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Annual performance review for Bromsgrove

  • Lichfield familyWelcome to your 2016 annual performance report from Bromford which shows you how we’re delivering against our promises and plans in Bromsgrove. We want our customers and partners to hold us to account for the work we do, so we can ensure every penny of our resources is invested to bring the most benefit to our customers and wider society. All of our performance reports are available on our website and we would encourage you to share this report with others in your area.

    In the last 12 months we have seen the Government press ahead with further welfare changes, such as household benefit cap freezes on working age benefit and migration to Universal Credit which will have significant impact on both customers and our organisations. The NHF agreed a voluntary deal for the extension of Right to Buy but then government threw in a very significant curve ball with the requirement that social landlords cut rents by 1% per annum for the next four years. This represents a considerable financial challenge for the sector which cannot plan, with any certainty, future rent levels.

    Against this backdrop however, Bromford has continued to grow and innovate and we’re now delighted to be able to share with you our new strategy. We believe that if we have the right relationship with each customer and match them with the right home – they can achieve amazing things. We’ve been pioneering a different approach and services for customers through the Bromford Deal which has evolved into a much more intensive relationship. We’re now coaching our customers to do more for themselves and we’re sharing more about this with you in the next chapter.

    Our land-led investment programme, supported by our established in-house construction team, allows us to remain in control of the quality, mix and affordability of what we choose to build. In 2015/16 we invested £50m into building homes, with 727 new homes started and 465 completed. We remain committed to supported housing and this year started on site with our first two retirement living schemes and completed two MyPlace supported living schemes - our first such schemes to be developed without grant. This is an approach we plan to replicate during 2016/17 as we develop our sustainable investment programme of c.650 new homes each year.

    Our customers, like-minded partners and stakeholders continue to benefit from our proven track record of high quality service, our sustained focus on innovation and value for money and committed, motivated colleagues who are dedicated to helping the people they work with unlock their own potential. We welcome our ongoing discussions about the challenges you currently face in Bromsgrove and we look forward to working with you again in the coming year. 

    Sue Murray
    Bromford

  • If you’ve known us for a while our social purpose remains the same - to inspire people to be their best so they can get the most out of life. The Bromford Deal was born out of a desire to have a different kind of relationship with our customers; one which supports them to be the best they can be by believing in what they’re capable of achieving. Since then, we’ve worked with over 10,000 customers to help them realise personal goals and aspirations, build their personal resilience and access the tools and knowledge they need to manage their income.

    During the past 18 months, we’ve piloted a number of new services for both new and existing customers. These have been designed to help new customers get their tenancies off to the best possible start or help existing customers to responsibly manage and sustain their tenancies. A total of 280 customer outcomes were evaluated around money advice, coaching based housing management and specialist employment and skills support. Our coaching based housing management service offers a different, more pro-active approach to customer service by asking the right questions and really listening to the answers, in order to appreciate each customer’s personal circumstances, concerns and motivations and help build their confidence, skills and knowledge.

    Customers loved our new services and approach. All participants who received money advice now feel debt is less of a burden for them and 1 in 5 have been able to increase their household income as a result. Customers starting new tenancies have been helped with benefit claims and setting up utilities and we’ve seen reductions in anti-social behaviour and rent arrears as a result of increased customer wellbeing. Amongst the pilot group we saw a 6% increase in digital inclusion, a 27% fall in the average number of repairs per home and 16% of out of work customers were helped to enter work, work-related training or education.

    The next 12 months will see us using everything we have learnt from our service pilots to radically redesign our local services. Localities is the next chapter in the evolution of the Deal – it aims to build on people's strengths and the communities' strengths to enable our customers to realise their potential - not just fixing things when they go wrong.

    The Localities programme will see the introduction of a brand new role to Bromford – the Neighbourhood Coach. Our Neighbourhood Coaches will work on a much smaller patch size of around 175 homes, across six locality areas. The aim of the role will be to get to know our customers and their families and the potential community assets - the groups, organisations and individuals that already add loads of value to their communities – in the area where they work, to create lasting change. You can find out lots more about our coaching approach on our website as well as some videos that really bring this to life.

