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Special Edition

Annual Report

2010-2011

house

housing news for Winchester City Council tenants and leaseholders I am delighted to introduce your Annual Report, which details how well Winchester City Council, your Landlord, performed between April 2010 and March 2011. I am heartened that so many of you expressed satisfaction with the housing service in a recent survey. We have improved the time taken to relet properties and reduced rent arrears. However, some areas need improving. A small number of properties did not receive an annual gas safety check. This is not acceptable and I have challenged officers to make sure it does not happen again. There are several challenges facing the Council in the coming year. The Government plans to change way council housing is financed. While there will be some disadvantages, overall it should mean we have more money from April 2012 to fund repairs and improvements. I am still challenging the Government to ensure Winchester and our tenants get a fair deal. I must thank tenants who have been involved in meetings with TACT, residents’ associations, taken part in surveys and given us direct feedback. Your views are very important to us and my aim is to ensure we provide housing services you need and not those that we think you need!

What is this report about? The current regulator for social housing, the Tenants Services Authority (TSA), requires us to issue an annual report to tenants every year. This annual report sets out how well the Council is doing against its service standards. The report gives details of achievements in the last year as well as areas we need to improve on. Our successes in 2010-2011

 Empty homes re-let in 26 days – almost twice as fast as last year, increasing rent collected by £150,000

 85% of tenants happy with our housing services  97% of sheltered residents happy with our services  Service Standards reviewed and agreed by tenants  Management costs significantly lower than average compared to social landlords.

This year, tenants have had a direct role in producing this report. The Winchester district wide tenants group TACT (Tenants and Council Together) have helped produce the report. Its response, giving their view on the Councils work over the last year, is on the back page.

Cllr Tony Coates Portfolio Holder for Landlord Services and Strategic Housing

Tenant News, produced by Tenants efor d iTenants t i o n 1can be found at the back of this edition

edition

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October 2011


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thebigword telephone interpreting service The Council uses a 24-hour Telephone Interpreting Service, which also provides written or recorded translations. If you, a relative or a neighbour would like to talk to the Council through an interpreter, please contact your Area Housing Manager on 01962 840 222.

on disc On the house is available in large print or on CD (audio). Please call David Lumby or Kirstin Andrews on

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A summary of the last year In addition to the successes highlighted on the front page, we have also worked on: Decent Homes All homes comply with the Governments “Decent Homes” standard. However, there is more to do, with many homes still having kitchens and bathrooms over 30 years old. Rent Collection We collected 99% of all rent due, which remains one of the highest amounts for all councils nationally. Service Standards We consulted with tenants on service standards through last years annual report, through tenant groups, the Tenant Satisfaction Survey and a number of Focus Groups. The general

agreement was that existing standards were reasonable. Tenant Satisfaction The Tenant Satisfaction Survey completed in 2010 showed tenant satisfaction with Council services remained high at 86% for general needs tenants and 97% for sheltered tenants. Estate Improvements A programme of estate improvements were completed, including additional car parking, security measures, smartening up communal areas and better lighting. Tenant groups were consulted on what improvements they wanted and as a result over £150,000 of works were completed.

Freephone 0800 716 987.

TEXTPHONE

Priorities for this year

This facility is available for readers who are deaf or hard of hearing. Please telephone 01962 878 982.

Maintaining Decent Homes

If you have any particular needs which affect how you are able to use or be involved in our services or how you would like to receive information - for example translation, interpreters, Braille, audio tape, large print, sign language - please contact the Customer Service Centre either by telephone: 01962 840 222 or by email: customerservice@ winchester.gov.uk Winchester City Council, City Offices, Colebrook Street, Winchester, SO23 9LJ. telephone 01962 840 222 fax 01962 841 365 email housing@winchester.gov.uk website www.winchester.gov.uk Telephone calls may be recorded.

We will be investing over £8.5 million on maintaining and improving your homes this year.

