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Customer Annual Report 2020-21


Covid-19 has changed our entire operating environment and is expected to have long lasting and extensive implications. We have adapted by providing more digital self-service and improved mobile IT resources. During the year there was an increase in those needing more intensive support e.g. with hoarding and high fire safety risk, mental health crises, addiction. Covid appears to have exacerbated the pressures on many people with existing support needs and it has been more challenging to provide support remotely. Such support needs are expected to continue to grow and are very labour-intensive.  Domestic Abuse helplines experienced an increase in demand during the year. We have continued to support survivors already known to us however the number of new cases has reduced compared to 2019/20. We are due for DAHA (Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance) re-accreditation and will need to review our practice. The removal of the Universal Credit (UC) uplift of £20 per week from October ’21 and the end of the furlough scheme will further increase financial pressure on households. The Money Matters team and CLAS will remain important resources.

A new Social Housing White Paper is being introduced. The Regulator for Social Housing is setting out a proposed framework for tenant satisfaction measures. The 23 draft measures overlap with much of what we measure now but we will need to update some of our surveys.

STAR Survey Results 2020-21

The results for the whole survey improved since the previous year, and covered the entire first year of the pandemic; many of you seemed to value the support we could provide during this challenging time. We can always learn from the reasons you give for any dissatisfaction, and this provided valuable insight. For example, you confirmed we needed to improve the gardening services, improve our complaints handling and develop more ways of communicating with you e.g. by email.

Customer Satisfaction Measures

  • Satisfaction of new tenants or shared owners with the lettings / moving in process   92.3%
  • Satisfaction with Anti-Social Behaviour case handling   84.2%
  • Satisfaction with last repair – 90% Foster, 91% Gasway
  • Estate Services satisfaction 53%
  • Formal Complaints – Total 18 (9 property, 8 Housing management, 1 Development). In 19/20 there were 21 formal complaints.Satisfaction graph for value of rentSatisfaction graphs for repairs


Star Survey Results 2020 – 21

Every tenant or resident except those in care homes is asked to complete the survey every two years. 352 replies were received.

Value for Money performance against targets

Target 2021 Actual 2021
Deliver sustainable growth in social and affordable housing
Development handovers – affordable general needs units 55 38
Development handovers – affordable shared ownership units 33 11
Provide excellent services
Tenants satisfied with CHS services % 82.0 75
Reduce % of all staff who decide to leave within 6 months % 30.0 31
Responsive repairs – stay fixed % % 93.6 99.3
Responsive repairs – right first time % % 78.0 97.1
Ensure financial viability and excellent governance
Average responsive repair cost per property (exc voids) £ 496 505
Average void repair cost per relet £ 1440 864
Average relet days – general needs days 16 27
Average relet days – sheltered days 26 45
Average relet days – extra care days 26 21
Average sales time for shared ownership units days 86 194
Average sales time open market units days 86 485
Open market sales – handovers units 0
Average first let time for new affordable development handovers days 13 18

Housing and Customer Services

Achievements since the last Annual report   

62 new general needs and shared ownership homes were completed in the year – if this included you, we hope you love your new home.

Call Handling – In March 2020 the ICT team delivered an online phone system very quickly that enabled the Customer Service team to answer all calls at home.

Adapting to Covid 19 – Home visits were largely suspended for the year.

We changed the way we relet homes so people could still move safely for example we used electronic signatures for tenancy agreements, remote video pre-inspections and remote viewings. During the first lockdown the team contacted customers aged over 70 or with known health or support needs.

Rent Arrears – In April 2020 the average level of rent arrears was at around 2.8% and after the first lockdown it peaked at 3% in August 2020 and by the year-end it had reduced to 2.5%.

Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) – there was an increase of 47% in ASB cases, many due to disagreements or tensions during lockdown. One complaint was referred to the Housing Ombudsman who confirmed we had followed our procedures and demonstrated a fair and reasonable approach.

