At the start of 2015, as we joined forces with Golden Gates Housing Trust (GGHT) to form Torus, we laid out our five year plan which reflected some of the things you, as tenants, prioritised.
Since then a lot has changed. We have a new Government with a different view of social housing and more changes to benefits. This has reduced our income and the income of many of our tenants.
What hasn’t changed is our belief in the value of what we do. Providing good quality affordable homes and services has and always will be our purpose. But we have less money to do it with.
In a challenging financial climate, the past year has found us reviewing the way we work as a business, saving money where we can, improving our efficiency and getting better value for you. We’re working together to get the best results, so whether you see a Golden Gates logo, a Helena logo or a Torus logo you can be sure of the same great service.
We’re proud to say that 93% of tenants are satisfied with what we do.
This annual report highlights some of the things we achieved and reflects on the work we have yet to do.Watch The Torus Plan
Set up a Direct Debit
Report and book repairs
Manage your account
View balance and check statements
Make a payment
We’ve made some big changes to our website this year all focused on helping you to manage your home more easily.
By opening an online account you get access to a growing range of services. You can:
And you can do it all 24 hours a day, without picking up the phone.
The new online services were introduced at the end of 2015. From then, all new tenants received a ‘Digital Demo’.
It explained the benefits of having an online account and the services they could access.
We showed them how to open an account and link it to their home simply by inputting their tenancy reference number.
Then we demonstrated how to report repairs, view rent balances and statements and make a rent payment, quickly and easily.
Six months later, 76% of new tenants have an online account and use it regularly.
Customers now have an online account compared to 2,263 at the end of last year
Customers made the first steps to using online services compared to 3,426 at the end of last year
Customers are now paying their rent online compared to 743 at the end of last year
We are pleased to say that 99.72% of our homes now meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard.
Here’s an idea of how much we invest in maintaining our homes:
Unit costs across the group decreased to £1,356 but are still above the sector average of £1,239. By standardising our repairs services and introducing more efficiencies we hope to lower this figure to £1,063 by 2019/20.
Central Heating Systems
Homes benefited from external wall insulation; this will help to reduce the cost of heating the home by £400 per annum
Homes also benefitted from the installation of solar thermal technology. This can reduce household bills by up to 70%, saving the average household £150 per year
Reduction in carbon emissions
Major adaptations were made to help people with disabilities remain at home
Smaller property adaptations were made to support people with disabilities to live independently
Was spent on adaptations - £447k of this was funded by the local Council
New homes built against a target of 73
Of customers were satisfied with our repairs service against a target of 93%
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
Tenants satisfied with overall quality of their home
Ever wondered what your rent pays for? We monitor every pound we spend across all our activities. Here’s how it all adds up:
Major repairs and improvement projects on properties
Services including grounds maintenance, caretaking, communal heating and lighting
Annual depreciation charge
Tailored support services for vulnerable customers
Management costs for offices, staffing and the delivery of our services
Other Social Housing activities
Day-to-day repairs in response to customer requests
Non Social Housing activities
Planned maintenance and improvement works like gas servicing and repainting
Interest on loans taken to fund property improvements and to build new homes
Was the average rent for a 3 bed property
Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) awarded to 5777 tenants
Discretionary Housing Payments are extra payments for people on Universal Credit who need more help with their housing costs.
Reduced rent arrears for tenants on Universal Credit (UC)
Universal Credit is a monthly benefit payment for people in or out of work.
Secured in Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) during the year
An APA enables payment of Universal Credit benefits to be made directly to the landlord if you are in arrears.
Our customer service centre, One Call, deals with an average of 799 calls per day. During 2015/16, calls increased compared to 2014/15’s total of 186,280.
This has been due to various campaigns, seasonal trends and changes to working practices. However, we are doing further analysis of call types and aim to reduce the volume of avoidable contact and support people to carry out more transactions on line including paying their rent, checking rent balances and reporting repairs.
We know we don’t always get it right, that’s why we react and respond to every complaint we receive. Here’s how we’re doing:
Complaints (down from 228 last year)
Of the complaints dealt with in 2015/16 related to poor communication
Of the complaints dealt with in 2015/16 related to failure to complete repair right first time
Of the complaints dealt with in 2015/16 related to failure to keep promises
Of complaints were dealt with within 5 days, against a target of 95%
Of customers were satisfied with the overall service we provide, this is an increase on last years figure of 89%
These are empty properties that are to be re-let as soon as possible after remedial works and safety checks have been completed. Below shows the number of management voids as at 31st March for each year.
123 against a target of 140
These are properties which are awaiting disposal, sale, demolition or undergoing significant works during which period they are not available for letting. They can also include properties undergoing conversion. Below shows the number of non-management voids as at 31st March for each year.
109 against a target of 98
Tenancy turnover against target of 10.5%. This equates to around 1280 empty properties this year which is less than the 1350 vacancies we were expecting
Average re-let time against target of 36 days
Void loss against target of 1.75%
Following the STAR survey results highlighting the difference in tenant expectations and the delivery of the repairs and maintenance service, a consultation event took place with tenants to discuss future provisions in this service. Following the consultation, tenants from Helena and Golden Gates Housing Trust can now expect the same level of service in relation to response repairs timescales.
