Tenants and leaseholders annual report 2022-23
Our annual report to council tenants and leaseholders tells you how we're performing, how we use the money we get from rents and service charges, where we're doing well and where we need to improve.
A word from Cllr Arthur Coote, Portfolio Holder ‐ Housing and Equalities
"We welcome feedback, by listening to you is how we improve our services"
Dear Tenants and Leaseholders
As Cabinet Member for Housing and Equalities, I am strongly committed to making sure that you receive a responsive and efficient service on all counts from the council.
This report is about feeding back to you on our performance, and being transparent about how we are managing and improving social housing, including where we need to do better.
We will continue to invest in the existing Council housing, raise quality, in all aspects of our homes.
Focusing on ways to improve the energy efficiency of homes, and ensure homes are safe in all aspects.
We welcome your involvement and feedback and look forward to continuing to work with you to make sure that our tenants receive the best possible services.
Introduction from Judith Snares, Housing Strategy and Operations Manager
"We constantly strive to improve the service to our tenants"
This report provides you with an overview of the progress and developments within our housing service and the wider social housing sector.
It aims to keep you informed about the important changes in housing regulations and policies that aﬀect your tenancy or leasehold rights, as well as highlighting the eﬀorts made by
the council to enhance the quality your home and provide a better living environment for all residents.
As we present the report, we recognise the importance of keeping you informed about the changes in social housing regulation in England and the role of the Housing Ombudsman. The council remains dedicated to upholding your rights as tenants and leaseholders and strives to deliver highquality housing services that meet your needs.
Our performance over the year
• 75% overall satisfaction with our services
• 80% of customers think we keep their homes safe and well maintained
• 80% of customers think we treat them fairly and with respect
• 79% of customers think we are easy to deal with as a landlord
• 60% of customers are satisﬁed with the way we handle antisocial behaviour
• 27% of customers are satisﬁed with the way we handle complaints
The introduction of new measures to look at how social housing landlords perform was introduced this year by the government. Referred to as Tenant Satisfaction Measures (TSM), they will look at how tenants feel we are performing as their landlord.
We carried out a snapshot survey in advance of the oﬃcial launch of the new TSMs to see where our tenants think we need to improve. We used a company called Acuity, who telephoned nearly 400 of our tenants in January and asked them the questions.
We were pleased that 75% of you were satisfied with the housing service we provide and we will look to improve on that.
However, we were very disappointed to see that our complaints handling process was not meeting your needs and as a result we decided to investigate. We wrote to 115 tenants who had complained about a repair in the last two years. In total, 17 individuals were willing to participate, some in facetoface workshops and others through online meetings and telephone surveys.
Thanks to their input changes have been made. Firstly, we bought the repairs complaints process back inhouse, so all complaints are dealt with by the council including those about repairs. We fed back to all staff involved and emphasised how important regular communication is to you throughout the complaints process. We also set up a contracts team to oversee the work of Uttlesford Norse and to help them raise their standards.
Finally, we have streamlined the process and made it easier for you to understand how to make a complaint.
Looking after your home
• Electrical safety testing (within legal required 10year programme) 99% compliant
• Electrical safety testing (within best practice 5year programme) 92% compliant
• Gas safety checks 99% compliant
• Water hygiene (legionella risk assessment) 100% compliant
• Fire safety risk assessments 100%
• Lift safety inspections 100%
• Asbestos assessments 52%
The government has introduced new legislation which aims to enhance the safety standards on newbuild properties.
As an authority that is building new housing stock, we are conscious of the need to ensure all our new builds reach the highest safety standards, as well as reviewing and enhancing current stock.
Earlier this year, we appointed an independent company called Savills to carry out condition surveys of our housing stock. Many of you will have received a visit from one of their surveyors.
If you have not received a visit, please contact us on 01799 510510 or email firstname.lastname@example.org so an appointment can be made.
It is important we carry out these stock condition surveys as they help determine the condition of your homes and highlight where investment needs to be made, for example fitting replacement kitchens.
The recent round of surveys has identiﬁed areas of priority that need to be addressed and we have put in place a new programme of works.
We will be writing to tenants where their home is on this year's programme.
• 90% of complaints were resolved at the first stage of our complaints process
• 110 complaints
• 93% anti-social behaviour cases closed
• 42 safeguarding referrals
Whether your feedback is good or bad, we want to hear it. We carry out surveys and collect your comments to help us see how we are performing, what we are doing well and where we need to improve.
We have worked with a number of you using telephone surveys, online consultation and facetoface workshops to try to improve the way we deal with your complaints. Through listening to your ideas and experiences, we have revised our policy and procedure.
