Annual report to tenants and leaseholders - our performance for 2020 to 2021
A message from our Group Head of Residential Services, Satnam Kaur
Welcome to our annual report which provides highlights of our performance for the 2020/21 financial year. This last year has been unlike any other and has been extremely challenging for us all.
The council’s service offer was impacted by Covid restrictions and we often had to change service provision at short notice in line with government guidance.
I am proud of the way you and our staff have responded during these unprecedented times, and I want to thank you for your patience during this challenging period.
What we have seen is that the pandemic has brought out the best in our communities and has brought people together, we have heard examples of neighbours checking in on one another, helping them with their shopping and supporting the most vulnerable in our communities. We want to continue to encourage that community spirit and engage with our communities to work with them to provide safe and thriving neighbourhoods for our residents, that create community inclusion along with a sense of place.
We will be holding community events throughout next year, so keep an eye out on social media and our website for details.
One of things we wanted to do was find out how we were performing and in February we sent out a questionnaire to all our tenants and leaseholders to get your views. A big thank you to all of you who took the time to complete and return the questionnaire, we had a fantastic return rate of 44%. Your feedback is extremely valuable to us and will help us to shape and deliver great services. You can view the results in full on our website https://www.arun.gov.uk/tenant-participation.
We look forward to providing you with future updates. We wish you well for the coming months and we are committed to continuing to use your feedback to improve our services.
Number of rented and leasehold homes managed by us
- 166 bedsits
- 233 1 bed bungalows
- 126 2 bed bungalows
- 33 temporary accommodation dwellings
- 307 2 bed houses
- 864 3 bed houses
- 55 4 bed houses
- 8 5 bed houses
- 3 1 bed houses
- We also have 453 flats
- 974 1 bed flats
- 442 2 bed flats
- 84 3 bed flats
- 71 2 bed maisonettes
- 12 3 bed maisonettes
A total of 3,831 homes managed across the Arun District.
Schemes we have delivered this year
This year we have developed or bought back 35 properties.
Starling House in Littlehampton where we completed on a block of 10 flats made up of a combination of one and two bedrooms.
Windroos Drive in Littlehampton where we completed on a block of 12 two-bedroom flats and 2 two-bedroom houses.
Quiet Waters in Angmering where we completed on a block of 8 flats made up of a combination of one and two bedrooms.
Our housing register
As at 31 March 2021 there were 1,054 households on our housing register waiting for accommodation.
This is broken down into general needs applications and applications for sheltered housing.
957 households are waiting for general needs accommodation and 97 are waiting for sheltered accommodation.
Since last year there has been a 140% increase in the number of applications to join the housing register.
In 2019-2020 we let 193 homes to families, couples and single households in order to meet their housing need.
For long periods of the year house moves were on hold but as soon as it was safe to do so our officers helped 17 households move via mutual exchange.
The average time taken to re-let a property was 82 days which was longer than in previous years, this was largely due to works that were delayed because of the pandemic and the subsequent impact on the shortage of materials.
The work of our Housing Options team
Being homeless at any time is difficult but faced with a global pandemic and its resulting restrictions, people who were facing homelessness, or who were already homeless, had to overcome some significant barriers.
Throughout the Covid-19 crisis, and therefore under very challenging circumstances, the Housing Options Team continued to deliver frontline, face to face services on a daily basis from both Littlehampton and Bognor offices in order to continue to give much needed advice and assistance to people who had issues with housing.
During the first lockdown the Government introduced it’s ‘Everyone In’ directive to ensure people who were rough sleeping or in shared sleeping arrangements at the time of lockdown were provided with self-contained accommodation reducing the risk of Covid-19 infection and spread. We accommodated 60 additional households under this directive.
Since last year we have seen a 229% increase in the number of people approaching the Housing Options Team as a result of being homeless that night. A significant number of these were single people where relationships had broken down.
Our teams work together to offer a holistic service to anyone finding themselves homeless. We work closely with a whole range of partners across the district to ensure that every individual gets the right expert support. The council is committed to ending street homelessness.
This year has seen our repairs and planned maintenance service effected by Covid-19, during periods of lockdown we continued to carry out emergency repairs to ensure you were safe and secure in your home.
We were unable to carry out many of the works we had planned but as restrictions are eased, we will commence with our programme of works for 2021/22 and continue to invest in our properties.
This year we spent
£1,621,355,92 on responsive repairs completing 6,686 repairs in your home, of which 1,699 were attended to as an emergency.
