The Sovereign Housing Group – Compliance with Regulatory Code 2008/09
Sources of Compliance
HAs must operate viable (a) The association’s business plan
The Group is in the process of
demonstrates its priorities and
The Group has a sophisticated approach to business planning which is co-ordinated and managed
planning the issue of a capital bond
adequate recourse to
strategy for achieving its objectives,
centrally by the Group Treasury and Business Planning Team, which is part of the finance team. During
to secure future funding
financial resources to
including commitments to residents,
the year the decision was made to replace the existing business planning models with the Brixx system.
requirements across the Group and
meet their current and
lenders and rent restructuring
The new system is more robust than that previously used and provides the consolidation tools required
to enable sustained delivery of the
future business and
to manage a complex Group. The implementation was carried out in conjunction with Tribal and the
development programme. In
models are now fully operational.
addition, the Group continues to
Preparation of the business plans is a joint responsibility shared between the Parent and Partner
research the availability and pricing
members in accordance with a detailed SLA. Consistent assumptions across the Group are used in
of more traditional finance.
preparing the plans which are stress tested to ensure the Group’s strategic objectives are achieved
The bond will be raised on behalf of
whilst complying with lenders requirements.
SHA, but with an on-lending facility
The business plan process is enshrined within the Intragroup Agreement and the Group Business
for the Group.
Planning Policy adopted by all Partner members. In this context all business plans require Parental
In order to issue a bond a rating is
agreement, following consideration by Partner member boards and approval is required to any
necessary and this is at an advanced
stage. In addition, the
The business plans are prepared to give 5 and 30 year scenarios, together with a detailed annual
documentation and security
budget and expressed as Income and Expenditure Account, Cash Flow and Balance Sheet with
processes are underway so that the
Group is in a position to go to the
The underlying assumptions in the plans are regularly reviewed (currently on a monthly basis by
market by September 2009.
Directors and quarterly by the Board due to the volatility of the markets) taking account of the changing
Evaluation of potential schemes to
economic climate and operational results. This allows us to monitor financial capacity and the ability to
determine viability and timescales is
support and subsidise new investments.
taking place to support the final
Specific assumptions tested include:
decision on whether to proceed with
Stock Investment Programme.
Future Development Programme.
In the meantime the programme to
Allowance for Risk Management.
charge security to counterparties
Variations in economic assumptions.
where the Group has standalone
Interest rate assumptions based on treasury plans.
swaps is continuing in order to
Assumptions for the maintenance of newly developed properties are included in development scheme
remove the risk of cash collateral
viability appraisals and in the business plan at the same level of marginal costs, based on expected
replacement programmes and dates. Assumptions for new properties are reviewed annually and
The WHP business plan has been
agreed by the appropriate Partner member boards.
incorporated in the Brixx model
Results are modelled individually for each Partner member to demonstrate compliance with loan
utilising the Group’s economic
covenants and business plan capacity since each organisation has its own direct funding relationships.
assumptions as part of the
The approved combined models then comprise the Group business plan capacity model.
preparation for their joining the
Group. In accordance with the new
The Group has in place sufficient loan facilities to meet its committed development programme.
Intragroup Agreement all WHP
central functions moved to SHG with
effect from 1 July 2009. This includes
treasury management, business
planning and audit and risk.
Based on a coherent
(b) The Association’s business
On 1 April 2009 WHP joined the
and robust business
planning is informed by asset
Business plan projections across the Group include full maintenance provision and appropriate
Sovereign Development Consortium
management information, which is
scheduling of major repairs. Each Partner member within the Group maintains a database system of
and from 1 July 2009 has adopted
property stock condition data, which is independently verified and regularly updated. This is used to
the component standards for new
inform a 30 year Forward Maintenance Plan (FMP) and in particular to enable the publication of a
properties used by the Group in the
detailed 5-year programme of the required works. The FMP is a major component of the Group
evaluation of projects and for
business plans and is subject to a rolling annual programme of review. The stock condition data held by
business plan purposes.
each subsidiary also allows ‘uneconomic’ properties to be identified, (properties where the ongoing cost
At the same time as the
of maintenance exceeds the net redevelopment value).
amalgamation of SHG and WHP,
Kingfisher and HVHS, WHP’s two
major subsidiaries, also
amalgamated. This amalgamation
Sources of Compliance
Each subsidiary has an active Asset Management Strategy (AMS) where redevelopment schemes are
should remove the partial
rigorously evaluated against a variety of standards before being modelled in business plans. The
requirement of HVHS to make small
approach uses a range of business indicators to identify the priority projects for disposal, regeneration
numbers of asset sales to ensure its
and reinvestment. Each of SHA, VHA and THA has sites where stock is now being decommissioned
asset management programme can
and re-developed. SHA and THA also have major refurbishment programmes underway on a number of
sites. Investment in these activities is supported by an appropriate business case, which includes an
The Group has embarked on a
optional appraisal and sensitivity analysis. The financial impact of any redevelopment is included within
project to harmonise the standard of
the business plan projections, and reviewed on an annual basis.
its properties and services across the
Group. Currently all business plans
Decent Homes Standard (DHS)
contain asset management forecasts
All Partner members were DHS compliant in 2007/08 and will remain fully compliant by 2010, with the
which will raise standards above
exception of THA’s Somerford Estate which is being redeveloped and has a three year extension to
DHS though not yet on a
achievement of the DHS. The extension is being regularly monitored by the TSA. The first part of the
standardised basis. The database
Somerford redevelopment programme, Cleveland Place, is due for completion in August 2009. Further
systems maintained by the
phases will be authorised within THA’s business plan constraints.
subsidiaries allow each to model
scenarios so that each subsidiary
can formulate its own plans to reach
No member of the Group relies on asset sales to maintain required levels of asset management to cover
this higher standard while remaining
costs or meet loan covenants. In 2008/09 SHA disposed of its site at Bardown near Chieveley and will
within viability constraints.
be using the receipt to fund other AMS projects to ensure the programme is self financing.
Following the amalgamation of SHG
Redevelopment schemes at Play Platt and St Donats in Newbury were completed and occupied in
with WHP, SHA will be exploring and
October 2008, creating 17 rented and 26 shared ownership properties. Schemes earmarked for re-
planning for intergroup stock
development are subject to a decanting programme and any vacancies let on a shorthold basis to
rationalisation during 2010/11.
maximise the use of the stock.
Asset management information.
RC 3.4.2 (C) outlines in further detail subsidiary compliance with DHS, how stock condition information
is collected and reviewed, and maintenance standards.
Fulfilling their loan-
c) Accounts and returns are submitted
Annual statutory accounts are prepared for each Partner member and for the Group and filed within the
The Group has enhanced its internal
on time and demonstrate that the
required timescales. FVAs (electronic accounts) have also been submitted to the Regulator. 2008/09
reporting systems to ensure that the
Association is, and will continue to be,
accounts incorporate the changes required under SORP 2008, (primarily relating to the treatment of first
potential effects of having to switch
tranche shared ownership sales), and include a charge for impairment that reflects current conditions in
tenure from shared ownership to
the property market. The Group auditors have examined commitments and available funding and are
rental on newly developed schemes
able to confirm that the Accounts are prepared on a going concern basis.
is continually monitored to A)
On a longer timescale 30 year plans for the Group and individual Partner members are submitted in the
anticipate both first tranche sale
form of the Capacity Model to the TSA and as 30 year business plans to the Group’s funders. The plans
deficits and B) any potential
demonstrate compliance with all financial covenants and the continuing viability of the Group. Returns
impairment. This is projected
to funders are submitted within the timescales specified in each individual loan agreement.
through to the input on loan
This year the TSA has agreed to extend the deadline submission of the capacity model from 30 June
covenants to ensure continued
2009 to 1 September 2009. This is to allow the capacity model to include WHP details. The Group
amalgamated with WHP on 1 July 2009 but the later submission date will allow full recognition of the fair
In the light of the continuing
value accounting numbers that result from applying SHG’s accounting policies to WHP’s accounts.
uncertainty over future levels of
inflation the Group uses its business
plan model to test possible scenarios
in future rent and cost
increases/decreases to manage
The Group has developed a joint
post amalgamation plan and details
of proposed savings from the
amalgamation have been submitted
to and approved by the TSA.
A new finance system is currently
being implemented to ‘go live’ in
April 2010 giving consistency in
reporting and to allow the Group to
benchmark more effectively and to
deliver future efficiencies.
Sources of Compliance
(d) Financial policies and procedures
Financial policies and procedures are well established across the Group. Progress and performance
Standing Orders and Financial
are evident. They ensure that the
continues to be monitored through the finance management team which has replaced the lead finance
Regulations have been updated to
governing body has sufficient and
team. In addition, the Group established a new Group Treasury Committee in 2008 to ensure that
reflect the amalgamation with WHP,
timely financial information to inform
adequate time, expertise and attention is provided to treasury planning on both a strategic and tactical
and the changed economic
level. This has enabled the Group to act swiftly and appropriately to protect the business in an uncertain
environment. These have already
and volatile economic environment. The Terms of Reference for the Group Treasury Committee were
been approved by the Shadow SHG
reviewed and updated in May 2009 in anticipation of the amalgamation.
Board for the new Group and will be
The Group’s Standing Orders and Financial Regulations, including delegated authorities, were fully
ratified in August 2009 after going
updated in 2007. The Group operates a detailed capital appraisal system (Proval) and complementary
A more thorough review will be
development cash forecasting system (Sequel) that uses the same assumptions that are used for
undertaken post-amalgamation to
business plans. Scheme approval authorities are detailed in the Financial Regulations.
incorporate current best practice and
This year all appraisals that involve a mix of tenures require an exit strategy to be shown in respect of all
any requirements stemming from the
sale properties so that the effects of being unable to sell properties is displayed, understood and
TSA’s standards and outputs from
managed proactively. In practice all schemes, where costs have exceeded the revised valuation, have
the broader governance review
been let on an intermediate rent basis, with a view to convert to shared ownership when the housing
scheduled for Q4 2009/10.
Accounting policies, procedures and
Also this year the Group has introduced a five year budget that provides better medium term
appraisal systems are currently
information. Many of the activities being undertaken now; expansion of Group services to service an
being aligned across the enlarged
expanding Group, most larger development schemes, and on-going improvement of services; have an
impact beyond the timescales and scope of annual budgets and partner members need to understand
The new finance system is due to be
how centrally allocated costs are likely to develop and change and to understand what services are
implemented from 01/04/10 and will
provided. The five year budget allows both Group and Partner member boards to plan more effectively.
bring a number of benefits including
The Group has a significant, externally contracted, internal audit programme that looks at compliance
more consistent reporting and a
with policies and procedures and reports to the boards through the Group Audit and Risk Committee.
sophisticated ordering and payment
In line with the NHF’s guidance on ‘Excellence in Governance’ the Group Finance Director has certified
system supported by document
to boards that, in his opinion, financial systems and reporting are adequate to allow the business to be
managed safely and prudently.
The Group Finance Director is now
responsible for the IT and Company
Secretariat functions and is
developing a new Finance Strategy
to take into account the recent
amalgamation with WHP
2. Properly Governed
a) The association demonstrates its
Parent and Partner member relationships are governed by standard Intragroup Agreements (IGA). In
The newly recruited VHA Chair
must operate according
independence by conducting its
addition an increasing number of Service Level Agreements (SLAs) are being entered into both for
Designate is expected to be
to the law and their
affairs without undue reference to or
central services and inter-subsidiary services. As a result of the amalgamation with WHP a revised IGA
appointed at the September 2009
influence by any other body, unless it
has been drafted and agreed by all boards. This is a single agreement that has been signed by all
is part of a group structure where
Partner members post amalgamation.
In May 2009 the Group Board
operating arrangements between
The Group Chief Executive, the Managing Directors and the Group Company Secretary provide ongoing
agreed to recruit two new resident
group members are documented.
support and guidance to Partner member and Parent boards. In addition, there are lead directors
members to the SHG Board.
assigned to support and assist the three Group-wide committees (Audit & Risk (GARC), Remuneration
Recruitment will take place in the
& Governance (GRGC) and Treasury (GTC)).
autumn across all residents of the
Sources of Compliance
During 2008/09, recruitment activities predominantly supported the creation of the new shadow Group
Group on a skills based approach.
and Partner member boards. Board members from the two existing parent boards (WHP & SHG) and
A succession planning process is
the two subsidiaries were invited to apply to either board. Sufficient candidates were identified through
underway for the Chairs of SHA and
this process to establish the two shadow boards, which have been meeting regularly since January
THA who are due to retire in 2010
and 2011 respectively.
A new Group membership and recruitment process was developed to recruit a Chair for the VHA Board.
A new board members’ training
A suitable candidate was identified and has joined the VHA Board in a Chair Designate capacity
programme was agreed by the
pending the retirement of the current Chair at the September 2009 AGM.
GRGC at its May 2009 meeting. This
The 12 new board members recruited in 2007/08 have undergone induction and other training and have
will be reviewed as the year
been integrated into the boards and committees upon which they serve. There are a couple of
progresses and amended if
vacancies for independent board members to the various boards in the Group but recruitment is being
necessary as a result of the annual
deferred until the governance review is undertaken post-amalgamation.
board appraisal process and the
While resident board members were successfully recruited last year, additional vacancies have occurred
and recruitment activities to fill these vacancies are currently being planned by SHA and THA.
The Group Board Membership and
Recruitment Policy was considered
by the GRGC in May 2009 (following
the publication of the new NHF Code
of Governance) and will be adopted
across the Group.
The Group Member Code of Conduct
will be reviewed in the light of the
new NHF guidance, once it has been
published later in the year. All board
members will be required to
acknowledge in writing their
agreement to adopt it.
b) Membership policies and governing
Group wide policy on board membership and recruitment exists that reflects individual Partner
body composition do not compromise
members’ varying composition and needs but providing a consistent approach to recruitment and board
they are a subsidiary of
the association’s independence
support activities to ensure that the requisite standard is maintained.
The new Parent Board is structured so that it has a majority of independent members. A new
shareholding policy for the amalgamated Parent was approved in March 2009. This limits shareholding
to the Board’s members.
Each Partner member board has one Parent board member co-optee and, in turn, co-opts one if its own
members onto the Parent Board. All Parent member boards have nomination rights on Group
committees and key working groups, such as the Group Equalities Forum.
Membership of the Partner member boards is in line with their rules.