Thank you to all those tenants who took the time to give feedback and we hope you will see how you have inﬂuenced the changes we have made, including to provide a clearer complaints process.
Training has also been provided for the repairs team at Uttlesford Norse on how to deal with the booking of emergency repairs, whilst their subcontractor has undergone customer service training. We are also exploring the idea of introducing in a councilled text messaging service as another way of collecting feedback from you after a repair has been carried out.
We hope you do not have to complain but we realise mistakes do get made however, if you do have to make a complaint, the process will be much improved.
What did we do?
• Gave away 311 material shopping bags with leaflets to help people stay safe in their home
• Carried out 25 handyman job
• Reported 51 repairs to Uttlesford Nors
• Referred or offered additional advice to 81 people
• Arranged a fund day for children in Takeley
Our tenants have always been at the heart of everything we do, which is why our community engagement work is so important to us particularly with our multiagency roadshow events.
The roadshows started in 2016 and since then it has gone on to visit over 50 destinations across Uttlesford. It had to be abandoned during the COVID19 pandemic, but it was exciting to be back in business with ﬁve locations visited in summer 2022, in Takeley, Newport, Leaden Roding, Hatfield Broad Oak, Barnston.
A big thank you to all our partners who supported the roadshow events:
- Essex Police
- Essex County Fire and Rescue Service Peabody,
- United in Kind Neighbourhood Watch,
- Uttlesford Community Action Network Essex Libraries
- Touchpoint Uttlesford Foodbank Spangles
- Active Essex Community Agents Citizens Advice
They provided you with lots of useful information and advice on everything from feeling safe and secure in your home to getting ﬁt and active.
• Total repairs 11,136
• Emergency repairs 2,960
• Urgent repairs 921
• Repairs fixed on first visit 91%
• New windows - 95
• New doors - 101
• New bathrooms -89
• New kitchens - 95
• New boilers - 167
• New rewires - 3
Working with our partners Uttlesford Norse, we have continued to upgrade your homes over the last year with new windows, doors, kitchens and more.
About 16% of the rent monies you paid us was spent on improving your homes with new upgrades and replacements.
The council and Uttlesford Norse have agreed a programme for upgrading your homes for the next ﬁve years.
Average energy eﬃciency rating
We are pleased that our average energy rating is 71 (EPC C) which is above the national average of 60 (EPC D) meaning our council houses are significantly more energy eﬃcient than the average home. To improve energy ratings, we have spent £120,000 on wall and loft insulation improvements at 265 properties.
A further £40,000 was invested in improving external wall insulation at three properties. Over the coming year we are working closely with the council's climate change oﬃcer to identify funding opportunities to continue this improvement programme. This will help relieve fuel poverty by making your homes cheaper to heat, reduce carbon emissions thus helping combat climate change.
How many new homes?
2 new developments were built providing 27 new council homes
Planning approval was given for over 300 aﬀordable housing association homes
Two new developments of council homes were completed, with tenants moving in late 2022 and early 2023.
Thirteen council homes at Rookery Close in Great Chesterford were ﬁnished late last year. The development includes a mix of two, three and fourbed houses and bungalows, and includes a threebedroom wheelchairuser bungalow. Each property has an electric vehicle charging point, air source heat pump and solar panels.
A new 14home development was also completed at Knight Park, Saﬀron Walden in March. The properties also have the same modcons. Sharon Shoesmith and her husband Tony moved into the development in the ﬁrst week of April and are delighted with their new home (pictured).
Sharon said: "We lived elsewhere in the town for many years but I needed wheelchair access and our previous house did not have that. We love it here it's a great setting and we have lovely neighbours. I can't believe it is a council house!"
In addition, 103 aﬀordable new build homes were completed by registered providers (housing associations) and were let to those on the council's housing register.
Planning approval was also granted for a new aﬀordable fourbedroom house at Wimbish and a new aﬀordable twobedroom wheelchairuser bungalow at Thaxted, to be owned and managed by the council.
As your landlord, every penny we make through the Housing Revenue Account goes back into providing your housing services. We're committed to maintaining a strong ﬁnancial position so that we can continue delivering value for money for our tenants.
Where our money comes from
Housing rents £15.185m
Garages and other rents £255,000
Charges for services and facilities £1.02m
Interest and investment income £194,000
How each pound was spent
Repairs and maintenance 16p
Supervision and management 16p
Major repairs 25p
Capital expenditure 16p
Your council housing service in numbers 2022/23
2,826 council homes
143 council leaseholders
59% female tenants
41% male tenants
1,900 tenants are over the age of 60, with several aged 100+
27 new council homes built
103 aﬀordable homes built by housing associations for people on the council's housing register
12 properties sold under the Right to Buy scheme