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1 Business plan update Year 3

2 Hello The Northwards Housing Business Plan 2013/18 sets out a vision for the business through a time of public sector austerity. It details the challenges we ll be facing and also the opportunities we ll be looking to take advantage of. The update sets out some of the key goals in the plan we d like to achieve in Year /16. We need to be realistic about our financial situation in the knowledge that we ll be under pressure to continue to deliver services to a high standard. Our primary stakeholder and funder, Manchester City Council, has to continue to make savings. As such, our value for money strategy proposed during the 2014/15 financial year will have to be revisited as part of future negotiations future negotiations with the council about what we re paid for delivering our services. However, there are some exciting opportunities ahead. It s our 10 year anniversary in December 2015 and we will celebrate with our tenants. We ve done a lot to be proud of in this decade. Just this year, we ve finished our main Decent Homes Programme in Collyhurst we ve spent nearly 300m on making all our homes warm and decent. Looking forward, we have plans to encourage more tenants to get online, which will help mitigate some of the effects of welfare reform as well as being a more cost-effective way to engage with tenants. We will also continue our work to help make our homes energy-efficient, helping tenants to save money and save the planet. Putting People First Welfare reform is one of the biggest challenges that the housing sector is facing and we will continue to support our tenants through the changing landscapes of the benefits system. All our staff, especially our team of money advisers and rents officers, are working hard to deal with those challenges, at a time when there is an increasing demand for our services. Getting our tenants online remains a priority for us for a number of reasons. Firstly, the advance of Universal Credit shows that we need many of our tenants to be confident on the internet, in order to make claims online. Secondly, as our resources become ever more stretched, we need to find more cost-effective ways to engage with our tenants. Tenants are also missing out on the benefits of the web and may be financially excluded as a result. Research shows that 49% of our tenants are currently online compared to a national average of 84%. We have recruited a digital inclusion officer who will be talking to tenants groups and arranging drop-in events to raise awareness to help encourage tenants to use the internet. We also have the Cheetham hub, which is a one-stop shop for tenants who want to learn more. 2

3 To support our digital strategy further, we also plan to develop a new fully-accessible website for Northwards Housing. This is expected to go live in the summer and will make it easier for tenants to get the service they need online. We are also planning to change the way we involve tenants in our decision making. We know that tenants want to learn from each other, so we re planning to launch an updated and rebranded involved residents network. The network will meet three times a year and will be linked into our business planning, performance monitoring and budget setting processes. These events are popular and well-attended. We will continue to support tenant and resident groups, as well as our resident forums. We will be supporting community cohesion with a series of events across our area. We will continue to support the Cheetham Festival, which takes place every September in one of our most diverse communities. And we will be raising the rainbow flag in May to raise awareness about the International Day Against Homophobia and Transphobia, showing both tenants and employees that we are a gayfriendly organisation. Unfortunately, we know that domestic abuse remains a real issue for some of our tenants. Northwards will continue to take a firm approach to dealing with domestic abuse our domestic abuse champions are skilled in taking legal action where required. We have also teamed up with the Greater Manchester Women s Domestic Abuse Helpline as our chosen charity for 2015 and we will be raising money for them by staff dress down days and other fundraising drives. We will also continue our programme of safeguarding training so that frontline staff can protect vulnerable tenants. In our five year plan, we said we would respond to the needs and aspirations of an ageing population. We know that, across the country, some older people are increasingly isolated. This isolation can trigger loneliness. There is lots of evidence that loneliness increases the risk of health problems in older tenants, so we will be embarking on a programme of events to encourage tenants to socialise together. The focal point of this is the Eric Hobin Centre in Whitebeck Court in Charlestown, which will host intergenerational games events and a new film club. We are also working with the national First Stop service to develop an online tool to help older people find out more about their housing options. This will be complemented by the recruitment of an adviser to help those tenants with more complex needs. This will be partially funded by the North Manchester Clinical Commissioning Group. We will continue to work to keep our employees healthy and well. We know that a healthy workforce is more productive and motivated, so we will continue to offer innovative ways for employees to look after their health. We will also be offering all employees the chance to get the flu jab during October. Providing sustainable travel options to help our employees get to work every day is also something we will concentrate on in 2015/16. We will continue to offer our green car scheme alongside our cycle-to-work scheme. We are also exploring affordable interest-free loans for public transport tickets. We are also planning to continue with our apprenticeship programme, helping our tenants to earn while they learn. 3