Complying with all
c) Individual governing body members
The board member agreement for services used throughout the Group complies with the Regulatory
Induction training has been
statutory and regulatory
act in a personal capacity and not as
Code and prescribes in detail the required skills and duties of board members. It is supported by both
organised during July & August for
nominees/ representatives of any
the recently revised Board Membership and Recruitment Policy and the Board Member Code of
both new members and those that
body, unless the constitution so
are joining from WHP as Group and
Board Member induction includes a section on the duties of a board member, facilitated by an
Parent member board members.
independent adviser, to ensure that clarity exists around duties and responsibilities.
a) Effective governance
Robust recruitment activities during 2007/08 have been followed up by mandatory induction training and
The group structure will be reviewed
should be headed by an
arrangements can be framed around
other individual training events where necessary, to help develop members’ knowledge and skills base.
within 12 months with a view to
effective Board with a
the following questions
In addition, individual and Group-wide away days have been held to help develop the boards into more
further rationalisation of 2nd and 3rd
sufficient range of
• To what extent does the governing
cohesive units, being able to operate co-operatively as a team rather than as a group of individuals.
expertise - supported
body perform its key governance
Areas of individual weakness around skills or confidence have been identified and suitable support in
A full governance review will be
terms of training, coaching or attendance at conferences has been organised.
undertaken post amalgamation to
• To what extent does the governing
Following the amalgamation with WHP, collective and individual appraisals are being arranged for
ensure continued compliance with
body work well together
completion by September 2009. This process will help assess effectiveness, help review the effect of
– that will give capable
• To what extent does the governing
payment one year on from adoption as well as inform training and governance activities for the coming
A new Group wide appraisal
leadership and control
body comprise appropriate
process, that is similar to that
A number of pre-amalgamation events have been held including:
previously undertaken by WHP, has
KHV away day with presentations from the Group Chief Executive, Head of Corporate Strategy
been agreed and will be completed
Sources of Compliance
and Communications and Group Company Secretary.
by September 2009. This will allow
Group wide away day with presentations from external speakers, including Peter Marsh to
for meaningful comparison post-
promote strategic thinking at both Group and Partner member level and to help inform future
amalgamation and will inform the
broader governance review. Any
issues arising from appraisal will be
incorporated into a governance
action plan and individual plans as
b) The governing body is diverse,
The Group has taken a pro-active approach to diversity using a variety of means when recruiting, to
Revised and standardised E&D
reflecting the communities the
attract applicants from under represented groups. The recent recruitment for the VHA Chair has been
monitoring forms have been agreed
association serves, and has a range
positive in helping address under representation in the categories or gender and age on both the VHA
for residents, staff, and board
of skills, experience and up-to-date
and SHG Board. Monitoring of the applicants was undertaken with a return rate of 94%. At short-listing,
members. Monitoring of all board
half the candidates were female, one from a BME group, one a non-Christian and two well below the
members and shareholders across
average age of the Group’s existing board members.
the Group will be undertaken this
The following table provides a breakdown of the current Board Member profile:
financial year using the new data and
this will be used to help target future
Mixed: White and
Black and Black
A robust recruitment process was established for selecting the new Parent and KHV Boards. A clear
skills and experience matrix was agreed and candidates were assessed against this to ensure the best
c) Organisational and management
One of the conditions of the TSA approval to the amalgamation with WHP was that the Group should
The organisational structure review
structures reflect the association’s
undertake a full review of second and third tier subsidiaries by July 2011. Preparatory work on this is
commenced in July 2009 for
already underway and an initial options appraisal will be considered by the Parent Board in Q3 2009/10.
conclusion by July 2011.
The Senior Management structure for the new Group was agreed by all boards in November 2008. The
The Parent Board has requested that
post of Group Resources Director was dis-established and the new post of Group HR Director created.
a further review of management
The membership of the Group Management Team as at 1 July 2009 is:-
structures is undertaken prior to 1
Group Chief Executive
April 2010 to ensure that across the
Group Finance Director
Group the necessary resources are
Group Development Director
in place to deliver the Strategic Plan.
Group HR Director
Managing Director - KHV
Managing Director – SHA
Managing Director – THA
Managing Director – VHA
This structure combines strong central support with locally based customer service providers.
structure has been reviewed post inspection. The Property Services Team has been completely
restructured from 31 March 2009, with more duties transferred to SHA under a service level agreement
in order to avoid duplication in administering contracts. The new team concentrates on improved
customer care and has agreed key performance indicators to monitor the agreement.
A new decision making managers’ group has been formed within THA. Its objective is to improve
managerial effectiveness and prepare for succession planning purposes. All members of this group
have undergone a management development programme.
A number of HR initiatives have been developed in 2008/09; These include:
A performance management framework
The development and roll-out of the Management Development programme – additional modules
have been added covering change management, delegation skills and basic project management
Sources of Compliance
A proposed leadership development programme is to be developed.
d) The governing body meets
All boards meet at least 4 times a year with additional special meetings when required. They also hold
Post-amalgamation, the meeting
regularly. It ensures that the
away days to consider strategy and performance. Additionally the Parent Board has also met
schedules of all Partner members
association acts within the terms of its
specifically to consider due diligence and other issues relating to the amalgamation with WHP.
will be aligned to ensure appropriate
constitution and relevant legislation
The Group’s committees meet at least quarterly. Extra meetings have been held in the past year by the
timings exist for consideration of key
GARC and the GTC to look at issues resulting from the due diligence on WHP, from the turmoil in the
issues by all boards and committees.
financial markets and the potential impact on the Group’s treasury position.
In addition, the broader governance
Terms of Reference for all Group committees have recently been reviewed and agreed.
review and in-depth review of the
All governance and company secretarial issues are managed centrally by the Group Company
Standing Orders and Financial
Secretary to ensure consistency and compliance across the Group.
Regulations will consider these
issues. This process will be
supported and monitored by the
Group Company Secretary.
a) A code of conduct for the
Both board member and staff codes of conduct are mandatory. Both of these will be reviewed this year
A new Group wide expenses policy
must maintain the
governing body and staff, together
as part of the post-amalgamation governance review process.
for board and committee members
highest standards of
with a payments and benefits policy,
A new expenses policy for staff was considered by the GRGC in May 2009. A new policy for board
will be introduced during 2009/10.
probity in all their
is in place. Sound procurement
members is being drafted for approval in the autumn 2009.
The planned review of the Group’s
practices are in place and contractual
All members of the Group use a mixture of partnering and traditional procurement methods. Over the
Standing Orders and Financial
arrangements or partnerships with
past two years Partner members have joined in a number of Group procurement projects e.g. kitchens,
Regulations will include procurement
other bodies are clearly defined and
and are working towards closer collaboration in the future in a number of areas.
practices, and OJEU requirements.
As requested by the Audit Commission, THA
has reviewed all contracts. The main partnering contract
As part of the Group’s E&D strategy,
for responsive and void repairs with Mears has been terminated with effect from 1 April 2009 and
further work is being undertaken to
transferred to Sovereign Response. THA has a service level agreement in place with SHA to deliver all
ensure a robust approach is taken to
major works, planned and cyclical programmes on THA’s behalf using, wherever possible, SHA’s
ensuring that the Group’s contracting
existing partnership arrangements that are subject to an annual contract review. Better value has been
partners subscribe to the same E&D
achieved through the lower cost per job of £125 (fixed price) with Sovereign Response, compared with
£138 (average price) with Mears and £1,900 void cost instead of £1,937.
Acting to maintain the
b) The association maintains a key
Due to significant changes in our
good reputation of the
dialogue about its strategic objectives
The Group undertook a full review of its Strategic Plan in 2008 and made a number of changes based
external environment and resident
sector, and not bring it
with its key stakeholders
on feedback from residents and key stakeholders. A summary of this strategy was circulated to local
feedback via the Status Survey a
authority partners and other external stakeholders.
further interim strategic review will be
Across the Group, key staff are engaged with stakeholders in strategic meetings and forums. These
undertaken in 2009.
include the Regional Housing Board (SE), the NHF Board and both the NHF SE and SW Executive
All Group members will continue to
Committees and the NHF national advisory panel for home ownership.
develop links with local authority
All Partner members in the Group continue to build on their relationships with local authorities. Regular
partners and be active participants in
meetings are held with senior staff in key local authority areas as follows:
the Single Conversation with the
Housing and Communities Agency.
business so they are
West Berkshire – MD is a member of the LSP Management Board to review role, purpose, governance
and transparent to
structure and objectives.
West Berkshire – Working in partnership to deliver the CDRP strategic assessment of crime and ASB
Wokingham – Divisional Director supporting the delivery of working in partnership following a Housing
Only entering into
relationships with other
Devon Strategic Housing Partnership – joined this group with a view to becoming more active in Devon
organisations when the
wide initiatives and improve local networks
rights and obligations
are clear to all
Member of the Bristol Housing Partnership working with other associations in the area to develop
properties on their behalf and to be active participants in Bristol’s L
ollow or E
SHA holds regular meetings with its key local authority partners, notably West Berkshire, Basingstoke,
Reading, Bristol; South Gloucestershire, Plymouth and Exeter.
SHA continues to be represented on all working groups in respect of Choice Based Lettings, many
schemes are now operational in the areas where SHA works and the association has been actively
involved in the setting up, implementation and assessment of the process.
Sources of Compliance
With the proposed Hampshire stock transfer to KHV, THA’s strategy is to work only in Dorset in future,
the MD is therefore playing a key role in the work of the regular Dorset Chief Housing Officer meetings
and attending other consultation and strategic events in Dorset.
THA has also attended ad hoc meetings with Christchurch Borough Council (CBC) on the LDF process
and has given feedback on proposals for a new Dorset-wide choice based lettings scheme.
THA continues to concentrate on the redevelopment of its Somerford estate see RC 3.7(C).
CBC has started to hold RSL focus group meetings following their recent Inspection report and THA is
attending these and has stated its interest in working with CBC on strategic development.
The stock transfer from SHA to VHA of 840 homes was successfully completed in April 2008 and
satisfaction from the 2008 STATUS survey showed overall satisfaction for the transferred tenants
increasing from below 70% to 81%.
VHA regained its preferred development status with Aylesbury Vale District Council earlier in 2009 and
is committed to an ongoing dialogue over development opportunities and future management
The Managing Director is a member of the Vale Partnership. This is the LSP for the local authority
where most of the association’s stock in situated. The partnership already has a strategic plan in place,
and is beginning to focus on two particular areas of concern, social cohesion and employment and
training opportunities. VHA participates in both these groups.
VHA also participates in the Vale Community Safety Partnership, bringing together partners to co-
ordinate plans in a number of areas ranging from tackling anti-social behaviour and crime reduction to
providing alcohol referral projects, One of the latest initiatives is to continue to support and co-ordinate
local engagement to prevent violent extremism.
The MD of VHA is a member of the Oxfordshire Housing Partnership. As part of the strategic work of
this group VHA is working with local authorities and RSLs in the Oxfordshire sub region to deliver a
common Choice Based Lettings Scheme. . The system is due to go live in July 2009. (NB how residents
influence our strategy is outlined in RC 2.5)
a) Any material changes in activities
The Group operates a process whereby each Partner member produces a budget and business plan
Following completion of the
must protect public
are considered by the governing
each year which is then ratified by the Parent Board. Once approved the Partner members operate
amalgamation of SHG with WHP a
body, contained in the business plan
within the agreed parameters and are required to obtain further agreement prior to committing to
review of the Group’s strategy is to
and – where necessary – reported to
be carried out. In conjunction with
If consideration was to be given to a non social housing activity it would require approval through this
this, consideration will be given to
process and would then be reported to the TSA as appropriate.
the optimum corporate structure
As referred to in last year’s compliance statement, SHA has completed the refurbishment of its offices at
required to support achievement of
Berkshire House and has bought the housing management and client side of Property Services
the Group’s objectives. Any
together. The contract for the new Bristol Office has been agreed and construction is underway. It is
changes to the structure proposed
expected to be complete and ready for occupation by August 2009.
will be reported to the TSA as
The Group is compiling a
comprehensive Office strategy and
will ensure all offices are DDA
compliant (Refer to note 3.2 (C)).
SHA is actively marketing its surplus
office accommodation in Basingstoke
(WHP),Newbury and Bristol. Due to
difficult market conditions in the
short-term the association will be
looking to let on a short-term lease
and in the meantime to use the
space for storage and archiving.
Using their social
b) Public funding invested in the
All existing and new activities continue to be managed through the Group Risk Management process.
The Group continues to have
housing assets only for
association is protected by, and non-
The majority of the Group’s development work has been carried out through Section 106 planning
effectively no non-social housing
social housing purposes
social housing activities are managed
agreements in partnership with major volume house builders. The business has set aside £5m of
activities, since it has avoided the
within, the association’s risk
development capacity, and this is monitored by the GARC, for potential contractor/developer failure.
outright sales market.
Sources of Compliance
Individual contracts also have mechanisms for varying levels of retention to be held. The Group also
The Group has a small number of
uses a company called Exor to financially vet all suppliers including contractors architects and
market rented properties many of
Ensuring that their social
developers. We continue to monitor the Group’s exposure to individual construction companies and the
which are temporary housing having
housing assets are not
development portfolio is delivered by a wide range of contractors to mitigate the risk of contractor failure.
been identified by the asset
placed at risk by non-
The credit crunch has required the Group to make significant changes in the way it evaluates and
management programme as requiring
social housing activities
approves new development schemes. The monitoring of spare borrowing capacity and a provision for
risk against capacity for all schemes is now being monitored and approved against agreed and currently
There are no plans to change this
available borrowings. Schemes are only approved to the extent that currently agreed borrowing is
position. Following the amalgamation
available. Schemes are evaluated on the basis that for mixed tenure schemes shared ownership sales
with WHP its outright sales subsidiary
may not be possible so that cash is reserved against the scheme on the basis that shared ownership
Kingfisher Homes (Wessex) Ltd has
units may need to be converted to rent.
effectively ceased to trade, and the
Development reporting now includes, as standard, these exit strategies and housing markets are
activities of its commercial property
monitored closely using the Hometrack system which was purchased by the Group in 2008.
arm (Halcyon Property Services Ltd)
The Group Management Team (GMT) has introduced a ‘Market Intelligence’ agenda item as standard
will be examined to determine its
for its meeting so that the Group stays in touch with movements in the development, housing and
The Sovereign Development
Accountancy changes resulting from the introduction of SORP 2008 have altered the way shared
Consortium (SDC) continues to
ownership transactions are reported. Few loan agreements anticipated these changes, so monitoring
operate with only its small number of
has also been introduced to ensure that these accounting changes do not expose the Group to
framework contractors and payments
for work are made only against
During the year, three internal audits by the Group’s internal auditors, Mazars LLP, were undertaken,
externally certified certificates.
comprising Scheme Appraisal and Capacity Management, Development Procurement and Contract
The impact of SORP 2008 and
Management and Shared Ownership Sales and Marketing. All of these audits demonstrated
impairment which will be covered in
‘Substantial’ assurance as to the quality and operation of internal controls.
more detail in SORP 2010 exposes
Loan covenant compliance is continuously monitored and an external audit of loan agreements has
social housing grant to abatement.
been carried out to identify any non–financial or procedural items in the agreements that might offer
The Group’s introduction of its exit
funders the opportunity to find default and re–price.
strategy work for project appraisal is
The Group has changed its business plan modelling tool from the TradeRisks model to the Brixx model
designed to minimise and manage the
during the year to enhance its capacity for scenario modelling.
impact of impairment and will be
continued until the property market
This new capacity has already been used extensively to evaluate the potential effects of deflation and
inflation and higher borrowing costs on Group activities, to ensure commitments are contained within
levels agreed with the GTC and GARC. Levels are considered quarterly and reviewed formally
WHP’s insurance arrangements will
also be reviewed to try to bring them
within the Group’s coverage and to
The Group reported last year that following floods in 2007 in Berkshire and Oxfordshire the SHA
insurance material damage aggregate had increased from £250,000 to £1m. The Group successfully re-
ensure that no additional exposures
tendered its insurance arrangements for SHA and THA in 2008/09 and as well as achieving cost savings
SHA have managed to reduce the aggregate to £500,000.
