Page 1


POWYS ISSUE 4 | AUTUMN 2012 Preparing for Welfare Reform Enabling work, training and experience Expanding Cambria Maintenance Services Our latest new developments in your area

2 | Spotlight on POWYS | Autumn 2012 |

INTRODUCTION Welcome to the Autumn 2012 edition of Spotlight on Powys, bringing you progress updates about Wales & West Housing initiatives in your area. This edition ­ the first using our new brand identity which we introduced in April this year ­ features a mix of news about some of our current county­specific initiatives, plus relevant organisation­wide updates. This Spring we welcomed a new Chair to our Board. After three successful years Ivor Gittens retired from this role, although he remains a WWH Board member. His successor is Kathy Smart, a well­known member of the Cardiff business community and long­time champion of social housing. Other recent changes have included the promotion of Shayne Hembrow from Operations Director to the new role of Deputy Chief Executive/Commercial Director. Following this I am pleased to say that Steve Porter has just been appointed as Operations Director. With the changes to Welfare Reform gathering pace, against a backdrop of continuing economic uncertainty and ever increasing pressures on public finances, I’m sure you will agree that there is much for us to do. However while the challenges are great, we remain committed to our vision to make a difference to people’s lives, homes and communities across Wales. We hope that this briefing will help to keep you up to date with much of our grassroots work in your area, as well as the bigger picture about WWH.

Finally please don’t hesitate to get in touch at any time with your comments, ideas and feedback about any aspect of our work. Yours Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive.

Follow us on Twitter @wwha Watch us on our YouTube channel wwhahomesforwales

3 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

Artist’s impression of the proposed development at Llanbedr, Powys

DEVELOPMENT UPDATE MORE AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR LLANBEDR We are one step closer to being able to start the build of eight high quality homes for rent and sale in Llanbedr and all without the need of a Social Housing Grant. This development is the result of a strong partnership between PCC and WWH which is enabling the innovative provision of affordable housing with no social housing grant. PCC has gifted WWH the land, WWH has contributed a significant amount from private finance, and the sale of two properties on the open market makes up the funding mix for this project. Whilst planning approval has moved forward the legal process alongside this is under discussion. We are however delighted with the continued support and

commitment from the Community Council and other stakeholders for this project. Subject to all approvals being in place we plan to start works early 2013. WWH is looking forward to developing the site to provide more much needed affordable housing in a rural area and furthermore we are also working with PCC to establish whether this model of delivery can be replicated across other sites in their ownership.

4 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

SEVERNSIDE YARD CONSULTATION PLANNED FOR AFFORDABLE HOUSING FOR NEWTOWN WWH’s site at Severnside Yard in Newtown will provide a range of accommodation. We are currently working with PCC to finalise the brief for this exciting development which benefits from being close to the town

centre and the hospital. We are currently planning for works to commence towards the end of 2013. As the plans are formalised a consultation will be held with the wider community.

CWMFALLDAU, BRECON We also have 16 units for intermediate rent at Maes Halley, Parc Dewi Sant, Brecon. This is another example of innovative work

with new homes being built without grant and is another partnership project between WWH, PCC and contractor Lovell.

New properties at Cwmfalldau, Brecon, built by Lovell for WWH

5 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

Tina Ames of Plough Court, Brecon, enjoys a chat with Huw Lewis, Minister for Housing.

MINISTER VISITS PLOUGH COURT Residents have settled in well to our latest completed development in Powys, Plough Court in the heart of Brecon Town. We were delighted to welcome Welsh Government Housing, Regeneration and Heritage Minister, Huw Lewis, as our guest of honour to officially open the scheme this May.

wall were discovered, which have been highlighted with different coloured paving stones. During the Minister’s visit, he even stopped off to have a cup of tea with Plough Court resident, Mrs Tina Ames.

All 26 high quality, affordable homes on the site of the former police station in Lion Street have been built in line with the area’s rich ecology, architecture and history thanks to the productive partnership between WWH, Powys County Council and the Brecon Beacons National Park Authority.

The Minister said, “We have provided just over £1.8 million for this scheme which, in my eyes, is money well spent; not only in terms of quality, but more importantly in providing a much needed new home for the residents. “Schemes such as this take a lot of hard work from start to finish and can only be achieved in partnership. I would like to thank all those involved for their commitment and I am sure this scheme will be a great success – it certainly deserves to be.”

