Tenant Involvement Strategy

This strategy sets out the approach Local Space (LS) HA will take to engaging and involving our tenants going forward. It builds on the engagement work previously undertaken and adapts our approach to the changing dynamics in LS and subsequent resources available. We seek to provide housing services that evolve and improve over time to meet our tenants’ needs and ensure our performance continues to improve compared to our peers.

We will deliver these aims by broadening opportunities for our tenants to provide feedback on our services and to get more involved at a level that suits them. We recognise that, to be effective, our model must make engagement and feedback as easy and accessible as possible and our approach will utilise the full range of communication channels, from face to face contact, to voice and electronic communication to achieve this. This strategy makes a distinction between Local Space’s tenants and other residents and outlines Local Space’s approach to involving Directly Managed tenants.


Background

Local Space HA was set up in 2006 in partnership with LB Newham to provide homes in East London. Our pioneering approach was developed with LB Newham, and successfully extended to Hackney, Waltham Forest and the City of London. We currently provide quality, sustainable accommodation to 1696 homeless households across East London and 132 keyworkers in Newham

Our model is very different from other Housing Associations. Whilst we have our own tenant base, which comprises 368 homes, we also lease properties to LB Newham where our role is limited to managing the long term asset maintenance needs and ensuring gas services are safe.

The Tenants Policy and Scrutiny Panel (TPSP) was established in December 2014 and will continue to develop as the focus of our tenant involvement activities but we also seek to draw wider tenant participation via transactional satisfaction surveys, focus surveys and joint estate inspections.


Objectives

Our strategic objectives for tenant engagement is grounded in the spectrum of involvement which ranges from passive to active involvement.


Information

We want to improve the range, quality and delivery of information to our tenants. In order to achieve this we will publish a range of information on the way we conduct our day-to-day business and how we spend some of our money. Our webpage will include:

  • Our annual reports and business plans.
  • Our tenants’ handbooks, customer leaflets.
  • How we perform as a business.

We will consider requests for other information, but we have the right to refuse to share information that we believe puts our business at risk, concerns legal matters, or puts us in breach of the Data Protection Act.

In sharing other information, except when we are legally obliged to do so, we will consider whether we think:

  • the information shared will actually be useful to the person requesting it;
  • whether it represents value for money – in terms of whether the cost of supplying the information is justified.; and
  • whether the information is sensitive to the business or any individual.

Consultation

We want to reach more tenants and tenants from different groups, especially those who may not want to commit to active involvement. We will do this by developing and utilising a “Get Involved Register” for our directly managed tenants. This will provide tenants with more passive opportunities to shape our services, which do not need such a significant time commitment and which are easy to fit into their existing lifestyles.

Staff and volunteer tenants will make more use of quantitative methods (such as surveys and customer polling via telephone, text and social media) and qualitative methods such as focus groups, to collect insight and data when reviewing the quality of service delivery.

We will continue to use independent transactional surveys to assess the satisfaction of our residents with our repairs and maintenance and allocations service delivery. We have already introduced the Voluntas-run real time monitoring of services and we will continue to increase the flow of service information from this.

Feedback from surveys will help inform our Scrutiny Panel in their work and be a key tool in targeting improvements to achieve higher satisfaction.

At least every two years we will use the Survey of Tenants and Residents (STAR) to assess  satisfaction with:

  • whether we are keeping tenants informed of things which affect them; and
  • that we are taking tenants’ views into account.

Involvement

We want to mainstream resident involvement in operational service delivery. The Director of Operations will be accountable for ensuring residents are involved in the monitoring, review and development of services. To help implement this all operational staff will have a specific personal objective with regard to involving residents in their service area. This will include:

  • Inviting residents to estate inspections
  • Learning from tenants’ complaint because it is free feedback on our services and an important opportunity to learn how we can make improvements
  • Ad hoc focus groups to review policies and procedures

Scrutiny

We want an effective approach to performance and service scrutiny, with tenants holding Local Space to account for its service delivery and at the heart of shaping and driving improvements. We aim to increase the impact of our scrutiny panel by establishing a clear structure and timetable for scrutiny each year.

In essence, this function will be more strategic, undertaking service reviews and reporting outcomes and improvements to the Board. The Panel will also review policy and practice to help improve Local Space services in the medium and long term. It will cover all core services such as Repairs and Maintenance, Customer Service and Improvements, Neighbourhood and Tenancy. The Panel will consist of recruited members who will work closely with the Board, Director of Operations and senior staff to develop tenant involvement, and improve the customer experience of Local Space services.

We will support the Panel to undertake service reviews with sufficient independence to enable a robust review process and outcomes. This may require some external support and facilitation.

The functions will include:

  • Checking that services reflect tenants’ priorities and deliver value for money.
  • Monitoring performance and information across all Local Spaces’ services.
  • Identify trends and challenge weak performance
  • Looking at how Local Space delivery compares to others, including benchmarking data.
  • In-depth examination of how a particular service is planned and delivered.
  • Reporting service review outcomes and follow up action to the Board.

Scrutiny can be recommended by the Board or Director of Operations but will also be driven by tenants’ priorities for service improvement or as a consequence of poor performance or satisfaction survey results.

Local Spaces’ TPSP will meet at least four times per year and focus on strategy, policy, E&D and scrutiny. Appointments to the TPSP will be made by nomination for a minimum period of 12 months.


Empowerment

We want to empower residents through our decision making structure and processes. We will achieve this through our governance structure. Local Space Board will be responsible for strategy and corporate governance and when places are available on the Board tenants will be encouraged to apply.

In addition, representatives from the TPSP will present their findings to the Board from scrutiny on a regular basis and will be encouraged to attend Board meetings as an observer.


Levels of Engagement

We will use our key results report to monitor levels of engagement. This will include:

  • the number of engaged tenants (scrutiny, focus groups and consultation) as a percentage of our tenant population; and
  • the percentage of tenants contacted for surveys.

Policy Context

In 2011 the Localism Act outlined new regulatory arrangements for social housing and the abolition of the TSA from April 2012. The Act sets out the two principal functions of the new Committee: to deal with economic regulation and consumer regulation.

The consumer regulations (s.193 of the Housing and Regeneration Act 2008 as amended by the Localism Act 2011) contain the requirements relating to tenant involvement and empowerment, which addresses:

  • Customer service, choice and complaints
  • Involvement and empowerment
  • Understanding and responding to diverse needs of tenants

Under the involvement and empowerment the regulator states:

‘Registered providers shall ensure that tenants are given a wide range of opportunities to influence and be involved in:

  • The formulation of their landlord’s housing related policies and strategic priorities.
  • The making of decisions about how housing related services are delivered including the setting of service standards.
  • The scrutiny of their landlord’s performance and the making of recommendations to their landlord about improvements

Value for Money

Local Space is committed to ensuring that an appropriate amount is spent on tenant involvement activities that lead to real change and improvement in our services.

Costs and satisfaction with tenant involvement are benchmarked against other housing providers through the Housing Quality Network and HouseMark. The results from which will be provided annually in the Tenants Annual report, reported to Board along with an Impact Assessment.