Tenants' Annual Report 2020

South Tyneside Homes South Tyneside Council

Welcome

Introduction

Welcome to the Tenants Annual Report. This is our fourth digital Annual Report and we hope that this year’s report will be as well received as previous years.

We hope you find the information easy to digest and accessible. The report has been divided into sections which showcase what our services have been delivering for our customers during 2019/20, as well as explaining how the organisation began to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Every year our Annual Report is written with help from our customers. This involves customers from across the Borough examining our performance and assessing how South Tyneside Homes is performing across all services and importantly highlighting areas for improvement.

Paper copies are available on request for those who are not online or prefer a hard copy. To request a copy please call 0300 123 6633.

Why Do We Need a Tenants’ Annual Report?

Why Do We Need a Tenants’ Annual Report?

The Regulator of Social Housing is the regulatory body responsible for social housing in England and sets out what is expected of registered housing providers, and this includes the production of an Annual Report. The standards which have been set are outlined in the Regulatory Framework for Social Housing.

South Tyneside Homes works in partnership with South Tyneside Council to ensure these standards are met in a transparent and accountable way as well as working with customers to understand how services can be shaped.

It is really important that we continue to meet the standards set by the regulator as this indicates how well we are doing as an organisation, and more importantly, how well the organisation is delivering services to all of our customers. This Annual Report explains the regulatory standards and demonstrates how South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes work with customers to ensure that these standards are achieved.

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The View from the Organisation

The View of the Organisation

2020 has brought about significant challenges to us all due to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. During the lockdown period our staff worked tirelessly to ensure they supported customers, carrying out emergency and urgent repairs as well as building safety work to keep everyone safe in their homes. We ensured that we contacted and supported vulnerable customers with shopping, prescriptions, loneliness, welfare and debt advice and provided support through the administration of a hardship fund on behalf of the Council. We accommodated and supported those made homeless, requiring hospital discharges or to move home for medical reasons, as well as ensuring that our Contact Centre staff were available for all customers to deal with their enquiries and to book emergency repairs to keep customers safe.

We continue to look forward and examine what more needs to be done to ensure social housing delivers secure homes for future generations. There have been significant shortfalls in social housing for a number of years, but it cannot be denied that social housing provides the stability of a permanent home and a chance for families to lead safe, healthy and happy lives.

Our aims are to tackle stigma, build on the significant work we have undertaken in relation to building safety, ensure customers live in a decent home and most importantly empower customers by placing them at the heart of everything we do, and ensure that they are offered a wide range of opportunities to give their views and help us improve the services we offer in the future.

  • Councillor Ed Malcolm Chair of South Tyneside Homes’ Board
  • Councillor Mark Walsh Lead Member for Housing and Transport
  • Paul Mains Managing Director of South Tyneside Homes
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Impact of COVID-19

The organisation has gone the extra mile since the COVID-19 pandemic began to support tenants, in particular vulnerable households, to ensure they were provided with the support that they needed. Alongside day-to-day tasks, a number of teams worked together to make welfare calls to customers and provide signposting to support agencies or services being provided by South Tyneside Council and the voluntary sector.

Approximately 7,000 customers were identified who may have needed help or support, and using an automated telephone call system over 22,000 calls were made to these customers during the initial phase of the pandemic. The overwhelming number did not require any assistance or support, meaning that staff were able to focus on those who did need help as well as providing them with someone to talk to. There were 494 customers who were provided with assistance which included including raising emergency repairs and providing links to support agencies including the Council’s Shielding Hub to assist with shopping and collecting prescriptions.