Customer Involvement & Communication – we worked jointly with Tenant Committee and Panels to update policies including the Complaints Policy and Housing Ombudsman self-assessment. We supported the Scrutiny Panel in researching its project on the role of Housing Officers. We used the finding of a large-scale communication survey to evidence the demand of more online communication, and to inform the plan to improve Complaints Handling.

Mutual Exchanges and local connection – We negotiated with South Cambs District Council to permit households to exchange with others within the district who do not have a close local connection if unable to find a local household.

Complaints handling – We began working with other teams and the Independent Complaints Panel to improve satisfaction with complaints handling. We drafted a complaints handling guide, planned workshops, and improved reporting.

Where performance did not meet targets:

The average relet time of 27 days exceeded the target of 17 days. The first lockdown prevented many new tenants moving in promptly, and an additional 2 weeks was added to the void works timescale to allow empty periods before and after any works.

Our target to increase the use of direct debit, as this is more cost-effective, was not met as a significant number of you still prefer to use other Allpay methods such as debit card which allow ad-hoc payments.

Targets for 2021-22

  • Review Anti-Social Behaviour Policy
  • Domestic Abuse – plan for re-accreditation in 2022
  • Learn from changed working practices to develop efficiencies e.g. digital communication, mobile working
  • Transfer as many customers as possible to more cost-effective payment methods where this suits their circumstances
  • Complaints – use internal Complaints team to develop good practice and consistent complaint handling alongside Independent Complaints Panel – under way
  • Develop the wider Customer Engagement Strategy to align with the Social Housing White Paper – we agreed a strategy with the Tenant Committee and an Action Plan is under way.

Property Services

Achievements since the last Annual report   

Work Delivered for Customers

Responsive Repairs 7,387
Aids and Adaptations 46
Repairs to empty homes 261
Kitchen Replacements 58
Bathroom Replacements 55
External Door Replacements 117
Window Replacements 24 properties
Boiler Replacements 106
Communal Boiler Replacements 2 properties
  • Even during the first lockdown we continued to deliver repairs and maintenance services as usual, both emergencies and routine repairs.
  • Customer satisfaction with repairs and maintenance was at 90%
  • We maintained gas safety compliance above 99% despite the challenges of access to some homes during lockdown and following the cyber-attack on Gasway’s IT system in November 2020

The overall repairs and maintenance budget was £3,636,992, made up of:

  • £1,600,000 for component replacements (kitchens, bathrooms, boilers etc.)
  • £407,998 for Cyclical Works (external and internal redecorations, gas servicing, electrical testing etc)
  • £1,628,994 for Responsive Repairs (including Void works)

Targets for 2021-22

  • Get the gardening right and improve customer satisfaction. A new contract has been in place from 1st November 2021.
  • Complete initial work on investment required to achieve Net Zero Carbon and improve energy efficiency – this is under way
  • Develop plan in response to new Building Safety Bill and proposed Social Housing White Paper particularly in relation to customer engagement

Community Investment

 Achievements since the last Annual report   

There was far more activity due to Covid-19  

  • Cambridgeshire Local Assistance Scheme
    • CHS played a key role in alleviating hardship in Cambridgeshire.
    • More than doubled turnover in financial year (£298,691 to £607,663)
    • More than doubled the number of clients in the year (787 to 1940)
    • No disruption to the services despite lockdowns
  • Money Matters
    • The number of new CHS weekly referrals during the Covid 19 crisis increased from an average of 2 per week pre Covid to 8 per week during the year.
    • Our contact with new CHS tenants about financial support increased from 50% to 80%.
  • Digital Inclusion Partnership
    • Partnership to enable ICT kit to be quickly distributed to school children.  It is likely to result in an independent organisation being set up to facilitate partnership working in Cambridgeshire and a Digital Inclusion Conference (online) which had 270 delegates.

Customer satisfaction with Money Matters Service remains high: 98%

Customer satisfaction with CLAS remains high: 99%

Lessons Learnt

Community Support Services

Achievements since the last Annual report   

Maintained delivery of services 

Both nurseries continued to deliver service to key workers and vulnerable children during the lockdowns.  This enabled key workers to carry on delivering essential services.

