2014/15 has been a busy 12 months for our organisation, our customers and our communities. It’s fair to say a lot has happened. Here are just some of the highlights.
Thanks to a process of improvement and modernisation and an investment of over £8.6 million, we’re pleased to say that over 99.9% of our homes now meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard.
Only 1 of our 12,810 homes failed to meet standard. This property is now empty and will be sold.
was spent repairing homes. This is broken down into £5,100,000 on routine repairs maintenance and £6,500,000 on scheduled maintenance
was spent on major repairs to improve homes
homes benefited from external wall insulation; this has cut customer heating bills by 30% on average
homes also benefited from the installation of Solar Thermal technology. This can reduce hot water bills by up to 70%, saving the average household £70 per year.
major property adaptations were made to help people with disabilities to remain at home
smaller property adaptations were made to support people with disabilities to live independently at home
was spent by Helena on adaptations
was received from the local council to help fund adaptations
worth of works carried out in total
of emergency repairs are completed in our target time
of responsive repairs were completed right first time against a target of 93%
Changes to the way we deliver services, such as multi-skilling our operatives, have resulted in our repairs and maintenance performance improving throughout the year.
of customers were satisfied with our repairs service meeting our target. This puts us in the top 25% of similar housing associations.
Our overall performance continues to improve. Customers were very positive about the quality of work carried out and the way our operatives treated their homes with respect.
As a result of multi-skilling our operatives we now complete 9 out of every 10 repairs in the first visit, meaning fewer appointments and less inconvenience.
of homes had a valid gas safety certificate
We take legal action against those properties we cannot access as your safety is one of our top priorities.
new homes were built against a target of 132. We invested £11.7 million into new build activity and delivered new homes to a value of £14.95 million.
of customers surveyed said they were happy with their new home
has been invested in property conversions helping to meet the increased demand for smaller homes
“In January we rolled out an improved way of working across our neighbourhoods following a successful pilot project in Moss Bank.
As an organisation this has enabled us to do more for our money while still maintaining a high standard of customer service.
Specialised roles have been created focussing on place and enforcement, so we can target those neighbourhoods which face the greatest challenges on our estates. Working within pre-tenancy allows me to assist existing customers with any issues or enquiries that may impact upon them.”
Nichola Norton, Customer Service Support Officer
“I live on my own and sometimes find it hard to get around and do things others take for granted, but with the Staying Home service I have the security of knowing help is just a click away.
The Helena staff who visit me are really friendly and treat me as a person they care about not just a routine visit they have to go to. We always have a good chat and it’s the small things that really make a big difference.
I’m much happier living in my home and I can rest comfortably knowing that if I ever did get into trouble Helena would be right there to help me.”
Frank Stott, Customer
“Earlier in the year holes were drilled on Rainford Road to create a virtually inexhaustible underground natural heat source. This was then connected to a new heating system which runs directly into our customers’ homes.
Thanks to the thermostats fitted in every flat, residents can now keep the temperature of their homes constant and in line with Age UK recommendations. This means healthier customers, less energy being wasted and a saving of over £10,000 a year on heating bills across the sheltered scheme.
At Helena we are always looking at ways we can combine the latest technologies with value for money. Investing in projects like this, with help from the government’s Renewable Heat Incentive, means it may be more expensive initially but over the long term we are actually receiving income as a reward for reducing costs as well as our carbon footprint, plus creating sustainable and more affordable homes for the future.”
Martin Roughley, Sustainability and Innovation Manger
“When I first got involved with the Parrmount Court improvement group I didn’t think I’d have a lot of say in what was planned to our community room.
I couldn’t have been more wrong, myself and other residents have been involved every step of the way, choosing everything from the colour of the paint, picking flowers and what we use to reupholster the furniture.
Helena really took what we had to say on board; we love the finished results and are really proud of how it looks.
We have a lovely community here, plus the staff are fantastic and are always there to help and advise no matter what.”
Joan Morris, Customer
“I moved into my new Helena home as soon as it was ready and it’s perfect for me and my little boy.
It’s spacious, close to where I work as well as the shops, plus my mum lives just around the corner and there’s a park over the road too.
It’s a brilliant family home and I’m now looking forward to watching my son grow up in a place we all feel safe, comfortable and happy.”
Katie Dancer, Customer
We believe that value isn’t just about how much things cost, but how much good we can do too. That’s why we monitor every pound we spend across all our activities and carefully measure the effect it has.
Major repairs and improvement projects on properties
Day-to-day repairs in response to customer requests
Planned maintenance and improvement works like gas servicing or repainting
Services including grounds maintenance, caretaking, communal heating and lighting
Tailored support services for vulnerable customers
Management costs for offices, staffing and the delivery of our services
Other Social Housing activities, such as supporting people, regeneration activities and home contents insurance scheme
Non Social Housing activities, this includes other properties we own, such as shops and garages
Annual depreciation charge, such as the value of our homes
Interest on loans taken to fund property improvements and to build new homes
are satisfied they receive good value for money for the rent they pay
*Source of data: NROSH 2015.