In July 2009 the enlarged Group now
has an extensive portfolio of
Additionally a Minimum Funding Level reserve of £19m has been established which is not committed to
development but is held back against financial or operational risks or potential contractor failure.
supported housing and care services;
with over 2,400 sheltered homes, four
registered care homes, a wide range
of directly managed specialist housing
and floating support services, as well
as a substantial telecare business.
In order to ensure that the Group is
strongly positioned to deal with the
threats and opportunities arising from
this sector, a full strategic review of
care and support services is to be
undertaken in 2009/10. This will
consider: - the built environment,
service, viability, skills and customer
feedback. In response to the
changing environment for regulating
care SHA is reviewing the future of
its residential care home for the
a) The association is effectively
RC 2.3.2 outlines the Group’s involvement with its stakeholders. The information below outlines how The
must seek and be
accountable to its stakeholders.
Group responds specifically to resident’s views and priorities.
All resident information is being
responsive to residents’
Current information about its activities
reviewed in line with the rebranding
Sources of Compliance
views and priorities:
is widely available to residents and
The Group Resident Engagement Strategy (RES) was approved in January 2009. This strategy
and Orion project. This includes
other interested parties.
resident engagement within the governance framework with an emphasis on service development and
leaflets, handbooks, other
scrutiny across the Group at a strategic level. It is linked to service development and performance with
documentation and the website.
neighbourhoods or community engagement, which takes place within subsidiaries across the Group. The
The outcome of the Status Survey is
RES was developed in full consultation with residents, including a number of workshops and meetings. One
being reported to SHG’s and Partner
outcome of the consultation was the establishment of the Group Residents’ Forum.
Action plans are being developed to
The Status Survey
ensure the Groups strategic direction
In November and December 2008 a Status Survey was carried out across the Group. This was finalised
continues to meet residents’ needs
and published in April 2009. Members across the group collaborated in agreeing the questions and
and aspirations, and addresses the
methodology used, allowing for intergroup comparisons and benchmarking. The outcome of the survey
key areas of dissatisfaction and
has been published in the Summer 09 Newsletters.
future priorities. This will address
SHA’s and THA’s previous survey was undertaken in 2006 whilst VHA’s was undertaken in 2008. The
feedback from residents who
previous THA and SHA surveys were undertaken face to face and across 1,600 residents. The most
transferred from Orbit HA.
recent was a postal survey, which involved a much larger sample size; 5,300 in total where a 40%
Although a very small proportion of
response rate was achieved. It is therefore considered that the 2008 survey is a very robust and
tenants were dissatisfied with
accurate reflection of residents’ views. It is also encouraging that although postal surveys have an
services the Group will be focusing
adverse variance of up to 7%, (as advised by Priority Research who undertook the survey independently
on these areas and also looking to
of ourselves), the Group achieved improved performance in most areas. These return rates represent a
improve satisfaction ratings
sample of 20% of general needs, 38% of homeowners and 54% of supported housing residents.
generally, from neither or don’t know,
to fairly and very satisfied, aiming to
The overall satisfaction level amongst tenants with the service that they received was very good - 82%
get more ‘very satisfied’ residents in
against the sector average of 81%, with only 12% expressing dissatisfaction, the remainder being ‘don’t
knows’. VHA received high levels of satisfaction at 88%. The overall satisfaction level of SHA was
80%. This is an improvement on 2006 which was 78%. VHA’s level of satisfaction was 77%, an
improvement on the previous survey for both THA and SHA owned stock.
undertaking the following actions in
Key headlines from the Survey are
Training needs and assessments
being carried out for all involved
The general condition of any communal areas
residents to tailor training for their
The overall quality of your home
development to support SHA, its
This neighbourhood as a place to live
residents groups or the local
The general condition of any shared facilities
The general condition of this property
SHA aims to feed back to residents
The value for money for your rent
who attend activities within two
weeks of the event. Although
Satisfaction with taking residents views into account was variable between the Group, between 61% for
involvement activity is not always
VHA, 59% for THA and 55% for SHA, all within the second quartile benchmarks.
formal, the impact of involvement still
needs to be communicated. SHA
The top group priorities for the future were
shall therefore publish involvement
activity outcomes online and in
Carrying out maintenance and repairs to the home
Ongoing improvement programmes,
Through the use of the website, SHA
will update past activity with specific
Providing more affordable housing
outputs so that residents who have
Supporting residents with special needs
attended or are interested in certain
events can view a summary of what
Tackling anti social behaviour
Maintaining your neighbourhood (such as grass
SHA has set up free training and
development opportunities with
Newbury College and are looking to
TSA National conversation
make links with other colleges across
All members of the group have participated in the National Conversation at local and national events.
its operating areas. It is offering a
Participants have included resident board members, staff and residents. Additionally survey forms were
variety of flexible courses that will
sent to everyone on the Groups’ involved residents’ data base.
provide opportunities for residents to
improve their quality of life,
Resident Involvement for each subsidiary 2.5.1 and 2.5.2 and 2.5.3
qualifications and job prospects.
Whilst members of the Group are working closely together, during 2008/09 each member undertook the
following specific activities:
In Spring 2009 SHA created the post
of Employment and Training Links
Co-ordinator. The postholder’s key
role will be to scope, develop and
SHA continues to work with residents and stakeholders to find out about residents’ priorities, needs and
deliver a Sovereign employment and
Sources of Compliance
aspirations, offering a wide range of support opportunities for residents to get involved in shaping,
training links strategy and action plan
delivering and reviewing our services. This approach is in line with our strategic objective: “Making sure
which will enable residents to benefit
our homes and services improve the quality of life in people’s neighbourhoods”.
from sustainable training and
employment opportunities within the
In March 2008 SHA approved the Resident Involvement Strategy. This was updated in February 2009 to
ensure residents needs and aspirations are demonstrably at the heart of the business. The Association
business and its areas of influence,
based the revised 2009-11 strategy on a solid foundation of consultation, developed in partnership with
as well as in the areas where they
Tenant Participatory Advisory Service (TPAS), best practice research and regulation to make sure that
live. Activity will initially be focused
SHA is fully accountable and responsive to customer requirements. The revised strategy also took into
in Plymouth, Bristol and West
account residents’ feedback that the strategy should be more innovative and adaptable in its approach,
Berkshire, linking in with
reflecting not only the wide geographical and demographic variance across SHA but also tailoring its
neighbourhood investment projects
services to individual needs. SHA incorporated the suggestions into action points within the new
and working with local authorities to
Resident Involvement Strategy, these include:
help deliver their worklessness
Develop an ‘Involved Residents Network’ to support active residents to share experiences, ideas
and knowledge about their involvement;
The Group is involving its residents
Undertake a ‘training needs assessment’ for each involved resident, ensuring tailored training is
in a comprehensive response to the
offered, enabling them to support SHA involvement activities, work within the local community or
TSA on the development of the
their residents’ group;
National Standards and will be
Provide an interactive online calendar of opportunities, publicising future and past events, as well
engaging with Local Standards as
as through filtering involvement by area of interest, date or location.
Neighbourhood Feedback Events
Between April and October 2008 Property Services held five Neighbourhood Feedback Events,
involving over 500 residents. The purpose of these events was to develop a model of engagement that
focused on particular areas identified through a process of analysis. This analysis took into account
density of properties within a given area, high incidences of repair jobs raised per property, low
customer satisfaction and complaint levels. All of the Neighbourhood Feedback Events proved very
successful and led to a number of improvements in customer satisfaction:
A total of 256 households physically took part in the events with 104 repairs being completed on
the days and a further 198 jobs were raised.
50 residents requested that they would like to get more involved with improving services with
89 residents requested that they would like to be put forward for the residents reward scheme
The results indicated that on average 1.18 repairs were raised per household and that a third of the
repairs were completed on the day.
Improving neighbourhoods in 2009
In 2008/09 1,224
estate walkabouts were completed by housing officers, involving 1,711
a range of neighbourhoods. These walkabouts resulted in a number of estate issues being resolved
and repair orders being initiated.
SHA supported 25 local groups and activities, ranging from small local neighbourhood events, such as
youth engagement programmes in partnership with the police in Trowbridge to supporting a local art
project in a regeneration area in Bristol, helping to engage local children in creative workshops.
SHA worked closely with Plymouth Racial Equality Council to financially support its Housing and
Respect agenda. The support specifically help fund a case worker to provide reactive assistance in
dealing with racial incidents affecting residents.
SHA are in the process of delivering a programme of social and environmental improvements to its
homes at Barne Barton in Plymouth, in full consultation with residents. Work is underway and due to
complete in September 2009.
Improving services in 2009
Through the course of the year 4,028
residents completed service surveys which have helped SHA
shape its services to meet their needs.
policies and procedures were reviewed with direct input from residents, including Service
Improvement Panels, focus groups and surveys.
Ongoing consultations to help improve services were carried out throughout the year by SHA staff.
Helping residents to become financially included has become increasingly important. To this end, over
the past year SHA has worked closely with a number of different agencies and with residents through
service improvement panels, to come up with a range of practical initiatives to support residents to
Sources of Compliance
manage their finances and prevent them getting into debt. Examples include:
Promoting the National Housing Federation contents insurance scheme
Taking a proactive approach to rent and service charge debts through early interventions, use of
money advice leaflets, financial planning booklets, use of online benefit calculators and
participating in housing benefit verification
The development of reverse staircasing to assist shared owners in financial difficulties
Financially supporting debt advice and support agencies as well as credit unions and Citizens
Working with other associations in respect of debt management e.g. Selwood HA in West
Providing information on energy efficiency ratings for new lettings.
THA Review of Resident Involvement
In response to the Audit Commission’s Inspection recommendation that THA
improve its customer
service and resident involvement service, THA has developed new and innovative ways to involve more
residents that are representative of the resident population. Specifically, it has conducted a full review
of resident involvement, through a steering group comprising residents and staff. The steering group set
up a campaign called ‘Give us a Clue’ to research into a new structure, and residents were involved
throughout THA’s areas of operation. This campaign has been identified as good practice on the
Housing Quality Network (HQN) website.
The findings of this consultation exercise were included in a full review of THA’s approach to resident
involvement which resulted in the following main actions being agreed:
The establishment of a formal higher level tenants panel to monitor and drive improvements to
The adoption of a global Resident Involvement monitoring system from good practice
recommended by the Audit Commission.
Involved residents have increased to over 170.
All staff teams now have Resident Involvement targets.
In August 2008 the website was revised to produce clearer information for residents on all
THA has seen a 15% increase in the number of residents involved with the many initiatives,
Overall satisfaction with THA as a landlord has improved (see above re Status Survey).
THA also improved services to leaseholders in 2008/09 by:
Ensuring all new leaseholders are visited by staff to establish a relationship with THA.
Social events with leaseholders have been held to help develop relationships.
Annual insurance certificates are now issued.
A Plain English guide to leases, including a summary of the rights and responsibilities of
leaseholders, has been published.
An annual gas servicing programme is about to be introduced for leaseholders to ensure health
& safety and at their request.
Additionally the THA leaseholders’ panel has been involved in:
Drafting and published in interim, Plain English approved, leaseholders’ handbook
Revising the Leasehold Services policy, Service Charge policy and a new format for the service charge
statements to ensure that they are clear and easy to read.
Drawing up a new set of performance indicators for reporting to leaseholders.
Continued with high level estate visits where over 450 residents had the opportunity to meet the
Managing Director and her team. The feedback from residents on these visits has informed changes to
various areas of service, including communal cleaning and grounds maintenance, responsive repairs,
ASB and disabled adaptations.
Supported various community groups to the sum of £4,000. These have included £1,000 to
Christchurch’s extended schools programme to provide diversionary activities during the school holidays
where over 1,000 of our residents’ children had the opportunity to benefit from this; multi-agency
community unity day included working with the local youth; inclusion support project with children who
would otherwise have been excluded and smaller grants to various local community organisations,
Sources of Compliance
including a cooking project which benefited local young people aged between 16 and 18 who are not in
education, training or employment.
Additionally residents have been involved in service improvements as follows:
Two residents from THA and three from the VHA were trained by TPAS to carry out resident-led
inspections. In August 2008 these residents carried out a two day inspection of the repairs and
maintenance services of their opposite organisations. A full written report was received from the
residents outlining recommendations. These recommendations were used to inform the decision to
change from Mears to Sovereign Response with an in-house call centre. Feedback was given to the
resident inspectors on how their recommendations were taken up.
A steering group comprising staff and residents was set up to guide and oversee the transfer of the
responsive maintenance contract to Sovereign Response. A communication plan was informed by this
group to make sure all residents were kept up to date with progress and what to expect from the new
contract. From this, residents were kept informed at every stage and because of this the transmission
went very smoothly with least disruption to residents and no major complaints or problems
VHA has a range of way in which information to residents is provided, this includes;
Quarterly Open House newsletter
Range of leaflets
A challenge day gave residents the opportunity to ask the Group Chief Executive and subsidiary MD’s
questions in an open forum about issues ranging from changes to the TSA to issues about parking and
property allocation. Additionally residents have been involved in the following projects in 2008/09:
Local RSL conferences
Networking events with local RSL’s
In 2008/09 VHA supported 19 organisations with community grants.
• In 2008/09 VHA
residents have been involved in the following activities:-
Consultation involvement on ASB; complaints service; moving in surveys; Value for Money;
Arranging a drop-in surgery
Participating in the Disability in Focus Group
Following up suggestions from the Affordable Warmth Group
Implementing outcomes from the Maintenance Matters Group
Engaging with tenants through local forums
Holding local surgeries with the elderly residents as part of VHA’s cohesion work
Financially assisted and partook in training events with the Abingdon Citizens’ Advice Bureau as
part of VHAs financial inclusion work in the community
Additionally VHA through its Disability Access Group has taken the lead in expanding its role to provide
a district wide Disability Access Group within Vale of the White Horse DC.
VHA has undertaken a number of activities designed to build relationships within the community,
including new areas of operation in Witney and South Oxfordshire. These include:
Being instrumental in co-ordinating a new local community magazine bringing together local
media students, tenants and other stakeholders such as the local Town Council with the aim to
build and improve relationships within communities. The resultant newsletter, Abingdon Matters,
publishes information on local events and area news.
Extended the existing estate walkabout process in order to involve more tenants in estate affairs
and improve overall neighbourhood satisfaction.
