom apartments have been provided for rent and sale to people aged 55 and over who have an assessed need for care and support.

The partnership between the Group, Hull City Council and Compendium Living has delivered 25 homes for rent and shared ownership at Perivale Close in Hull, helping to diversify the area’s housing provision. The Orchard, a 30 unit scheme developed in partnership with Emmaus Hull, opened early on in the year, providing 30 secured bedspaces for homeless people and a warehouse unit. Emmaus provide housing management and support services, and have set up a social enterprise in the warehouse giving guaranteed employment to residents plus a chance to rebuild their lives.

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Developing new homes We have developed 133 Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) funded homes and delivered a further 241 homes for rent, shared ownership and supported housing through non HCA funding. Our target is to deliver 2,500 homes by 2020. We spent £25.2 million in total on our development activities, of which £2.3 million was received in grant funding. During 2015/16, we exceeded our Help to Buy targets by securing £495k in funding and by helping 19 households to buy their first home. • The £3 million Arches development on Knotts Lane in Colne (right) was shortlisted for an LABC Building Excellence Award for the 21 home development of two and three bedroom properties available for rent.

New homes built 2015/16 Chevin and Harewood


Green Vale Homes


Housing Pendle


Pennine Housing


Twin Valley Homes


New homes built

Hope Mill, Barnoldswick Page 18

Serving More Customers The performance through our Customer Service Centres has continued to improve throughout 2015/16 with a total of 445,103 calls being answered compared to 369,554 calls last year. Association

Calls answered

Customer satisfaction across the Group has also improved since last year, with 84.4% of our residents satisfied with how their call has been dealt with, compared to 83.9% in the previous year. The number of calls abandoned has also reduced from just over 12% to 10%. Calls abandoned

Satisfaction with the customer service centre





Green Vale Homes




Housing Pendle




Pennine Housing 2000 (Calderdale)




Pennine Housing 2000 (Sheffield)




Twin Valley Homes








Service Standards Together with the Senior Management Team and staff tenant representatives, we have developed an updated set of simple, accurate and consistent Customer Service Standards: • Investment Works - Asset Management

These documents have been revised to clearly explain to tenants, residents and customers exactly what they can expect from Together Housing and in many cases, what is expected of them. They have been made available to customers through the Group and association websites and from regional office reception areas.

• Neighbourhoods • Customer Services • Allocations & Lettings • Paying your Rent • Repairs & Gas Servicing • Complaints • Anti Social Behaviour Customer Service Standards Review Group Page 19

Going Digital Together The way our residents want to do business with us is constantly changing and we’ve responded by investing over £1 million during 2015/16 to improve and develop the various ways they can do this by: • Improving access and the range of services we offer. • Allowing our customers to access our services 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round. • Developing our websites and smartphone apps to provide more information, support and help.

IT improvements We have introduced digital services that are straightforward and convenient to use. Although we have invested a great deal, we are also seeing a benefit to the organisation in efficiencies and cost savings with the introduction of innovative ways to use digital technology. • Automated processes – We have introduced automatic telephone calls and text messages to customers to improve the Former Tenant Arrears collection process. • Mobile working – Staff have been equipped with smartphones, tablets and laptops giving them the ability to respond quickly to resident queries when out and about.

• Increasing the ways of digitally accessing our services through the use of websites, webchat, social media, tablets and other mobile devices. We are working to promote digital services so that our residents can ‘help themselves’ to information about their tenancy. This will enable our frontline staff to concentrate on helping our residents with the many complex issues they face. Offering a choice of ways our residents can contact and interact with us is helping to provide a more consistent service all round.

• Interactive websites and customer self service mobile apps – Our residents can access our core services from any device with internet connectivity, removing the need for them to rely on the phone. They can now request a repair, pay rent, view their rent statement and report an anti-social behaviour incident, as well as any other tenancy related question or complaint. We are actively encouraging our residents to register for digital services and promote the need for this at sign up. So far we have had in excess of 6,847 residents taking advantage of the improved services. Our monthly tenant e-newsletter is emailed to 15,290 tenants for whom we hold an email address, giving them up to date news about Together Housing, advice on services available to them and signposting to other agencies.

