Tenant Annual Report 2020

Welcome to the Tenant Annual Report 2020 from Cornerstone Housing.

Welcome

Welcome from Chief Executive, Tom Woodman and Peter Howard-Williams, Chair of our Board

“Welcome to our annual report to residents, giving you information on every aspect of our work. Covid-19 made 2020 a difficult year in so many ways, and we are really pleased that Cornerstone has been able to keep our vital services going during such challenging times.

As Chief Executive and Chair we both began our new roles in March 2020. In leading Cornerstone through a pandemic, we are grateful to all of our residents for your patience and cooperation, and to our staff team who have carried on working harder than ever to keep people safe and comfortable in their homes.

We have listened carefully to residents through a wide range of feedback, including through two detailed surveys. The first survey in August asked about how we had responded to the first lockdown, and we used this information to improve our services in more recent lockdowns. The second survey in October asked about our services in general. There is a lot of information about the survey results in this annual report, including our many plans for improvement.

Our priorities for the coming year include

  • ensuring that customer views are at the heart of our work, addressing the slight decline in satisfaction that happened in 2020
  • continue to ensure that all our homes are safe and comfortable
  • beginning a new programme of improvements to existing homes, including kitchens, bathrooms and windows, covering a much wider range of properties than previously
  • ensuring that we have detailed plans in place to improve the energy efficiency of our homes
  • after we have planned for the above, increasing the number of new homes we build each year.

We will report back to you on progress on these later in the year. “

 

Meet our Executive Team

(Left to Right)
Tom Woodman – Chief Executive
Joanne Martin – Deputy Chief Executive
Tim Lewry – Head of Property Services
Clare Beach – Head of Housing
Anne Seaborne – Head of Development

The Board
Click here to see the latest updates on our Board membership

Statement on figures

*All performance figures provided in this report relate to the period April 2019 to March 2020, apart from those we asked you about in our Annual Tenant Survey, which was sent to all tenants in October 2020 and received a 32% response rate. Any financial data relates to our 2018/19 accounts as our financial year runs from October to September.

Our Performance

Governance update

This year we have been working to improve our governance arrangements following a regulatory downgrade in 2019. This has included:

  • improving the testing of our financial plans and risk management framework
  • recruiting three new Board members, including Cornerstone resident and chair of our Tenant Performance Panel, Janet Gale
  • Board training in a number of areas including health and safety.

The Regulator of Social Housing (a body backed by the Government that watches over social landlords to make sure they are well run) will be reviewing our Financial viability and Governance gradings shortly. This will have no direct impact on the service we provide to you.

Our Performance

Where does your rent go?

For every £1 you pay in rent, it gets split into the following:

Where does your rent go?

For every £1 you pay in rent, it gets split into the following:
Service Amount
Providing services to you 18p
Maintaining your home 23p
Building new homes 22p
Improving your homes 22p
Funding costs for building new homes 15p
TOTAL £1.00

How you feel about us and overall service

How you feel about services and your contact with our staff is really important to us. We asked some new questions in the annual resident survey this year to help us understand this better.

%

of tenants are satisfied with the overall service provided.

%

said you would be likely to recommend us to friends and family. From this data we can calculate something called our Net Promoter Score (NPS), our score is 58 and that is better than Apple (47).

%

of residents said they were satisfied that we were easy to deal with.

The chart below shows how satisfied residents are that they trust us as their landlord.

Tenant Involvement and Empowerment

%

of residents were satisfied that we listen to views and act upon them

%

feel we need to make improvements to how we listen and respond when you contact us

The Housing Ombudsman has launched a new complaint handling code this year, we have assessed ourselves against the code and we can confirm that we are complaint. You can view our self-assessment here.

In the coming year we want to work with residents to review our complaints policy and process and improve complaint handling and resident satisfaction. You can view our current policy here.

%

of residents told us we need to improve how we deal with complaints

Complaints and Compliments

Whilst we do our best to get things right, sometimes we get things wrong and making a complaint is one way to get your views heard.