£3,309,141.39 on planned maintenance (revenue and capital) which included
- 144 boilers
- 80 installations of new gas central heating systems
- 40 kitchens
- 26 bathrooms
- 2 roof replacements
We also spent £1,426,306.93 on empty properties carrying out the repairs needed to make 193 homes ready for new tenants.
We carried out
27 Aids and adaptations totalling a cost of £107,980 to help people to remain living independently in their own homes.
Osborne Property Services Ltd are our responsive repairs and voids contractor, the contract has now been in place for over a year and we are continuing to work with them to ensure you receive a high-quality repairs service.
This year they completed 84% of repairs on the first visit. They kept to 98% of appointments where the operative arrived during the booked appointment slot.
Keeping you safe
Despite Covid-19 we continued to carry out important safety works to ensure your homes and communal spaces were safe and secure.
This year we completed:
- 99 Fire Risk Assessments (FRA’s)
- 724 Fire Risk Actions
- 682 Asbestos surveys
- 80 Electrical safety inspections
- 142 Lift inspections
Each year we must carry out gas safety checks on all our homes. This year we had 100% compliance.
As part of our planned fire safety works, we replaced 328 fire doors.
A greener future
We are working hard to improve energy efficiency in our homes and our aim is to ‘de-carbonise’ our homes entirely by 2030.
To determine the best route to net zero carbon for our properties a high-level desktop assessment by Parity Projects was commissioned. Over the coming months a more detailed analysis will be undertaken which will inform our strategic approach and a roadmap to meet our net zero target.
We will provide regular updates to you about the work we are doing to de-carbonise our homes.
Listening to you
Our residents remain at the heart of everything we do, and your feedback enables us to continually review how we can improve and develop our services.
With the launch of the Housing Ombudsman complaint handling code in January 2021 we have been working with our contractors to ensure we are clearly capturing the root cause of complaints and the lessons learned. This includes regular meetings to discuss any ongoing complaints, ensuring we are making improvements to our service as a result of your feedback.
We are usually able to resolve issues at an early stage by raising them with the relevant service area. Where formal complaints are made, we follow a two-stage process and carry out a detailed investigation.
This year we received
- 26 complaints
of these complaints
- 15 were Stage 1
- 11 were Stage 2
In our recent residents’ survey you told us that the way we handle complaints could be improved, we are now working on the following:
- a new corporate complaints policy for publication in 2022
- all employees working within the housing service will be asked to complete the Housing Ombudsman Service’s dispute resolution training
- regularly publishing to residents the lessons, we have learned from complaints and any changes made as a result
- continuing to work with our contractors to ensure improvements are made as a result of your feedback
We resolved 46 anti-social behaviour cases and we continue to work with our partner agencies to reduce anti-social behaviour.
Our Neighbourhood Housing Officers made 25 safeguarding referrals, to help get support for the most vulnerable in our communities.
With the recent pandemic and more people spending more time at home in the last year many housing providers have seen an increase in cases of domestic abuse, and this has been the case in Arun too.
In the last year many housing providers have seen an increase of domestic abuse. We will support victims of domestic abuse, enabling them to find support and to take the action against the perpetrator that they feel is most appropriate.
To help prevent domestic abuse, we will raise awareness and encourage reporting through training, campaigns and promotion through our communication channels. For local support please visit https://www.westsussex.gov.uk/fire-emergencies-and-crime/domestic-abuse/ local-support-for-people-being-abused/
Over the last year our teams have been supporting and working with those who have seen their income impacted by Covid-19.
Our Financial Inclusion Officer received 242 referrals throughout the year, supporting those who were struggling to pay their rent and needed assistance in applying for Universal Credit.
Our Neighbourhood Housing Officers have been working with residents in rent arrears to set up affordable payment plans and offer support and reassurance.
This year our rent collected as a percentage of rent due was 95.70%.
To check the balance of your rent account you can text BALANCE to 07520 646 606 or you can check your balance through your i-Housing account.
Our tenancy sustainment officer started in 2020 and she got off to a flying start working with 38 tenants to date.
The purpose of the role is to offer time limited support to help you to sustain your tenancy.
Support has been provided to:
- Victims and perpetrators of ASB
- Tenants in significant rent arrears
- Those hoarding and disrepair of property
- Vulnerable adults
- Tenants who require additional specialist support from external agencies
We have received positive feedback from tenants who have been supported.