Consultation with the local community about plans to redevelop some of VHA’s sheltered housing
Sources of Compliance
Involvement in local hotspots where ASB is an issue for local residents, organising youth
Joining up the work of the Disability Access Group with the local authority to extend VHA’s
influence over local community initiatives e.g. toilet provision and shop access for the disabled
Encourage the Green agenda through working with local community groups and schools to
encourage recycling e.g. Swap Shops
Extending the pride in neighbourhoods through commissioning a garden competition for tenants
throughout VHA’s wider operating area covering the whole of Oxfordshire.
Continuing the associations work with the elderly community in providing them with regular social
and wellbeing events to suit their needs.
b) Residents, housing applicants and
interests in their
others have ready access to an
In 2008/09 the Group in consultation with residents, reviewed and re-launched its complaints policy,
effective complaints and
training all staff on the procedure. The Group continues to use complaints as an opportunity to improve
compensation policy, administered
services and as a result of feedback in 2008/09, a number of local policy and procedural changes
effectively. Independent Housing
Ombudsman recommendations are
Retraining staff on issues of car parking and succession;
Better targeting of gas no access procedures;
Improved quality audit of maintenance works;
Joint site visits and follow up check visits with residents to monitor cleaning or grounds
Prepaid satisfaction surveys regarding cleaning, to be done at the time cleaning takes place to
enable THA to have an up to date view of quality and tackle any delivery issues.
New procedures were introduced for requests to disclose personal information held about
residents, to accord with the Data Protection Act.
Improved communication with residents in respect of gas repairs.
Improved information to leaseholders about lease obligations in respect of fair wear and tear and
items left in properties to avoid compensation claims from owners when leases expire and
properties are handed back.
Enhanced Inspections of leasehold properties to ensure repairs and defects are reported
The property offer letter and the information provided about housing benefit have been updated
at sign-up to avoid residents losing housing benefit at the start of a tenancy
Satisfaction with complaints
complaints procedure is aligned with SHA’s, although the relatively small number of complaints
reflects the small number of customer facing services provided at Group level. In 2008/09 SHG
received 30 complaints, an increase of only 7% over 2007/08, when 28 were received. The Status
Survey carried out in November 2008 indicated that 68% of residents were satisfied with the Group’s
The information below shows complaints data by subsidiary. The low number progressing to Stage 2
and 3 indicates that the vast majority of complaints are resolved at an early stage.
SHA will be addressing the root
In 2008/09 we received 377 compliments and 383 complaints, an increase of 40% in complaints
cause of the increase in complaints,
compared with 2007/08. This increase is in part due to SHA encouraging feedback and recording all
learning from mistakes and
complaints, email, verbal, by letter etc. The increase also coincided with the re-launch of the complaints
amending policies, procedures and
procedure. Of the 377 complaints, 205 were upheld at an average cost per complaint of £26.14. Less
behaviours accordingly. An action
than 2% of complaints progressed to Stage 2 in 2008/09 and only 0.5% of cases progressed to Stage
plan will be developed that also
3. Two complaints panels were held by SHA. One complaint was found to be justified by the panel
addresses the issues arising from
regarding a training request for an involved resident and the other, how SHA had dealt with anti social
the Status Survey.
behaviour, was found to be not justified. This prompted a review of resident training and how resources
are allocated to ensure it was equitable and transparent.
90 complaints were received in 2008/09, a decrease of 29 compared with 2007/08. Of these, 23 were
upheld at an average cost per complaint of £36.41. 6% of complaints progressed to Stage 2 in 2008/09
and only one case progressed to Stage 3. The complaint was referred to the Housing Ombudsman in
2008/09, and related to the allocation of a neighbouring property and a transfer application. The Housing
Sources of Compliance
Ombudsman found no maladministration and that THA had acted in accordance with its transfer policy.
The Ombudsman also found that THA had dealt with complaints of antisocial behaviour in accordance
with its antisocial behaviour policy.
78 complaints were received in 2008/09. Of these 21 were upheld at an average cost per complaint of
£12.17. 5% of complaints progressed to Stage 2 in 2008/09 and no cases progressed to Stage 3.
VHA’s Compensation policy is to be
reviewed in 2009/10.
Giving residents and
c) The association considers a range
The Group works closely with residents to enable them to sit at the heart of the business at a strategic level
The 2008 Status Survey identified
of methods and opportunities to
and ensure accountability across key service areas. Involvement opportunities in 2008/09 included
the ways in which residents prefer to
consult and obtain feedback from
consultation and collaboration on Group communication, Group policy and procedure review, Sovereign
be contacted. This information will
comment on their
residents. It seeks to make an
Development Consortium and Group equality and diversity review. Additionally resident involvement is
be used, together with other
agreement, developed in partnership
embedded within SHG’s peer review process. See attached document on performance review and
feedback, to enhance
with residents, setting out how they
continuous improvement for further details.
communication and feedback at a
will be involved, consulted and
informed and how this will be
In 2009/10 the Group will be
resourced, measured, monitored and
The Resident Involvement Strategy and the action plan outlines the commitment made to residents to
updating its website to ensure it is
inform them how SHA will provide feedback and enable them to be part of the improvement agenda for
increasingly user friendly and
interactive. It will be tailored to meet
SHA has produced a ‘Guide to Getting Involved’ which outlines over 23 different ways for residents to
the needs of residents, staff, senior
engage with SHA to help improve services.
management and stakeholders,
involving them in the process of
design and delivery.
THA has reviewed its whole approach to Residents Involvement, as detailed at 2.5(a) above. In addition
it has increased the use of residents’ panels in response to residents’ preference for this method of
SHA has identified the need to
consultation and feedback.
improve opportunities for residents to
be part of the decision-making
process; to be more accountable,
VHA offers a range of resident involvement methods including surveys, resident editorial team,
transparent and open to scrutiny. As
maintenance matters group, affordable warmth steering group, disability access group and leaseholder
part of the ‘Guide to Getting
meetings. It has also established a residents group in Witney to address specific needs of the newly
Involved’, SHA has set out a range of
ways that residents can be more
All tenant forums have signed up to a new Constitution and Code of Conduct and changed the focus of
involved in how SHA does things, for
the meetings to be more interactive with clear direction from residents on specific issues.
support for resident board
focus groups to explore services,
which are delivered as part of
by taking part in a selection panel
for maintenance products,
components or contractors; and
In 2009/10 this approach will be
rolled out across SHA and training
provided to all front line officers in
ways to get involved.
The actions arising are given at
are rolling out PDA’s to
operatives to gather satisfaction
information at the point of work
complete and improve resident
A gap analysis of Resident
Involvement interaction is to take
place and where applicable new
groups will be targeted.
Sources of Compliance
Enabling residents to
d) Where they so wish, residents are
play their part in
supported, enabling them to obtain
Through a wide range of resident involvement activities SHA actively supports residents to develop
the knowledge and skills to play an
skills, knowledge and experience. Over the last year this has included;
effective part in investment in, and
Financial support to individual residents for course fees, transport, care and support needs and
management of, their homes and
neighbourhoods. They are
Piloting a lifelong learning partnership with Newbury College and Bristol Colleges.
encouraged and supported to explore
Supported Neighbourhood Investment projects in Newbury, Plymouth and Bristol.
Over the past year SHA also supported a wide range of community and voluntary groups through its
Community Fund Grant including:
Support to 25 local groups and activities, ranging from small local neighbourhood events, such as
youth engagement programmes in partnership with the police in Trowbridge to supporting a local
for residents to explore,
art project in a regeneration areas in Bristol helping to engage local children in creative
and play their part, in
how services are
SHA worked closely with Plymouth Racial Equality Council to financially support their Housing for
managed and provided
Respect agenda. The support specifically help fund a case worker to provide reactive assistance
in dealing with racial incidents affecting our residents.
Help for a residents group to participate in an IT laptop project and help to support a film project
called Pass It On by West Berkshire Council.
SHAs new and emerging communities.
Where new large scale communities are being built, neighbourhood investment staff now work
alongside housing management to ensure that residents moving into the new homes are encouraged to
become involved in the way that the area is managed and how services are provided to them to ensure
that they become connected to the surrounding community, infrastructure and services.
At Wichelstowe in Swindon, where the credit crunch has forced private developers to delay building,
work has been done to ensure that those residents moving into completed affordable homes do not feel
isolated and can start to build an identity, even though they could potentially be surrounded by building
sites for the next few years. Funding has been provided to a community group that is supporting the
area and they will be providing services which meet the needs of residents, particularly activities like
toddler groups and computer clubs, which will bring people together.
At Beechfields in Torquay and Hanham Hall in Bristol (see RC3.7d for further details), staff are working
to develop management models which will reflect the environmental standards of these large new
developments. The very nature of the schemes means that long term stewardship of the communities is
vital in order to maintain low carbon impact. Residents will be encouraged to monitor energy
consumption and establish communal ways to live such as car sharing, composting, food production
and local buying which minimise their eco footprint. The way in which the homes function and are
managed will require a certain level of 'buy-in' so work is being done now to ensure that systems are in
place to allow this to happen seamlessly. At Hanham Hall, in the long-term, a 'trust' will own and
manage the two developments, and Sovereign is leading on the establishment of this body alongside
Barratts, the developers and the HCA.
THA has revised its resident expenses policy to clarify what type of expenses are payable and to pay
claims earlier to avoid financial hardship. Residents are also required to provide feedback to other
residents if they claim expenses to attend training or other events.
THA has sent residents, at their request, on training courses for committee and chairing skills; life skills
courses in cooking and decorating; and budgeting and green issues.
At the annual residents and leaseholders conference 15 THA residents were offered taster sessions on
Cooking on a shoe-string
Basic computer skills
Managing your money
In January 2009 five residents attended Mears’ decorating workshop. A comprehensive skills day was
undertaken by the residents including the following:
Different types of equipment and their uses.
Using fillers and emulsion.
Types of paint and their finish.
Cutting in and masking tape.
Roller and brush technique.
Sources of Compliance
These sessions were intended to give residents skills and confidence to keep their homes in good
In March THA worked with Dorset Adult Education to provide 12 residents with training on ‘Planning an
Event’ under the skills for life initiative. The residents trained are able to use the skills learned both in a
community and personal capacity. This training was at no cost to the association as it was Government
funded for people under GCSE level. A similar course is booked for July 2009 to assist with financial
inclusion called ‘Managing Your Money’.
VHA has provided training and information to tenant forums on a range of subjects including community
As part of its new resident
transport and upkeep of footpaths and roads, to enable them to better influence improvements.
involvement database VHA will be
VHA promoted and organised events for 16 residents and attended two National Conversation events.
gathering training needs information
per resident and will use this to form
In 2008/09 VHA spent £1,600 on community grants for people wanting to make a difference to
communities including youth diversion activities, Grovelands shopper bus, environment improvements.
part of the revised resident
involvement strategy. VHA will also
VHA has increased grant application level by 33% per project.
be undertaking focus group training.
VHA residents are invited to take part in estate walkabouts. These are advertised in Open House and
we piloted direct mail in one area to increase attendance
a) Any areas where the need for
must deal with the
improvement is identified are
Regular meetings have been held with the TSA and the HCA since they were established to develop
THA has completed its Inspection
Corporation in open and
considered by the governing body
positive working relationships as well as to keep them informed about group structure, developments
Action Plan and has sent details and
and actions agreed with the
relating to WHP and the SDC, and the financial impacts of the credit crunch, etc.
met with the TSA to discuss
notifying any anticipated
progress. This section remains on
or actual breach of the
amber as the Inspection Action Plan
Code or anything that
THA informed the Housing Corporation of a breach of the Regulatory Code in relation to disposal of
has yet to be signed off by the TSA.
might significantly affect
leases and SHG informed the HC immediately and obtained retrospective consents for all the affected
association’s ability to
properties. To reduce the risk of this breach being repeated SHG has completed a series of actions.
fulfil their obligations
New solicitors were appointed and training on property disposals and consents was organised for all
under the Code.
managers across the Group. THA also appointed new solicitors.
THA has reported to the TSA on progress with the Decent Homes extension granted by the Housing
Corporation on August 2007 in respect of 192 properties on the Somerford estate.
b) Annual and other returns are made
All returns are submitted on time, responsibility for filing being centralised with the Group Company
promptly to the Corporation
a) The association is fair in its
Monitoring of shareholders, board
must demonstrate, when dealings with people, communities
In May 2008 the Parent Board approved a new Equality and Diversity Strategy and Gender Equality
members, staff and residents is to be
carrying out all their
and organisations with which it has
Statement with corresponding actions, to ensure specific compliance with Circular 10/07 and GPN 8. A
expanded and enhanced using newly
relationships and takes into account
Group Equalities Forum (GEF) has been created to specifically challenge and review performance
commitment to equal
the diverse nature of their cultures
against the Group Equality and Diversity Action Plan. The GEF has representation from board members
Links to the new Group Residents
opportunity. They must
and key members of staff. All Partner members have been charged with implementing their parts of the
Forum (GRF) are to be established
work towards the
Strategy under the overall guidance of the GEF which is chaired by the Group Chief Executive.
and E&D training provided.
Additionally a Group Disability Forum made up of residents from each of the subsidiaries has been set
Awareness of the Single Equality Bill
up to advise and influence issues in relation to disability.
is being disseminated throughout the
Each Partner member within the Group has a Board Champion for Equality and Diversity who is also a
Group to ensure that Board
equitable approach to
member of the GEF.
members and staff are aware of the
the rights and
Significant progress has been achieved particularly in the following areas:-
responsibilities of all
Introduction of Equality Impact Assessments (EIA’s) when considering all new policies across the
At THA, terms of reference for the
individuals. They must
E&D Forum have been agreed and
promote good relations
Roll out of new training courses on Equality and Diversity for board members and staff, including
recruitment of residents is underway,
between people of
specialist training on EIA’s.
as is a communication plan and a
different racial groups.
Agreement on a standard format for collecting Equality and Diversity information from residents,
resident led advocacy scheme to
staff and board members.
support any, but particularly
Agreement on standard performance monitoring reports in respect of resident services and staff
vulnerable residents, to access
recruitment and retention.
Each Partner member has their own Equality Action Plan and these are being monitored by their Local
The outcome of Equality Impact
Equalities Group, which also have resident input. The GEF has overall responsibility for monitoring
Assessments will be assessed on an
Sources of Compliance
progress against these various Action Plans.
ongoing basis and will influence
policy and procedural changes as
Customer profile data will continue to
Since Inspection, THA has prioritised the collation of fully comprehensive data on the individual needs of
be developed, analysed and used to
residents, including information on sexual orientation and religion. A temporary resident profile research
officer has been employed to ensure that the data is collected in a much shorter timescale than
70% of THA
residents have completed a questionnaire in response to two postal surveys and other data
collection methods. This is a very important project for THA and renewed efforts are being made to
obtain the remainder of the information, involving all front line staff, actions include:
The use of all resident forum meetings to explain the reasons behind the surveys, and to get
more questionnaires completed;
Using home visits and cold calling when officers are in the vicinity.
All visitors to reception are also asked to complete the questionnaire.