Examples of Support Given

Examples of Support given

  • For a family who had just brought their 91-year-old grandmother home having beaten the virus! She was very grateful for the call and felt reassured that we are looking after customers during this time.
  • A 90 year old lady who had recently lost a family member, was very appreciative, that staff took time to have a chat with her and discussed memories and good times she had enjoyed with her family member.
  • The Housing and Area Management team supported Housing Plus residents throughout the pandemic. It worked in partnership with Age Concern Tyneside South (ACTS) who contacted those residents weekly to provide support with shopping and prescriptions and have a chat about how they were doing. The team also ensured that all customers who were signed up to our daily wellbeing calls service as part of their tenancies continued to receive these every day.
  • The Housing and Area Management team continued to complete tenancy checks with new customers. Due to lockdown measures the team were unable to visit customers however, as an alternative, customers were contacted by phone to ensure they were managing their tenancy and support was put in place for those who needed it.
  • The Welfare Support team were responsible for administering South Tyneside Council’s Hardship Fund which was set-up to support residents throughout the pandemic. A total of £203,000 was paid to over 1,700 applicants to ensure that they could meet their everyday expenditure due to the hardship caused by COVID-19. Alongside this work, the Income team continued to support customers to pay their rent and offered support to those struggling with their finances during lockdown.
  • The Customer Service team provided services by telephone, face to face, LiveChat and email throughout the lockdown period, ensuring that emergencies were dealt with quickly and efficiently. By monitoring and analysing customer enquiries and using shift patterns to meet the most high demand times, the team were able to deal with customer enquiries speedily and provide support for the work of colleagues in other teams.
  • Whilst the organisation had to suspend the re-letting of homes alongside other partners of Tyne and Wear Homes, the Housing Solutions team continued to provide emergency help and support to those needing it. The government introduced legislation that meant everyone at risk of sleeping rough or homelessness needed to be housed on a temporary basis regardless of their circumstances. As well as this, temporary accommodation was provided to customers discharged from hospital who were in need of accommodation due to domestic abuse or other emergencies. When lockdown measures were eased these customers were supported to move into more settled accommodation, with appropriate support wherever necessary.
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Maintaining Homes and Ensuring Safety

Maintaining Homes and Ensuring Safety

South Tyneside Homes has worked with customers throughout COVID-19 to ensure customers are safe in their homes. All essential safety checks have continued in all buildings to keep customers safe. Weekly compliance meetings took place to ensure South Tyneside Homes were able to implement all of the latest Government advice to ensure that customers were kept safe.

During the earlier phases of the lockdown, the Repairs and Maintenance team adapted the service to only respond to emergency situations. A total of 4,904 emergency repairs were completed between April and June with 100% of these being completed within the 4 hour timescale. As lockdown restrictions were eased from mid-June, the team started to complete routine and planned repairs with the service being fully operational again from 6 July 2020.

The Gas Servicing and Electrical teams also continued to complete annual gas services and electrical checks at properties where these were due. All of this work was completed whilst meeting social distancing and PPE requirements. Where residents experienced symptoms or were shielding, teams looked to complete this work when lockdown was eased to ensure the safety of both customers and staff.

As lockdown measures were eased the organisation began to get back on track with its usual planned maintenance programme. This work started with external work such as roof and window programmes before commencing internal works such as kitchen and bathroom replacements. This work is carried out with both staff and customer safety in mind.

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Involvement and Empowerment Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Provide opportunities for customer involvement and empowerment
  • Support customers in their ability to scrutinise and improve services
  • Understand and respond to the diverse needs of customers
  • Have a focus on good customer service, choice and complaints that is clear, simple and accessible to customers

The Involvement and Empowerment standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section or read an overview of performance against this standard.

Customer Involvement

Customer Involvement

During 2019/20, the new Resident Involvement Strategy was developed through customer involvement which allowed for new and enhanced opportunities for involvement, including online and digital. As well as the involved customer groups the organisation has four tenant and leaseholder Board members who ensure the customer voice forms part of strategic planning. The Board also receives reports of recommendations from the involved customer groups on their involvement in shaping services.

A number of YourView surveys were conducted with responses being used to shape services and understand a customer’s viewpoint. The YourView platform has been developed as way to increase digital engagement with customers completing surveys, and further development is planned for 2020/21 involving more service areas. This will include the use of business intelligence and customer feedback to capture customer views more effectively. The Involvement team also aim to link customer surveys to the online customer portal.

As well as the involved customer groups the organisation has four tenant and leaseholder Board members who ensure the customer voice forms part of strategic planning. The Board also receives reports of recommendations from the involved customer groups on their involvement in shaping services.

YourView Survey Responses 2019/20
Topic Responses
Area Management 124
Mutual Exchanges 21
Signing for your new home 11
Repairs and Maintenance 21
Total 177

The Involvement groups have supported a number of improvements during 2019/20. Both the groups have carried out 2 major reviews during the year, resulting in 37 recommendations. So far 28 of these have been embedded into the Repairs and Maintenance Services. Both of these reviews demonstrate the fantastic commitment and work of involved customers who have spent over 800 hours to help the organisation deliver service improvements and reduce wasted resources.

South Tyneside Homes are keen to develop ways to achieve engagement with different customer groups and have held a wide range of community involved activities during 2019/20 including fire safety campaigns, litter picks and regular meetings for Housing Plus residents.

The best things about voluntary work for South Tyneside Homes, is the supportive and helpful team who feel like my extended family and the variety of skills I have developed being a member of the Scrutiny Panel. I would recommend it to anyone, its great for job prospects and helped me secure full time employment.