The table below shows that we received 18 formal complaints, 10 of these (56%) were either partially or fully upheld (that means we agreed we could have done better). Staff communication, maintenance of your home and communal areas were the top three reasons for complaints.

Summary of complaints

 Complaint Theme Not Upheld Partially Upheld Upheld Total
Staff Communication 3 1 4
Maintenance of Home 1 2 3
Communal area maintenance 1 2 3
Lettings process/decision 1 1 2
Property condition 2 2
ASB case management 2 2
Domestic Abuse 1 1
Grounds Maintenance/Gardening 1 1
Total 8 5 5 18
 Complaint

Theme

Not Upheld Partially Upheld Upheld Total
Staff Communication 3 1 4
Maintenance of Home 1 2 3
Communal area maintenance 1 2 3
Lettings process/decision 1 1 2
Property condition 2 2
ASB case management 2 2
Domestic Abuse 1 1
Grounds Maintenance/Gardening 1 1
Total 8 5 5 18

Cornerstone have always been very helpful, from repairs to having the odd occasions of rent arrears, they listen and help and sometimes go above and beyond than just being a landlord as they listen

Quick enough to chase rent arrears but complaints & outside repairs aren’t dealt with

Performance Panel

The Performance Panel is a group of volunteer tenants who independently review our services and policies. They have adjusted very well to on-line meetings since the pandemic and in the last 12 months have been busy completing a review of our gardening service, our Pets Policy and the Tenant Handbook.

The Regulator of Social Housing sets out four Consumer Standards, these are the standards you should expect from us as your landlord, you can find out more information on these, including the Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard, by clicking here.

The Performance Panel has worked with us to check that we are meeting all four of these standards and has confirmed to the Board that we are. Click here to view the assessment.

%

of residents said we need to improve information and advice available to you

%

of residents said that we need to improve the ways for you to get involved or give feedback on services

With Janet Gale, long standing Cornerstone tenant and Chair of the Performance Panel, now on the Cornerstone Board there is now more opportunity than ever for residents to be heard at Board level on the issues that affect them most.

Email Eagles

If you would like to get more involved with the Performance Panel but can’t commit to monthly meetings, becoming an Email Eagle could be for you. Email Eagles work with the Panel by commenting on reviews and documents via email and your views are shared in the Panel meetings.

If you’re interested in getting involved please contact us by emailing mail@cornerstonehousing.net

Tenant Handbook

The new Tenant Handbook sets out what you can expect from us and what we expect from you as tenants. It also tells you the different ways in which you can get involved and give feedback on services. Click here to see the new Tenant Handbook.

Together with Tenants

The Board has agreed for us to sign up to the National Housing Federation Together with Tenants Charter. This charter aims to strengthen the relationship between residents and housing association landlords and has 6 commitments:

We would like residents to join us on our journey to ensuring we are meeting the commitments. If you would like to be involved with this or in any other way, please get in touch with us on 01392 273462 or mail@cornerstonehousing.net.

Sign up to receive our tenants newsletter here

Neighbourhood and Community

Satisfaction with neighbourhood as a place to live has gone down by 7% in the last year. We want to work with residents, communities and partner agencies to improve how residents feel about their neighbourhood.

%

of tenants are satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live.

Supporting our residents during the pandemic

This year we were unable to carry out planned community events due to the pandemic so we focused on how we communicated with and supported our residents during this difficult year. We attempted to contact all of our residents and spoke to nearly of all of you during the first lockdown and contact with some of the most vulnerable has continued.

Residents rated us 4.4 out of 5 for how we managed wellbeing calls.

We ringfenced £41,000 to provide money matters advice and shopping vouchers for tenants that needed some extra help. We also signposted residents for community based support with shopping, prescriptions and other supplies and for support with their mental and physical wellbeing.

Cleaning and grounds maintenance

10% of residents said we need to improve the appearance of their neighbourhood generally.

70% of residents are satisfied with communal area cleaning

7% feel we need to improve communal area cleaning and maintenance services

71% of residents are satisfied with communal area gardening services

8% feel we need to improve communal area grounds maintenance services

Domestic abuse

We worked with 16 victims of domestic abuse, this is an increase of 433% compared with the previous year.