Sustainable building materials were sourced for the homes that matched the area’s historical character and during its construction, markings of the town’s historic

6 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

COMMUNITY DEVELOPMENT OPPORTUNITIES AT STONELEIGH MANOR Sarah O’Keeffe, Supporting People Officer, and Claire Hammond, Resident Participation Strategy Officer, have been working with residents at Stoneleigh Manor, members of Powys CC, Cefni Lettings and Brecon Town Council to set up a service user group. Stoneleigh Manor New Futures aims to help residents to help themselves, primarily through a gardening club to grow their own vegetables. It is also hoped that the group will help promote the use of the communal lounge as a resource for the local community.

Under the banner of a logo they have designed themselves, Stoneleigh Manor New Futures is also working towards setting up its own in­house resources area to include a DVD/ book / magazine library and computer area.



One of our key corporate priorities is to reduce our consumption of natural resources. We’re putting this into practise in Powys with all 14 of our properties on Llwynbrain Close in Howey set to receive an energy efficiency upgrade. Built just before the turn of the century and currently using night storage heaters as the main method to heat the homes, these properties aren’t connected to the gas network because of their rural location, so the tenants experience higher than average energy bills. Works will incorporate an energy efficiency retrofit on the homes with the installation of new double glazed windows and doors,

air source heat pumps and either photovoltaic panels (providing a degree of free electricity) or solar thermal (providing some free hot water). Works should be finished in time for Christmas. Residents will also benefit from energy saving advice and the provision of energy monitors in an effort to help minimise fuel poverty.

7 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

Ian Davies from Solar Windows, with Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH, and Alison Stallard, Business and Community Fundraiser for Ty Hafan

TŶ HAFAN Representatives from Wales & West Housing were recently delighted to hand over a cheque for £600 to Tŷ Hafan, the children’s hospice for Wales. The money was part of a pot of more than £2,500, raised by the successful GE Aviation Wales Welsh Three Peaks team from WWH’s contractor partner Solar Windows Limited. Ian Davies, Mark Anderson, Jeff Collins, Gary Seldon, Paul Miller and John Lewis, all employees of Solar Windows Ltd, completed the gruelling three peaks in a 15 hour or less marathon climb in June. After presenting the cheque, Kathy Smart, Chair of WWH and Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, joined the Solar Windows team to take a tour of the hospice which provides respite care for life­limited children, their families and carers. John Lewis, contracts manager at Solar Windows who has worked in partnership with Wales & West since 2001 said: “The weather was so bad that we didn’t see the top of any of the mountains we stood on! On Cader Idris

there were some really scary moments as it was so wet and windy, I fell myself twice, not much can prepare you for that.” He added: “But when it got really difficult, we just remembered why we’re doing it, for children worse off than ourselves, then you found the will to keep going”. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive of WWH, said, “It was a privilege to go on the tour of Tŷ Hafan and very humbling to witness the incredible work that they do. We are very pleased to have been able to support this much­needed facility, through Solar Window Ltd’s sterling efforts in the Welsh Three Peaks challenge.” Solar Windows are working towards carbon neutral status at their factory in Bedwas and continue to work in partnership with Wales & West Housing to help keep their commitment to building sustainable houses.

8 | Spotlight on POWYS | LOCAL NEWS | Autumn 2012 |

MAKING A DIFFERENCE AWARDS 2012 We held our fifth annual Making A Difference Awards in October and once again it proved to be a fantastic night. A total of 159 residents, staff and contractor partners attended the ceremony at the Village Hotel, Coryton, Cardiff, on Friday, October 19th. Several Powys residents featured as winners and finalists, as follows: • Paralympian Robert Davies, 28, of Brecon, won a Special Inspiration Award • Maes y Ffynnon Retirement Scheme Gardening Club, Crickhowell, were finalists in the Eco Champion category • Jimmy Layton, 77, of Llandrindod Wells, was a finalist in the Community Project Award We had almost 60 high quality entries from across Wales this year, a very pleasing figure, and a real demonstration of just how well so many of our staff really know their residents. This year we also benefitted from superb support from our contractors with 11 providing a very significant contribution to this year’s MAD budget. Media Wales are now in the process of making a short film about the event, which will be uploaded onto our website and YouTube very shortly. Anne Hinchey, Chief Executive, said: “Now in their fifth year, the MAD Awards are our way of recognising the strength, selflessness and community spirit of our residents. Our mission

Robert Davies Special Inspiration Award Winner­with Peter Jackson, Cambria Maintenance Services, Kathy Smart WWH Chair and Anne Hinchey WWH Chief Executive

is strong, sustainable growth to make a difference to people’s lives, homes and communities, and these awards provide a real insight into some of the ways this is being achieved. It has been a wonderful night and a real privilege to hear the inspirational stories of all those involved.” Finally, there is one more award to mention – this time the one won by our own PR & Marketing team when our MAD Awards were recognised by Community Housing Cymru’s PR Network as the Best Event in Wales 2012.