The rents that we charge compare favourably with other housing associations in St Helens. Customer feedback suggests you believe we provide a good quality service at a competitive price.Read more from Helena customers and staff
“Every year we invest heavily in maintaining and improving our homes. This not only helps us to meet the government’s Decent Homes Standard but is also a cost effective way of making our properties more sustainable and extends their useful life.
The money we spend also means we can pass benefits on to customers too. From saving money on energy bills through to reducing responsive repairs, we continually work towards providing places everyone can feel proud to call home.”
Gary Howard, Assets Systems Manager
“Our customers have increasingly higher aspirations and expectations and over the last year Neighbourhood Services has adapted to meet these demands by restructuring itself into a more targeted and efficient service.
Specialist roles such as the Neighbourhood Enforcement Officers have meant that anti-social behaviour and criminal activity can be more effectively targeted to a higher standard. While Neighbourhood Place Officers have been tasked with more flexibility and empowerment to tackle issues on our estates, working smartly to analyse and identify emerging risks.
We also work very closely with external partners to sustain tenancies, address vulnerability issues, assist people into work and improve the environment of our neighbourhoods, all of which is good news for our customers.“
Jeff Keenan, Neighbourhood Co-ordinator
“I’ve been a stay-at-home mum to my 4 children for the last 8 years and becoming part of New Futures has helped me in so many ways. Before I applied for lots of jobs but struggled to get interviews, and if I did, they didn’t go as well as I’d hope so my confidence was knocked and I started to wonder how I would ever find work.
I’m so excited to be starting my placement and can’t wait to build my skills hands-on in the workplace. Thanks to Helena I now believe I can do it.”
Kellie O’Brien, New Futures Attendee
Our customer service centre, One Call, deals with on average 780 calls per day. That’s around 80 calls more per day than last year.
Even with this increase in demand we have still managed to maintain or improve our call handling performance. What’s more we have also seen improvements to our overall satisfaction figures.
In the last 12 months we have improved our digital services to make them easier and quicker. We have set ourselves a target to get 80% of our tenants transacting with us by 2020.
of our customers now have an online account
of our customers, with rent to pay, now choose to do so by Direct Debit
We know we don’t always get it right, that’s why we react, respond and learn from the feedback we receive. Here’s how we’re doing:
of customers are satisfied with our services according to our STAR customer satisfaction survey, which is up on last year’s performance
Surveys like STAR show us where we’re doing well, where we’re not and help us to improve.
of your calls were dealt with at the first point of contact against a target of 91%
This is how we measure our performance in One Call:
It helps us to ensure that we respond to your enquiries efficiently and effectively. Our aim is to continuously improve our performance and we will set even more challenging targets in the future.
complaints, down from 282 last year
complaints about not meeting your expectations
complaints about not keeping you informed
complaints about unexpected delays in delivery of service
We value your feedback and aim to deal with all complaints we receive within 5 working days. Here’s how we are performing:
When it comes to dealing with complaints, we set ourselves strict targets. We didn’t meet our target this year so have now reviewed our processes. We aim to keep you fully informed and updated, especially if we can’t resolve matters within our target time.
of customers were satisfied with our complaints handling
We realise there are always improvements to be made and work closely with the customer-led Value Improvement Panel to make sure we deliver improved services.
of complaints were dealt with within 5 days, against a target of 95%
“I really wanted to give something back to the community I’d grown up in, so when I found out that Helena was looking for a young person to join their Tenants and Communities Committee I jumped at the chance.
Over the last few months I’ve completed a number of recruitment interviews and met other members to discuss the issues that matter most. I’m now very much looking forward to providing a voice for young tenants and helping Helena to improve their homes and services for people of all ages.”
Rio Bridge, Tenants and Communities Committee Member
“I’ve been a Helena customer for 25 years and they are always giving people like me the chance to learn new things.
I’ve learned so much since starting the weekly Digital for All classes, you learn at your own pace and the staff are always very helpful and friendly. The sessions aren’t just a learning experience, they provide a relaxing environment to socialise and meet new people in too. I’d encourage anyone to take the opportunity and come along.”
Bill Melding, Customer
“As a team we strive to ensure customer satisfaction is as high as possible, but one common complaint we receive is the time that we take to respond to non emergency repairs.
We now work fewer hours in the summer and more in winter to cover peaks in demand so that customers don’t have to wait as long for an engineer to call. We have also introduced initiatives like additional training, gas forums and peer to peer shadowing so engineers are more flexible, we get the job done right first time and as a result there are fewer unexpected delays.
We are also very proud of our recent Gas Safe Inspection result, but customers can help us to achieve even more by keeping to appointments, allowing us access to their property, and letting us know when any gas or solid fuel appliances are fitted in their home.”
Vincent Mather, Gas Engineer
We know that the safety and appearance of our neighbourhoods is a top concern for our customers. Along with rent, it’s one of ours too. Here are just some of the ways we’ve tried to improve our places:
We engaged 1,403 young people across St Helens via our Make it Happen initiative, which is funded by the Big Lottery Fund. We held 584 events, and completed 57 projects giving them the chance to gain the skills they need to become active members of their communities.