Bev, Scrutiny Panel

During the year, South Tyneside Homes ran a photography competition with a theme #noplacelikehome, and customers’ photographs were submitted to a national competition held by the National Federation of ALMOS. South Tyneside Homes were delighted to be shortlisted with a photograph below taken by Rebecca Hughes.

Winner of the South Tyneside Homes photography competition: two elderly women having a conversation in front of a care home window, one holds a cup of tea, while the other holds an open book
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Customer Services

Customer Services

During 2019/20 South Tyneside Homes created changes to the telephone system to monitor productivity as well as making calculated changes and rationalising shift patterns in order to meet customer demands and improve satisfaction. Due to high call volumes and staff shortages only 36% of calls were answered within 30 seconds; however the team introduced new best practice skills and monitoring tools to help manage queues better. The team believe these actions will deliver improved results in 2020/21. The team recognise call volumes have been affected due to the delay of the Customer Portal and all services are working in partnership to resolve issues and the portal is anticipated to go live 2020/21.

The Customer Services team were able to resolve 79.10% of enquiries at the first point of contact. Over the course of the year the team received additional training in welfare support, anti-social behaviour and income recovery. This increased knowledge should lead to improved customer satisfaction and an increase in the number of customers gaining the correct information at first point of contact.

Research is ongoing to investigate technology that will enhance customer experiences. This could include some customer enquiries being automated. Further development of automation would be conducted with customer involvement to ensure it would be of benefit to both customers and the organisation.

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Customer Feedback

Customer Feedback

South Tyneside Homes encourage feedback through a variety of ways to suit customer needs. Customers are encouraged to record their views via phone, LiveChat, social media and face to face. The organisation also introduced an automated telephone call system during 2019/20 which allows South Tyneside Homes to capture satisfaction data. The customer feedback system logs all improvements that arise from complaints and managers are required to record what processes have been put in place to prevent the same issues occurring again. All information regarding customer feedback is reported to the senior managers so they have an overview of what improvements have been identified and actioned. Monitoring the implementation of improvements is an ongoing area of development and South Tyneside Homes have introduced a system to identify any gaps in the process.

The organisation has seen an increase in complaints from 668 complaints reported in the 2018/19 to 684 complaints recorded during 2019/20. However this increase could be due to the improved number of ways in which customers are able to record their dissatisfaction or satisfaction, and 93.42% of complaints received were dealt with within the required timescale. Please see the breakdown across services below.

Customer Feedback 2019/2020
Team Total Complaints Logged Total Percentage (%) Total Compliments Logged Total Percentage (%)
Area Management 104 15.21% 55 8.42%
Repairs and Maintenance 222 32.46% 125 19.14%
Handy Estates 109 15.94% 91 13.93%
Housing Solutions 82 11.99% 243 37.21%
New Build and Major Works 35 5.12% 76 11.63%
Planned and Major Works (Decent Homes)     2 0.31%
Asset Management and Development 4 0.58% 2 0.31%
Income 28 4.09% 3 0.46%
Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) 48 7.02% 2 0.31%
Customer Services 28 4.09% 24 3.68%
Welfare Support 12 1.75% 25 3.83%
Housing Ventures 10 1.46% 2 0.31%
Other 2 0.29% 3 0.46%
Total 684 100% 653 100%

Improvements for 2020/21 include a mandatory complaint handling course for staff, and the organisation anticipates when the Housing White Paper is published some procedures may need to be reviewed in relation to complaint handling.

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Equality and Diversity

Equality and Diversity

South Tyneside Homes ensures customers have a number of ways to report and access information via phone, email, text, and face to face, to suit to their needs and preferences. Information is also available in a number of different languages and formats.

Following a review of accessibility, the Customer Services team have worked closely with South Tyneside Council Digital team to review and refresh the website. The website has been improved, is more responsive and it can be viewed on all platforms. The organisation has also increased services that are available online and a new accessibility tool (shown below) was added to the website during 2019/20 making it easier for people with disabilities including visual impairments, hearing impairments and dyslexia to tailor the information to suit their needs.

South Tyneside Homes is committed to treating everyone fairly, values diversity and opposes all forms of discrimination. A new equality and diversity action plan has been agreed to improve the organisations approach to equality and all policies and strategies undergo an Equality Check to ensure that the organisation does not discriminate against anyone with a protected characteristic.

The organisation has supported The Rainbow Foundation and is looking to build a positive relationship to support the work of the action plan and raise awareness amongst staff and customers.

South Tyneside Homes works in partnership with South Tyneside Council to increase awareness and provide support to customers who may be affected by a number of issues or disabilities and help tackle associated stigma.