Housing Finance Reform The Government has announced its intention to abolish the current system for funding housing. Councils will retain all rent paid locally but will have to take on a share of current national housing debt. Whilst Winchester is being asked to take on a greater share than most (in recognition that rents are higher in this area), this should mean more money to fund repairs to your homes. We will keep you posted once more information is available.

New Repairs Contractors We have recently appointed Osborne as the Council’s Responsive Repairs and Voids contractor (replacing Serco). We will be working hard to ensure current tenant satisfaction

with the repairs service is maintained and improved. You may also be aware that Kinetics, the gas servicing contractor has recently gone into administration and the Council will shortly be appointing a new contractor for this work.

Gas Servicing Last year 99% of homes received their annual gas service and safety check. However, we were unable to gain access to a small number of properties despite help from the Court. Gaining access to 100% of properties will be a key priority this year.

Tenant Involvement We have agreed changes to the way we work with tenant groups such as TACT. We will hold fewer meetings in 2011 but will be working with communities that don’t have residents associations to make sure tenants can get involved when they want to.

Printed on 75% recycled paper.

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National and Local Standards The Tenants Services Authority has set down national standards that all social housing tenants can expect from their landlord. In addition, all landlords are expected to agree local standards with their tenants. This report shows how we are performing against each of the national standards and also provides feedback on the results of the Tenant Satisfaction Survey completed in November last year. National Standards The National Standards are: Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard See page 4 Home Standard See page 6 Tenancy Standard See page 8 Neighbourhood and Community Standard See page 9 Value for Money Standard See page 10 The Council’s Local Standards – Our Offer to You We have developed a wide range of local standards in recent years. Last year we consulted tenants who have endorsed the standards we offer. They are set out in your Tenants Handbook. We have also summarised all standards in a special leaflet that is available on the Council’s website and in the Council’s reception. For a printed copy, just phone freephone 0800 716 987. The standards have been developed through close working with tenants groups and taking account of feedback from tenants surveys. Reviewing Our Standards Over the last year, the Council has consulted tenants on their views of our local standards and what additional services you would want to see if money can be found. This has included a consulation in last year’s Annual Report, a detailed tenant survey of over 30% of all tenants, discussions with tenants groups and also a series of Focus Groups. This consultation has confirmed that tenants support the existing standards. No significant demand for changes to services has come forward, although we continue to review this through the focus groups. Focus Groups to Review Local Standards We have organised a network of Focus Groups across the District that will help us (Landlord Services) review our current housing services and plan for new ones in the future. These Groups are informal ways of finding out what people think about the housing service and what changes tenants would like to see happen to make it ‘even better’. Meeting of readers panel

Each Group is made up of between 5 and 8 tenants from specific areas who discuss a series of set questions and make their views known.

Currently we are concentrating on rural areas of Winchester and have established Groups in Wickham and Denmead but more will be meeting during the course of 2011. If you are interested in taking part in a focus group in your area, contact us on freephone 0800 716 987.

Annual Report 2010 - 2011

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Tenant Involvement and Customer Care Summary of our Standard We aim to provide tenants with accessible, relevant and timely information about our services, how we perform and how tenants can get involved with making our services better. Customer Service, Choice and Complaints In the last year, we have consulted tenants on service standards through surveys, meetings and focus groups. We have tested tenant opinion on services through the tenant satisfaction survey, the results of which have been reported in On the house and are also included in this report. The Landlord Services team has also been independently reassessed for a third time as complying with the Government’s Customer Excellence standard. Involvement and Empowerment In the last year, we have worked with TACT to restructure and modernise our tenant involvement work, reducing the number of meetings but improving the ways in which tenants can scrutinise and challenge services they receive. Tenants are directly involved in “mystery shopping”, “proof reading”, monitoring contractors and inspecting services. A training programme for all tenants has also been successful, focussing on life skills including “How to get that Job”, “Maximising Income”, “Budgeting” and “Healthy Cooking on a Budget”. Understanding and Responding to Diverse Needs of Tenants We aim to adapt services to meet the needs of tenants. Last year 119 of our tenants received all our communications in larger print, others received translated versions and housing staff were trained to improve their awareness and skills in understanding and responding to tenants needs.