Our role in domestic abuse cases has involved:

  • Identifying the signs of abuse
  • Assessing the risk to victims
  • Increasing safety and security measures in the home
  • Supporting victims with their housing options
  • Working with other agencies to reduce the risk of harm
  • Dealing with perpetrators

You will find more information and advice about domestic abuse in our new Tenant Handbook on page 38.

Resident feedback on their neighbourhood

Individual comments on improvements residents would like to see

“A handyman service would be useful”

“Communal lockable bike sheds would be useful”

“Better windows in lounge to reduce draughts”

“Cut bushes a bit lower at front of property”

“More time spent on communal gardens front and back, with pruning and cutting back of everything done more often so it looks tidier rather than just cutting the grass” 

“I would like more say in what is grown in my communal garden. I would like more edible plants to be grown and plants for wildlife.”

“It would also be useful to have a communal broom in the bin area so we can keep the area tidy”

Anti-social behaviour

We received 63 new anti-social behaviour cases (ASB), this is an increase of 24% compared with the previous year.  The majority of cases were noise related complaints (41%), followed by verbal abuse/harassment/threatening behaviour (25%).

19% of residents said we needed to improve on how we resolve problems in their community.

4% said we needed to improve how safe they feel in their community.

Our ASB policy and procedures were reviewed and a new leaflet for residents providing guidance and advice is in progress.

You can report any anti-social behaviour via our website any time of the day.

Click here to view our online form

%

of complainants surveyed were satisfied with how we dealt with their case.

Rent and Tenancy

Rent

&

Your rent went up by 2.7% in accordance with the government regulations.

'

89% of residents are satisfied that their rent provides value for money, this is down 5%.

&

Rent arrears were 0.62% of the total rent due; this is a 0.17% improvement on the last year.

'

72% of tenants are satisfied that their service charges provides value for money, this is down 4%

Over the last few years we have been talking to lots of you about paying your rent when it is due and gradually trying to build up a buffer on your account so you don’t go into arrears when the unexpected happens. In these challenging times, if you lose income from reduced hours or unemployment, Universal Credit (UC) is there as a safety net. Having a buffer has helped a number of you to avoid rent arrears whilst you wait five weeks for your UC to come through.

There are various ways to pay your rent and you can view your account online with MyTenancy.

Money Support and Advice

It can be tricky to manage your money sometimes so we can offer free debt, benefit and budgeting advice if you need it, please don’t bury your head in the sand.

Click here for advice and support.

36 tenants were helped by referrals to Homemaker Southwest for one to one support with debts, benefits and budgeting. A total of 330 hours of support were provided with tenants on average achieving £1185 in additional income.

 

CLICK HERE FOR MORE INFORMATION

Westcountry Savings and Loans

Giving you Choices

In the last year more residents have joined West Country Saving and Loans. They are a credit union offering savings and loan options for residents, we partnered with them because they are ethical and community focused.

We now have 20 residents saving regularly with them and 17 have borrowed money. West Country Savings and Loans estimates that those borrowers have saved on average £382 each in interest by lending with them instead of a more high cost lender.

More of you could be benefiting from some of their great services including Christmas savings scheme and affordable loan options.

FIND OUT MORE BY CLICKING HERE

Support and Advice

From April 2021 most rents will be increased by 1.5% in line within the government regulations and it will allow us to continue improving your homes and services and to develop new homes.

Lettings

We re-let 81 homes last year and 93% of tenants were satisfied with the lettings service.

On average we re-let our empty homes within 27 days. This is 14 days lower than the previous year and we achieved this by reviewing and streamlining our processes.

We helped 5 tenants to downsize to smaller homes as part of our downsizing assistance schemes, this included financial and practical. If you are interested in downsizing to a smaller home please contact us for an informal chat or click here for more information

%

of new residents were satisfied with the quality of their new home

%

of tenants were satisfied with the lettings service

Digital Improvements

Helping our tenant to get online and access our services more digitally is very important to us. It can give you better access at a time that suits you, help you feel more confident, open up opportunities, savings and has many other benefits. It also allows us to spend a little longer with tenants that maybe need a bit more help or in other ways.