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Tenancy Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Allocate properties in a fair, transparent and efficient way
  • Have ways for customers to mutually exchange
  • Provide services that will support customers to maintain their tenancy and prevent unnecessary evictions
  • Publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management, including interventions to sustain tenancies

The Tenancy Standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section or read an overview of performance against this standard.

Moving Home

Moving Home

The Housing Solutions team has continued to develop ways to help and support customers while moving home. The team have expanded electronic tenancy sign-ups and mobile working to include an electronic signature, which has considerably quickened the customer journey and could be implemented in other services. The electronic signature allows customers’ instructions and wishes to be actioned faster. The new improved processes also allows customers to end their tenancies online should they wish. The team have also been carrying out satisfaction surveys via an automated telephone call system.

The Allocations Policy has been reviewed and further planned changes will be made to extend support to the armed forces applicants. South Tyneside Homes have created a fulltime Armed Forces Outreach Officer to manage the service and strengthen our links to the armed forces community.

South Tyneside Homes have delivered a clear and efficient allocation process, with key information delivered with great charm. Their process caters with care to an older generation, who struggle with online procedures. It was an excellent service. Five Gold Stars!

Ms McGlasham, new Housing Plus accommodation resident

Rent loss performance through empty homes performed better than last year. The amount lost reduced by £198,000 which represents a 23% reduction from the previous year.

Advert for House Exchange - Room going to waste or need more space? Moving is easy with House Exchange - www.houseexchange.org.uk

In February 2020 a new mutual exchange, mobile app called House Exchange was introduced to make it easier for customers to swap homes. Initial interest has been good and the team are looking forward to promoting the use of this app over the coming year.

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Supporting You In Your Home

Supporting You In Your Home

The Health and Housing team work alongside South Tyneside Council’s Occupational Therapy service and other professionals, and look to make best use of housing stock to meet the long term housing needs of customers. Consideration is given to the ability for a property to safely meet the long-term needs of the person being assessed. Recommendations can be made around provision of equipment and adaptations within the home, and for relocation to more suitable accommodation to offer a long term solution for independent living.

During the year, 286 referrals were made for occupational therapy assessment and 152 referrals were made for pre-tenancy support.

South Tyneside Homes are absolutely fantastic; they take care of your needs from start to finish

Mr and Mrs Easom, South Shields

Mr and Mrs Easom were supported by the Health and Housing team, during 2019/20 and were extremely happy with the service they received.

Moving forward during 2020/21 South Tyneside Homes will work in partnership with external partners such as Oasis Community Housing, an outreach support provider, to provide outreach support to customers with more complex needs.

Working in partnership with the Council’s Tenancy Sustainment Officer and Safeguarding in Partnership team, South Tyneside Homes have developed Tenancy Sustainment Group. The focus is to help tenants successfully manage their tenancy. 104 tenancies were referred to this group for assistance, and 86.81% of the cases resulted in the tenancy being successfully sustained. Tenancy sustainment also identifies people at risk of homelessness or rough sleeping and can offer support and guidance.

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Paying Your Rent

Paying Your Rent

During 2019/20 rent collection remained high with 100.62% rent collected (includes credit balances). The Income team have continually engaged with customers to increase the responsibility of rent payments and help customers to budget and manage their money. There is a focus within the team on early intervention and this allows the team to work in a more efficient way and provide better support to customers who are struggling to pay their rent as well as ensuring customers are able to access benefits advice services.

During 2019/20 the Income team supported 290 customers who are entitled to water rate reductions and successfully secured over £22,500 of credit from Northumbrian Water.

The team have also:

  • Worked in partnership with Northern Rights, Gentoo and Zenith to provide employment training to 217 people.
  • Delivered training to the customer service team to enhance skills allowing rent queries to be resolved at first point of contact.
  • Developed new ways to increase former tenant arrears collection including referring customers for benefits and debt advice resulting in £155,000 of outstanding debt to be recovered.

Further improvements planned for 2020/21

  • Exploring options to allow for regular rent paying customers to build up their credit score and become more financially included with better access to financial products and better rates for gas and electricity.
  • Developing additional campaigns to improve rent collection and provide support customers who need it.
  • Further development of an automated system to increase Former Tenant Arrears collection.
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Welfare Support

Welfare Support

The Welfare Support team is the first point of contact for specialist welfare benefits and money advice in South Tyneside with the team continuing to provide free impartial advice to all residents. The team also support and administer “local welfare provision” (Crisis and Community Care) on behalf of South Tyneside Council, and the team were involved in administering the Hardship Fund to people who were struggling financially during the initial stage of the coronavirus pandemic.