Evening sessions when staff volunteers phone residents.
Full analysis of the data will take place in August 2009, however initial work shows that THA has a:
High disabled demographic profile.
The majority of residents are white / British.
The main language spoken by residents is English.
There are more females than males.
Most residents are of a Christian religion.
The majority are heterosexual.
Services to disabled residents have been much improved since Inspection. A disabled service user
forum has been established to scrutinise the approach to aids & adaptations and to drive through
changes. THA has improved information to disabled residents on their legal rights.
THA now attends Dorset Social Services Occupational Therapist (OT) meetings and this has speeded
up the processing of DFG and THA applications for Aids & Adaptations (A&A).
THA visits residents jointly with the OTs to assess individual needs. A register is kept of all A&A
requests which are monitored against timescales. A&A works are now discussed with residents by the
contractor before the work is done to ensure that all of their needs are met. A&A are advertised to the
attention of targeted groups of residents and this has encouraged greater take-up.
has redesigned the literature sent to residents on disabled adaptations with more emphasis on
residents’ statutory rights under relevant legislation, in conjunction with the disabled service user forum.
As residents are involved in shaping the disabled adaptations service this is now more tailored to meet
b) The governing body has adopted
See 2.7a above.
SHG’s monitoring of shareholders, board
an equality and diversity policy that
SHG’s Equality and Diversity Strategy includes all diversity groups.
members, staff and residents is being
covers all aspects of equalities and
papers produced for management board highlight specific issues relating to Equality and
expanded and enhanced using the newly
includes race, religion, gender, marital
agreed data collection format.
status, sexual orientation, disability or
Specifically in relation to black and
minority ethnic (BME) people, the
policy incorporates targets
associations should set in the
are proportionate to BME
All members of the Group
housing need or census data where
Lettings are monitored through the E&D Forum to ensure that lettings data in relation to BME housing
continue to monitor lettings using
this information is deficient, in the
need is understood and reflects discussion with LA’s over local needs.
CORE to identify diversity of
area where the association has
SHA lettings to BME households continue to be above the benchmark of 8.79% (this is a weighted
applicants. The impact of CBL on
homes. An association specialising in
target, based upon the census) at 11.12% with Exeter, Plymouth, Bristol and Reading being significantly
lettings will be assessed and Group
particular client groups establishes
above benchmark. Performance in West Berks, Basingstoke and Deane and East Devon has been
members will be raising any issues
different targets based on ethnicity
below benchmark. It should be noted that Choice Based Lettings (CBL) processes have had a different
of under representation with
data available for such groups.
impact and outturn which make targets difficult to manage.
particular nominating local
Sources of Compliance
22% of all lettings went to households with some form of disability, with 3.5% being allocated to people
needing wheelchair accommodation.
For the first time in 2008/09 THA monitored lettings by the number of BME tenants allocated a property.
THA can now identify not only the number of lettings made to BME households, where at least one of
will set new BME and other
the tenants is BME, but also the actual number of BME tenants these lettings represent.
E&D related lettings targets once it
During 2008/9 3.6% of THA’s lettings were to people from BME backgrounds, with 25% being to those
has completed the resident
residents with a disability and 4.6% who needed wheelchair accommodation. Lettings targets were
demographic profile exercise.
exceeded in four of the six local authority areas where THA works
Lettings will then be monitored and
reported against these new targets.
Dorset CC has started a BME profile
During 2008/09 5.8% of VHA’s new lets were to people from BME backgrounds. This meant they were
exercise, to give a breakdown by
two lets short of meeting the target. It was decided that the target of 6.5% should remain the same as
local authority area, which will also
VHA’s new local authority partner, Aylesbury Vale, has a similar BME profile.
feed into THA’s targets once
19.4% of lettings went to people with a disability and 2.6% to those needed wheelchair accommodation.
2. Tenant satisfaction
is at least as
The 2008 Status Survey noted that the sample size was small in respect of the BME return and
The Group is concerned about the
high as for non-BME tenants
therefore care should be taken in interpreting results. Nevertheless the survey revealed that BME
lower levels of satisfaction amongst
residents were less satisfied with services (75.3% satisfaction) compared to overall SHG satisfaction
BME residents and will be taking
rates of 82%.
action to understand and address
The Status Survey showed people with a long term illness or disability are more satisfied with services
issues of concern, targeting areas
with satisfaction levels at 84.4%.
where dissatisfaction is most
prevalent taking into account the
demographic profiling information.
Satisfaction levels will continue to be
monitored. The introduction of
quarterly Status Surveys during
2009/10 will be one means of doing
3. Dealing effectively with racial
: the association
has enhanced board
and senior management monitoring of incidences of racial harassment and
establishes targets for reporting,
has developed increased scrutiny of case management at a senior level.
victim support and satisfaction, and
SHA continues to manage racial harassment within a Hate Crime framework, monitoring cases and
action taken against perpetrators
providing support to residents alongside action against perpetrators. Enhanced security options are
available to protect victims of racial and domestic violence in their home, in particular participating in
“safer spaces” initiatives with local authorities.
THA has revised the performance information to its Board e.g. to give closer monitoring of ASB
THA has a victim support procedure in place with a budget which includes practical assistance such as
enhanced security measures.
is taking action to understand
the low return of 8% in respect of our
VHA has a clear racial harassment procedure and recorded two incidents of racially motivated
harassment which were both resolved.
satisfaction forms and will devise a
plan to increase responses
particularly from BME residents.
4. Governing body membership
Governing body membership reflects the BME profile of its area of operation. In practice this means
The Group will continue to strive to
proportion of BME new appointments
that there is BME board membership on the Boards of SHG, SHA and THA. (
see data in 2.2b above)
attract members from BME and
and re-appointments to the governing
other diverse backgrounds
body is the same as under Lettings
advertising widely for members.
Sources of Compliance
: new appointments and
For the Group as a whole the ethnic composition of the staff broadly reflects the communities that it serves.
The GEF will continue to monitor
promotions achieve the same levels
The detailed breakdown is outlined below.
recruitment and turnover statistics
of representation, at all levels of the
during the year and will take action
organisation, as under the application
of the ‘Lettings’ criteria
10.13% of staff are from BME groups (6.33% have not declared their ethnic origin). Of 24 appointments
In offices with low staff turnover SHA
made in the year, 9.09% of appointments were from BME group (12.5% of applicants did not declare
is looking to engage the services of
their ethnic origin).
local agencies to advise and assist in
From the 24 appointments made in the year, 75% were female, 58.33%% were under 40 years old and
service delivery e.g. in respect of
4.17% appointed were aged 55 or above. 8.33% of appointments declared a disability.
working with the local Somali
population in Bristol.
7.47% of staff are from BME groups which is slightly below census (6.04% of employees have not
declared their ethnic origin). Of 41 appointments made in the year, 2.70% of appointments were from
BME groups (9.76% of applicants did not declare their ethnic origin). 43.90% were female, 37.5% were
under 40 years old and 5% appointed were aged 55 or above (2.43% of applicants did not declare their
age/DOB). 0% of appointments declared a disability. In response to the statistics above SHA took
positive action to recruit BME staff, through targeted advertising. This recruitment is currently ongoing.
7.69% of staff are from BME groups (0% of employees have not declared their ethnic origin). Of the
eight appointments made in the year, 0% were from a BME group, 62.5% were female applicants, 50%
were under 40 years old and 12.5% were aged 55 or above. 0% of appointments declared a disability.
1.6% of staff are from BME groups (1.6% of employees have not declared their Ethnic Origin). Of the 18
appointments made in the year, 0% were from a BME group, 44% were female, 56% were under 40
years of age and 5% were aged over 55. 0% of appointments declared a disability.
6. Representation in tenants/residents
is committed to providing opportunities for involvement to residents across the Group.
: reflects the ethnic mix of
the association’s tenants in the
Within this context
SHA carefully monitor and reviews its activities, encouraging under represented
20% of residents who consider themselves to have a disability participated in activities last year
which exceeds the SHA profile
7% of involved residents are from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background.
THA has 3% BME involvement against the previous target of 2%, representing an upward trend.
5% of VHA residents who attended resident forums were from a BME background.
7. Employment performance of
suppliers, contractors and
The Group requires suppliers, consultants and contractors to be accredited through a specialist
as a criterion for award of
company called Exor. This company not only assesses financial viability but ensures that the Group’s
work or contracts and a condition of
policies on equalities and diversity are applied. In addition E&D is a standard item for discussion on the
doing business, associations should
agenda of all meetings with contractors.
pass on requirements in respect of
Additionally Partner members have frameworks for contractors and employers agents which have
staffing, customer satisfaction and
specific KPIs and annual reviews which address BME issues relating to employment and dealing with
dealing with racial harassment to their
consultants, contractors and
The Group developed a new Corporate Strategy during 2008/09 and a new Risk Map was compiled
a) The association’s risk management
based on this strategy and approved by the GARC and adopted by all boards.
The Group intends to use its risk
must operate a
framework highlights key risks and
The Clearview system – which is a strategic management system, has been introduced, providing a
scoring system to evaluate major
how they are to be managed
much clearer link between strategic actions and risk. All senior staff have been trained in its use.
development and operational
effectively identifies and
Each risk is referenced to a corporate objective in the Strategy and a ‘Risk Owner’ identified. The Risk
projects so that a comprehensive
Owner is the person who has responsibility for its controls operated by the Group to mitigate the Risk.
and dynamic view of Risk Exposure
Sources of Compliance
For the first time this year risks are scored for Impact and Probability and a composite score attributed to
can be developed. This will be used
the risk. This allows risks to be ranked in order of severity and for ‘key risks to be identified. Not
to inform the setting of a Risk
surprisingly in the light of the uncertain economic climate key risks to the Group are primarily financial.
Appetite for the Group.
The internal audit programme is targeted at ‘key risk ‘controls and areas where controls require
Each quarter the GARC now receives a summary of all risks together with a report from the Risk Owner
of each key risk, (usually the top 10) certifying that controls are being maintained or enhanced as
agreed. This procedure was introduced in 2008/09.
Membership of the GARC was reviewed and changed during the year in line with new guidelines for
boards and committees. The new committee has received training in the year including the relationship
between risks and internal audit and in using internal audit to test and improve risk control.
The Committee uses the Risk Scoring to inform its decisions on Capacity Reserved against Risk, and in
agreeing Minimum Funding Levels with the Group Treasury Committee (see Future action for comments
on Risk Appetite).
Each subsidiary reviews the risk map at management and officer level.
Identifying all major risks b) The governing body regularly
The Group has a formal approach to strategic planning which is detailed in a Protocol which forms part
On an annual basis the Strategic
that might prevent them
reviews activities and policies and all
of the Intragroup Agreement (IGA).
Plan is reviewed and updated as
new business decisions and there is a
A Steering Group is established to manage the process and Away Days arranged for all Group boards
appropriate to ensure that it
clear case for the proposed or
and GMT to set a framework and parameters.
responds to changes in the external
existing direction of the association
The Combined Strategy Team is actively involved in the preparation of the detail and members of staff
environment, and that these changes
are consulted during the process before the revised strategy is put forward to boards for consideration.
are properly quantified in the Group
An interim strategy review was undertaken during 2008/9 and a new plan adopted by the Group in
WHP is viewed as a very good
The Strategic Plan is the basis for the 30 year Business Plan which is provided to the TSA and the
strategic fit with SHG and
Group’s funders. This Business Plan provides the main operational controls against which the Group
complements its existing strategy. To
measures its performance. The Group Business Plan is supported by various operational plans that are
support the amalgamation the
the responsibility of individual named Directors. These action plans are regularly reviewed by the
Business Plan, incorporating WHP,
Managing Directors through team meetings and one-to-one’s and monitored by the GMT.
has been reworked and submitted to
the TSA along with a detailed action
plan and proposed savings resulting
from the amalgamation. On the basis
As with previous strategies, Partner members are required to produce their own action plans, identifying
how they will support the Group objectives. Sovereign HA’s Management Board held an away day on
of this information the TSA have
29 October 2008 to review the Group Strategy in detail and to consider the main goals and activities
approved the amalgamation.
SHA should be carrying out over the next three years to support the delivery of the Group’s strategic
The Wessex/Sovereign Integration
aims. The revised strategic Action Plan was approved by SHA’s Board in December 2008.
Action Plan will go to the Group
Board for approval on 6 August
The delivery of the Action Plan is reviewed by the SHA management team quarterly, and updates, which
identify progress towards meeting agreed targets, are also provided to SHA’s Board on a quarterly
2009. It will then be submitted to the
An updated Group Strategy will
be produced for approval by the
Boards’ in November 2009. The new
The THA strategy and action plan is derived from the Group Strategic Plan 2008-11. Additionally THA’s
Board closely monitors progress on the Somerford redevelopment and makes all expenditure decisions.
Group Residents Forum will be
involved in this review.
THA’s Board has monitored progress against the Audit Commission Inspection Action Plan approving all
of the detailed actions arising from the plan relating to
THA’s approach to gas servicing;
Value for Money (VFM) report
asbestos information for residents and contractors;
on service cost and performance
10 year electrical testing programme;
was submitted to its Board in
reviewing a range and measurement of customer service standards & THA’s approach to E&D;
September 2008. THA is taking the
management of aids and adaptations service;
lead in producing a VFM strategy for
the management of maintenance contracts;
the Group. The draft strategy is
void property lettings standard out of hours hotline,
under consultation, with a target to
value for money and
be reviewed by GMT in August 2009
Quarterly Board performance information.
and Group boards in October 2009.
THA’s new operational management structure was approved by the GMT in March and implemented in
The VHA is working through its action plan, approved in November 2007. The main themes are to
sustain the existing high service levels; improve governance; review the future provision of retirement
Sources of Compliance
homes and services to the elderly; to achieve the transfer of 840 homes from SHA and increase
satisfaction rates; to raise the profile in the local community and to expand development potential.
VHA’s Board has received regular updates on the progress in delivering these aims and objectives. All
objectives have substantially been met.
With the necessary
c) Approved terms of reference for the
Revised Standing Orders and Financial Regulations are in place and have been updated to reflect the
A full review of the Standing Orders
governing body and other committees
amalgamation with WHP. These include a comprehensive delegations matrix which specifies the level of
and delegations will be undertaken in
manage risks and
and delegated authorities for staff are
delegated authority to the Partner member boards, Group committees and Group Management Team.