9 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

PREPARING FOR WELFARE REFORM Perhaps no single issue currently dominates the housing sector more than Welfare Reform. Our staff right across our organisation are working closely with all our local authority partners, housing benefit officers, Community Housing Cymru and other partners to promote and publicise the changes to come, the consequences to our residents, and ways in which they can help themselves. We’ve looked again at the services we provide and are making sure that we are doing all we can to help people to stay out of debt and to pay their bills. In particular we are working with residents to help them to: • prepare for the introduction of Universal Credit and direct payments • provide tailored help and advice around budgeting

• understand the implications of the introduction of the so­called ‘bedroom tax’ next year, and, • where appropriate, helping people to move to homes they can afford and of the right size. Our two dedicated Money Advice Officers also work closely with Moneyline Cymru (see page 14) as well as Credit Unions across Wales, to help residents to budget effectively and to access low cost, safe and affordable credit.


THE LIVING WAGE Our efforts to tackle poverty do not stop with our residents. As the first housing association in Wales to introduce the ‘Living Wage’, we are leading the sector with this initiative. Currently £7.20 per hour (for workers outside of London) the ‘Living Wage’ is considerably higher than the legal minimum wage which is currently £6.08 per hour. With more than 340 employees across Wales, our decision means that no­one working for us will earn less than £7.20 an hour, and since this August 40 of our employees have seen their wages go up as a result of this policy.

Rhys Moore, Director of the Living Wage Foundation, said:

“We are delighted to award Wales & West Housing the Living Wage employer mark. This is a significant moment as they become the first housing association in Wales to achieve the mark.”

10 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

WORK PLACEMENTS AVAILABLE Helping our residents to benefit from employment and training opportunities is also a key priority for us. Through our contractor partners we have already supported 33 people back into employment, and, we have a number of apprentices working on our projects across Wales. Some examples of where we have recently had an impact include: • South Wales – 18­year­old Jordan Evans has just completed a two year plumbing apprenticeship with our subsidiary company Cambria Maintenance Services Ltd. Jordan, from Bridgend, combined on­the­job training with Cambria with a day a week study at Ogmore College. “I would recommend this as a good way to earn and study,” said Jordan. “Several of my mates have asked me if this is a good thing to do, and I have told them that it definitely is.” Cambria is now looking to take on an additional 3 apprentices across its operations in North and South Wales over the coming months. • South Wales – As part of our Back to Work scheme (a Bridgend Employment Routes Team initiative) we hosted two trainee energy advisors. Based in Bridgend, Lynn and Howard were placed with us for six months, gaining experience that helped

Apprentice plumber Jordan Evans, 18, from Bridgend with Neal O’Leary, Cambria Board member and Peter Jackson, Head of Cambria, at a presentation ceremony outside Cardiff City Stadium to mark his qualification.

them to find permanent employment. They promoted the Warm Home Discount scheme in retirement schemes and offered residents advice on being more energy efficient and how to save money on their bills. • North Wales – At the recent Hightown Jobs Fair in Wrexham more than 50 people registered an interest in finding out more about potential employment and training opportunities to be facilitated through our contractor Anwyl. These opportunities will arise as part of our £17m developments on Kingsmills Road and Rivulet Road and more details will follow in subsequent editions of In Touch and Spotlight on Bridgend. • We are working with Jobs Growth Wales as well as several other agencies to link people with opportunities, where possible and appropriate. • We are also able to host a number of in­house placements, either as short­term unpaid work experience, work placements (some funded) and apprenticeships. These opportunities are open to all, regardless of age, qualifications or previous experience. Those interested simply need to fill in and return to us the Workplace Skills Initiative Expression of Interest Form on our website

11 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

Finance Minister Jane Hutt visits residents at Ty Pontrhun who were taking part in IT classes in support of our broadband WiFi pilot scheme

DIGITAL INCLUSION Another key area of focus for us is ‘digital inclusion’ – enabling our residents to get online: to have access to appropriate equipment, software and support service, to get connected with each other and their communities through this medium, and, to make informed choices with the ability to access discounted purchases. The key drivers for us behind our investment in digital inclusion are: • helping people to be better placed to deal with Welfare Reform, and especially the introduction of Universal Credit • enabling people to be better connected within their communities, and • helping our residents to get better value by accessing information and purchases online Our pilot scheme to bring affordable broadband WiFi access at Ty Pontrhun in Merthyr Tydfil is now live. Since 5 July, Ty Pontrhun residents and their families have been able to access the internet from any room within the building with a Wi­Fi ready device, using an individual password.