We invested £600,000 in our communities to help customers into work and training and to reduce
nuisance cases were resolved. That’s 58 cases on average for every 1,000 properties that we own.
We’re committed to supporting those experiencing anti-social behaviour and continue to work closely to tackle these issues.
of customers were satisfied with the outcome of anti-social behaviour cases
Rent arrears continue to be a challenge and customers risk losing their home. Whilst our performance remained within target we aim to improve.
of rent was collected. Our rent collection rates are still above target despite the increased pressures on household budgets.
3% of rent owed to us was not paid, this includes rent owed from previous years. Whilst this is better than our expected target of 4%, it still means £2,191,366 of outstanding rent was not paid last year and we aim to improve.
This year we have introduced a number of initiatives to support customers going into arrears and guard against the challenges of Welfare Reform and Universal Credit. This puts us in the top 50% of similar housing associations.
Turnover is less than 9% of our total stock. This equates to around 1,100 empty properties this year which is significantly less than the 1,400 vacancies we were expecting.
to re-let our homes
It took less time to re-let our empty homes. We missed our target of 36 days due to bringing a number of empty properties back into use. We also took a proactive approach to the introduction of welfare reform by helping to transfer customers affected.
Following government changes to welfare reforms we have seen a significant drop in demand for our larger properties. As a result we have spent £600,000 on converting these low demand empty houses into smaller homes to meet the shortage.
Changes to benefits and economic hardship mean that we aim to help and support our most vulnerable customers find work opportunities, manage their finances and reduce arrears.
customers helped into work
customers helped into training and 7 into volunteering
residents involved in our activities
We also encourage all our customers to get involved in what we do and how we do it. This could be helping to run the company through our Value Improvement Panel or making a difference to our neighbourhoods through the new Tenants and Communities Committee.
“Neighbourhood Services have been transformed this year with a more specialised way of working being introduced across the organisation.
As a Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer I have found that I now have the time to carry out challenges earlier, resolve and close cases much quicker and more efficiently.
This new proactive approach has not only reduced costs to the business but also had a positive effect on our customers, protecting them from the potential negative effects of nuisance behaviour in their communities.”
Colin Goldthorpe, Neighbourhood Enforcement Officer
“With the support of Helena we’ve been able to establish a new Home Watch group in Thatto Heath.
Across the Queensland and Sutton Heath estates residents and local partners will now look at the issues that matter most and how together we can create safer, more pleasant places to live.
This group is all about listening to residents to improve our communities from the inside out and it’s so rewarding to see relationships between neighbourhoods grow and estates transformed.”
Janet Glover, Customer
“I heard about Helena’s latest employment event from my Jobcentre Plus Work Coach Advisor. On the day I got the chance to explore lots of options and talk directly to employers, and it was this conversation that secured me a job.
Working at Chalon Court has been a brilliant opportunity for me, I’ve already become a lot more independent, my confidence has grown and I’m gaining skills and experience in the workplace everyday.
I feel very lucky to have had Helena’s help.”
Stella Martin, Employment Event Attendee
“The Tenants and Communities Committee works closely with the Value Improvement Panel to monitor and make certain that Helena is able to maintain the standards we as tenants expect from our landlord.
Together in the last year we have carried out scrutiny reviews on a number of service areas, these included complaints management, performance and target setting and kitchen and bathroom replacement.
With funding being reduced even further this year, it is essential that we continue to work in this way to achieve the best results for all.”
Don Ramsey, Customer and Tenants and Communities Committee Member
“The Value Improvement Panel is a group of tenants like me who actively hold Helena to account, with a key focus on driving down costs.
Over the last 12 months we have undertaken further training, developed an action plan with clear measures and targets and continued to gain national recognition, presenting at 2 conferences on our approach to customer-led scrutiny.
Improved efficiency is the key to the success of any business and I am pleased to be in a position to help Helena make sure the services they provide are what matters most and that they continue to be sustainable too.”
Shirley Gibson, Customer and Value Improvement Panel Member
In July 2015, the government announced big changes which affect the amount of rent we can charge in the future and the way in which benefits are paid to some of our tenants.
These changes mean that we need to reduce our costs significantly over the next four years. Our focus will be on our core purpose, to provide affordable homes, and we will review the way in which services are provided at the moment to see where we can make savings.
We will talk to our customers and stakeholders about these changes, and listen to their ideas about how we can save money.
“It has been an exciting year for Helena as we joined forces with Golden Gates Housing Trust to form a new group called Torus. On a day-to-day basis your landlord remains the same, but by coming together and becoming a bigger organisation we believe we can do things more efficiently and safeguard our business in very challenging times.
As ever we remain fully committed to investing and improving our existing homes and building new affordable properties.
Since joining Helena back in April when Torus was launched, I have seen first hand how passionate you are about your communities as well as how hard our staff are working. I am extremely proud of all our teams, and am sure that by working together we can continue to provide affordable homes and good quality services to our customers.”
Angela Perry, Managing Director
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