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The latest edition of In South Cambs February 2024:

Previous editions

Annual Report to Tenants and Leaseholders

Every year we publish an Annual Report for Tenants and Leaseholders.

These reports outline how we have been performing and the projects that we have been working on throughout the financial year.

Find out what we have been doing from 2022 to 2023:

Welcome to your annual report for 2022 to 2023.

We hope you find it interesting and informative. In Housing our focus has been on the Social Housing Regulation Act and the Tenant Satisfaction Measures that will put tenants at the heart of our housing services. We are already doing great work to involve tenants in as much as we can and will continue to do this in line with the new measures. You can read more about it in this report.

Our new repairs contract with Mears has been bringing improvements to the service such as online repairs reporting and regular meetings with involved tenants to discuss its progress. We are excited to be bringing tenants a new app to make reporting repairs even easier.

The introduction of a mental health support worker into our Housing Enforcement team has seen us working with tenants who have complex needs and we have recently received a Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance (DAHA) accreditation for our work with residents experiencing domestic abuse.

Our new build team are doing some great work in Northstowe with not only affordable homes but also providing a community building and sports pavilion.

We hope you enjoy reading more in this report about the work the housing team do.

~ Peter Campbell, Head of Housing and Cllr John Batchelor, Lead Cabinet Member for Housing.

A breakdown of how we spend a weekly rent of £112.80

Repairs and maintenance £46.90

Loan interest payment £23.21

New builds £27.70

General Management £10.07

*Other £2.21

Sheltered Housing £1.33

Resident Involvement 58p

Outdoor 80p

*What is Other?

Other covers many different things, the biggest being costs from other council services such as democratic services, treasury management, & communications. It also covers things like insurance, land registry, and business rates, among other things.

Our performance

In 2022 to 2023 our % rent arrears was 2.04%, last year it was 2.05%.

Our average weekly social rent is £113, last year it was £107.

Our average weekly affordable rent is £152, last year it was £145.

Comparing our percent of rent arrears with other housing associations within the council’s peer group (based on size and location), the highest performing organisation had 1.89%, the lowest performing council had 2.62%, South Cambridgeshire had 2.04%.  This means we are below average compared to other organisation.

Tenant involvement

Tenants have reviewed the rent letters we send out to make sure they are easy to understand and have all the information you need.

 

Our performance

In 2022 to 2023 the percent of repairs appointments we kept was 91%, last year it was 95%.

The percent of emergency repairs attended to in 24 hours was 99%, last year it was 97%.

The percent of repairs fixed first time was 91%, last year it was 92%.

Comparing our satisfaction with repairs with other housing associations within the council’s peer group (based on size and location), the highest performing organisation had 94.5%, the lowest performing council had 87.6%, South Cambridgeshire had 88%.  This means we are a low performing organisation in this area.

Resident Involvement

Tenants attend regular meetings with our operations team and our contractor to review the performance of our repairs service. 

Want to get involved? Email us at: resident.involvement@scambs.gov.uk

Damp and Mould

When water condenses on surfaces in your home, it can lead to damp spots and mould, and make your home an unhealthy place to live. Ventilation is an important part of keeping damp and mould at bay. We understand that people are concerned about heating their homes, especially with the cost of fuel, but some draughts are needed to help with ventilation. Keeping vents open and unblocked helps keep air circulating around your home. Using extractor fans will also help keep damp at bay. Make sure you are regularly cleaning them to keep them working at their best.

Our performance

In 2022 to 2023 we carried out 269 window replacements, last year we carried out 70.

We carried out 248 boiler replacements, last year we carried out 197.

We installed 97 renewable technologies (such as solar panels or air source heat pumps), last year we installed 141.

Comparing the proportion of homes with a valid gas safety certificate with other housing associations within the council’s peer group (based on size and location), the highest performing organisation had 100%, the lowest performing council had 99.67%, South Cambridgeshire had 100%.  This means we are a high performing organisation.

Throughout the year we carry out 2 kinds of works: cyclical and reactive. Cyclical maintenance is planned and performed regularly, whilst reactive maintenance is carried out when it is reported to us. At every estate each year we carry out 12 grass cuts per year, 4 rough cuts per year, 1 weed spray per year and 1 hedge trim.

