East Devon District Council

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Policy Resident Involvement Strategy 2013

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7. Methods of resident involvement - Service review groups

We have a number of service groups covering a range of areas. Existing and new review groups need to be managed and facilitated effectively by the service areas to ensure they are effective and offer tenants a real opportunity to make a difference. We outline below the work of each of our current groups and give some feedback from the recent impact assessment each group carried out.

Repairs and maintenance:  

One of our longer established groups which has been running for about seven years. The group is chaired by tenants and recently reviewed its terms of reference (a commitment made in our last strategy).  The work of the group covers the monitoring of performance, identifying areas for service improvements and making recommendations, and working with officers to produce the improvement plan. In 2012 representatives from the group helped appoint our new day to day repairs contractors – MD Building Services Ltd and Skinner Construction Ltd.

Sheltered Housing:  

This group is now running into its 6th year and in 2012 decided on a change of name to reflect the wider scope of the work the group do. The Supported Housing Review Group captures all areas involved with the housing support services and the Home Safeguard Team and monitors carefully the day to day work the teams do. The group has recently been involved with monitoring tenant satisfaction levels in sheltered housing since the introduction of cluster working and has worked alongside officers to oversee changes in the service since the model of support has changed. The group also look at supporting people expectations and will form a key part of planning and shaping the service for the future as we ensure we continue to offer services that our tenants need and want.

Estate management:  

The group was set in 2009 and is now well established and experienced. It has its own terms of reference and is chaired by a tenant. The group has a wide remit and amongst other things it monitors our performance and customer satisfaction with how we manage our estates, delving into the reasons why customers are not satisfied with the service being provided.  It also monitors and reviews the relevant local offers and has recently recommended two new local offers.  It raises issues causing concern to tenants and works with the estate management team to resolve issues on housing estates including anti-social behaviour.

Customer Care Commitments:

This group, established in 2010, has recently chosen its second tenant chair. The group looks at all aspects of customer care across the housing service, but much of its focus to date has been on improving the monitoring of complaints and other service issues, and ensuring that the complaints process is more widely understood and advertised to all tenants.  It has helped officers with the drafting of various housing leaflets as well as the Annual Report to tenants.

Housing needs:

A relatively new service review group made up of tenants who are able to be contacted using the internet or email.  The group only has one meeting a year. Members were recently consulted on the Localism Act and changes to the Devon Home Choice allocation scheme.  We are always looking for new members, so please contact us to find out more.

Rental:  

This group is relatively new and was set up 18 months ago.  It has its own terms of reference and is chaired by tenants. The group monitors rental income collection performance and levels of rent arrears. The group has recently proposed new and revised local offers, but much of its time now and for the foreseeable future will be spent on the impacts of welfare reforms. The group will be working with officers on assessing, monitoring and managing the impacts and effects of the reforms.  It also considers the level of advice and support that is available to tenants in arrears with their rent. 

How our Service Review Groups are performing: 

Each group recently carried out an impact assessment.  This showed broadly similar patterns across all six groups.  Most groups have between three and six tenant members, and all but the Customer Care Commitments group have fewer staff members than tenants.  There is a fairly equal mix of male and female tenants but all are over about 50 years of age, most are retired and several have disabilities.  One of the main concerns expressed by the groups was the lack of representation from younger tenants.  Most groups assessed the impact of their work as acceptable; with one (the rental group) feeling they made a very good impact.