North Wales­based Boyns is our chosen supplier for this pilot scheme and has installed a phone line to the building enabling residents up to 2Mb of Wi­Fi broadband. Currently our residents are receiving 6 months free connection and then they will pay a very affordable 63p per week. Our aim is to learn from this pilot scheme in order to extend efficient and affordable WiFi and broadband connections to as many of our residents as we can in our retirement schemes across Wales, and we are now starting work on a second pilot project in Nant y Môr, our Extra Care Scheme in Prestatyn, Denbighshire.

12 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

REBRANDING If you receive In Touch, our quarterly residents’ magazine, we you will already know that in April of this year we rebranded. We are delighted to say that reaction to our new look has been very positive, and is helping to spread the message about our new group structure, with Cambria Maintenance Services Ltd as our first subsidiary company. In addition to this Spotlight On Powys, and you should also have received our 2013 Business Plan, which outlines Wales & West Housing Group’s strategic direction for the coming five years. Another part of our rebranding process has involved the creation of our first new sub­brand, Connect24. This brings together the comprehensive range of services that we provide including our Emergency Alarm, Out of Hours and lone worker support services. Having added a number of corporate customers to our portfolio in recent months, we now look after more than 20,000 homes across Wales via our Telecare Services Association accredited customer service centre, enabling repairs to get done and helping people to get the help they need in an emergency. If you would like to talk to us about how our Customer Service Centre might be able to help organisations in your area who require call centre support, please contact Cate Dooher, Head of Support Services on 029 20415386.

Mrs Nancy Pilott of Cwrt Anghorfa, Bridgend, modelling our Connect24 personal alarm wrist button.

13 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

Cambria Maintenance Service’s 40 strong South and Mid Wales­based team. A further 40 skilled jobs are being secured through Cambria’s expansion into North Wales.


INTO NORTH WALES We set up our own maintenance company in 2011, taking us to a Group structure. Cambria Maintenance Services has just seen a very successful first 20 months of trading, undertaking repairs as well as kitchen and bathroom renewals for WWH in South and Mid Wales. With a turnover of £2.8m in its first year, we anticipate that in the next couple of years that this will triple. Building on the considerable success of its operations in South and Mid Wales, preparations are now underway for Cambria to expand into North Wales, with this division becoming operational from the beginning of 2013.

This move will secure the future of 40 skilled jobs in North Wales, as well as providing another secure platform for further work placement and apprenticeship opportunities. We anticipate that Cambria within the next five years will install 4,000 kitchens and bathrooms across Wales.

14 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

SYNIAD CONSORTIUM In 2005 we joined forces with Linc Cymru and Clwyd Alyn Housing to form the Syniad Consortium. Since then the consortium members delivered more than 1,500 new social housing units, 11 extra care schemes and enabled training and apprenticeships for more than 150 people, maximising outcomes from more than £100m social housing grant. However with the transfer of the social housing grant programme to local authority partners and the reduction in available public subsidy for new homes, Syniad members reviewed its role. The result was that from June 1st of this year, the consortium ceased to exist.

Notwithstanding the end of the consortium, we will continue to work together where appropriate to provide much needed new homes across Wales.


EXPANSION Wales & West Housing, one of the founder members of Moneyline Cymru, is continuing to provide financial support for this important initiative. In these very difficult economic times more and more social housing residents will need to be able to access the services provided by organisations including Moneyline Cymru and local credit unions. We are pleased to support both and WWH is now actively working with Moneyline and Brecon and District Credit Union to look at how new services can be developed to help residents to deal with the changes that will come with the introduction of Universal Credit. We have also committed to help fund the expansion of Moneyline over the next 3 years,

and the latest branch has recently opened in Merthyr Tydfil. Further branches are planned in Swansea and Wrexham. Loans given by Moneyline in the past 3 years have resulted in £2.5m savings in interest compared to interest charged by the Provident, the most common provider of doorstep loans.