Reactive work can include trees that need work or are dangerous, overgrown hedges that are blocking a path, ditch clearing and other work that may need attention.

You can report a landscaping issue online or call us on 01954 713 000.

Everyone plays a part in making your neighbourhood a nice place to live. You can look out for your neighbours by:

Keeping areas tidy - Make sure you pick up any litter or dog fouling and, if there isn't a bin close by, take it home with you.

Parking considerately - Parking can be a contentious issue and can cause friction between neighbours. When you, or visitors to your home, park, consider whether you are potentially blocking access to grounds maintenance teams or any neighbours, especially those with mobility issues.

Keeping your garden and boundary hedges in good condition - You hold responsibility for your own garden, including cutting the grass and maintenance of any trees or bushes. Consider whether your hedge may be blocking access to the path, specifically for those using mobility scooters or prams.

Tree planting - If you are considering planting a tree, think about how big it will grow and whether you are able to maintain its growth, as you will be responsible for its ongoing maintenance.

If you have a tree that you think is dangerous or causing damage, however, do let us know.

Resident Involvement

Tenant inspectors (along with our Housing officer) carry out Estate inspections between April and October.  These visits pick up any issues that need attention, such as overhanging hedges, fly-tipping or abandoned vehicles.

Want to get involved? Email us at resident.involvement@scambs.gov.uk

The role of the Housing Engagement Board is to work with the head of housing and councillors to prioritise budgets, work, resources and policies to deliver a service that focuses on tenants needs. We have two representatives for each area of the district:

North

Dave Kelleway email:dave.scdc.tenant.rep@gmail.com

Margaret Wilson email:repwilson37@gmail.com

West

Les Rolfe email:les.rolfe@hotmail.co.uk

Bob Buss email:bussb1@icloud.com

East

Jim Watson email:jimwatson54@outlook.com

Oana Sutherland email:oanasutherland@gmail.com

The board is also made up of the Head of Housing and three district Councillors. They meet every quarter and the minutes of their meetings can be found on our website at www.scambs.gov.uk/heb

Our Housing Performance Panel reviews the performance of key areas of our service and identifies areas where performance could be improved and suggests improvements that could come out of this. Other working groups may be set up to look at specific projects that need input from our tenants.

Between the months of April and October Housing and estate officers, together with tenant volunteers, carry out formal estate inspections. They look at a range of issues, including: landscaping, pathways, communal areas in buildings, fly-tipping and signs of infestations. These are carried out from April to October.

We are always looking for tenant volunteers to join us on our estate inspections. If you have some free time and are interested in joining us, please email: resident.involvement@scambs.gov.uk

Some of the work tenants have been involved in this year includes:

  • Reviewed policies such as for Mutual Exchanges and Aids and Adaptations
  • Attended national conferences
  • Sat on interview panels for key jobs in Housing
  • Reviewed letters and correspondence

Want to get involved?  Contact us at resident.involvement@scambs.gov.uk 

If you are thinking of moving out of your Council home, you can arrange a visit from your Housing Officer. They can let you know what work is needed to be done before you hand it back to us. Anything that is requested, but isn’t done, may result in an invoice being sent to you for the costs incurred in us having to complete the work.

To avoid any recharges when you leave your home, and help us re-let it quicker, we ask that you:

  • Clear all rubbish from inside and outside the home, including sheds and lofts.
  • Fill any holes in the walls from pictures or shelves etc.
  • Any sheds, greenhouses or outhouses that you have put up yourself should be removed (unless it is agreed that it can be left).
  • The decoration should be in a good condition, with no damage or discolouration from smoking etc.

To contact your Housing Officer to request a visit call 01954 713 000 or email duty.housing@scambs.gov.uk

Our performance

The number of council homes that were let in 2022 to 2023 was 349, last year it was 523.

The average number of days to re-let a home was 28 days, last year it was 41 days.

The number of mutual exchanges carried out was 19, last year it was 40.

What is Mutual Exchange?

Most social housing tenants on a secure, flexible or assured tenancy have the ability to swap their home with another council or housing association tenant. This can be really helpful if you are looking to move to be closer to family, work, amenities, if you are looking to downsize or if you are just looking for a more suitable property for you and your family.

Registering on Homeswapper is free for South Cambridgeshire District Council tenants and enables you to advertise your own property and find a potential mutual exchange partner both locally and nationally.