We needed to provide some consistency of delivery for repairs and maintenance in Warrington and St Helens
We have now standardised our repairs offer with tenants at both GGHT and Helena receiving identical response and repairs times
The standard of the communal areas could be improved
We worked with VIP (the Value Improvement Panel) and reviewed the standards of decoration within communal hallways
The Tenants and Communities Committee (TCC), made up of tenant representatives, helped to shape key strategies and policies across the organisation including the Social Investment Strategy, ASB Policy, Young Person Strategy, Tenancy Policy and Assets and Development Strategy.
Next to our homes, the services we provide are crucial to our tenants. We’ve spent the past year reviewing these services and the way we provide them. Our aim is to be as efficient and effective as we can be.
So what have we done?
What will this mean?
Providing face to face services isn’t always an option and the majority of our tenants manage their homes without needing one-to-one support. We’re creating services that are tailored to suit you as individuals. Improving our online services is key to this.
Support will always be there for those who need it but most tenants will be encouraged to register for online services and manage their home online.
It’s our house but it’s your home
As a business, our main source of income comes from the rent we charge. That’s why we view our tenants as valued, paying customers. Your rent enables us to repair, maintain and improve our existing homes. It also enables us to build more. Without it we can’t provide the services we do.
We know that changes to benefits mean that money is often tight but paying your rent, and sticking to your tenancy agreement, should always be your priority.
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:
Invested in our communities to help customers into work and training
Nuisance cases were received. That’s 103 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 rent was collected. Our rent collection rates are still above target (98%) despite the increased pressures on household budgets
Current arrears, against target of 4%
Former arrears, against target of 1.5%
Of tenants think their rent provides value for money
Of inward investment for works aimed at reducing fuel poverty
Homes will benefit from Photo Voltaic installations (solar panels) over the coming years making them greener and more energy efficient, saving residents up to £150 per year on their electricity bills and reducing Carbon emissions by 861 Tons
Tenant households provided with money advice by the organisation
Of additional income was generated for tenant households per annum against a target of £1m
Of tenants satisfied with neighbourhood as a place to live
Of tenants would recommend Helena to family and friends
Helping to create work and training and employment opportunities continues to be a big focus for us.
Engaged young people across St Helens in positive activities to help gain confidence and gain skills for employment
Residents undertaking Training and Education funded by the organisation
Residents supported into employment by the organisation
Young people took part in training
Young people volunteered
Young people improved their confidence
People helped into training
Tenants received small grants to help purchase toolkits or work clothes to help to remove barriers to work
Earlier this year we were awarded £130,000 to help fund jobs in the transport sector. Job seekers were given free on the job training, giving them the skills they needed to secure employment and providing employers with a ready made workforce.
Newly employed track maintenance operative, Ricky Ashcroft, said:
“Initially I wasn’t sure whether I’d be able to do the job.
“However, the training was great and my confidence grew. Now I’m training to be a controller of site safety, which will open up even more opportunities for me.”
The Torus Group are committed to regenerating communities, creating opportunities and improving peoples’ lives both now and in the future. Here are some of the things we aim to achieve:
New homes will be built by the group by 2020, 80% of which will be for rent while the remaining 20% will be for sale through low cost ownership schemes
We’ll continue to drive reductions in build costs to secure efficiencies of £24 million over the 4 year development programme delivering 1,200 new units
Residents will be helped into work across St Helens and Warrington by 2020
Of transactions that can be online will be made online by 2020, making services faster and more convenient
Providing good quality homes at an affordable price is a priority for us. As part of our corporate plan, we aim to build 1,200 new homes by 2020.
The good news is we’re well on our way to achieving our target. Last year we built 76 new homes and we’re currently on site developing 104 more.
We build according to local need and to address the shortage of one and two bed homes. Most of the new homes in Sutton, Sutton Heath and Moss Bank were for rent and were let very quickly.
The remainder were for shared ownership (part buy/part rent), which makes getting onto the property ladder or downsizing much more affordable. Again, matching local need, our shared ownership homes were a mix of two and three bedroom properties. Perfect for working couples and growing families.
Teams have been brought together to contribute to the efficiency targets across the Group. Efficiency plans are in place for 2016/17 and beyond to achieve the following impact on the net profit position of the Group as at 2019/20:
|Group £m||GGHT £m||Helena £m|
|Opening net profit||5.18||(2.09)||7.27|
|Standardisation of unit costs and lifecycles re component renewals||2.70||2.34||0.36|
|Management costs and transformation savings||4.34||2.32||2.02|
|Reduction in pay awards||1.58||0.63||0.95|
|Non Social Housing and Discretionary services||1.46||1.13||0.33|
|Gift aid from commercial subsidiary||0.50||0.25||0.25|
|Revenue funded repair costs||1.75||0.95||0.80|
|VAT shelter payments to Warrington BC||0.70||0.70||-|
|Other (including debt re-profiling interest savings)||3.10||(0.20)||3.30|
|Additional pension costs||(2.12)||(0.85)||(1.27)|
|Closing Net Profit||20.07||5.18||14.89|