Q4 2009 to tie in with the
implementation of the new finance
d) There are internal controls
Internal controls are defined in Standing Orders and the Group Financial Regulations and supplemented
WHP currently uses the same
systems. The effectiveness is
by the Policies and Procedures of the Group.
internal auditors, Mazars LLP, as the
regularly reviewed by the governing
The Group has appointed a single internal auditor for the Group from 2008/09 so that controls and
Group. The 2 audit programmes for
body and reported in the annual
effectiveness across the Group are being measured by a common standard. The internal audit
2009/10 have already been aligned
programme tests the effectiveness of the internal controls and the results of these audits and agreed
to allow the quality of each area of
actions are formally acknowledged by the boards and reviewed by the GARC each quarter.
internal control to be assessed
Each Group Management Team (GMT) Director produces an Assurance Statement each year for the
consistently across the enlarged
area under their control and the Group Chief Executive provides an overarching statement. These
statements are considered by the GARC with statements from the internal auditors and GTC and
Both the Group and WHP use the
Management letters from the external auditors before the GARC produces its annual statement for the
same risk advisers, Hargreaves Risk
Group’s boards. These statements are contained in supporting documentation to demonstrate
and Strategy (HRS). HRS has
compliance with Circular 07/07.
established lists of best practice
These statements are complemented by the key risk owners certification which the Committee receives
controls against individual risks. The
quarterly, (see 2 8 a).
Assistant Director of Audit and Risk
In line with the recommendation in the National Housing Federation Code of Governance – ‘ Excellence
will work with Group staff during
in Governance‘ 2009 the Group Finance Director provided boards with assurance on the adequacy of
2009/10 to audit the quality of the
financial and management reports. This assurance is provided in the Annual Statement of the Group
enlarged Group’s controls against
the best practice lost and to identify
and close gaps.
A Fraud Register is maintained and reviewed by the GARC each quarter. There have been no reported
instances of fraud in 2008/09.
(NB see also RC1.1 and 1.1.2(D) regarding financial controls which address risk management issues).
3. Properly Managed
a) Rents are set in accordance with
Partner member rents are set in accordance with the rent restructuring formula; however, in some
must set rents move
the rent restructuring formula
cases combined rent & service change increases were restricted where it was felt that the application of
towards target social
the full increase would cause undue hardship following a high September 2008 RPI.
rents and are, on
average, below those in
the private sector for
similar properties and
which reflect size,
property value and local
b) All residents have information
All Partner members send residents
an annual letter containing details of rent increases together with
about their landlord’s rent policy and
information on service charges where applicable.
A strategy is in place to allow optimum service charge
rent levels across the association’s
recovery over a five year period. However it is recognised that even applying the full rate of
stock and in the relevant local
convergence permitted under the rent restructuring rules, it will not be possible to get all properties to
authority areas. All residents have
target rent within the timescales.
information about their service
charges including costs that their
charges cover, how charges are
Phase 2 of f the service charge project has progressed as planned. This year information was presented
budgeted and increases calculated.
in a more visual format using graphs, and service charge information has been provided to residents in
houses for the first time. SHA processes have been improved to match cost and income on fixed service
charges. The gap between service cost and income has reduced again in 2008/09. In 2008/09 SHA’s
cleaning and grounds maintenance contracts were reviewed with a view to minimise costs to residents.
Sources of Compliance
THA was unable to transfer the service charge data onto Academy, the housing management IT
system, to improve the efficiency of the process. However it was still able to provide residents with
comparative information on their rent level, by local authority and property type. The gap between
service cost and income has reduced again in 2008/09 and all service charges are detailed to residents,
with charges and refunds being applied as part of the annual review process
a) The governing body receives
Please note this section is supported by a separate document outlining SHG’s approach to Service
must have management
regular reports on all areas of the
Delivery Performance and Continuous Improvement as requested in the Guidance Note for the SACS
association’s performance. The
submission 2009. The narrative below details how performance is managed at the strategic level.
resources, skills and
association benchmarks its
systems which are
performance against other
appropriate to their
associations and organisations.
has made significant progress during the year in delivering its Group Strategic Plan 2008-11
(GSP), with regular updates provided to the Parent Board.
The Group will continue to refine its
and scope of operation,
Arising from the revised group Standing Orders, the Group has established a Group Operations Forum.
approach to performance monitoring
and ensure that their
Chaired by SHA’s Managing Director and comprising the other Managing Directors of the Group
in the light key business drivers
supported by the Group Performance Director.
including TSA and local authority
Its role is to
1. Establish a service ‘vision’ for the Group
2. Co-ordinate customer services activities across the Group
3. Share best practice between the associations.
4. To routinely identify best practice in customer service, and to work with the Performance Team
in producing standardised policy and practice, to ensure greater operating efficiency.
The latter aims are being delivered through the Orion Project. See 3.3 below and supporting
THA revised its quarterly performance reports to its board in September 2008, following consultation
with board members about what information was of most value and usefulness to them. The new report
includes full benchmarking and trends information and a traffic light system to identify variance against
Annual reports have also been provided to THA’s Board giving more detailed information on planned
maintenance, complaints, allocations and lettings, evictions, and staffing.
b) All lettings and sales are recorded
SHG undertakes sales for all Group members and details are recorded on CORE.
in the Continuous Recording of letting
SHA, THA and VHA record all lettings on CORE digital.
c) Services can be demonstrated to
All members of the Group have achieved Quality Housing Service (QHS) accreditation.
In 2009/10 Sovereign will be
efficiently and effectively
be relevant and accessible to
embarking on and delivering a
number of group wide projects to
QHS accreditation was achieved by THA in 2008/09. The accreditation says that the following services,
further improve access and customer
which cover from the moment a person seeking housing makes first contact with an association, to the
care. In particular the introduction of
time that they terminate their tenancy, are delivered to an excellent quality standard:
a new branded interactive website
Opening and reception
that will offer 24/7 repair reporting
and monitoring of hits on the
Information and documentation
website. The Group will also be
making better use of resident
profiling information, tailoring
services to specific needs.
Estate services (including ASB)
On joining the Group, KHV is now
included in the emergency call
Equality & diversity
The enlarged Group including WHP
has an extensive portfolio of older
Additionally VHA has Charter Mark accreditation for excellence in service delivery.
persons housing with over 2,400
Sources of Compliance
All documents are available in audio and large print and other languages. Other accessibility features
sheltered homes, together with two
such as hearing loops and translation services are widely publicised and offered to residents.
care homes and a range of
As part of the ‘Orion’ project (see attached document) the Group has developed its own service
supported specialist housing. Given
the importance of these services, a
standards specifically addressing Access and Customer Care as a distinct function. Within this VHA
has developed standards to address:
full service review is planned
Office strategy and facilities (see also 2.4).
following the amalgamation to cover
Accessibility to services, including DDA compliance.
care, supported housing and elderly
Customer access and customer care standards.
persons services across the group,
The website (see also RC 2.5).
Tailored communication with customers taking into account their needs and preferences.
The medium term future for
SHA has rolled out the mobile working and dynamic scheduling system in the Bristol area.
What services need to be
expanded or contracted; what
THA has transferred its responsive repairs and voids contract from Mears to Sovereign Response
(SHA’s DLO), with full resident involvement in the process. THA has also refurbished the ex-United
additional services might be
Reformed Church (URC) on the Somerford estate as offices for Sovereign Response. It is intended that
the URC will be completely accessible to residents on Somerford, which represents a large bulk of
How the services should be
provided and by whom.
THA’s new estate inspections enable residents to approach staff about any problems or estate issues,
without the need to contact the office.
Please refer to note 2.4 (a)
SHA provides emergency alarm call handling on behalf of the Group. SHA ensures that all emergency
THA is devising an office strategy by
alarm calls are answered, and that 98.5% of these are answered within 60 seconds. In 2008/09 98.8%
December 2009 with the aim of
of these calls were answered within 30 seconds.
moving to other offices in
Christchurch in 2010/11, 12 months
In respect of supported housing for older and vulnerable residents, the management service is delivered
through a tailored approach to meet the specific requirements of people with support needs. For SHA
before the office lease expires, in
97.8% of all new residents who required a support plan had one within four weeks of moving in and
order to provide more accessible
99.8% had their plans reviewed on time (nine months).
Are backed by proper
d) There are clear contractual
systems of assurance
arrangements, and reporting and
The contractors and employer’s agent’s frameworks are fully OJEU compliant with specific provisions for
for internal control
review mechanisms for the use of
call off and regular reviews.
partners or agents
All contract documentation is standardised with clear contract management procedures.
SHA works with a small number of managing agents. SHA aims to achieve consistency in service
delivery, monitoring and performance between agency-managed and directly-managed schemes to
ensure that residents are receiving consistent service delivery, subject to funding and local authority
THA works with only one partner, Raglan HA which provides services for one scheme. Services are
provided within the context of a management agreement which was fully reviewed in 2009.
VHA has only one management contract in place, providing local support to vulnerable tenants. There
are currently 20 tenants receiving this service.
a) Service provision is subject to
All subsidiaries within the Group are participating in the Orion project. The details of this and how
A detailed amalgamation Action Plan
must aim to deliver
challenge and change. The wishes of
residents are involved is outlined in the accompanying document on Service Delivery Performance as
is due to be presented to the SHG
residents and others are balanced
requested in the Guidance Note for the SACS submission 2009.
Board on 6 August for approval. This
improvements and value against available resources within a
will then be submitted to the TSA so
for money in their
clear and transparent framework,
that the promises in the Business
according to the principles of Best
In addition to the above
have undertaken a review of service cost alongside service performance,
Case can be monitored effectively.
Value. Progress in working towards
compared with the rest of the Group and reported the results to THA’s Board.
improvements against a range of
THA Residents have been involved in the following service reviews:
All members of the Group will be
national and local performance
reviewing the outcome of the Status
indicators will be publicised by the
Disabled Aids & Adaptations
Survey, responding to key areas of
Leaseholders’ debt management
concern and highlighting priorities for
Sources of Compliance
Selection of contractors
the future for incorporation in the
Somerford estate refurbishment
revised Strategic Plan.
The THA void standard was improved through the introduction of decoration vouchers and a better
standard of garden
Leaseholders’ debt management was improved by using clearer, letters and a less harsh and more
The collection of rechargeable repairs was reviewed in 2008/09 and a procedure set up for collecting
these which is closely monitored and publicised.
THA reviewed the procurement of all major works contracts in 2008/09 by reaching agreement to enter
into a service level agreement with SHA for SHA to deliver a full Property Services Function (with the
exception of aids and adaptations) using SHA’s existing contractors wherever possible, to reduce the
administrative burden, duplication and achieve economies of scales and other efficiencies.
THA has recently developed a new Residents Forum to enable residents to scrutinise and monitor
Using Best Value
b) Housing services and supporting
All services and support functions are being reviewed through the Orion project (see above).
functions are reviewed to ensure
what they do and how
they do it, making
people affected by their
they are providing the
service either directly or
through a third party, at
a) Permanent housing is sustainable,
Sovereign Development Consortium (SDC)
must develop and
demonstrated by a commitment to
will continue to share its
effective protection of the
• The current members of the SDC are KHV, SHA; THA; VHA, Saxon Weald; Housing Solutions; Solon;
Construction Commitments action
homes that seek to meet environment and prudent use of
Advance; Ability and Brunelcare.
plan on request.
people’s needs and
SDC has developed its own action plan within the framework of the HCA’s Construction Commitments
A Group wide environmental policy is
preferences now and in
principles (which has replaced the Clients Charter) This ensures continuous improvement in the
to be produced and implemented in
the future, ensuring that:
2009/10. And each subsidiary will be
Procurement and Integration
establishing its own Green Team.
Commitment to People
Various environmental initiatives are
being trialled including solar panels
for hot water and air source heat
pumps at various schemes and
Health and Safety
further improvements to communal
This approach is recognised by the HCA as an example of best practice.
All members of the Group act as client to SHG in commissioning and approving new developments. All
schemes are subject to managerial and officer scrutiny prior to approval. The aim is to ensure the Group
develops homes and communities where people want to live, which are sustainable and offer value for
As part of this a development checklist has been developed which is completed and considered
prior to any scheme development. This document addresses a series of prompts to assist planning and
covers issues related to: scheme mix; service charges; site layout, green technology etc.
Prior to letting complex or large schemes a lettings and management plan is completed. This addresses
site design, layout services, charges site type, mix implications, lettings plans, management companies,
and grounds maintenance.
For major schemes where Group members own the land and have significant influence over the design
and components of the scheme, the local community and prospective residents are consulted
throughout the process.
The homes their
b) Housing stock is maintained in a
The Group continues to ensure its homes are of a high standard. The 2008 Status Survey showed that
Sources of Compliance
residents live in are well
lettable condition that exceeds
85% of all residents were satisfied with the overall quality of their home and 81% were satisfied with the
maintained and in a
statutory minimum requirements
general condition of the property.
All subsidiaries are on target to remain DHS compliant and are undertaking the following activities to
ensure they remain so: and that their homes meet residents requirements and in 2008/09 the following
activities have been undertaken:
are actively engaged with the
SHA’s Forward Maintenance Plan (FMP) is based on up to date, accurate and validated rolling five-year
Orion project to progress a number
programme stock condition surveys. 20% of all stock is surveyed each year through SHA’s in-house
of key actions that will move the
and dedicated Stock Condition Surveyors who are accredited Home Energy Assessors and qualified to
delivery of repairs towards
P402 and P405. This allows them to deliver maximum efficiency across the process by simultaneously
excellence. A key action is the
collecting and producing the Energy Performance Certificate (EPC), collecting asbestos information and
provision of 2 hour appointment slots
condition data in one appointment. Data is input on site using mobile devices which is uploaded
and an extended hours service, all
electronically into a master Codeman stock condition database.
being worked up now with a plan to
stock investment approach to deliver ‘Warmth, Security and Home Comfort’ is the result
implement across all regions during
of a full and targeted residents feedback survey completed in 2006/07 Associated programmes of work
are in place, ongoing and delivering new windows, doors, insulation, boilers and heating systems, all
designed to reduce residents energy costs and provide added security. For 2009/10, SHA is seeking
extensive feedback again from residents to further inform the FMP. Aligned with residents wishes and
expectations is the SHA programme for installing alternative energy systems, and in a number of cases,
these systems are integrated with University monitoring and study programmes. Additionally the Void
Standard has been reviewed in full consultation with residents.
THA has rationalised its stock during 2008/09 through the sale of Linden Court, a sheltered scheme in
Eastleigh, to Saxon Weald HAL. The sale proceeds have been reinvested in the redevelopment of
Cheviot Court on the Somerford estate.
THA reviewed and improved its void (relet) standard following the Audit Commission’s Inspection
recommendations, particularly in relation to decoration and general finish, and in full consultation with
THA reviewed its gas programme in 2008/09 to achieve 100% over 11 months and introduced a 12
month service improvement plan, to improve THA’s approach to gas safety. It has also reviewed its
approach to asbestos to provide residents with information about where asbestos can be found in their
As a result of the analysis of repair costs, THA changed the way it delivered responsive and void repairs
including changing its contractor from 1 April 2009 to provide residents with a more cost effective
will update its stock condition
survey information to have 20%
complete by September 2009. PDA’s
Given VHA has already achieved Decent Homes Compliance and its current investment strategy
concentrates on a long term programme of upgrading kitchens and bathrooms throughout the stock in
are being rolled out to all surveyors
line with the current stock condition results.
for the collection of Stock Condition
and HHSRS (Housing Heath and
During 2008/09 VHA took over the responsibility for 840 properties in Oxfordshire from SHA. Although
most of the stock is less than ten years old, resources were devoted to improving thermal efficiency and
Safety Rating) data
replacing a number of failed heating systems.