The Welfare team focus on maximising a customer’s income and over the course of 2019/20 have successfully secured additional income on behalf of customers in excess of £5 million.

The Financial Conduct Authority conducted a review on the free debt advice sector during 2019/20. This had implications for the money advice service offered by South Tyneside Homes and resulted in a change of working processes and practices in line with review findings. In particular the Welfare team have reviewed their processes and improved customer service in areas including financial statement completion and debt recommendations.

The Welfare team have reviewed all client information to ensure that the information is user friendly and accommodates their needs. The team wish to develop the number of available appointments and believe if they further develop telephone appointments they can offer more choice for customers and continue to reduce waiting times. An automated telephone call system recording customer satisfaction was introduced from December 2019 and the team received 88.19% for customer satisfaction.

Further plans for 2020/21 include adding an electronic signature to processes which will allow the team to act on instructions from their customers more quickly and efficiently and to continue to develop a self-help guide.

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Home Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Provide quality homes that meet the Decent Homes Standard
  • Provide a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service to homes and communal areas
  • Provide a repairs service which has the objective of completing repairs and improvements right first time
  • Meet all applicable legal requirements that provide for the health and safety of the occupants in their homes
  • Provide an adaptations service that meets tenants’ needs

The Home standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section or read an overview of performance against this standard.

Investing in Our Homes

Investing in Our Homes

South Tyneside Homes has a robust approach to investment to ensure that attractive, good quality, affordable homes can be provided to customers. Investment programmes have been developed to ensure that properties meet customers’ needs and are sustainable and minimise carbon impacts.

South Tyneside Council declared a climate change emergency in July 2019 and is implementing strategies to bring about real changes to achieve carbon neutrality by 2030. South Tyneside Homes plays a key role in delivering these objectives by investing in low carbon and renewable technologies where appropriate and accessing funding programmes to support this and its affordable warmth plan to help customers stay warm and healthy. It has successfully managed and achieved the environmental management standard IS014001 for 10 years in a row demonstrating its commitment to improving environmental performance and achieving low carbon.

During 2019/20 over £11m has been invested in a range of work which included:

Investment in housing 2019/2020
Investment Amount Percentage
Decent Homes Internal Upgrades £3,417,000 29.2%
General Refurbishment £2,262,000 19.3%
Door and Window Programme £1,519,000 13.0%
Roofing and Structural Programme £1,376,000 11.8%
Health and Safety Works £1,326,000 11.3%
Empty Homes £912,000 7.8%
Adaptations £812,000 6.9%
Insulation Work £78,000 0.7%
Total £11,702,000 100%
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What the Investment has Delivered

What the Investment has Delivered

Decent Homes internal upgrade investment of £3,417,000 makes sure customers have high quality kitchens and bathrooms, rewiring to current regulations and ‘A’ rated boilers to minimise customers’ heating bills.

Decent Homes Improvements 2019/2020
Type of Work Number Delivered
New kitchen 144
New bathroom or W/C 107
A rewire 78
A new heating system or boiler 150
Total 479

I’ve lived here for 15 years and needed my kitchen and bathroom replacing and a new heating system. I could’nt fault it – they started when they said they would and finished on time, they were so clean and tidied up after themselves. There are no negatives, I am over the moon with the work!

Dennis, Dovedale Court, South Shields

Doors and Windows

Door and window investment of £1,519,000 ensures customers benefit from ‘A’ rated windows to help reduce heating bills by minimising heat loss. The doors are ‘secure by design’ to keep customers safe. This investment has delivered:

Door and Window Improvements 2019/2020
Type of work Number delivered
New UPVC windows 531
New composite doors 251
Total 782

Roofing

Roofing and structural investment of £1,376,000 guarantees customers’ homes are kept warm, safe and secure. This investment has delivered:

Roofing and Structural Improvements 2019/2020
Type of work Number delivered
Replacement roofing 12
Gutter replacement programme 196
Total 208

Health and Safety investment

Health and safety investment of £1,326,000 keeps customers safe within their home, with the installation of sprinkler systems in high rise buildings and replacement fire alarms and emergency lighting installations and maintenance of fire safety measures.

The investment in insulation of £78,000 has been made to make customers’ homes warm and energy efficient. This includes works to improve the energy efficiency of properties and 155 customers have benefited from cavity wall insulation reducing heat loss by 35% and saving customers approximately £250 per year on their energy bills.

The general refurbishment investment of £2,262,000 continues to maintain quality neighbourhoods and to ensure the communal buildings managed by South Tyneside Homes continue to meet the needs of the customers.

Empty Homes

Investment of £912,000 was made in 1,329 empty properties to ensure that new customers moved in to homes that met the lettable standard.