15 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |



Today’s challenging economic environment means we need to be efficient and invest wisely if we are to achieve our ambition of growth and to make a difference. While big is not always beautiful it does bring with it the financial strength and capacity to ride out the current economic storm as well as the wherewithal for innovation, creativity and fresh ideas. We expect to achieve year on year increases in operating surpluses through the effective operation of our business even after absorbing the bad debts we expect to incur from changes to welfare benefits, and in particular the introduction of Universal Credit and the ‘bedroom tax’.

Number of homes currently in development by LA area Denbighshire

9 Conwy



121 Wrexham


Over the next five years we expect to invest £36m in maintaining and improving our existing stock. Furthermore we have the financial capability to invest more than £100m in building and acquiring new homes. Only one fifth of this investment is expected to be funded by social housing grant from the Welsh Government, with £70m coming from additional borrowings and the remainder from internally generated surplus cash. For more detailed information about our financial position please see pages 28 and 29 of our Business Plan 2013 to 2017 which you should have recently received, alternatively you can access it through our website Our strong position has been endorsed by the Welsh Government who awarded the Association a ‘pass’ in its annual financial assessment.


393 Powys

24 Merthyr Tydfil


Cardiff Bridgend


39 Vale of Glamorgan


These figures represent developments which are on site now and programmed to commence in the next 12 months. However, in total, we anticipate building and aquiring an additional 450 units in the next five years, which will take our total new build over that period of time to 850 units.

16 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |


PARTNERSHIP Dealing with the risk from fire is high on the agenda at the moment and we want to ensure that all our homes are as safe as they can be. We have formed an innovative partnership with South Wales Fire and Rescue Service, agreeing to act as an ‘exemplar’ partner to help them to promote good practice within fire safety in the social housing sector across the country. Group Manager Andy Petersen from SWFRS said “WWH has demonstrated the

importance that they place on fire safety. Our partnership with them will provide a positive attitude to enabling compliance with all fire safety legislation.” We are now in talks with Mid Wales Fire Service and North Wales Fire Service to explore the possibility of expanding this partnership further.

Andy Petersen, Group Manager South Wales Fire and Rescue Service and colleague, Robin Alldred, Commercial Manager WWH, Jo Burns, Health and Safety Officer WWH, Anthony Williams, Health and Safety Officer WWH.

17 | Spotlight on POWYS | THE BIGGER PICTURE | Autumn 2012 |

DOING THE RIGHT THING… Our aim is to do right by our residents and right by our staff, and below are the awards and accreditations which we have recently received which recognise and celebrate our approach. • We have been awarded the highest accolade possible under the prestigious Investors in People awards system achieving the Gold standard in our recent assessment. “Wales & West Housing continues to demonstrate that it is a forward­ thinking organisation achieving business success by the application of visionary leadership behaviour, under­pinned by strong and meaningful values,” said IiP specialist Mavis Elliott­Smith. • The Sunday Times Best Companies 2012 has recognised us as the top­not­for­profit organisation in Wales, and, we were ranked 8th out of the top 100 best not­for­profit organisations to work for in the whole of the UK. We are also the only Welsh housing association to be awarded the top 3 stars award by Best Companies. • Work­life balance charity Working Families have ranked us in the Top 30 family friendly firms to work for in the UK for the second year running. At their recent national awards ceremony we also

won the Working Families Award for Career Progression for Flexible Workers and were finalists in the following categories: Best for Carers and Eldercare, Best for Engagement, and, The National Grid Best for Innovation Award. Sarah Jackson OBE, Chief Executive of Working Families said:

“To reach the shortlist in four out of seven of the Special Award categories is a tremendous achievement. The judges were impressed by Wales & West Housing’s innovative policies to engage and support their employees, particularly carers and flexible workers.” • In partnership with GKR Maintenance & Building we have been Highly Commended in the Integration and Collaborative Working award category at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. Judges said the team has worked hard to cut costs and reduce waste ‘with passion and commitment.’

Steve Porter (right) now Operations Director WWH, receiving a trophy at the 2012 Constructing Excellence Awards. He is pictured with Jayne Rowland­Evans, Director of GKR Maintenance Services and Phil Lumley, Head of Property Services for Carmarthenshire County Council

Wales & West Housing 3 Alexandra Gate, Ffordd Pengam, Tremorfa, Cardi CF24 2UD. and Unit 2, Acorn Business Park, Aber Road, Flint CH6 5YN. Telephone on 0800 052 2526 Minicom: 0800 052 5205 Email: Website: @wwha wwhahomesforwales

Published October 2012

Wales & West Housing's Spotlight on Powys Autumn 2012  
Wales & West Housing's Spotlight on Powys Autumn 2012