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Helping people online

Digital Friends

We understand that some of our residents may not be completely confident using our digital services, so over the past year we have introduced ways to help them to get online.

Our Digital Friends programme is going from strength to strength. As of March 2016, across the whole of the Together Housing Group, we had 80 Digital Friends who are spreading their knowledge and helping their neighbours, family and friends to get online.

‘Tea and Tech’ is a Group-wide programme offering our residents a bit of fun and the chance to see how the internet can help them in their everyday lives. It is also a way to promote the best use of technology on either mobile phones or tablets, by being able to show them how to access the Group websites to manage their homes online.

This scheme was introduced as a way for residents to meet socially and to help each other understand the benefits of using digital technology. When signed up to become a digital friend, residents are given a tablet and free broadband for up to two years, in return for making sure they access our services online and sharing their knowledge with other residents.

Tablet winner, Stacey Heywood, with Digital Inclusion Officer, Joanne Glynn

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Generating more revenue As most of our income comes from rents, it is a very important part of our business. To deal with the impact of the 1% rent cut announced in the Summer Budget 2015, we have introduced a number of new approaches including ‘rent first’ culture, pretenancy checks and improved management information to identify high risk tenants.

% Rent Collected (higher amount better) Current arrears (lower amount better) Former tenant arrears (lower number better)

For the third year in a row, we have improved our performance on rent collection and current tenant arrears, and achieved our targets. Unfortunately, the figures for former tenant arrears have fallen this year and we have not met our targets. By creating a former tenants’ arrears team we believe we will improve performance in the future. By improving rent collection, we are cutting down on the number of residents in arrears – so we are preventing arrears in the first place, rather than chasing after the debts once they have started to mount up.


Green Vale Homes

Housing Pendle

Pennine Housing

Twin Valley Homes




















Empty homes Empty properties mean lost rent and homes stand empty, which can attract problems making certain estates less attractive to live on. Relet times have slightly increased this year, affected by a number of long term empty properties. We have introduced new partnership ways of working between the repairs and neighbourhood teams to make sure our properties are rented quickly. % Available empty home (lower number better) Average relet times (lower number better)

We are always looking at new ways to improve our performance to maintain income and to make sure residents have suitable homes including: • ‘Zero relet’ pilot – making sure we relet homes without losing money. • Daily tenancies – starting tenancies on any day and charging rent from that date. • Offering incentives for some low demand homes.


Green Vale Homes

Housing Pendle

Pennine Housing

Twin Valley Homes














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New extra care apartments for over 55’s Page 23

Contributing To Better Neighbourhoods

Newground Together’s investment was £1.43 million, representing match funding of over £2 for every £1 of charity money committed.

As a landlord, our aim is to offer affordable, quality homes for our residents but we don’t stop there. Newground Together, the charitable part of the Group, puts social impact at the heart of all its work by looking at ways to improve the local environment and the lives of those people who live and work in our communities.

Newground delivers a wide programme of support and activities, including youth engagement, family support, health projects, food growing, citizenship work, environmental education, skills training and apprenticeships. Last year Newground's education team enthused more than 3,000 young people across Pennine Lancashire about the environment and the outdoors.

The aim is to help create better neighbourhoods, to build skills and job prospects, and to help people to live and work in a greener way.  This is done through a team of health, safety and environmental consultants, landscape architects and contractors, a community and youth engagement team and sustainable education work. During 2015/16, Newground received funding from the Group along with external financial support. Projects totalling a value of £4.3 million were approved, of which

External environments play an important role in how our tenants feel about where they live. Our Newground Landscape Services develop and transform areas to benefit the communities. We are committed to using recycled content materials in our projects where feasible and with the help of our clients. For example, 94% of the 21km (equivalent to the distance of a half marathon) of new fencing installed as part of our New Boundaries project is recycled plastic manufactured from coat hangers, CD cases, polystyrene and bottle tops.

of land improved

Hodge House Big Lunch Celebration Page 24

Keeping You Safe In Your Communities Anti-social behaviour (ASB) can involve a wide range of unacceptable activity including vandalism, graffiti or flyposting and nuisance neighbours. It can ruin lives and create an environment where more serious crime can become an issue.