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Planned Maintenance Improvements

Planned Maintenance Improvements

To improve planned maintenance services to customers, South Tyneside Homes are upgrading systems to allow surveyors to access more information while at a customer’s home carrying out stock condition surveys. Data will be input directly into the asset management database whilst on site allowing future planned maintenance programmes to be developed more effectively.

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Adaptations

Adaptations

South Tyneside Homes works closely with South Tyneside Council’s Let’s Talk team to deliver adaptations work to help customers remain independent in their homes. The table below shows the range of adaptations that were delivered:

Adaptation Improvements 2019/2020
Type of Adaptation Number Delivered
Level access shower or wet room 74
Ramps 41
Stair-lift or chair-lift 151
Steps or handrails 68
Total 334

A total of 334 adaptations were installed last year with 98.64% completed on time, compared to 99.2% last year.

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Keeping You Safe

Keeping You Safe

South Tyneside Homes has a number of dedicated teams to keep customers safe and to ensure the organisation complies with all statutory requirements.

Tenant’s safety information can be viewed on the South Tyneside Homes website and new tenants are provided with the “Tenants Safety Handbook” when they sign for their home.

Gas

The Gas Servicing team completes annual safety inspections to over 16,000 properties. For the 9th year in a row, an annual gas service was completed at every property. Legal action is taken against those customers who do not allow access to their homes and last year, 15 customers were taken to court for not allowing access to their property.

The use of a new automated telephone call system to obtain on the day customer feedback has helped improve customer satisfaction from 90.12% in 2018-19 to 94.17% in 2019/20.

Electrical

South Tyneside Homes have worked with customers to fine tune the electrical inspection process and procedures and re-designing customer communications. This enabled the team to achieve 4,477 homes receiving an electrical inspection and test during the year.

Asbestos

All buildings are fully compliant with asbestos regulations, and the organisation carries out annual inspections to communal areas of our buildings. Asbestos information is held for all of South Tyneside Homes’ properties and is held to protect customers and staff.

Water

Where applicable our buildings have a water management regime to ensure water safety is maintained. 627 properties had risk assessments carried out and the team provided advice and information to ensure customers use their water systems in a safe manner.

The team member who called to carry out water safety checks was a very nice man, understanding and helpful, especially as I have underlying health conditions and I needed to ensure it was safe. He was also very thorough and explained things in detail.

Angela, Hertford Close, South Shields

Fire safety

All of the high rise, Housing Plus and mid-to-low rise blocks have Fire Risk Assessments completed. All fire alarms, emergency lighting, firefighting equipment and fire suppression systems are tested and maintained to current regulatory standards and this equates to 2,876 tenancies.

Lifts

Lifts in buildings are regularly inspected, tested and maintained to ensure that they remain compliant with legislation. Any repairs or faults are dealt with in a timely manner.

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Repairs and Maintenance

Repairs and Maintenance

A total of 80,409 repairs were completed during the year by the Repairs team and performance has continued to improve during 2019/20:

  • 99.39% of emergency repairs were completed within our priority timescales
  • 99.94% of urgent repairs were completed within our priority timescales
  • 99.95% of routine repairs were completed within our priority timescales

South Tyneside Homes introduced an automated telephone call system during the year which helps the service obtain customer feedback on repairs, including the ability for customers to record reasons for satisfaction or dissatisfaction. The team are now able to react proactively to customers concerns on a daily basis, rather than waiting for monthly updates. As a result, customer satisfaction has increased significantly from 91.26% to 94.33%. This system is helping to drive efficiencies and is being rolled-out across the company.

The introduction of automated van stocks has been piloted in the Repairs team where the most commonly required materials are carried and automatically re-stocked to enable more jobs to be completed right first time.

The teams have been working closely with involved customers to improve elements of the service over the year:

  • The Electrical Inspection letters were reviewed with 17 recommendations made with 11 now implemented.
  • To reduce wasted resources as the result of ‘no answer’ on a repair visit, a review made 20 recommendations of which 17 have already been implemented by the repairs service. This has helped to achieve 85.34% of jobs completed “right first time”.

Further improvements to enhance the customer experience of the repairs service are planned for 2020/21. These include the ability for customers to book repairs via the customer online portal, and a new telephone contact system offering enhanced flexibility to manage bookings. The current system of texting customers will be replaced by a new system that confirms appointments, sends reminders and on-route messages, and customers will be able to cancel appointments at the touch of a button. This system will also deliver enhanced efficiencies within the repairs service.