Resident Involvement

Tenants have been involved in reviewing our Mutual Exchange policy and, along with officers, have made some changes to the policy. Some of the main changes that have been made to Mutual Exchanges are:

  • You can now subscribe to HomeSwapper for free to help find someone to swap homes with.
  • If you are downsizing your home (moving to a smaller home) through a mutual exchange, for every bedroom released, £1,000 will be payable upon successful exchange.
  • There is more flexibility on being able to under occupy (swap to a home bigger than you need) by one bedroom.

Want to get involved? Email us at resident.involvement@scambs.gov.uk

Our Housing Enforcement team deal with reports of anti-social behaviour or any safeguarding concerns.  They work with partner agencies and other council departments, such as environmental health, police neighbourhood teams, social services, and more. 

Below is one of the many ways we have dealt with Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB).

Working together to deal with Anti-Social Behaviour

A group of youths targeted a sheltered housing scheme in one of our villages. Many of the residents were not reporting issues to Police. Door to door visits were made by Housing Enforcement staff, Sheltered Housing staff, as well as the Police to speak to, and reassure, residents.

What we, along with partner organisations, did:

• ASB signs were erected in the local area by Housing Enforcement staff.

• Engagement with local youths was carried out by Housing Enforcement staff, after hours.

• Contact was made with the local youth club, District Councillors, and Parish Council to assist with sharing ASB communications with the rest of the community.

A few weeks later, the Community Safety Partnership conducted a follow up visit and door knocked the residents to assess the progress. The feedback was very positive with people telling us that the area had improved considerably. We were advised that, not only had things quietened down, but some of the young people (having been made aware of the impact of not just their own behaviour, but also their friends’ behaviour) were beginning to engage with the residents with friendly conversation.

To report an issue contact us on 01954 713 000 or report an issue online.

Safeguarding is for people who, because of issues such as dementia, learning disability, mental ill-health or substance abuse, have care and support needs that may make them more vulnerable to abuse or neglect.  If you have a safeguarding concern you can report it on our website or call us on 01954 713 000.

If you feel that someone is at immediate risk of harm or neglect then please contact the police on 999.

Number of Anti-social behaviour cases over the last five years

2018 to 2019 110 cases

2019 to 2020 191 cases

2020 to 2021 232 cases

2021 to 2022 334 cases

2022 to 2023 303 cases

Our performance

In 2022 to 2023 we received 136 complaints about our housing service, last year we received 164.

The percent of complaints dealt with within the timescale was 87%, last year it was 84%.

The number of compliments received was 34, last year it was 40.

Comparing the percentage of complaints resolved within timescale with other housing associations within the council’s peer group (based on size and location), the highest performing organisation had 100%, the lowest performing council had 60.6%, South Cambridgeshire had 86%.  This means we are an above average performing organisation.

How to report a complaint

Whilst we try our best to deliver first-class customer service at all times, we recognise that sometimes we may not perform as well as we could.

If this is the case, please let us know so we can put it right and learn from our mistakes.

You should complain if you are unhappy:

  • about how your enquiry was dealt with
  • with how an officer has treated you
  • with our standard of service

Please include as much detail as you feel is necessary and complete our online complaints form or you can:

 

Our performance

In 2022 to 2023 we provided 58 new rented homes, last year we provided 65.

We provided 33 new shared ownership homes, last year we provided 17.

South Cambs’ New Build Team have been remarkably busy over the last few years delivering much-needed new affordable homes. There is a huge demand for homes in our District, which means the need for affordable homes is also growing. In order to meet this increasing demand, and responding to modern building practices, our new Council homes have had a twenty-first century facelift.

  • Our homes are warm
  • Our homes are affordable
  • Our homes are green
  • Our homes are modern
  • Our homes have great access to outdoor space

If you are interested in one of our Affordable Rent homes, you will need to register with Home-Link at www.home-link.org.uk 

If you would like to know more about our Shared Ownership properties, please email our agents, William H Brown, at scdc@williamhbrown.co.uk 

As well as building affordable homes our new build team have been involved in providing community buildings at Northstowe. A temporary community building opened in the summer and we have submitted an application for a permanent community centre. We have also recently completed work on a sports pavilion.

You can find out more about our new builds on our website.

Previous annual reports

 

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