     

  • Homes

    • Bromford owns 288 general needs properties in Bromsgrove.
    • 250 are rented of which 197 are houses and 53 are flats.
    • We completed 2 shared ownership sales during the year and provide services to 38 home owners in Bromsgrove..
    • We didn't sell any homes under Right to Buy or Right to Acquire.
    • We sold or disposed of 1 home due to its condition or sustainability as part of our asset management plans.
    • Here are our average rents in Bromsgrove as at 31/03/16:

    Property type

    Social rent

    Affordable rent

    1 bedroom house/flat

    £85.66

    n/a

    2 bedroom house/flat

    £95.65 

    n/a 

    3 bedroom house

    £105.00 

    n/a 

    4 bedroom house

    £118.55

    n/a 

    Lettings

    In Bromsgrove we let 22 general needs homes during 2015/16. Of these, 6 were new lets and 16 were relets, with no transfers. In addition there were 6 mutual exchanges. To help meet the priority in Bromsgrove, we let 3 homes to homeless households.

    General needs lettings were made up of:

    • 1 older person
    • 10 single with child(ren)
    • 2 single without children
    • 8 more than one adult with child(ren)
    • 1 more than one adult without children.

    Support lettings were made up of:

    • 3 single without children

    The impact of welfare reform
    We have completed an affordability review to assess the impact of welfare reform for our current and future customers and will monitor our new lettings in 2016/17 closely. We’re using our affordability calculator to ensure new customers can afford to live in our homes both now and in the future when welfare reform changes are likely to impact them. As we have already discussed with you, we may be requesting your assistance for a short time to ease the transition for some new customers to help them deal with new aspects of welfare reform, specifically the benefit cap.

    New homes

    Last year we spent £55m on our new homes programme and started 727 new homes on site and completed 465 across our operating area. We started on site with two of our new Retirement Living schemes and completed our first two MyPlace supported living schemes, with six more now on site – all being developed without grant.

    Here's the current status of our new homes in Bromsgrove (as at September 2016):

    Completions 2015/16

    Starts forecast
    2016/17

    Completions forecast 2016/17

    7

    19

    19

    We have 76 completions forecast from April 2017 in Bromsgrove.

    Our new homes plan signals another step towards establishing a more self-funded and directly controlled land led programme. During the next five years we will acquire more sites to drive forward our programme including outright sale to help cross subsidise our affordable programme including retirement living and our MyPlace support model as well as general needs accommodation. We will closely monitor the market post Brexit to ensure that short term investment decisions are appropriate and do not hamper our medium term programme goals.

    Investing in existing homes

    Last year we invested £21m in planned improvement works, with a focus on heating which included £5.1m heating system upgrades. This year, we’re investing even more with a budget of £8m for heating upgrades.

    In Bromsgrove we spent more than £166,500 on planned home improvements.

    Last year we completed over 90,000 repairs and these were predominantly carried out by our in-house team. A key focus for us in the year has been to improve the customer experience of our gas and responsive repairs services. The number of customers recommending our gas service is now 86% - up from 72% in 2014/15 – and customers recommending our responsive repairs is now 81%, up by 7% compared to last year.

    Overall we completed 980 aids and adaptations. We spent £723k and secured £1.56m grant funding to help our customers’ homes meet their needs. 4 of these were in Bromsgrove.

    All of our gas, oil and solid fuel heating systems were inspected for safety last year, with all of them having a valid safety certificate at year end. This means we checked over 20,000 systems during the year.

    As part of our asset management plans, we sold 43 homes in 2015/16 because of their condition or sustainability. We expect a continued modest disposal programme in 2016/17 selling around 70. These sales allow us to deliver large, sustainable new homes programmes and continue our major improvements programme to our existing homes.

    Home income collection

    Across Bromford we collected 100.1% of rent last year. In Bromsgrove:

    • Current rent arrears were 2.4% against a target of 4.5%. 
    • 6 customers had debt in excess of £1000.
    • 3 customers are receiving Universal Credit as at August 2016.

    Supporting our most vulnerable customers and planning for welfare reform remains a priority for us. We want to help customers manage financially and take ownership of their own housing costs when housing benefits are paid directly to them. We’re encouraging new customers to pay in advance when they sign up, providing a safety net if their circumstances subsequently change for the worse.

    Last year we delivered welfare reform training to over 200 colleagues equipping them with all the knowledge and tools they need to help our customers prepare. Alongside this, our fully regulated money advice service helped 227 customers with debt advice issues last year – of these customers 78 were in arrears amounting to £65k which has now reduced by £9k thanks to our money advisors. In the first six months of 2016, our money advisors have helped over 375 customers and amongst other debts have helped customers reduce their rent arrears by nearly £38k.

    We continue to gain valuable insight from running our own internal pilot of Direct Payments, as well as closely monitoring customers who have migrated to Universal Credit. We continue to keep close to Universal Credit development and are represented on key DWP working groups.