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Neighbourhood and Community Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Keep neighbourhoods and communal areas clean and safe
  • Work with relevant partners to promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing
  • Work with partners to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour

The Neighbourhood and Community Standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section or read an overview of performance against this standard.

Keeping Your Community Clean

Keeping Your Community Clean

The #lovewhereyoulive campaign developed in partnership with South Tyneside Council continued during 2019/20, with local campaigns to promote and maintain clean communities. Campaign activity increased this year and 309 campaigns were run to engage with residents on tackling important local issues including dog-fouling, litter and fly-tipping, and we engaged with 3,761 members of the public during the year to encourage their involvement in the local community. Local schools were visited to deliver educational messages on the impact of litter on the environment.

Staff are able to issue Fixed Penalty Notices to those who commit offences, but this is a last resort and the team focus of having positive conversations and encouraging residents to pick up litter and avoid dog fouling. We are working more closely with Council’s Enforcement team to use business intelligence to focus our resources.

Local festivals and events were supported including the Great North Run in 2019. Along with a group of volunteers, our teams ensured 220,000 bottles were cleared and recycled and the route re-opened within 4 hours of the race finishing.

Our teams work to ensure that our neighbourhoods are clean and well maintained and undertake weed treatment services across the borough from March until September.

Key statistics from 2019/20

  • A total of 2,223 tonnes of waste was removed last year.
  • There were 2,085 cases of abandoned waste which were all removed.
  • There were 260 instances of graffiti reported of which 258 were cleared within timescale (99.2%).
  • 5 Fixed Penalty Notices were issued for dog fouling and littering.

During 2020/21 there will be a focus on abandoned waste and educating residents to do their bit to keep their community clean, and mobile technology for the Handy Estates team will be introduced to enable more efficient reporting of issues which will result in quicker resolution and improve services for customers. The potential to enhance the facility for residents to also report issues online such as incidences of fly-tipping is being explored.

This year a new system to help keep communities safe and clean was introduced to assist teams carry out fire safety checks on blocks and in Housing Plus schemes. South Tyneside Homes staff are able to take photographs of hazards and report information efficiently to allow appropriate action to be taken. During 2020/21 the system will be developed further for use with tenancy support visits, home safety checks, and improved performance reporting.

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Keeping Your Community Safe

Keeping Your Community Safe

South Tyneside Homes works in partnership with a number of organisations including South Tyneside Council and Northumbria Police to tackle anti-social behaviour.

The team works with all residents of South Tyneside, offering a tenure blind service to council tenants, owner occupiers and those who rent their home privately or through a housing association. During the financial year 2019/20, the team dealt with 989 new cases, and overall levels of satisfaction with the service have increased from 89.2% last year to 92.8% this year.

During the year, new procedures were introduced to allow Community Protection Warnings and Community Protection Notices to be issued by the team, giving South Tyneside Homes additional tools to use in its efforts to prevent anti-social behaviour. In total, 27 Community Protection Warnings and 7 Community Protection Notices were issued in 2019/20 which, alongside a wide range of other formal interventions, demonstrate South Tyneside Homes’ continued efforts to reduce anti-social behaviour in the Borough.

To further improve the service during 2020/21, it intends to explore the introduction of a triage system for new cases to better understand the circumstances of the complaint and whether it is necessary to refer to more appropriate services for assistance. South Tyneside Homes are also working to finalise new procedures for staff to improve their approach to case management.

The Anti-Social Behaviour Policy will be reviewed during 2020/21, in conjunction with South Tyneside Council, to ensure the policy remains fit for purpose. Work is also ongoing with the Community Safety Partnership Board to ensure that South Tyneside Homes continue to play a key part in Community Safety partnership arrangements.

South Tyneside Homes promotes the message that safeguarding is everyone’s responsibility. There is a procedure in place and staff are trained to recognise and report any concerns.

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Promoting Social, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing

Promoting Social, Environmental and Economic Wellbeing

South Tyneside Homes works closely with Community Area Forums (CAFs), with elected members and local partner agencies, to deliver a number of local improvement and regeneration projects across South Tyneside.

To improve the lives of local people and the environment, projects during the year included:

  • Fencing, gates and pathway work
  • Wall and stairway improvements
  • Wall cladding and painting programmes
  • Communal area refurbishments
  • Grounds maintenance and remodelling work including shrubs and trees

The Housing and Area Management team and the Housing Plus team have been brought together this year as one service achieving significant improvements in service delivery including better building management and improved enhanced health and safety, and during the COVID-19 lockdown these teams were better able to join forces to ensure our vulnerable customers were supported.