Play Schemes We introduced weekly play sessions at one of our temporary accommodation schemes in partnership with Sure Start, to promote social inclusion, develop parenting skills and encourage a sense of community.

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Tenant Inspector s

a group In March 2011, nants of Winchester te ts nan worked with te ion and from A2 Domin ect insp First Wessex to h and review eac others services.

Tenant Inspectors reviewing services

Mystery Shopping Did you know that 11 Tenants carried out 4 mystery shops last year covering cont acting the Council, written communication, complaints and repairs. w w w. w i n c h e s t e r. g o v. u k


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General Tenants Response

What you think of us

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Older Persons Response

Our National Rank

% of respondents very or fairly satisfied with the 85.4% satisfied services/overall service provided by us

96.6% satisfied

Top 25%

63.6% satisfied (29.2% neither satisfied or unsatisfied, or had no opinion)

62.6% satisfied (29.1% neither satisfied or unsatisfied, or had no opinion)

Top 25%

% of respondents very or fairly satisfied that their views are being taken into account by us

Tenant Comment Poppy Mason of Winchester said: “I found the tenant training on money management really beneficial, it helped me to budget my finances and helped to calculate what was coming in and out�.

Responding to you In 2010/2011 our average time to respond to a letter is 9 days

78% of letters are answered within 10 days 93% of letters are answered within 20 days 92% of calls are answered within 20 seconds Tenants Annual General Meeting

Complaints Service

Total Number

Upheld In Target

Housing Management

19

11

95%

Supported Housing

7

3

57%

Rents

1

0

0%

Property Services

57

44

91%

TOTAL

84

58

88%

Annual Report 2010 - 2011

We review all complaints to ensure lessons are learnt and examples of changes made include: G

Notice boards at sheltered schemes and other locations are inspected and updated more regularly to ensure information is up to date and correct

G

A breakdown of what is included within service charges was provided to sheltered residents at scheme meetings as a result of charges being challenged

G

Door entry systems have been installed to a number of schemes following incidents of anti social behaviour

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Maintaining Your Home Summary of our Standard We shall ensure all our homes continue to meet the Government’s minimum Decent Homes standard, provide cost-effective repair and maintenance, and work with other partners to ensure homes are adapted to meet customer needs. Quality of Accommodation

Decent Homes - The Council met the Decent Homes standard in 2009 and continued to maintain all properties at that standard last year. The Decent Homes standard is a relatively low standard. For example, even if your home has a kitchen which is 70 years old and in a poor condition your home may still meet the Decent Homes standard. Likewise, if your home has a kitchen and bathroom which are both over 30 years old and in a poor condition, your home may still meet the Decent Homes standard. Currently within the Council’s 5050 homes, we have 1250 kitchens and 2400 bathrooms which are over 30 years old. We also have over 1000 homes with boilers that will need replacing in the near future.

Disabled Adaptations - We continue to experience very high demands for disabled adaptations. These works can range from simple grab rails and ramps, to building extensions costing tens of thousands of pounds for the more complex cases. Last year we completed £865,000 worth of disabled adaptation works. Repairs and Maintenance

Responsive and Empty Homes Repairs Contractor – From the 1st August 2011, Geoffrey Osborne Ltd. assumed the responsibility for all minor repair works to your homes and to empty properties. Although Osborne have replaced Serco and JAD Building Contractors to carry out these types of work, the vast majority of the staff opted to transfer to Osborne as their new employer, so many of the staff’s faces should still be familiar to you.

Gas Servicing – For safety reasons, every gas appliance needs checking at least once a year. Our latest gas servicing performance stands at 99% (target 100%). This means there is still a small percentage of properties where we have been unable to service the appliances within 12 months of the last service. This is despite running a 10 month servicing cycle and taking firmer action against tenants who don’t let us in. The target remains 100% and we will be doing everything possible to achieve and maintain this target.