“I was contacted by my housing officer, we agreed a payment plan and have set up a monthly direct debit, that’s a great relief and thanks for your help”.
“You have been kind and helpful. If it wasn’t for you, we wouldn’t be where we are now. Thank you for being very helpful and understanding and more human than some that don’t seem to want to help. Your kindness has gone very far with me and the other residents”.
We have 453 leaseholders.
We have recruited a full time Rent and Finance Support Officer to carry out leasehold management.
We have reviewed the guidance sent to leaseholders when carrying out S20 consultations.
We will produce information leaflets for leaseholders on S20 consultations and how they are carried out.
We will keep leaseholders updated by providing regular communications in our new newsletter and on our website.
We will update our web pages to provide up to date information to our leaseholders.
Right to buy
This year we received
- 28 Right To Buy applications
- 4 Right To Buy sales were completed
Please e-mail email@example.com to report any leasehold matters.
Resident engagement at Arun is changing and we are in the process of developing our engagement strategy along with new opportunities for you to get involved.
What have we been doing so far?
We recruited a full time Resident Engagement Officer to develop and implement our new strategy and work with you to increase engagement across the district.
We became members of TPAS. TPAS is a membership organisation, dedicated to bringing residents and landlords together to find solutions to improve services, save money and bring lasting change to communities.
We held virtual meetings with some of our involved residents to update them on key changes.
We began work with our contractor Osborne Property Services Ltd to develop a community investment plan that will deliver initiatives and bring social value to your communities.
What you told us
In our recent resident satisfaction survey 54% of you told us that you do not feel you have a say in how services are managed and 51% of you feel we do not listen to your views and act on them.
We are working to change this so please keep an eye out for new ways to give us your feedback and get involved. If you do want to get involved please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01903 737656.
Your customer experience
Since March last year we have seen an increase in call volumes for housing services as our customers have been unable to visit our offices in person.
The housing pages of our website received 75,403 visits this year.
On 19 August 2020 a brand-new webchat service was launched for a limited number of service areas.
Since it was launched, we have had 3,094 webchat interactions.
In October 2020 housing rent and repairs were added to the webchat and since that date our customer services team have handled 292 interactions.
How we spend our income
Income and expenditure
Each £1 of rent and service charge income pays for:
32p - running housing services (32%)
30p - net loan charges (30%)
27p - repairs and maintenance (27%)
11p - financing of capital expenditure (11%)
Looking forward to 2021/22
From January 2022 we will have a regular timetable of estate walkabouts that you can attend. Walkabouts are a great opportunity to get to know your Neighbourhood Housing Officer and make sure they understand how it feels to live in your area from your perspective. We will be advertising the walkabouts in our newsletter and on our website.
From January 2022 our Neighbourhood and Repairs officers will be attending quarterly coffee mornings at our sheltered schemes to offer advice and support to you. We will be advertising these on the noticeboards within the schemes.
We will be looking to arrange community engagement projects throughout the year to build rapport with our communities and hear about what matters to them. Look out for details on our website and social media pages.
Fire safety works
We will move into year 2 of our fire door replacement programme with 130 doors due to be replaced in 21/22.
Complaints and lessons learned
In our recent resident’s survey, you told us that the way we handle complaints could be improved, we are now working on the following. A new corporate complaints policy is being developed for publication in 2022.
All employees working within the housing service will be required to complete the Housing Ombudsman’s dispute resolution training.
Regularly publishing to you the lessons, we have learned from complaints and any changes made as a result.
Continuing to work with our contractors to ensure improvements are made as a result of your feedback.
We will produce information leaflets for you on S20 consultations and how they are carried out. We will keep you updated by providing regular communications in our new newsletter and on our website.
We will review our web pages to provide you with key updates and useful information.
Arun District Council has launched a new website which will continue to be developed to ensure it provides the content you want and need.
More options will be added to the web chat function enabling you to contact us via our website
We will be developing a new engagement strategy and framework to give you more opportunities to get involved.
How you can contact us
By using i-housing you can access services online and report and track repairs, make payments and view information about your tenancy and rent account. If you would like to register for i-housing to access these services, please complete our eform with your details and we will e-mail you a password.
You can call us using these numbers:
01903 737751 - for rent
01903 737827 - for repairs
01903 737500 - for all other enquires
You can e-mail your neighbourhood housing officer at email@example.com
Any questions If you have any questions about this report or would like to provide feedback, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org