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Council Housing Annual Report 2018/19

The council manages around 5,600 properties across the borough and this report aims to let tenants and leaseholders know how we have performed in the financial year, from April 1, 2018 to March 31, 2019.

During 2018/19 the housing revenue account spent a total of £14.67 million in delivering services to you. In addition to this we spent £6 million on improving your properties, £2.3 million of which went on the Decent Homes programme which saw the installation of new kitchens, bathrooms, heating etc.

We hope you have noticed the improvements and we will continue to improve your homes in coming years. We will always welcome your feedback to help us improve our services and so if there are any problems, please let us know. We hope you find the annual report of interest. There’s a lot going on and quite often tenants are involved.

Customer involvement

Customers are at the heart of everything we do and we try to ensure that there are opportunities to have your say and get involved in a way which suits you.

We have a dedicated customer engagement team to support you in customer involvement opportunities including the Charnwood Housing Residents’ Forum, Senior Citizens’ Forum, Leaseholders’ Forum, Housing Management Advisory Board, focus groups and a readers’ panel.

What we’ve done

  • Held a gardening competition to recognise the hard work of out tenants who make their gardens look wonderful
  • Held a tenant networking event to give you information about our services and how you can get involved
  • Attended five estate walkabouts to meet local residents and find out about the issues in your area
  • Spent £12,487 on estate improvements through our tenant bids fund
  • Donated £1,800 to community projects through our community initiatives fund to help bring communities closer together

What we are going to do

  • Promote our “Have Your Say” leaflet, informing tenants and leaseholders on how they can be involved in developing and improving our services;
  • Expand the opportunities open to tenants to become involved in shaping the services that we provide in a revised and renewed menu of involvement;
  • Establish a tenant-led editorial panel to help us produce our new-look, interesting and engaging tenants’ magazine, Your Homes Matter.
  • Recruit communal cleaning inspectors to help us monitor the anticipated new communal cleaning contract for our blocks of flats

Property improvements

Investing in our council properties to make them decent places to live is a key priority. This team delivers planned improvements such as new kitchens, bathrooms, heating, doors and external painting to name but a few.

What we’ve done

  • We have installed 101 new kitchens including an electrical upgrade where necessary;
  • We have installed 94 new bathrooms including an electrical upgrade where necessary;
  • We have installed 256 new doors in properties;
  • As part of our fire safety budget we have installed a combination of 89 front, rear and fire doors;
  • We have installed 1,255 mains-linked smoke detectors;
  • We have installed 18 full central heating systems with new energy efficiency boilers including fuel switches from electricity to gas;
  • We installed new boilers to 86 properties;
  • We adapted 42 homes with the installation of level-access showers;
  • We fitted 49 doors as part of improving door entry systems;
  • We improved the roofing of 24 blocks and 8 individual properties.

What we are going to do: in line with our business plan 2018-2019

  • Undertake the 2018/19 programme of works to install 23 new communal door entry systems in order to provide enhanced security for tenants;
  • Invest in our housing stock through the delivery of (an estimated) 84 kitchens, 144 bathrooms, and 308 heating installations to provide high quality homes for council tenants
  • Refurbish ten communal areas on the Bell Foundry estate to provide an enhanced environment for tenants, residents and visitors. 

Repairs

Our busy repairs team continues to provide across-team working between void and responsive work streams.

What we’ve done

  • Completed 14,168 repairs at our customers’ homes;
  • Completed 2,745 emergency repairs;
  • Completed repair work in 517 empty properties with properties returned on average of 13.6 days;
  • Used £506,000 worth of materials to complete all of the works, which is a decrease of £91,000 compared to the previous year;
  • Reviewed and awarded new contracts for the specialist contractors we currently use, providing added value for money and cost savings relating to scaffolding and specialist jetting and drain clearing;
  • Implemented “Service Connect” job ordering, appointing a material management system for repairs operatives and call centre staff.

Service Connect means our repairs operatives can spend more time out in the field as all the information they need is at the touch of a button; call centre staff can plan repairs appointments more easily owing to an increase in system performance and having a “best suited” time and location visit option.