MyTenancy

This year we have updated MyTenancy to be mobile friendly.

Our online tenant portal allows you to check the following

  • Check your rent account balance
  • View your rent account
  • Report a repair
  • Update your personal details
  • Contact us online

Click here for more information

Communication with you

During the summer we asked you how you rated the different ways in which you can contact us and these are the results. Satisfaction with our texting service and email communication were highest.

Home

Repairs and Maintenance 

We have completed 4184 responsive repairs at a total cost of £450,505.51 that’s an average of £107.67 per repair. 95% of residents were satisfied with the repair carried out.

14 homes were refurbished at Exwick Road and Mount Dinham during this period

%

of tenants said we need to complete improvements to their home (e.g. windows, kitchens etc)

%

of tenants are satisfied with the way we deal repairs and maintenance, this is down by 8%

%

of tenants are satisfied with the overall quality of their home, this is down by 5%.

%

of tenants said we need to improve how we deal with minor repairs

%

of tenants said they were satisfied that we provide a home that is safe and secure

%

of tenants said we need to improve how safe they feel in their home

We will be looking further into these figures and revising our Asset Management Strategy to focus our improvement works.

 

 

I had a problem with my light fixture and when I made the call for them to come fix it they were so quick to do it and they worked around my schedule which was great

96% of emergency repairs were completed in time (within 24 Hour target time)

Average time to complete an urgent repair 2.33 days
(Target 5 working days)

Average time to complete a routine repair 6.25 days
(Target 20 working days)

 

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Overall average time to complete a repair is 7.62 days

Aids and adaptations

We carried out 73 aids and adaptations to residents homes at a total cost of £18,168 that’s an average cost of £249 per property.

Aids and adaptations included everything from key safes, grab rails and lever taps to level access showers.

100% of tenants were satisfied that our staff were polite and helpful through the process and 95% were satisfied with the quality of the work.

“Because I found the stairs a real challenge I am really grateful for the rail installed. It has made 100% difference in my using the stairs safely. Thank you for your help”

New Homes

We have completed another scheme in Topsham. This is our third development in the Ward which is part of Exeter yet has a distinctive character of it’s own.  EX111 is a popular development on the edge of Topsham close to the Aldi supermarket. This year saw the completion of 5 x family homes and 4 x single person flats including another wheelchair adapted flat. All of these homes are let on social rents and have been built to have an energy performance rating of B  (out of a score of A being the highest and G being the lowest).  The average cost to Cornerstone for purchasing these Section 106 homes last year was £88,845 per home. This is lower than usual prices as we didn’t purchase any higher value shared ownership houses on this scheme.

Cornerstone also supervised the construction of  another 5 x Rent Plus houses in  Cullompton on the popular Saxon Fields development. These are Rent-To-Buy homes that we manage on behalf of another organisation. The tenants will be give the opportunity to buy their home after 5,10,15 or 20 years depending on their agreement.  We didn’t purchase these homes but take 25% of the rent collected as our management and maintenance fee.

Satisfaction with newly built homes

Residents (tenants and shared owners) are surveyed approximately 12 months after moving into their new homes.  This provides Cornerstone with useful feedback on designs, layouts  and the facilities that residents want to see in new homes. We know that feeling a strong sense of security is a high priority and therefore we seek to have Police accredited doors and windows, secure gardens and a good surveillance in open spaces.

We are particularly interested in the overall level of satisfaction for new homes as that is an important performance target.  If performance dips (like last year) we know the areas to improve and problems to avoid when considering new schemes.

We are pleased to report that overall satisfaction levels with new homes returned to 100% for schemes completed last year. 

Value for Money

Value for Money Sector Scorecard

The 2018/19 Financial Statements have been produced in accordance with the new standard enabling Cornerstone to benchmark performance with other providers.