We continued to deliver housing related support to young people, young parents, people with learning disabilities and women with mental health problems.  There was one outbreak of COVID at a service.

During the year we closed our Looked After Children’s Service in Cambridge (120) as a result of declining occupancy rates.  We retained the lease on the building to enable us to have greater flexibility in offering support services to young people in the 2021 retendering – and, in the meantime, have expanded our offer to people with learning disabilities in Cambridge by providing additional housing (7 units) and support from the site, (now called Alison House), at no extra cost.

We restructured teams in several projects to deliver savings.

Both nurseries are now using an app called Famly to manage operational, booking and financial elements of the service.  This has helped to remove pressure on frontline staff and also enable us to plan ahead with more confidence.

All housing related support services are using the same management information system, Charitylog.  This provides us with a platform for greater consistency and the capacity to deliver management reports.

Lessons Learnt

We worked collaboratively with a variety of local community and faith-based organisations.

We made corporate funding applications on behalf of individual projects – previously these would have been made by individual projects.

Young people’s projects

We have four young people’s projects in Cambridgeshire where we provide accommodation and support. There are two in Cambridge; Railway House and the Young Parent Project, one in Ely; Wheatsheaf Close, and another one in Wisbech called the Fenland Young People’s Service. We have been offered the contracts to continue to provide the support to those young people. We bid by ourselves in Ely/East Cambridgeshire and in Cambridge and South Cambridgeshire we bid in a consortium with other organisations like the YMCA, Riverside, and Orwell Housing. In Fenland we teamed up with Longhurst Group.

Older Peoples Services

The pandemic has been a major challenge for the teams in our two care homes and three extra care schemes. At the start of the pandemic 11 residents died at one care home within a short period.  A huge effort was required to maintain infection control, maximise testing and maximise vaccinations as these became available. Despite all the challenges there was no loss of service.

A County Council review of older peoples accommodation strategy looks likely to reinforce the place of Extra Care as a key part of local provision and CHS are seen as exemplars in terms of the service we offer.

Achievements since the last Annual report

Registered Care

  • The sale of our care home in Ely as a going concern was completed at the beginning of December 2020 and the new owner made sure everything ran smoothly
  • Covid response, CQC positive assessment, new meeting pod donated to Langdon House
  • A procurement exercise was undertaken which has resulted in a significant saving of £20,000 pa on housekeeping costs.
  • A 10 year agreement has been signed with the County Council coming into effect from February 2021. Two beds in each home are now block booked by the County meaning that CHS are paid for these beds even if they are empty.
  • A comprehensive fire safety inspection for the two care homes was carried out and all of the recommended improvements, including a mister system, are being implemented.

Extra Care

The Extra Care teams have also worked very hard to maintain service levels during the pandemic. This has been a success and there were no Covid cases in Extra Care after 5 very early cases were dealt with.

  • Financial performance: The strong performance of the extra care service has contributed over £140k pa extra to the target and has provided an overall gross surplus of £1m during 2020/21

Sheltered Housing

  • All three homes successfully transferred to the housing management team and the first phase of savings identified as part of the process.

Where performance did not meet targets:

Care homes did not achieve their targets but still made operational surpluses. Given the impact of Covid during the year this is still a good performance. The specialist independent review planned for this year will aim to identify how to maximise the surplus generated by the homes. Care homes now have legal arrangements in place to charge interest on late/deferred care home fees.

Targets for 2021- 2022

Registered Care
  • Work with specialist consultant to review overall service offer and fee levels
  • Review of food provision to ensure best value for money
  • Work with Property Services on gardening procurement
  • Complete staff and management changes started last year as part of commercialisation project
  • Expand use of Nourish to include electronic medical management
Extra Care
  • Implement improved process to relet flats
  • Introduce Nourish to improve care plan management and efficiency
  • Set up improved accounting system
  • Work with County Council as they develop their accommodation strategy for older people

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