As soon as we merged we started talking to residents like you about what you wanted from our new organisation – what services you wanted to keep and what you wanted us to do differently. The outcome of all of this is set out in our resident promise.
There was a clear message from residents that we needed to make it easier for you to do business with us and that we should involve you in shaping services as we integrate.
Two years on, we look back on how far we have delivered against the key pledges:
Improvements to services: repairs and maintenance
Improvements to repairs and maintenance was a priority for residents. These are being delivered via the new asset management strategy, and a group of residents are currently working with us to develop this further including a new NHG homes standard.
Residents also said that services should be delivered with regard to value for money, so they should be efficient and of good quality. We are testing new ways of delivering repairs through a variety of smaller local contractors, as well as making more use of our in-house repairs team (NHG Direct), and will be assessing and comparing overall cost and customer feedback.
New services: easy, local and personalised
You told us that you wanted new services to give you more control over reporting and tracking repairs, and to make it easier to stay in touch with us. Our new operating model delivers a better, more personal service to customers.
Moreover, when things go wrong you wanted to be able to have a named point of contact to deal with any issues and to make complaints easily. The new operating model delivers this and is supported by the customer services centre. Residents can also now access many services themselves through MyAccount.
Accurate and fair service charges
Another group of residents (called the service charge resident group) is working with us to help us improve how we communicate with residents about service charges, including providing better explanations about what the charges are for. We will be sharing more information about this group and their activities on our website shortly.
Introducing assured tenancies
Ultimately, we hope that we have demonstrated that we are listening more to what residents like you are telling us in order to provide services that meet your needs. One example of this is the recent introduction of assured tenancies for general needs residents who currently have five-year fixed-term contracts. This means that instead of having a review meeting at the end of this period to determine if their contract will be renewed, these residents will see their tenancies continue indefinitely.
We made this decision because residents told us that having an assured tenancy would give them a greater level of security, and this was supported by our resident services committee. It means our residents can choose to live in their property for as long as they want (provided they continue to abide by the terms of their contract) or choose to leave at any time, after giving notice.
Residents will oversee the services
From the beginning, we have sought to make residents the focus of the new housing service offer and they have helped us shape it: through involvement in hubs in the early stages, participating in policy focus groups, and more recently in carrying out service reviews.
The resident services committee, a sub-committee of our main board, regularly tracks our progress. As we move out of the integration phase into business as usual, they will continue to track customer satisfaction, costs and our performance to ensure that the full benefits of the merger are realised for residents.
A summary of progress against all of the commitments as reported to the last RSC meeting can be found here.
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