Our Performance

 

Objective Metric 2020 Target Peer Benchmark** Sector Bench Mark*** 2019 2018 2017
Outcomes Delivered Reinvestment in Housing %*
(investment in new and existing housing stock)
4.7% 9.0% 8.7% 4.3% 4.1% 6.1%
Operating Efficiency Headline social housing cost per unit* £3,485 £3,135 £4,690 £3,275 £3,059 £2,906
Effective asset management Return on capital employed %* 2.9% 4.9% 4.7% 3.5% 3.6% 4.3%
Business Health

Operating margin %*Operating margin %*- Social housing lettings only

Operating margin overall

31.0%

 

27.1%

40.5%

 

36.0%

34.6%

 

30.8%

31.1%

 

29.1%

37.6%

 

34.1%

40.9%

 

36.0%

Interest cover %
(EBITDA MRI)
196% 220%** 238% 256% 233% 277%
Development (New Homes delivered) Gearing 34.6% 32.6% 53.9% 33.3% 34.3% 34.1%
New supply delivered %* 0.1% 2.7% 2.5% 1.6% 0.7% 2.3%

 

Notes to accompany performance table
* Value for Money metrics required for publication by the Regulator for Social Housing

** Upper quartile benchmark from Housemark peer group 1-20k units, LSVT and housing associations, South East and South West. 2019 report extracted on 28 November 2019
*** Upper quartile benchmark from the annex of the Sector’s global accounts 2019, published on 23 January 2020.

Depending upon the individual metric, the sector benchmark ‘best quartile’ will represent either the highest or lowest quartile comparison

Tenant Charter

Our charter is our local offer to you, this is what we said we would do last year and our progress towards achieving it.

Update on 2019 Charter
TOPIC COMMITMENT UPDATE
Neighbourhood and Community Review the information we provide to tenants about anti-social behaviour (ASB). Our ASB procedure has been reviewed and a new tenant leaflet is coming soon.
Hold further targeted community events based on survey feedback. This hasn’t been appropriate due to Covid-19 but events are planned for 2021.
Work with partners to investigate ways we can help tenants to improve their health and wellbeing. A tenant wellbeing survey was completed in August 2020 and tenants have been signposted to other agencies.
Tenancy Promote the new downsizing scheme and support at least five tenants to  downsize to smaller homes. Five tenants downsized to smaller homes.
Introduce a new digital and accessible Tenant Handbook. Completed and available on our website, also available in print format.
Upgrade MyTenancy to provide tenants with better access to their tenancy online. Completed and available for residents to use now.

Tenant Involvement  and Empowerment

 

Support the Performance Panel to complete the review of green spaces management and at least one further review of our services. Review completed – see Tenant Engagement section.
Provide cultural awareness and equality and diversity sessions for staff and tenants (carried over from previous year). Not completed due to Covid-19 but planned for 2021.
Home Review our improvement scheme strategy to ensure we can improve the homes that need it the most within our dedicated budget. Our new Asset Management Strategy is currently being drafted and we will share more information about that in 2021
Continue to acquire new homes (target of 30 per year) After we’ve met the needs of existing homes we will then build or acquire as many new high-quality new affordable homes as we can.  We built 9 homes this year and 2 completions have occurred since.  We have 31 homes currently under construction completing in 2021 and a pipeline of opportunities.
Value for Money Develop a new value for money action plan in consultation with tenants We are focusing on making sure that value for money is considered in everything that we do.

This is our draft charter for the coming year, we have developed this based on feedback from the annual tenant survey and our existing strategies. Please let us know if you have any feedback on the charter or if we are missing something important to you.

2020 Charter
TOPIC COMMITMENT
Overall service Complete equality and diversity training with our staff and involved residents
Develop a Customer Service Strategy and complete further customer service training with our frontline staff
Review the ways in which residents can give feedback on services and develop a Customer Feedback Policy which includes complaints.
Neighbourhood and Community Develop a Neighbourhood Management Policy and action plan, based on resident feedback, to improve neighbourhood satisfaction
Tenancy Support another 5 residents to downsize to smaller homes
Tenant Involvement  and Empowerment Strengthen the relationship between you and us by adopting the Together with Tenants Charter. Click here to find out more
Home Consult with residents on a new Cornerstone standard which will include standards of design and quality