4 Supporting communities to be successful Northwards, alongside our social enterprise yes, will be continuing to support aspiring entrepreneurs by offering business loans of around 1,000 to local people. The loans are funded by the Housing Association Charitable Trust. Altogether there is around 150,000 on offer, with a further 15,000 ringfenced for Collyhurst residents. The rationale behind the scheme is to encourage more tenants to start their own businesses, which will in turn help to regenerate the local community. The yes project has been hugely successful and during 2015/16, we will be exploring the possibility of expanding the offer to a wider geographical area. We will also be able to report back on our findings on the NEDO project, which is an innovative partnership with the Japanese government to help find new ways to save energy. All our employees will also receive training in carbon literacy, to help them understand how they can save carbon and help save the planet. Manchester City Council s plans to regenerate Collyhurst will continue in 2015/16. Northwards will continue to support this work, particularly by working with community groups to bring change to the area. We will also be working with the Big Local project a lottery-funded scheme which aims to give 1m to community projects in Collyhurst over the next 10 years. The work on the boundary walls on around 800 homes will continue into the 2015/16 financial year. Northwards is committed to helping tenants manage their money and one of the ways we ve found to do this is through the Rental Exchange programme. We are working with Experian, one of the country s leading credit reference agencies, to explore how to ensure that tenants get credit for paying their rent on time. This will make it easier for tenants to get access to credit, bringing the social sector in line with those who own their own homes. According to our latest customer satisfaction survey, 84% of tenants are satisfied with how we deal with anti-social behaviour. This is a small increase on the previous survey. We will build on these results, continuing to take a robust approach to community safety. Our neighbourhood teams will work closely with Greater Manchester Police and the fire service, particularly around potentially difficult times of the year like Bonfire Night. We re also helping Greater Manchester Police with the work they are doing on identifying extremism. 4

5 Spending money wisely Our management fee from Manchester City Council is fixed, and the running costs we need to maintain existing services have increased. This year, the city council have agreed a one-off addition to the management fee of 432,000 to enable us to deliver the same services as last year. However, this has come with the condition that we produce a savings plan for the next four financial years. We will be working hard to identify future efficiencies, working with the council to develop a financial strategy. One of the things we will be looking at is whether or not we can get better value for money on our office accommodation. With around 20% of social housing tenants in fuel poverty, we know that something needs to be done to ensure that our tenants don t have to make the awful choice between heating and eating. We started the year having completed the Decent Homes programme in Collyhurst and we re planning to spend about 21m on improvements and green energy in the coming year. To complement this work, our energy adviser will be embarking on a number of initiatives to encourage behaviour change, including events with utility providers and carrying out home visits. On top of this, we are exploring the use of innovative communication techniques to spread the message further. Northwards are pleased to be working with Manchester City Council to provide 56 new homes across north Manchester. The homes will be a mix of two-bedroom properties and bungalows. We re using what are known as infill sites empty pockets of land which had previously had housing on them. The homes have been made possible after we secured a 1m grant from the Homes and Communities Agency, with the rest of the money coming from Manchester City Council. We hope to start work around the end of We are also working with MCC to explore low-cost home ownership in Charlestown, as well as the feasibility of a small development in Park Hill. If this proves viable, we could help build 25 new homes. Our board has once again recommended a multi-million pound improvement programme to the council to help make our estates green and warm. The Council accepted these recommendations in full. For example, we are replacing un-metered communal boilers in our two-and-four blocks of flats with individual heating systems. Data is still being gathered from trials, but we are hoping to install innovative ground source heat pumps which will save money and save energy. 5

6 Contact us for more information If you would like to know more about Northwards Housing s business and delivery plan for the next five years you can: Visit our website Write to us: Northwards Housing, Hexagon Tower, Crumpsall Vale, Blackley, Manchester M9 8GQ We like hearing from tenants who would like to get involved with us. We have a range of volunteering opportunities to suit your interests and availability. So get in touch to find out more. You can also join the conversation via Twitter or Facebook. Or sign up for regular s from us via our website. Northwards Housing 15/04/07

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