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New kitchen

Making life easier 624 tenants received Disabled Adaptations throughout the year. These included: 152 Showers 17 Stair lifts 15 Assisted Access Works (eg. ramps) 1 Major Building Change

Updating your home

e year: Fitted during th ens 155 New Kitch rooms 202 New Bath pgrades 510 Heating U upgrades 179 Insulation Doors 265 New Front

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Tenant Comment Paul Bungey of Martyr Worthy said: “I was directly involved in meetings with contractors and raised a number of concerns with performance. The Council and contractors responded well, but still have some work to do!” Winnall flats – undergoing external painting, roof replacement, upgrading of insulation and of the digital aerial system.

General Tenants Older Persons Response Response

What you think of us

Our National Rank

% of respondents very or fairly satisfied with the overall quality of their home

87.3% satisfied

97.3% satisfied

Top 25%

% of respondents very or fairly satisfied with the way we deal with repairs and maintenance

85.0% satisfied

87.2% satisfied

Top 25%

How we perform against our standards

Target

2009/10 2010/11

Local Comparison

% of non decent council homes

0

0

0

Top 25%

Energy Efficiency of Housing Stock (SAP rating)

75

75

75

Top 25%

Responsive Repairs - % of jobs completed within target

95%

91%

89%

Bottom 25%

Responsive Repairs - Average time to complete a repair

8 days

8.3 days

8.1 days

Above Average

Gas Servicing - % of homes with a current gas servicing certificate

100%

98.94%

98.94%

Bottom 25%

Annual Report 2010 - 2011

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Tenancy

Tenant Comment

Summary of our Standard We will let our properties in a fair, open and efficient way, support tenants to maintain their tenancies and charge affordable rents in line with government policy. Allocations Lettings - All of our available homes were advertised through the Hampshire Home Choice Lettings Scheme. We let 389 homes in the year, of which 72 were let to existing Winchester City Council tenants, transferring to another one of our properties. Mutual Exchanges - “Homeswapper” is our online service you can use free of charge for mutual exchanges. (www.homeswapper.co.uk) • 492 of our tenants are currently registered on “homeswapper” • 71 of our tenants swapped homes during the year • 25 of our tenants with a 3 bed house want to swap for a smaller house • 1 of our tenants with a 4 bed house wants to swap for a smaller house Rents Our average rent is £91.75 a week

Type

Bed-sit

1 bed

2 bed

3 bed

4& above bed

Average weekly rent

£67.71

£79.16

£91.55

£104.92

£114.78

% of our homes

1.3%

32.25%

33.15%

32.20

1.1%

We collected 98.91% of rent due. We referred 49 tenants to our Money Advice Service, run by the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB). The CAB specialist debt advisor helps tenants to manage their debts without loosing their home. 5 tenants were evicted for not paying their rent. We offer 8 ways to pay your rent, including through our website at www.winchester.gov.uk/doitonline/payforit and we send you quarterly rent statements showing all the transactions on your account.

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Mr & Mrs Jefferys of Winchester said: “We are very happy in our new home, any moving in teething problems have been very quickly sorted out.”

Tenancy Re-Letting properties - A key priority for the year was for us to improve the time it takes us to re-let empty properties. This includes carrying out the necessary repairs, advertising the property on Hampshire Home Choice and signing up the new tenant.

We let our empty homes almost twice as quickly as the previous year, and this generated an additional £150,0 00 income through rents. Average time it takes us to re-let our properties 2009/10 43.5 days (Bottom 25%) 2010/11 25.63 days (Above Average) We now visit all our tenants (or their representatives) before their tenancy ends to carry out an inspection and to give help and advice on moving.

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Neighbourhood and Community Summary of our Standard We will work with other agencies to make our estates and homes clean, safe and peaceful environments for people to live in. Local Area Co-operation

Tenant Comment

Anti Social Behaviour - We worked with local residents, the Police and other partner agencies to evict 2 households for anti-social behaviour. Thanks to the support from local residents, we were able to take swift legal action and obtain a positive outcome for the community.

