Since we officially merged in April, our focus has been on working to ensure that residents are at the heart of shaping services. We have built our plans around the new resident promise, to ensure we're delivering on our pledges.
What's happened so far?
Resident feedback should be at the heart of designing new services
- In designing the new housing model we’ve been led by the resident promise, and the insight we have on the things you told us you valued (or didn’t), to improve things. We now have a vision of what that service will look like: a resourceful, empowered and accountable local officer who knows their residents, their history and their area.
- We’ve held a series of workshops as part of developing the new service model and some residents have been working alongside staff on service areas such as the way we handle complaints.
- We’ve been speaking to residents about how we involve them in scrutinising and shaping our services. We’ve held several workshops with residents who are already involved and back in May we held an involvement day for others who would like to become involved. We’ve used this feedback to design the new resident involvement model.
- Residents on our health and disability group have been working with staff as we review our accommodation needs. They are helping us to ensure that office spaces used by the public meet the diverse needs of all residents.
- Residents have been helping us to review how we deal with antisocial behaviour (ASB). This has included tasks such as reviewing the staff training programme, interviewing staff and ASB victims and carrying out mystery shopping.
We want our services to improve
- We are extending the Household Member scheme to former Genesis residents. The scheme gives adult household members the opportunity to move into their own, separate one-bedroom property, if the family home is either too big or too small for the family. More information about this will be available on our website soon.
- We are seeking more volunteers to help us monitor the quality of services such as cleaning and gardening and help us ensure that communal area repairs are
reported and completed in a timely manner.
- We will also be advertising estate inspections in advance so that you have the opportunity to talk to staff on their walkabout if you wish to.
We want services to be easy to access, personal and local
- Great progress has been made on developing a new online self-service system as part of our WorkWise programme. Ultimately, the new system will enable you to access a range of services in this way. Staff have been testing booking repairs through the new system and we are about to introduce it for testing by residents at our Bolney Meadow estate in Lambeth, before rolling it out further.
- We have also started to take rent payments via the new system. We’re ensuring that these options are all built into the new service design.
- Easy access for residents who don’t or can’t use online systems is also really important. The new housing management model is built around having a resourceful and accountable named contact, focused on getting things done. Staff will be supported by a range of back-office teams to ensure we even out fluctuations in the service.
We will continue to ensure that residents are involved in each stage as our work develops:
- We will be seeking resident volunteers to undertake activitiessuch as monitoring the quality of estate services and reporting communal repairs.
- We will be testing the new digital repairs system in one area before we start rolling it out.
- We will be speaking to residents about how we deliver services locally, including the opportunities for getting involved at a local level.
- We will be looking at how we measure customer satisfaction, starting with a baseline survey across all tenures. As we roll out the changes, we’ll be able to know we’re impacting on the things you value.
- We will be opening up opportunities for all residents to get involved in several different ways and will let you know about these via our regular bulletins.
There’s a lot to do to make all of this happen but work is well underway. In the coming months, we’ll tell you more about how we’ll move people into the new service. Some things can, of course, happen quicker, and we’re making changes to bring things together for residents now wherever possible – the extension of the Household Member scheme is a good example.
The consultation identified several main themes that residents consistently told us were important and that we need to address as a larger organisation. Specifically, we should:
- Improve our repairs and maintenance service
- Make better use of digital platforms and new technology to develop our services
- Provide residents with more chances to move home if they want to
- Create genuine resident involvement opportunities
- Maintain a personalised service for those who want and need one
- Provide greater training and employment opportunities
- Ensure value for money and transparency around service charges
We subsequently held two events, which attracted about 50 residents, who provided rich feedback on each of these themes. They also had an opportunity to discuss anything else they felt was important at these events.
In addition, we have been engaging with our shareholders, who are residents, former staff, current and former board members and interested people from our local communities. Some have been involved with NHH and Genesis since we were founded in the 1960s. Their feedback largely reflects what we’ve heard from residents. They want us to:
- Continue to provide genuinely affordable social homes in our heartlands
- Improve our services
- Maintain a local focus
- Give residents a voice in our new organisation
In response, we have agreed that we will:
- Preserve and invest in our legacy stock
- Seek opportunities to provide new homes in the areas where we have our roots
- Not sell off central London homes other than in exceptional circumstances
- Introduce a local contact for each resident and a guaranteed annual visit
- Use NHH’s expertise to create a financially strong organisation
- Improve accountability through local resident involvement as well as by having two residents on our board
- Finalise our resident promise and introduce a commitment to ensure that we are accountable to it
This shareholder feedback will be collated into our draft resident promise, which sets out our commitment to the services residents can expect post-merger. The promise reflects what our proposed new organisation will stand for and how we will be held to account by our residents. It is made up of three elements:
- Our pledge about what our proposed new organisation will stand for
- The improvements we will make to our existing services
- The new services we are committed to developing with residents
We also need to do more work to establish how the promise will work in practice as we build our new organisation.
Why we consulted
We wanted to ensure that current residents with both Notting Hill Housing (NHH) and Genesis Housing Association were informed about our plans to merge and able to express their views. This is best practice in line with the revised Regulator of Social Housing tenant involvement and empowerment standard, which was issued on 14 July 2017.
Who we consulted
Over the course of the consultation, which ran from mid July to early December 2017, we wrote to all residents from both organisations and worked closely with representative groups including involved residents, local scrutiny panels, estate monitors and co-operatives.
How we consulted
We provided a range of mechanisms to help people find out more and contribute their views. These varied slightly between the two organisations, and included:
- Letters to all residents, including shared owners, those in temporary accommodation, leaseholders, general needs tenants and people living in supported and extra care schemes
- Information and feedback forms on our websites
- Emails to involved residents and other groups representing residents
- Telephone research
- Estate walk-abouts
- Q&A events
- Drop-in sessions
- Phone lines for those unable to access email or online resources
In addition to the letters, which went to all residents, we engaged with more than 3,000 residents between us through these activities.
The majority of our residents did not respond to the consultation, which could be inferred as indifference, but cannot be assumed.
What we found out
The majority of residents who responded did not express strong views either for or against the merger itself, but four main themes emerged, which need to be taken account as we create our proposed new organisation:
- We need to build trust with residents by doing what we say we will on issues such as repairs. That means that our communications need to be easier, quicker and more transparent, and we must ensure meaningful involvement for customers.
- Getting bigger is fine, but we need to retain a local focus and a personal approach at the same time as ensuring that our social purpose is at the heart of everything we do.
- We can increase satisfaction by focusing on our service style, repairs and sorting things out quicker.
- Better value for money through getting things right first time, making the most of new technologies, providing fewer touch points before residents get an answer, and ensuring accurate and fair service charges.
Many respondents also wanted reassurance that rents and service charges would not go up as a result of the merger. Other topics included security of tenure, why we want to merge at all and the suitability of one another as partners.
Two organisations - Genesis residents and ListenNHH! - actively oppose the merger. Their concerns relate largely to the selling of social housing, rent increases and the commercialisation of housing associations. They have held a series of protests and maintained an ongoing letter-writing campaign, requesting factual information and statistics. We have responded to all of these letters and had conversations with members of both groups.
Tell us what you think
The formal consultation process has now ended, but we’re always happy to hear from our residents so please continue to let us know what you think about the merger, or if you have any questions.
You can do this in several ways:
- By calling 020 3815 0010
- By emailing firstname.lastname@example.org
- By writing to Freepost NH Housing, Notting Hill Housing, Bruce Kenrick House, 2 Killick Street, London N1 9FL