    Dealing with anti-social behaviour

    We opened a total of 406 anti-social behaviour cases last year, 4 were in Bromsgrove. 332 (82%) of these were closed without court action, instead using non-legal remedies such as mediation. We do have concerns around the impact of delays which are escalating in the court system in our experience. Waiting times for hearings is an issue for us at present.

    Across Bromford we undertook 136 evictions last year, 103 were due to arrears and 33 for anti-social behaviour. In Bromsgrove we carried out 2 evictions and there was a tenancy failure rate* of 0.67%.  

    *The tenancy failure rate indicates the number of tenancies that end due to negative circumstances (e.g. abandonment, ASB, eviction) as a percentage of total tenancies.

    Supporting customers

    Last year over 4,400 individuals and households benefitted from support services delivered by Bromford and our partners. We’ve continued to reduce our reliance on external revenue contracts, but we are able to share with you the positive impact we’ve had for customers living in our supported housing schemes:

    At Saffron Court in Bromsgrove 100% of customers moved on in a positive way.

     

    Customers tell us how it really is

    We've spoken to a record-breaking 6,600 customers this year. Our feedback team have been proactively contacting customers through care calls, postal surveys, web surveys, email and text. In addition to this we’ve also collated nearly 1000 pieces of un-solicited feedback via our social media channels and when customers text or email us. This insight is obviously vital in understanding customer satisfaction but it also informs where we need to improve our services. Over the last twelve months, customers recommending Bromford to a friend has risen from 78% to 87%.

    Customer scrutiny continues to be a focus of our Customers and Communities Network. Every three months we feedback our own performance onto our website so that partners and customers can scrutinise our performance. For the latest information on our performance please visit our website.

    When we look at feedback for Bromsgrove we see:

    • 85% of customers would recommend Bromford to a friend
    • Customers rate us 7 out of 10 for providing a home that works for them
    • 70% of customers would recommend their neighbourhood as a place to live
    • Customers would rate us 7 out of 10 for the safety and appearance of their neighbourhood.

     

    Complaints

    Last year we had a total of 350 unhappy customers who had a complaint which is 46% less than the year before. This year we’ve introduced a new customer solutions team who are working to give customers a better experience, so they have just one point of contact and see their complaints resolved quicker.

    In Bromsgrove, we received 2 informal complaints. There were no formal complaints (including first stage).

  • We use feedback, complaints and avoidable contacts by customers to really understand what’s not working and where we need to make changes to services. Over the past year we have seen some key themes coming through from customers that we have tried to address through changes to services and we will continue to monitor these to see whether things improve. Here’s a selection of ways that customer feedback has informed a change in our services.

    Customers said...
    When they’re unhappy we need to take ownership of a problem and find solutions quickly.
    We did...
    We’ve introduced a new customer solutions team and a new way of handling complaints. Complaints will be owned and resolved by one colleague. We’re committed to resolving all formal complaints in 21 days and informal complaints in 7 days.

    Customers said...
    They don’t like experiencing repeated boiler breakdowns or delays where we’ve needed to order parts.
    We did...
    Our gas surveyors have been proactively visiting customers with repeat problems to assess their heating system and find a solution. This has led us to replacing more boilers, complete more proactive repairs and reducing the waiting times for customers.

    Customers said...
    They want us to resolve their enquiry the first time they contact us without having to wait for a decision or call back.
    We did...
    We’ve developed a repairs zone in our contact centre to help colleagues identify and diagnose repairs more effectively. We’ve developed better training for our contact colleagues who are also coaching customers to do more for themselves. We’re now resolving 85% of customers’ queries the first time we’re contacted and nearly 10% more customers have told us they find our services easier to use.

    Customers said...
    Damp and mould was an ongoing issue and we needed to improve our handling of this. 
    We did...
    We’ve been working for a year to investigate the main causes of damp and mould and to resolve issues for customers. Through training, we’re diagnosing issues and delivering quicker solutions. We’re installing loft insulation, extractor fans and trickle vents which are having positive results. In addition we’re investing in 150 heating or window upgrades from savings we’ve made and, in terms of energy efficiency, we are working through all of our poor performing homes to ensure all of our homes become rated D and above. 

  • Repairs colleague

    Value for money remains at the heart of what we do and is integral to our strategy, business planning and culture. Our financial performance continues to be strong and we have again achieved a sector leading core operating margin of 43% demonstrating our exceptional efficiency.

    In 2015 the Homes & Communities Agency carried out a benchmarking exercise on our operating costs and Bromford came out in the lower quartile for operating costs per unit. There’s more about this in our 2016 VfM self-assessment.