Joan Dowling of Denmead said: “It was great to see money being spent on improving local estates, and residents groups having some say on this. The clean up at Denmead has made a big improvement to our estate!”

We referred 22 cases of neighbour nuisance to our assessment service for independent advice and assistance: G

13 cases were successfully resolved through the intervention of the assessment service, including 2 cases which underwent mediation,

G

Only 5 cases were passed back to us for further action as they could not be resolved informally,

G

How well are we doing?

In 4 cases, the tenants declined to be assessed.

Domestic Abuse - We helped 15 tenants who had experienced domestic abuse. In all cases we worked closely with other agencies to ensure the safety and well being of the tenant and their families. In 2 cases, we supported the tenant to be re-housed due to the serious or life threatening nature of their case.

87.9% of our tenants are ver y or fairly satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live

With the help of tenants and partner agencies, we impact assessed and reviewed our Policies and Procedures for Neighbour Nuisance and Domestic Abuse. Neighbourhood Management Estate Walkabouts – Estate walkabouts take place in 19 areas across the Winchester district, usually twice a year. Tenants and council officers work together to identify and resolve local concerns with their neighbourhoods.

Estate Improvements – We asked you for suggestions on how we could improve your neighbourhood. We received lots of really good proposals addressing problems such as lack of car parking, poor lighting and security, rubbish disposal, worn out communal flooring. These are a just few of the projects completed: G

Solar flood lighting at Gordon Avenue garages, Highcliffe.

Annual Report 2010 - 2011

G

Replacement flooring at Forder Court, Winchester

G

Noticeboards at Gordon Avenue, Highcliffe

G

Refurbishment of bin stores at Woolford Close, Stanmore

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Value for Money

Tenant Comment

Summary of our Standard We will explain how tenants rents are spent and how tenants can get involved in prioritising our spending. How Your Rent is Spent In the last year, each £1 of rent you pay has been spent in the following areas: Payment to Government (“Negative Subsidy”)

Maintenance and Major Repairs

Council Housing Staff

Estate Overheads Management (offices, IT, legal (grounds, cleaning, support etc) estate improvements etc)

Judith Steventon Baker of Kingsworthy said: “I am involved in regularly challenging the Council on the cost of their services and in comparing them with others. There is more they could do to improve services, but I think overall we get a good deal – better than the housing associations I work with!”

Tenant Scrutiny

39p

33p

13p

7p

8p

Performance against key indicators and budgets is reviewed and challenged by TACT 3 times a year.

Our Costs in 2010/2011 Value for money is a balance of good performance, good quality with reasonable costs. We have shown you our performance and what you think of the services we provide in the earlier pages. This table shows how our costs are significantly lower than average costs for other social landlords in the South East of England.

Our Average Cost

Local Average Cost

How we compare locally

Housing Management

£177.72

£278.87

Top 25%

Resident Involvement

£35.52

£41.96

Above Average

Repairs and Empty Property Servicing

£507.00

£728.00

Top 25%

Estate Management

£98.91

£210.99

Top 25%

Annual cost per property

Reducing Costs d Because we have reduce the number of days it takes to re-let our homes we have generated an e. extra £150,0 00 in incom

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More Efficient All new boilers installed are energy efficient “A” graded boilers. With each installation the Council also “tops up” insulation to 25cm, way ahead of minimum national standards.

Better Quality The Council commissions the Citizens Advice Bureau to provide independent financial advice to tenants who are in arrears or experiencing financial hardship.


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Older Persons Housing Summary of our Standard The City Council aims to promote independence and choice for older people by providing quality housing and support. Sheltered Housing Service We provide support to 850 older residents in sheltered flats and bungalows across the district providing a safe, secure and supportive environment where tenants can choose to join in regular social activities. These properties allow residents to remain in their own home, but with the reassurance of a link to the community alarm service as well as easier access, well maintained grounds and good communal facilities.