The local void standard will be
reviewed by the Tenant Forums and
Maintenance Matters Group to
ensure resident input.
Maintenance is carried
c) Progress in achieving the Decent
All boards monitor compliance with the DHS on a quarterly basis. Details of compliance are outlined
out effectively and
Homes Standard is monitored
responsively and in
ways which that reflect
Using the condition data and analysing repair trends, component replacement programmes are
determined and works carried out against a theoretical life cycle, with decisions to procure made on a
“just in time” remaining life basis. This approach has delivered a stock condition profile that is now
99.6% Decent Homes compliant with an average SAP rating of 65.3, an improvement the 2007/08 rating
Progress against achieving the Decent Homes Standard is monitored on a monthly basis and reported
Sources of Compliance
to the THA Board each quarter. In 2008/09 the properties meeting the standard improved from 92% to
96.9%. In 2008/09 THA’s average SAP rating was 66.1, an improvement on the 2007/08 rating of 63.9.
VHA undertook its last stock condition survey in 2004 and is undertaking a new survey in 2009/10. From
that date, the proposal is to design a rolling five year programme, similar to that adopted at SHA. VHA
has trained staff who are accredited Home Energy Assessors and qualified to P402 and P405. In
2008/09 99.9% of all properties met the DHS.
The average SAP for 2007/08 was 75 with a target of 76 for 2008/09. The methodology for producing
SAP changed from a 1-120 scale to 1-100 scale resulting in the 2008/09 average SAP being 67.7.
However the records provided to Elmhurst Energy, who carried out the independent conversion on
VHA’s behalf ,shows the pre conversion figure to be in excess of 76.
Necessary investment in d) There is a responsive repair
The 2008 Status Survey shows satisfaction with repairs across the Group is 77% which is just above top
the future of their stock
service that meets legal and
quartile benchmark. Partner members deliver the following services:
is made a key priority
contractual obligations and is efficient
and effective. It has published
service standards and is sensitive to
has developed its repair service.
Residents are able to report a repair using a variety of methods,
the needs of vulnerable residents
but the majority choose the Freephone number to speak directly to the dedicated repairs call centre
staff. Through friendly and efficient diagnosis, the call centre staff provide a job number and offer either
an a.m., p.m. or Missed School Run appointment at the “point of call”. For the majority of the repairs,
including emergency out of hours, it is the in-house maintenance contractor, Sovereign Response that
delivers the work that is required.
SHA has invested significantly in developing a mobile working solution which provides the tradesperson
with each individual job detail and its respective appointment all transferred wirelessly to a PDA. More
than 42,000 repairs were completed by SHA in 2008/09, and 94% of those were completed within
priority target time (93% in 2007/08).
During the year SHA performance on repairs completed within target either stayed the same or
improved as follows:
Emergency repairs: 98% for both 2007/08 and 2008/09
Urgent repairs: 91% in 2007/08 to 93% in 2008/09
Routine repairs: 93 in both 2007/08 and 2008/09
SHA’s landscaping and grounds maintenance contract was reviewed in 2008/09 and following an OJEU
compliant process new contracts were allocated. Residents were involved in the process. In the Bristol
area a new contract was awarded to Blue Sky Development and Regeneration, a social enterprise
company employing ex-offenders with a view to getting them back into the workforce.
flag system on Academy for
vulnerable residents will be revised
In 2008/09 there was a concern that although there was a high level of tenant satisfaction with the
repairs service, value for money was not being achieved The pilot contract arrangements with Mears
once the results of the demographic
was therefore reviewed. It was decided to transfer the service to Sovereign Response, with the added
profile are known.
benefit that the operatives have been retained through TUPE arrangements and know the stock and the
residents. Residents were fully involved in the decision to transfer.
During the year THA improved performance on repairs completed within target as follows:
Emergency repairs: 95.1% in 2007/08 to 98.9% in 2008/09
Urgent repairs: 75% in 2007/08 to 98.7% in 2008/09
Routine repairs: 90.9% in 2007/08 to 98.5% in 2008/09
THA also introduced stock investment satisfaction monitoring and achieved 93.4%
A new customer satisfaction and quality audit process has been introduced by THA’s new Property
Services Team following consultation with the residents’ panel, contractors and SHA’s call centre and
Property Management Team covering:
Calls logged at the call centre
Planned and cyclical works
The Sovereign Response Mobilisation Project has been completed successfully, with residents reporting
a seamless transition and service improvement, particularly with regard to appointments
Sources of Compliance
In 2009/10 VHA
is to complete its
Resident Profiling project and review
deliver a responsive maintenance service through a direct workforce and the costs are in the upper
maintenance procedure to ensure
quartile within the Housemark benchmark. It has reviewed its repairs handbook. Performance is
vulnerable residents can be identified
improving in all areas including repair times that are either upper or second quartile and satisfaction is
and enhanced service delivered
85% against benchmark of 76%.
Standards of new
e) All equipment and building
All Partner members have in place appropriate service level agreements and/or formal maintenance
components meet required legislative
contracts which contain strict details as to the required service standard, regulatory, legislative or
and regulatory standards
otherwise (as appropriate) that will provide the correct maintenance of all equipment, components and
M&E assets. The manager appointed to monitor contract performance ensures that these standards are
met through a series of service progress meetings, targeted audit and control processes and general
Across SHG Gas appliance safety checks are carried out to an 11-month service cycle, with all
instances of “no-access” being progressed through a robust “no-access” process.
Performance is as follows:
In 2008/09 access was achieved for 99.6% of SHA’s properties at year end, an improvement on the
previous year which was 95%.
In 2008/09 access was achieved for 99.3% of THA properties at year end an improvement on the
previous year (99.17%).
THA has introduced a ten year rolling programme of electrical testing.
In 2008/09 access was achieved for almost 100% of VHA properties at year end. This good
performance is achieved through a combination of specialist ‘interrupter’ timers for persistent offenders,
repeating letter and mail drops, telephone calls and door knocking out of hours. In the event of
continued resistance to provide access by the resident then legal proceedings are instigated without
f) New developments comply with
The Group has an exemplary record of good working practice in the SDC with a strong contractor
‘rethinking construction’ principles, as
framework and framework of employer's agents. All have access to standard documents developed
advised by the Corporation
through working in partnership and sharing best practice and lessons learned via the SDC extranet. In
the last year the SDC have added an external door supplier to their strategic supply chain agreements as
well as setting up a service level agreement with architects.
Through working together as a consortium the combined savings of the RSL members is approximately
£1m, not including savings on products procured via the supply chain.
g) Sinking fund payments made by
For all subsidiaries sinking fund payments made by leaseholders are held in accordance with lease
leaseholders are held in accordance
provisions and are kept in separate interest bearing accounts. For new schemes SHG determines
with any relevant leases.
whether sinking funds are needed prior to sale and this information is included in the handover matrix
from development. See also 3.1 b.
In 2008/09 THA
revised its annual service charges statement and improved the way that interest is
a) Services are shaped around
All members of the group strive to ensure services are customer focused. For customer involvement in
must provide good-
service reviews see RC 3.3.
quality housing services
for residents and
continues to work constructively with local authorities in respect of the introduction of Choice
Based Lettings schemes (CBL). The coverage of CBL has now increased to include Somerset and
Wiltshire, with a Devon wide scheme being introduced in Autumn 2009.
SHA continues to negotiate local lettings plans in areas where tenancy sustainability and community
Sources of Compliance
cohesion would be at risk if lettings were not proactively managed. This has been particularly successful
in Devonport in Plymouth and Bristol where child density and age profile have been carefully managed.
THA has been consulted by Christchurch Borough Council (CBC) on the proposal to adopt a new
Dorset-wide choice based lettings scheme by 2010, and is content that its views have been taken into
account. A second local lettings plan has been agreed with CBC on the Somerford estate.
THA has reviewed the success of introducing probationary tenancies. Only 15 out of 158 were extended
and only one eviction took place, which shows that probationary tenancies are helping to sustain
THA staff received legal training on mental capacity and THA no longer uses mandatory grounds of
possession for rent arrears on probationary or assured shorthold tenancies in accordance with the HC’s
good practice note on tenure.
In September 2008 VHA received a consultant’s report on the future of its sheltered housing. The
Ridgeway survey made a number of recommendations and these are being progressed.
The Maintenance Matters Group has been an influential forum in shaping services around residents
needs. Group members have approved a re-specification of kitchens, selected door contractor and
specification, selected external painting contractors and specified new vinyl flooring for use in kitchens
VHA underwent a Resident Inspection conducted by THA residents. Suggestions included the use of
freephone telephone numbers, installing Omfax onto the housing management system, and
consideration of collecting data on repairs completed first time to assess value for money.
VHA consulted a variety of residents to help shape and influence the service standard for Resident
Involvement under the Orion Project.
By seeking to offer a
b) Housing Corporation Resident
choice of home, while
Charters are provided to applicants
All members of the Group continue to provide Resident Charters to applicants and new residents.
preference to those in
priority housing need
By offering the most
c) Legal repossession of a property is
secure form of tenure
sought as a last resort
members of the Group
continue to prevent homelessness, seeking to sustain tenancies where
compatible with the
possible beginning with early interventions in all cases of potential or threatened homelessness, using
purpose of the housing
eviction as last resort.
and the sustainability of
All polices and procedures are focused on sustaining tenancies, through the following activities:
Pre-tenancy assessment, to ensure the tenancy is financially sustainable and relevant support is
available. This includes identifying whether the applicant may be eligible for housing benefit and
assisting with any claims.
Creation of probationary tenancies for all new lettings.
Participation in mobility schemes.
Participation in domestic violence sanctuary schemes.
Hold a pre-court panel to ensure consistency and fairness in respect of court action.
All evictions are signed off by a director to ensure all avenues have been explored prior to
Analysis is undertaken on the reasons behind tenancy failure to learn lessons from these and prevent
All group members work closely with Citizens’ Advice Bureaux and organisations offering financial
advice and support, funding these organisations where appropriate. Money advice information is
published in resident newsletters on a regular basis including credit union details and contents
All subsidiaries work to minimise evictions.
SHA in 2008/09 had in total 40 evictions, 32 of these were for rent arrears, the remainder was for
anti social behaviour this represents a slight increase on the previous year.
THA in 2008/09 carried out nine evictions compared to 15 in 2007/08.
Sources of Compliance
in 2008/09 had in total 25 evictions, 24 of these were for rent arrears, the remainder was for
anti social behaviour.
Specific actions undertaken by the subsidiaries to sustain tenancies include:
In West Berkshire SHA is piloting a pre eviction panel. This multi agency approach has been developed
in partnership with the Citizens’ Advice Bureau & West Berkshire Council, linked to their prevention of
homelessness strategy, and has been successful in avoiding the loss of tenancies in the most extreme
In 2008/09 THA held a Money Advice drop-in event where all residents who needed any assistance
In 2009/10 THA
will be investigating
could call in to seek expert help from various agencies such as Citizens’ Advice and Coastal Credit
the possibility of a self funding, in-
Union. It has undertaken in house training in benefits, budgeting and holding a welfare training day to
house money advice worker who can
ensure that all officers are up to date on legislation and changes to the benefits and welfare systems.
offer support and advice to any of its
Additionally THA subscribes to HB Notes, an on-line facility that provides advice and assistance about
residents regardless of where they
Housing Benefit and other benefits including suggested letters for residents to use to challenge
live. THA will also set up an eviction
decisions made by a Housing Benefit department.
In addition to the above VHA facilitates tenant’s friends to promote mutual support and assistance.
VHA directly employed a Tenant Support Officer to work with residents and other agencies to maximise
the take up of housing benefits and ensure high levels of financial inclusion.
With agreements that
d) Strategies are in place to tackle
As part of the Orion Project action
clearly set out residents’
All members of the group are signed up to the Respect Standard for housing management.
plan and in response to the Status
and landlords’ rights and
The 2008 Status Survey shows that 14% of residents experienced ASB compared to the benchmark of
Survey a review of the way Group
15%. Whilst most residents were satisfied with the advice provided by staff, they are less satisfied with
members performance manage and
how the ASB report was dealt with and the outcome of the report.
report on ASB is underway, with the
intention to drive service
improvements and resident
works closely with a legal adviser to provide surgery type support and training for staff at all offices
satisfaction in the delivery of support
to assist in the management and resolution of serious ASB cases, with notable success in a number of
and intervention at all levels of ASB.
cases where severe nuisance has been identified. This includes mediation training for staff and access
to mediation services. Residents are able to report ASB through the website and the 24 hour Care
Centre service to ensure a speedy response to issues.
SHA currently works in partnership with various anti-social behaviour units throughout the South West
including Plymouth, Exeter and Torbay to tackle ASB from a multi agency approach which is proving
very successful. SHA are also attending regular anti social behaviour meetings with local partners in
Plymouth, Torbay and Exeter discussing good practice and how to improve the service.
SHA’s Neighbourhood Wardens
In West Berkshire three Neighbourhood Warden Schemes provide a uniformed patrolling presence in
the community. The aim of the Wardens is to reduce crime and the fear of crime, address environmental
issues, engage in positive ways with young people, provide reassurance to the elderly and vulnerable,
and promote community cohesion. The teams are each co-located in their respective local Police
Stations, which allows them to work seamlessly with Police Officers and Police Community Support
Further investment is being made, in partnership with local authorities in West Berkshire, to develop the
schemes, taking proactive action in the development of youth activities to deter unreasonable behaviour.
Additionally SHA have continued to work closely through the local Crime & Disorder reduction
Partnership in West Berkshire, where the association takes a leading role through the Strategic
Assessment & Partnership Planning process, with further success in reducing crime & ASB. SHA are
also rolling out the citizenship programme with local schools in Berkshire.
In 2008/09 THA improved its ASB strategy by:
will be targeting staff resources
to the areas with the highest
Introduction of an ASB out-of-hours telephone hotline.
incidences of ASB, now that these
are mapped out.
Sources of Compliance
Mapping out the areas with the highest incidents of ASB
THA plans to work with schools to
Undertaking Restorative justice
raise awareness of issues around
Community events with other agencies
Good neighbour agreements
THA’s ASB panel, comprising staff
Purchasing noise recording equipment
and residents, is being developed to
ASB panel looks at new initiatives
look at ASB performance.
Further work is being undertaken to
As a result, THA responded within timescale with 86% of ASB cases and of those residents who
understand resident expectations
submitted satisfaction surveys, 80% said that they were satisfied with the outcome. The Status survey
and ASB satisfaction levels.
reflected this since those who were satisfied with how their report was handled was above the Group
will be employing a
The status survey shows VHA has a low number of ASB cases (8%) and policies and procedures are in
Communities Project Co-ordinator to
place for tackling and preventing anti-social behaviour.
work with housing officers and
VHA works in partnership with Oxford Crime and Nuisance Team, the Police and other RP’s to ensure a
residents to prevent ASB.
joined up approach to anti-social behaviour.