A range of support was provided to those living in Housing Plus accommodation helping residents to get involved in social activities to help prevent loneliness, and during the year a new working relationship was developed with Age Concern which helped provide support such as shopping and prescriptions.

We will be trialling a new approach to deliver a quicker response to tenants who need assistance in Housing Plus accommodation. The new approach extends welfare calls by using an automated telephone call system to contact residents. This allows existing services to be supplemented allowing daily welfare checks to be undertaken in a more targeted and efficient way, and feedback from tenants also shows that they like the flexibility of an approach that better suits their lifestyles.

A traineeship programme has been developed that provides valuable work experience for young people, the long-term unemployed and ex-military personnel. This programme provides a low cost garden tidy service to help customers maintain their gardens and ensure that residents love where they live. During the year 118 gardens have been maintained.

It was quite a circuitous route for me to become an apprentice, but it is a decision I have never regretted and an experience I am really enjoying. Assessing my options after being medically discharged from the British Army, my Care Leaver Support Officer showed me an advertisement for grounds maintenance traineeships at South Tyneside Homes. I signed-up for it and was really enjoying the role when a number of apprenticeship roles were announced. I really wanted a trade behind me, so saw these as a great opportunity to learn, earn and develop my skills.

Lewis, Plumbing Apprentice
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Performance

This section gives a summary of key performance across the organisation.

Customer Satisfaction
Service Area 2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Anti-Social Behaviour 94.2% 89.2% 92.8%
Decent Homes Programme 100% 100% 100%
Gas Servicing 86.3% 90.12% 94.17%
Making a Complaint 85.5% 89.5% 89.87%
Responsive Repairs 91.02% 91.26% 94.33%
Welfare Support
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Additional income secured for customers £3.8M £3.29M £5.36M
Number of people assisted 3,626 3,829
Anti-Social Behaviour
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Number of ASB complaints 964 1142 989
% of complaints responded to within timescale 99.45% 99.22% 98.91%
Customer Services
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Percentage of calls resolved at 1st point of contact 68% 81% 79%
Number of compliments received 464 657 653
Number of complaints received 678 668 684
Housing Solutions
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Average number of empty homes 195 157 173
Percentage of empty homes as proportion of housing stock 0.94% 0.87% 1.05%
Average re-let time 41.96 days 44.5 days 36.58 days
Percentage of rent lost through re-let process 1.58% 1.36% 1.07%
Rent Collection
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Proportion of rent collected (excluding arrears) 99% 99.77% 100.62%
Percentage of rent arrears 2.9% 2.93% 3.23%
Percentage of former tenant arrears 2.44% 2.6% 2.49%
Repairs
2017/18 2018/19 2019/20
Number of routine repairs 36,875 40,211 36,567
% of routine repairs delivered within 20 days 99.66% 99.88% 99.95%
Number of emergency repairs 14,526 14,720 15,648
% of emergency repairs delivered within 4 hours 97.63% 98.63% 99.39%
Number of urgent repairs 20,828 19,144 16,181
% of urgent repairs delivered within timescale 99.76% 99.93% 99.94%

To see how the company performed against the service standards, visit the performance page of the website.

Making Sense of the Money

Financial Overview

South Tyneside Homes manages around 18,000 homes on behalf of South Tyneside Council. In 2019/20 income was £66.2 million. Below is an overview of how rent was spent during the year.

Spending 2019/2020
Spending Total Percentage
Capital Charges 29.2m 44.1%
Repairs and Maintenance 15.5m 23.4%
Housing Management 10.1m 15.2%
Central Services 7.0m 10.6%
Rents, Rates and Taxes 1.9m 2.9%
Estate Management 1.3m 2.0%
Income Management 0.7m 1.1%
Anti-social Behaviour 0.4m 0.6%
Tenant Involvement 0.1m 0.1%
Total 66.2m 100%

Focus On Income

Most of the income comes from rent but tenants and leaseholders are also charged for services and facilities that South Tyneside Homes provides. The contributions come from various sources such as the fee for collecting water rates from tenants:

Income 2019/2020
Income Amount Percentage
Property Rents £61.6m 93.0%
Charges for Services and Facilities £2.1m 3.2%
Contributions Towards Costs £1.3m 2.0%
Garage and Shop Rents £1.2m 1.8%
Total £66.2m 100%

Did you know, for every £1 of rent you pay...

  • 44p is paid out for capital charges (this is the interest paid on borrowing the money to provide the properties)
  • 23p is spent on repairing properties
  • 15p is spent on managing tenancies
  • 11p is spent on central services such as the warden call service
  • 4p is the cost of specialist housing services
  • 3p is spent on miscellaneous costs including rent, rates and taxes