What we’re going to do

  • Implement an “add on” option through Service Connect for void repair work planning
  • Work together with our new partnering contractor, Fortem, in prioritising any major void works within its current programmes;
  • Aim to return empty properties ready to let before the 14-day target;
  • Aim to install “smart” gas and electricity meters in all newly-empty properties;
  • Provide additional training for operatives and staff to ensure we are safe and compliant;
  • Continue to upgrade and install LED lighting within communal areas and car parks.

Gas service and maintenance

To keep our tenants safe and warm we work with our contractor, Sure Group, to ensure all gas appliances in our properties are working properly.

What we’ve done

  • We carried out gas servicing to 5,277 properties, which means that at the end of March 2018, 99.89% homes had a landlord gas safety certificate. We should like to thank you for your co-operation in allowing us access and helping us to improve our service. Unfortunately at the end of March 2018 there were six properties to which we were unable to gain access and where we had to take legal action to gain entry.
  • We also carried out 3,146 repairs to heating systems of which 94% of those repairs were completed within target time;
  • Customer satisfaction surveys concluded that 98% of our customers are satisfied with the service provided.

What we’re going to do

  • As well as working hard with our suppliers to improve the service, the compliance team will also be:
    • Overseeing the installation of 280 new heating systems/boiler replacements
    • Installing 133 smoke detectors to homes that do not have any
    • Carrying out electrical fixed wire testing to approx. 1,200 homes.

Tenancy and financial support

We offer advice and help to tenants to help them maximise their income.  We support vulnerable tenants to maintain their tenancies and to reduce the risk of eviction and homelessness.

What we’ve done

  • In total 639 tenants were seen by both teams overall;
  • 340  tenants were helped with housing benefit applications of whom 113 were helped to claim discretionary housing payments;
  • We helped 118 tenants  to get help through charity applications;
  • We have assisted 11 tenants who struggle with hoarding and whose properties had become dangerous
  • We have helped 238 to claim and maintain universal credit claims
  • We have dealt with 47 safeguarding concerns about children and vulnerable adults.
  • We support homeless households moving into Charnwood properties in temporary/emergency accommodation

What we’re going to do

  • We will continue to support and advise tenants moving to universal credit to help them ensure that they pay their rent and there is no risk to their tenancies;
  • We will continue to attend new tenant sign ups in order to give advice and guidance on rent payment and universal credit applications;
  • We will continue developing our tenancy sustainment strategy now that universal credit has been introduced in the borough to take account of the actual effect that this change is having on our rental income and the support needed for our tenants.

Anti-social behaviour (ASB) services

What we've done

  • 1,059 ASB cases were recorded
  • We dealt with 96.34 % of cases using non-legal interventions (this relates to cases where we could progress the case);
  • We have worked in partnership with Leicestershire Police to close premises where drug dealing has taken place or drug activity is affecting communities using the powers available to us under the Anti-Social Behaviour Crime and Policing Act 2014;
  • We referred 18 cases to mediation;
  • Reviewed the patches to ensure that resources are used appropriately taking into account caseloads along with the level of work involved;
  • Ran a summer campaign on Facebook and Twitter to remind people to consider their neighbours and other residents.

What we’re going to do

  • Anti-social behaviour officers will attend the drop-in session attached to the estate walks;
  • We will review the landlord services anti-social behaviour procedures;
  • We will continue to work with partners to ensure that we use the most appropriate tools to deal with anti-social behaviour;    
  • Procure a mediation contractor (current contract ends in January 2020).

Income management

The teams of income officers and financial inclusion officers give advice and support to maximise income for tenants, helping them to pay their rent and avoid accumulating arrears.

What we’ve done

  • The income management team collected 96.75% of the rent due from current tenants in 2018/19, including arrears brought forward. This exceeded our target of 95.31% by 1.44 percentage points;
  • The total rent collected in 2018/19 for all tenancies was £20,996,832;
  • Those paying their rent via a direct debit totalled 35.23% by the end of the year; 
  • We have continued to develop the excellent working relationships with our colleagues in the Department for Work and Pensions (‘DWP’) to ensure we assist our tenants to claim universal credit;
  • We were granted ‘trusted partner’ status with the DWP and were given the ‘landlord portal’ before universal credit was introduced in the borough; this allows us to verify rent information submitted in a tenant’s universal credit claim and to apply for the rent element to be paid directly to us;
  • We will  seek to continue the employment of a universal credit officer, who will concentrate on our universal credit-paid tenants, helping them with making and maintaining their claims and managing the cases through the landlord portal;