Our Neighbourhoods and ASB & Interventions Teams work across the whole of the Group to keep our residents safe and create sustainable neighbourhoods by preventing and tackling anti-social behaviour.


Green Housing Pennine Pennine Pendleton Twin Valley Vale Group Total Housing Housing Together Homes Pendle (Calderdale) (Sheffield) Homes

New cases created









Cases closed









68.7% 89.2% 89%w






97 days

74 days

132 days

60 days 62 days

% of cases successfully resolved Average case length (at year end)

78 days

65 days

The three main reason for creating cases were noise nuisance (31%) harassment and intimidation (20%) and garden nuisance (7%). The majority of our cases were resolved by our ‘early intervention approach’, these include: • Working with complainants/resident to collectively gather evidence.


• Providing advice and support to both the complainant and the subject of the complaint. • Issuing warnings where the nuisance has been proven. • Referrals to mediation or restorative justice services. • Referrals to support agencies.

• Working in partnership with external agencies such as the police and local authorities.

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Where people cause persistent or serious anti-social behavior to residents within our neighbourhoods, our ASB & Interventions Team has been successful in taking legal action through the County Courts to stop the behaviour. This has been in the form of Injunction Orders often leading to possession of the property. The vast majority of our tenants comply with their tenancy responsibilities. Unfortunately, it is the minority of people who affect the quality of life of residents on our estates. To be successful in dealing with ASB we work in partnership with a variety of external agencies and groups within the areas in which we operate.

Here are just some of the initiatives from across the Group: • Community Safety Partnerships/ Neighbourhood Action Groups across all areas of housing stock. • Strengthened links with Adult and Children Safeguarding Teams across all regions. • Supporting victims of ASB through Anti-Social Behaviour Risk Assessment Conferences/Vulnerability Panels/Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC). • Residents’ and Tenants’ ASB themed group who are involved with policy changes, reviewing cases, improving partnership working and customer satisfaction with the process. • Members of RESOLVE-ASB to share good practice nationally as part of the ASB, Crime and Policing Act 2014.

ASB Cases Closed

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Involving Residents 570 Residents have attended meetings

across the Group to discuss customer services, repairs, improvements, welfare reform, ASB, gardening and cleaning services issues.

143 Scheme and community events held. 54 Tenant and Resident Associations

(TARA) across the Group.

119 Projects supported to the value of

£79K with the help of our resident volunteers through the Community Small Grants fund to improve neighbourhoods. Resident involvement and scrutiny is about involving our residents so they can influence and improve how we deliver our services. This helps to have an impact on contributing to better homes and neighbourhoods overall. We use their views to listen and understand which of our services are working well or where we can improve.

Our Resident Empty Homes Inspectors

Both the resident involvement and scrutiny groups have been hard at work over the past year and have achieved many positive outcomes to benefit our wider resident communities.

Highlights from the year include: • Involvement in new build development work to identify quality and cost savings measures. • Tenant void inspectors checking our properties to make sure they are free from defects and ready to let. • Helping to shape the revised Transfer Policy to create more sustainable communities and to make sure new residents are matched with properties suitable for their needs. • Reviewing and launching the new Group website to encourage more residents to access our services online. • Reviewing priorities for the Group and development of an 18 month rolling programme of scrutiny activities, including a training and development plan for members.

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At Together Housing we strongly believe in giving young people in our communities a chance to prove themselves. We recognise that in our diverse communities, some young people can be facing many disadvantages getting into meaningful Training inand Employment work and some of them often need a little extra to help in them sustain a good As support well as investing homes, we strongly work ethicinand develop their knowledge. believe giving residents a chance to prove themselves and recognise that in our On beginning their apprenticeship, they are many diverse communities, some can face teamed-up with skilled tradesmen and women disadvantages in getting into meaningful whowork. can help develop theapprenticeship skills they need to Ourthem award-winning succeed in the world of work. Additional support programme offers the extra support they is alsoneed provided by our Apprentice Mentors who work to help develop a good attitude withtowards the apprentices to ensure they are kept on work and increase their knowledge. track, achieve their qualifications and complete the programme. Over the last year, we had 45 apprentices onhad programmes across the Group learning We’ve great success seeing young people come a variety of skills including joinery, fencing, to us having left school with no qualifications, or bricklaying, plumbing,foradministration, youth who’ve been unemployed over 2 years. When work, beekeeping and horticulture. Twenty they leave the apprenticeship programme they have gone into full time employment havetwo recognised qualifications, meaningful work, a while the rest continue with their apprentice great work ethic, they can pay their rent and their training.levels have improved immensely. confidence