    Our focus on bringing as much maintenance in-house as possible has seen some further significant savings across our repairs and investment services.

    Here are the highlights: 

    • The biggest savings have been made across our reactive and voids repairs completed by our in-house teams amounting to over £1.6m. During the year we brought the voids repairs service in-house in a further two regions.
    • Through all of the cash savings and efficiencies made across our responsive repairs, we’ve been able to reduce the overall cost of responsive maintenance per property to £338 compared to £441 the previous year.
    • In addition to this we have installed ground source heat pump technology in non-gas areas, utilising substantial grant funding that actually makes the installations cost neutral over time.
  • MyPlace customer

    Understanding the social value that our services create helps us understand what matters to people. Through this we can offer services that maximise the social impact on our customers and wider society. Throughout 2016, we’ve continued to develop our knowledge around the key areas that can have a positive impact on customers, informed by both detailed research and the evaluation of existing and piloted services.

    Here are some of our key findings this year:

    • During 2015/16 we piloted a range of new services which achieved significant outcomes in terms of financial wellbeing, employment, social networks and building skills and resilience. Through the learning from these pilots, we are transforming the way we deliver local services by putting a coach at the heart of our relationship with each customer. Our neighbourhood coaches will cover smaller patches so they can get to know their customers and communities better and work in a more proactive way.
    • A major focus on affordable warmth is just one of the new things we’re doing to ensure we provide every customer with a quality home that they can really use as a springboard to achieve their aspirations. We found that while maintaining the quality of our homes is important, improving energy efficiency can have the most impact on customers. Last year we spent £3.5m installing 1,873 new boilers and we are bringing all of our homes up to a SAP rating of D and above by 2018, exceeding the government target. Alongside this our money advice service and supporting customers on using their heating systems all help towards lifting customers out of fuel poverty.
    • We’ve also found a number of positive outcomes for customers as a result of our aids and adaptations programme which enables them to stay in their homes. This is achieved through Bromford’s investment and through local authority Disabled Facilities Grants. Last year we installed 980 minor and major adaptations which will help more customers live in homes where they can reach their potential.
    • We know that being in work can have a positive impact on people – those who are unemployed have significantly lower levels of satisfaction and happiness and suffer more anxiety than those in work. We’ve found that our work club approach enables us to effectively deliver employment and skills at a lower cost so we’ll be testing a new approach over the next 12 months with some of the ‘getting customers job-ready’ work shifting to our neighbourhood coaches on the ground.

    We’re increasingly using social value as our yardstick to assess the outcome of new services and to drive our investment decisions. This approach helps us understand what matters most to our customers and prioritise services that maximise the impact on our communities and wider society. All of the detail on our methodology and quantifiable outcomes can be found in our 2016 social impact report.

  • The right home for every customer
    We need to ensure that each of our customers has the right home – one that meets their needs, which they can afford and that they can use as a springboard to achieve their aspirations. Here’s how we’ll do this:

    • Deliver more planned maintenance investment to improve the energy performance of our homes
    • Increase investment in coaching for customers in affordable warmth programmes
    • Deliver a range of estate regeneration projects including replacing properties that no longer meet our home standard
    • Continually review our asset disposal priorities
    • Improve our re-let standard to better reflect our ‘homes as a springboard’ commitment.

    The right relationship with each customer
    We want to establish a relationship with each customer so we can make the most of our resources and customers can get the best from our homes and services. Here’s how we’ll do this:

    • Roll out our localities programme
    • Continue to prioritise interventions that assist customers most in migration to Universal Credit
    • Equip our new customers with basic repair skills so they’re better able to manage their homes through our starting well engineer service
    • Better equip our contact team to help customers resolve simple repairs without the need for an engineer
    • Make it easier for customers to use our online services.

    An increasing supply of the right homes
    We will work to increase the supply of new homes of the right size and in the right locations to support the aspirations of all our customers. Here’s how we’ll do this:

    • A development programme we are in control of with less reliance on grant funding and buying homes from private developers
    • While we’ll continue to acquire some homes from housebuilders under s.106 planning agreements, we’ll prioritise more of our investment in genuinely additional land led new supply.
    • Build some homes for sale on the open market so we can use the profits to build more affordable homes.
    • Review the value for money of our in-house construction team to ensure we’re getting best value.

    In 2015/16 we started delivering on our innovative new homes plan in pursuit of our grant-free future. We’ll be continuing to drive this forward in 2017 with around £20m earmarked for land investment. We’ll focus on areas where we currently have a geographical presence in order to increase stock density and maximise our broader social impact.