We offer opportunities for residents of Sheltered Housing to have their say through Scheme Information Sharing Sessions, the Sheltered Housing Forum and Older Persons Focus Groups.

Tenant Comment Patricia Moore from Danemark Court, Winchester said: “I didn’t think I would be this pleased to be in sheltered housing, it couldn’t be better, there is always somebody there for you and it is the best move I have ever made.”

Get Fit 1-2-1 runs in 8 sheltered schemes, giving tenants the chance to get to get together and keep fit at the same time.

Community Alarm & Telecare Service This service provides an emergency lifeline to the Council’s sheltered housing schemes and also to private households and other landlords. During the year we monitored 2,970 properties, including: 950 Council properties designated for older persons,

50 in sheltered schemes belonging to other organisations 1,970 in private properties, of which 970 are in the Winchester District and 1,000 in the Eastleigh Borough Council area. We provide an out of hours’ repairs hotline to all Council tenants which handled 3,201 calls during the year.

Last year, 696 calls received an emergency visit from Council staff and the average response time was 30 minutes. The service has recently been audited by the Telecare Services Association and is fully accredited to the latest service standards.

Extra Care Service Our Extra Care schemes, Matilda Place and Victoria House are both based in central Winchester and have 44 flats. Cover is provided 24 hours a day by care assistants providing personal care as required, including help with bathing, dressing and meal preparation. We recently introduced a respite care service within Victoria House to

enable carers to have a break whilst their loved ones are being cared for. Staff received specialist training in care services including managing issues such as dementia and end of life care. A number of special events have taken place at the Extra Care schemes through the year including a Royal Wedding ‘Street Party’.

Annual Report 2010 - 2011

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The Tenants View – A Response TACT has been directly involved in reviewing performance for the last year. Cllr Tony Coates Portfolio Holder for Landlord Services and Strategic Services, is well aware, like TACT, of the many problems facing Winchester City Council. It is by working together, and focusing on what is important to council tenants, that it has been possible to achieve much of what TACT has sought to improve on regarding best value for tenants. Our Relationship with our Landlord Winchester City Council has one of the best working relationships with its tenants. Having spoken to many tenants from different parts of the country, I know this to be the case. The fly in the ointment comes from the Government restrictions, and lack of final information regarding the changes facing councils, when ‘Self Financing’ comes into being next year. The forthcoming changes have taken up time and money, preparing the information the Government requires. Hopefully, over time, the Council and its tenants will reap the benefits, but it will not happen over night. This leads me back to the report itself. The report as mentioned on the front page seeks to give you an honest and helpful view about how well Winchester City Council is doing against the required service standards.

The Annual Report Included in this report is information on performance levels, partly due to results of the tenant surveys. So thank you for taking the time to fill them in. Winchester City Council has tried hard and like many school reports, could include the comment “has worked hard to try and achieve their full potential”.

Members of the TACT Readers Panel: Left to Right: Ken Gore (Winnall), Polly Mason (Stanmore), Joan Dowling (Denmead), David Cruden (West Meon), Sandy Comlay (Denmead), Sue Harding (Compton), Alan Rickman (Weeke) to read it, I think you should form your own opinions, if the Council could use all their rent money they could do so much more for tenants. Self financing will allow this, but there is a high price to pay, in the region of £160 million of new debt to pay back to the Government. The Government reserves the right to re-visit the scheme as a safety measure one might ask for the benefit of whom?

The Future Future Annual Reports will be more positive, with more improvements being able to be made to council properties, and dare we say new council homes being built? But for now TACT feel this is a report that has fairly given a true picture of the Council’s efforts over the past year, and that they have endeavoured to do their best for the council tenants. In most cases they have succeeded, with the odd exception, and I feel that is for you to decide what those might be, and let TACT know and we will pass on the information.

Alan Rickman - TACT Chairman

As the report covers all the sections of how the Council has performed, and to encourage you

Now turn the magazine over to read page

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On the House + Annual Report 2011