By being responsive to
e) Residents who exercise a
purchase right receive timely written
During 2008/09 SHA, THA and VHA received four applications each in respect of right-to-buy and one
information about their property
application for right to acquire. All were processed in accordance with timescales, but none proceeded
By using lettings policies f) Vulnerable and marginalised
that are fair and reflect
residents are provided with
All members of the Group actively support and contribute to pre-tenancy assessments to identify applicants
the diversity of their
appropriate responsive housing
who may require support to maintain their tenancies. The aim is for support plans to be in place and active
services. Support and care
before tenancies start. SHA and THA maintenance staff have PDAs to help identify vulnerable residents
arrangements (including liaison with
which allows them to meet their specific needs.
other agencies) are in place, where
SHG and its Partner members are committed to providing a high quality and efficient disabled adaptation
By providing high
procurement and management service that addresses the key needs of its residents and the
standards of customer
requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995. The purpose of this is to maintain people as long
as possible in their own homes. All requests for aids and adaptations are jointly assessed by
subsidiaries and their social services partners by way of a home visit to ensure each resident’s full
needs are assessed and provided for. Although the Group aims to make the maximum use possible of
Local Authority ‘Disabled Facilities’ grants, Partner members also fund, on demand, works up to £2,500,
subject to means testing. This may include anything from over bath showers to grab rails. Works over
£500 are subject to an Occupational Therapist assessment and recommendation.
In 2008/09 SHA spent £200,000 on disabled adaptations, completing 555 projects. For 2009/10 SHA
increased its budget, although expenditure will be kept under close review, depending on future rent
increases/decreases and the impact on budget. THA completed 93 adaptations in 2008/09 at a total
cost of £61,914. VHA spent £34,000 on the completion of 158 minor adaptations during the year. It also
completed a further 88 projects, funded through Disability Funding arrangements with the local authority.
SHA has two Supporting People contracts in Plymouth and West Berkshire to provide housing-related
support to vulnerable residents in sheltered housing. Both contracts require full compliance with the
is sharing the VPP with other
Quality Assessment Framework. SHA has been accredited with full compliance in both areas.
interested local authorities, notably in
SHA also has strong links and, in part, funds a number of specialist support agencies that provide more
intensive support for vulnerable residents. Working in partnership with other agencies SHA were active
participants and leads in introducing a Vulnerable Peoples Protocol (VPP) in Basingstoke and Deane
and West Berkshire. This provides a procedure for the identification of vulnerable applicants ensuring
early identification of support needs and the creation of support plans pre-offer. It also offers a referral
system for those in need of floating support.
For information about SHA’s pre- eviction panel see 3.5.6(C).
SHA will continue to use the Rough Sleepers Initiative (RSI) project in Bristol, acquired from Orbit
Housing Association in 2008, to enable the Local Authority to meet its objective of continued
sustainment of rough sleeping in single figures, by delivering early interventions, holistic approaches
Sources of Compliance
with a view to help rough sleepers moved through planned pathways into long term sustainable
THA has a victim and witness support package and budget. THA works closely with Dorset Supporting
People, THA’s key SP funder In 2008/09, to introduce a menu of services for sheltered housing
residents in 2008/09. Based on four levels of support, in 2009/10 residents will be able to select their
preferred level of service to be provided by THA’s in house sheltered housing team rather than THA
offering and providing a one size fits all service.
VHA has entered into disabled adaptations protocols with all Oxfordshire local authorities and increased
will be introducing PDAs for
its facility by £100,000 for grant aided adaptations where there is likelihood that the local authority would
operatives to improve quality of
be unable to fund adaptations beyond the current limits.
information on vulnerability.
VHA has a Supporting People contract in place with one local authority, representing almost 1,000
residents. Vale is the only RSL in Oxfordshire to provide a 24/7 in house service to its vulnerable
tenants. The VHA model is being adopted by Oxfordshire County Council in its new tendering
arrangements to secure future Supporting People arrangements across the County from 2010.
a) Lettings and sales policies are
will continue to work with the
must work with local
flexible, non-discriminatory and
All members of the Group work to ensure sustainable tenancies and communities (see3.5.6(c) for further
local authorities to ensure CBL
authorities to enable the
responsive to demand, while
details). Partner members will consider and implement local lettings plans based on the identified needs of a
schemes are fully implemented. In
latter to fulfil their duties:
contributing to the need to be
neighbourhood, including the neighbourhood profile, aspirations of residents and views of partners.
the light of the increase of CBL
inclusive and the need to ensure
Members ensure support plans are in place and updated on a regular basis to ensure people are sustained
schemes SHA is reviewing its
in their tenancies for as long as possible.
approach to transfers within its stock.
This will be subject to resident
SHA is actively involved in the consultation exercise concerning the introduction of the sub regional CBL
schemes, in Devon and the Homes West area. SHA was also active in respect of the introduction of the
In 2009/10 THA
will work closely with
Somerset wide and Bristol schemes which are now live.
its key local authority partner,
Christchurch Borough Council, to
ensure the new Dorset wide CBL
THA is actively involved in the consultation exercise underway to introduce a Dorset county wide Choice
scheme improves access and choice
Based Lettings scheme by April 2010 and has provided feedback to the draft allocations policy for the
THA has introduced another Local Lettings Plan for the next phase of the redevelopment of the
The Oxfordshire sub regional
Somerford estate, which will see the provision of much needed family sized accommodation through a
Choice Based Lettings Scheme will
conversion programme. This local lettings plan includes a child density target to ensure a sustainable
be live by July 2009 and give greater
community is created
access to housing for disabled
90% of VHA
new lets are from Choice Based Lettings schemes. VHA is active in consultation in respect
of an Oxfordshire wide CBL scheme.
To the homeless and
b) Associations are able to
people in priority
demonstrate their co-operation with
All members of the Group co-operate with local authorities to help them meet their statutory functions. VHA
local authorities in homelessness
and THA’s approach to homelessness is contained in their allocation policies.
strategies, and in the delivery of local
authorities’ homelessness functions.
The Homelessness Action Plan
SHA has drafted a Homelessness Action plan which
addresses five key pledges.
is to be considered by the Board in
1. SHA will foster good partnership working with local authorities and other agencies, contributing in
Q2 with a view to publishing in
helping them meeting the Government’s targets.
2. SHA will aim to achieve sustainable and mixed communities where people what to live.
3. SHA will aim to prevent homelessness, seeking to sustain tenancies where possible, beginning
with early interventions in all cases of potential or threatened homelessness, using evictions as
4. SHA will make best use of existing stock.
SHA will aim to develop schemes responding to housing need within the context of the Regional
Housing Strategies and Local Area Agreements, within the context of the Single Conversation.
Sources of Compliance
THA introduced important changes to its allocations policy to reflect its charitable status. A key aim of
this policy is to work closely with all relevant local authorities to support them in fulfilling their statutory
duties to homeless households and in meeting targets to reduce the number of families being
temporarily housed in bed and breakfast accommodation.
As a result of improvements to THA’s leasing operation, a successful and viable leasing scheme was
delivered in 2 local authority areas in 2008/09. With 101 properties in management, THA can
demonstrate it is actively working with local authority partners to deliver their homeless functions and
manage their use of Bed & Breakfast and other short term temporary accommodation.
In 2008/09 THA introduced regular meetings with CBC to discuss the impact of its Somerford
redevelopment plans and undertook joint visits to residents living on the Somerford estate to ensure a
joined up approach to the decanting and allocation process.
The Choice Based Lettings partnership agreement ensures that VHA and other RP’s are working with
local authorities to deliver their strategic aims particularly around homelessness and allocations.
To the vulnerable and
c) When requested to do so by the
those covered by the
local authority and to such an extent
78.3% of all SHA’s lettings were let to local authority nominations in 2008/09.
as is reasonable in the
circumstances, associations provide a
proportion of their stock to local
THA has nomination agreements with all but one of its 10 local authority partners that provide for at least
authority nominations and temporary
75% of lettings through local authority nominations. The other local authority has declined to enter into a
accommodation to the homeless.
70% of VHA lettings are through the District Council nomination and a maximum of 15% are classified
as homeless. VHA uses permanent stock as temporary accommodation for the homeless on request,
providing this does not exceed 20% of all lettings.
d) Criteria are adopted following
All members of the group continue to work within the context of local authority nomination agreements,
consultation with local authorities for
CBL schemes and their own lettings and allocation polices, which include clear rejection criteria. In
accepting or rejecting nominees and
cases where a letting is refused the associations work closely with the local authority to ensure any
other applicants for housing
decision is fair, transparent and justified.
e) Applicants are excluded from
All SHG subsidiaries are compliant with Housing Corporation circular 02/07 Tenancy Management:
In 2009/10 the Group will be
consideration for housing only when
Eligibility and Evictions.
exploring the use of Family
their unacceptable behaviour is
All members of the Group actively support and contribute to pre-tenancy assessments to identify
serious enough to make them
residents who may require support in maintaining their tenancies, including help with their behaviour. In
unsuitable to be a tenants and only in
a very small number of cases Partner members may reject a nomination. When this occurs it is in full
circumstances that they are not
consultation with the Local Authority.
f) Lettings policies:
All members of the Group support local authorities in meeting their statutory duties and are active
are responsive to local authority
partners in helping shape and implement Choice Based Lettings schemes.
In the light of the introduction of CBL
All subsidiaries actively promote mobility and are signed up to the Homeswapper scheme. This new
schemes SHA is currently reviewing
take account of the need to give
service is widely publicised through the website, newsletters and information in receptions.
the efficiency and effectiveness of
reasonable priority to transfer
SHAs transfer policy, consulting with
applicants from other associations
tenants in respect of its retention
are responsive to national,
regional and local mobility and
are demonstrably fair and
a) New homes meet long-term priority
All members of the Group are working closely with Local Authorities to respond to the priorities outlined
As the Single Conversation develops
Sources of Compliance
must demonstrate that
needs in the area in which they are
in their Housing Strategies and Local Area Agreements. Partner members will be looking to promote an
the Group will work to ensure the
their strategies and
increase in the supply of affordable housing, including social rented, intermediate renting and shared
right linkages are made to the
policies are responsive
ownership, subject to financial capacity and ability to sell the schemes.
Sustainable Communities Strategy
to their economic and
and the Local Strategic Partnerships
The Group is an active participant in the Single Conversation, helping to align the competing agendas
social environment and
from a variety of organisations to ensure all Partner members are all pulling in the same direction.
(at both tiers of local government),
link into regional and
the Local Development Frameworks
local housing strategies
(LDFs), the Local Area Agreement
The Somerford redevelopment at THA
helps to address the priority needs identified by CBC by including
(LAA) as the shorter term delivery
family housing and intermediate tenure.
plan for the SCS and to Local and
Sub Regional Housing Strategies.
In determining the Group’s
development priorities account will
be taken of the housing needs of the
local authorities and the local
b) The association co-operates and
(See also 2.3.4 for further details)
contributes to local authorities’
strategic enabling role.
All members of the group contribute to the local authorities enabling role as outlined below:
SHA continues to maintain close working relationships with enabling officers in areas where the
association has a development programme, attending regular liaison meetings and annual performance
reviews where held, e.g. Bristol and South Gloucestershire.
THA contributes to CBC’s RSL Focus Group by discussing strategic housing issues in Christchurch,
sharing operational site issues and best practice.
VHA is a member of the Oxfordshire Rural Housing Partnership to deliver affordable housing in rural
communities. Through this a contribution is made to a Rural Enabler employed by the local authority.
VHA is also a member of the Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Partnership.
c) Associations will be able to
All members of the Group are involved in estate regeneration, with major projects focused on deprived
demonstrate their contribution to the
areas in the Somerford Estate, Christchurch (THA), and New Deal for Communities regeneration
objectives of neighbourhood renewal
projects in Barton Hill, Bristol and Devonport in Plymouth (SHA).
and regeneration either directly or
through partnership, particularly when
working in deprived areas.
SHA has adopted a neighbourhood investment model which enables it to identify 'at risk'
neighbourhoods where additional investment and resources need to be applied. This allows for an
assessment of both internal and external data and will often mirror areas where other statutory agencies
are involved in focussed activity.
The use of the' Egan Wheel' principles when working in neighbourhoods also means that every area is
automatically assessed to find out what other activities are taking place, before any work is planned. An
example is Greenham in West Berkshire where SHA is taking the lead on an LSP project. Greenham
was identified as a priority area for SHA as well as being identified by the local authority as a target area
for focussed 'locality working'.
SHA remains active in delivering new homes and communities in two New Deal for Communities areas
in Barton Hill, Bristol and in Devonport, Plymouth.
THA is continuing with the redevelopment of its Somerford estate and the first phase of the
redevelopment is due for completion in September. Proposals for other phases are being discussed with
CBC as they are being worked up.
Involvement by residents on one of the phases has caused a research project to be instigated on the
need for a replacement sheltered scheme on Somerford, before proceeding with that phase. Advice
from the Somerford Partnership and a local resident survey on the provision of community facilities has
influenced the Board decision on the future of another phase. Feedback from residents living in two of
Sources of Compliance
the roads in Somerford has also influenced the timing of works to their properties.
d) The association demonstrates a
commitment to sustainable
has adopted the 'Egan Wheel' model for neighbourhood working which takes a range of factors into
development and works towards
consideration, when assessing the sustainability of a community. These include;-
incorporating economic, social and
environmental objectives in its
transport and connectivity
housing and the built environment
social and cultural
Local residents and partners are encouraged to get involved in assessing sustainability using these
'spokes' which encourages cross sector, as opposed to 'silo' working, as well as gaining resident input
In Torquay, the Beechfields development hopes to achieve Code for Sustainable Homes Level 5 in
terms of the physical homes being built. In addition, SHA is focussing on the long term sustainability of
the new community. A Neighbourhood Officer is already working with local agencies and residents to
understand what issues may arise once residents move into their homes and how to help them to
maintain the eco credentials of the community.
The Group is also working in partnership with Barratt Homes and the HCA on the first CSH Level 6
project at Hanham Hall Hospital in South Gloucestershire. This will be the first project to be delivered
through the Government’s Carbon Challenge initiative. As a key partner on the scheme, SHA will be
delivering the 65 affordable homes over the course of the next four years, which will form part of a new
community also comprising 130 open market sale homes and the refurbishment of the Grade II* listed
hospital building into new office and community facilities.
In addition to each of the new homes being built to CSH Level 6, which will achieve significant
sustainability and reduced energy efficiencies both across the site and within each of our residents’
homes, SHA is taking an active lead in setting up the Community/Development Trust proposed on the
It is proposed that the ownership of the public realm will be vested to the Community/Development
Trust, which will be fully owned and governed by the residents of the new homes, and who can in turn
determine how the management of their estate evolves into the future. This will enable the local
community to directly influence the long term stewardship of the site.
THA has reviewed opportunities to provide support for local labour in construction schemes and ROK,
the contractor on THA’s Cheviot Court redevelopment now have a grounds maintenance worker and
bricklayer from the local neighbourhood.