Award-winning! Christine Eccles, Senior Skills and Training Officer at Together Housing, said: Our award-winning Apprenticeship Programme is weTogether’s are extremely proud With something Newground commitment of; overmore the last year fourteen of more our to creating jobs and offering apprentices across Together Housing education, the following has been achieved: have successfully completed the • 129 people supported into paid programme, gained qualifications employment and have secured jobs both within our organisation and some with • 45 apprenticeships supported other organisations. • 192 schools involved We have had great success with the Nationaltraining Youthbuild Award. We won • 16,888 hours delivered first prize two years ago and first • 380 prizeaccredited last year forqualifications an apprenticedelivered we work with in partnership with our contractor on our new build site in Hull.

Stepheny Lakin, Business Administration Apprentice, said:

“I’m really enjoying my Apprenticeship, there’s always something different to do. The best part of my work is visiting new tenants to make sure they are settling in.”

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Improving Health and Wellbeing Delivering services to our residents means our teams need a wide range of skills and abilities to be able to keep them safe and secure in their homes. Across the Group we have trained staff offering a range of services, from debt advice to money management, to help contribute to the health and wellbeing of our residents so they can enjoy a stable home life. We are also involved with lunch clubs, food banks and encourage fitness classes to make sure our those living in our communites are fed, fit and healthy.

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Welfare Benefits Team

Credit where it’s due

We have a number of other valuable teams who work hard to improve the health and wellbeing of the people living in our communities. We spend a lot of time talking to and helping residents who are affected by the welfare benefits system changes as this has an impact on their overall quality of life.

We’ve teamed up with Experian and Big Issue Invest as part of the Rental Exchange, to help improve our residents’ credit score ratings. By working together, the scheme gives renters who pay on time, the same benefits as mortgage payers. By building up their credit scores, residents find it easier to open a bank account, get a new credit card, shop online, get the best rates from their mobile phone, gas and electricity supplier, or have a loan application approved.

Our Welfare Benefits team has had another successful and challenging year advising and supporting residents with the further changes in the law and welfare reforms. Their work helps to increase the income of our residents, improve life quality and wellbeing, maintain tenancies and contributes to overall targets for rent collection. Through their hard work, our residents have been awarded over £5 million in additional benefits which have really made a difference to their lives:

Discretionary housing payments Housing Benefit * All other benefits / grants TOTAL: *paid to rent accounts

Money and debt support Our Money Advisors and Credit Union Development Worker help residents make the most of their money with expert help to budget effectively and pay off debts.

£238,190 £2,134,711 £2,857,233 £5,230,134

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Helping and supporting young people Getting into the right financial habits is so important for our younger residents, so the Sick of Being Skint Team through their lottery funded project, has had a massive social impact on the 16-24 year olds living in our Calderdale communities. As well as generating around £327,514 in relation to rent rebates, housing benefit appeals, grants and debt reduction, they have also achieved the following over the past year:

• 16 roadshows with over 103 young

people attending to learn key life skills such as cooking on a budget, money management and tips for finding work.

• 18 ‘money matters’ events providing a range of money saving tips.

• 218 new residents gained skills and

confidence through financial capability training.

• 112 residents received one to one support from the team.

• 578 residents received training or

support as a result of roadshows or training events.

Residents receive training and support

Thank you for being a part of our journey towards making a better future, together. Page 31

REGISTERED OFFICE Bull Green House Bull Green Halifax HX1 2EB @togetherhousing

Making a better future, together.

Together Housing Group Annual Report 2016