What we’re going to do

  • We will adapt our rent accounting computer system to improve our rent arrears escalation approach so more automation of the arrears recovery process to takes place to enable income officers to work more efficiently;
  • We will look at a rent accounting system that uses payment history to enable income officer to further work more efficiently;
  • We will be introducing ‘any-day’ direct debits so that tenants will be able to pay their rent through this method on any working day of the week, weekly, fortnightly or monthly;
  • Review the effectiveness of the role of universal credit officer.

Tenancy and estate management

What we’ve done

  • We received 86 mutual exchange applications. Of these applications 28 tenants moved to new accommodation through a mutual exchange;
  • 98.63% of new tenancy visits were completed against a 95% target - 293 new tenants were seen in total;
  • We continue to carry out communal area fire safety inspections, visiting every one of our 283 communal areas and 14 sheltered schemes every month
  • We carried out four estate walks and provided outcomes from the walk to tenants who live on the route of the walk
  • We reviewed the effectiveness of the additional tenancy and estate management officer and recruited an additional tenancy and estate management officer on a twelve-month fixed-term contract 
  • Appointed a contractor to deliver estate maintenance work on our estates.

What we’re going to do

  • Produce a revised tenancy policy;
  • Commence a review of the tenancy agreement and consult tenants on that new agreement;
  • Carry out four estate walks a year and feedback the outcomes from the walk to tenants who live on the route of the walk
  • Produce a pets policy;
  • Subject to cabinet approval we will introduce a communal cleaning service to our general needs blocks of flats.

Leaseholders

What we’ve done

  • Created a section 20 register (this relates to our legal obligations to consult leaseholders when we’re planning to spend over certain financial limits);
  • Created a five-year plan, which is circulated to all leaseholders at their open surgery/AGM
  • Completed a procedure for lease extensions;
  • Re-invested in leasehold property investment services;
  • Provided an additional telephone line for leaseholders to contact us;
  • Carried out fire risk assessments to shops.

What we’re going to do

  • Continue to implement new communal door entry systems, replacement shed doors, roof replacements and emergency lighting installations;
  • Continue evolving the five-year plan;
  • Tailoring even more of our services to leaseholders as a result of leaseholder survey responses;
  • Introduce more leaseholders’ surgeries in response to leaseholders’ requests
  • Attend conferences to enable to keep ourselves updated with changes leasehold law and good practice;
  • Utilise software such as Service Connect to provide more transparent repairs information.

Warden services and Lifeline

This team supports our elderly and vulnerable tenants and gives them and their families peace of mind through an on-call warden and emergency response service. 

What we’ve done

  • We’ve answered 78,203 calls. 93% of them were answered within 30 seconds and 98% were answered within 60 seconds;
  • There were 621 calls from customers who had fallen, 163 medical requests and 300 medical emergencies;
  • Our out-of-hours on-call wardens made 155 visits;
  • Our warden services team has improved and developed its performance monitoring information.

What we’re going to do

  • We are upgrading our alarm answering equipment software;
  • We are working with Leicestershire Fire and Rescue services to offer the installation of smoke detectors in private home owners properties as an addition to the Lifeline service;
  • We will expand the range of assisted technology devices to ensure our residents can live safely and independently in their homes.

Where we spent money

During 2018/19 the Housing Revenue spent a total of £14.67 million in delivering our services to you. In addition to this we spent £6 million on improving your properties, £2.3 million of which went on the Decent Homes programme which saw the installation of new kitchens, bathrooms, heating etc.

Capital spend (improvements to properties e.g. new kitchens, fire safety measures, adaptations) totalled £6,086,200

  • £14.67 million HRA service costs are as follows:
  • Repairs and maintenance/ planned and day to day maintenance - £5,595,000
  • Supervision and management - £5,512,000
  • Rents, rates, taxes and other charges - £466,000
  • Debt management costs/ Bad debts - £354,000
  • Interest paid - £2,743,000
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