EXECUTIVE 16 FEBRUARY 2009

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1 Item No 4 EXECUTIVE 16 FEBRUARY 2009 SUBJECT: REPORT BY: BIENNIAL CUSTOMER SATISFACTION SURVEY: RESULTS FROM THE TENANT SATISFACTION SURVEY AND THE PROPOSED TENANT LIAISON TEAM ACTION PLAN DIRECTOR OF HOUSING AND COMMUNITY SERVICES LEAD OFFICERS: DENIS POWELL, HOUSING SUPPORT SERVICES MANAGER ROBIN WEST, TENANCY SERVICES MANAGER 1. Purpose of Report 1.1 To present the findings of the Biennial Tenant Satisfaction Survey. 1.2 To present the proposed action plan to address the findings of the 2008 Tenant Satisfaction Survey with the objective of further improving tenants satisfaction levels at the next biennial survey due to be carried out in Background 2.1 Local authorities have been required to carry out Tenant Satisfaction surveys since 2000 and report on levels of tenant satisfaction as Best Value Performance Indicators (BVPI 74 and 75). 2.2 The introduction of the new suite of National Indicators brought a change to the timing of the surveys. Under BVPI s local authorities could chose to complete surveys at anytime during a three year cycle and so the comparison of results between organisations did not always compare results on a like for like basis. The new National Indicator (NI 160) is much more prescriptive requiring authorities to complete the survey between 1 June and 30 November in 2008 and then repeat the survey every two years. 2.3 The National Housing Federation was appointed to undertake this survey during this period utilising the newly revised STATUS questionnaire. 2.4 The results of the 2008 Tenant Satisfaction Survey are set out in the Executive Summary Appendix 1 and compared with the 2006/07 survey results. The results have also been benchmarked (where applicable) with the overall STATUS benchmark results held by the National Housing Federation although a full set of benchmarking information is not yet available. 2.5 The proposed Action Plan is summarised in Appendix 2. The Action Plan is set in a timescale so as to be completed by the next biennial survey in 2010 and all target dates have been set with this in mind.

2 3. Tenants satisfaction with landlord services: Main findings % of survey respondents said they were satisfied with the overall service provided by the Council as their landlord. This represents an increase of 4% compared to the 73% of respondents that said they had been satisfied with the Council s overall landlord service in the Council s 2006 tenant survey. 83% of respondents were satisfied with the overall quality of their homes up 3% 80% were satisfied with the value for money for their rent up 4% 78% were satisfied with the general condition of their homes up 5% 77% were satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live down 2% 73% of respondents were satisfied with the Council s repair & maintenance service up 2% 3.3 Comparative analysis with other housing organisations found that the overall satisfaction level of the Council s tenants with the landlord service appears to be close to national average levels. However, satisfaction levels for some specific aspects of the service were a little below the average satisfaction levels recorded by other landlords. For example, although satisfaction with the Council s repair & maintenance service increased since the last survey, compared to other organisations the Council s tenants were less satisfied with the repair & maintenance service. 3.4 Information provided to tenants about when workers would call and the time taken for repair work to start and difficulty in getting hold of the right person when they contacted the Council were two particular areas highlighted however it must be remembered that the survey was conducted during the period when the roll out of the new work scheduling and appointment system was being undertaken and as recently reported to the Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee performance in responding to calls to the Customer Contact Centre have improved significantly. On the other hand tenants were more satisfied with the value for money for their rent than tenants of most other landlords. 3.5 This result highlights the need to review methods of measuring satisfaction and implementing feedback in relation to the overall housing service the Council provides as a landlord. Tenant Profile 3.5 Responses to the Satisfaction Survey showed that tenants in younger age groups were less satisfied than older respondents with the overall housing service provided by the council. As these trends were repeated throughout the survey, showing that certain groups consistently have lower levels of satisfaction, it is proposed that these surveys seek to uncover potential reasons that may lie behind lower levels of satisfaction within particular groups using further in-depth qualitative research.

3 Communication % of respondents were satisfied that the Council, as landlord, took tenants views in to account when making decisions. This further highlights the need to carry out regular surveys and to aid the development of appropriate opportunities for involvement. 3.7 The effect of keeping tenants aware of how their views are presented and informing them of areas identified for improvement cannot be underestimated. Although 77% of tenants were satisfied with the extent to which the Council keeps them informed, providing regular feedback will help to build faith and commitment amongst residents that their views are being listened to. This will increase the likelihood that tenants take part in future consultation and research exercises and also improve satisfaction levels. It is important that full communication to both staff and tenants is planned and carried out as soon the action plan, arising from the Satisfaction Survey, is agreed. Review of the Tenant Involvement Strategy 3.8 It is intended to undertake a review of the Tenant Involvement Strategy (Action Plan 7) to ensure the Tenant Liaison Team can improve satisfaction overall. The Tenant Liaison Team will review current communication methods, developing into a partnership between the Landlord and tenants. This is particularly relevant at this time when a new regulatory body is being introduced. 3.9 The newly formed regulator is the Tenant Services Authority (TSA) who will be responsible for regulating local council and arm s-length management organisation (ALMO) landlords from 1 April The TSA is drawing up a brand new set of standards for all social landlords. These standards are very important, as the TSA will be monitoring how landlords do in achieving them and taking action against any who don t. The TSA is going to listen to tenants across England to help them understand what they want to see in the new standards. It is calling this the National Conversation and it will start on 19 January The actions undertaken in responding to the outcome of the Satisfaction Survey is therefore critical in improving the service in advance of an inspection from the TSA post Resources 4.1 The Tenant Liaison Team will ensure the most effective use of budgets available when seeking to improve opportunities for tenant participation and overall satisfaction with Housing Services (Action Plan 8). Although it is important to provide tenants with the opportunities they feel would be best suited to their needs there is also a need for the Tenant Liaison Team to identify key costs and resources needed to action these opportunities. There is a further need to ensure resources available can give support to the sustainability of any new options provided for participation.

4 4.2 Improving satisfaction with the overall housing service provided by the Council will require the Tenant Liaison Team to review the resources available within other teams within the directorate to enable the action plan to be successfully carried out. This not only relates to costs of improving satisfaction but also to the possible requirements on staff time to accomplish increased satisfaction ratings. 5. Equality Issues 5.1 The Tenant Satisfaction Survey has been profiled by gender, age, and household composition, length of time as tenant, disability, ethnicity and household income. It is hoped that through improvements to the tenant database and through further surveys the Tenant Liaison team will be better able to identify the diverse needs of our tenant base and recognise the need to improve satisfaction in services and participation opportunities provided. 6. Legal Implications 6.1 There are no immediate legal implications associated with the recommendations in this report. 7. Financial Implications 7.1 The costs associated with the implementation of the action plan will be variable in nature as they are dependant on tenants views in improving satisfaction. 7.2 Subject to agreement of the action plan the Tenant Liaison Team will review the existing tenant participation budget to align with the action plan. 7.3 The Tenant Liaison team is currently monitoring the costs of current participation initiatives such as tenant forums, grants to tenant associations, tenant expenses, training costs, premises, producing newsletters and providing dedicated tenant liaison staff. 7.4 If it is necessary to provide additional resources to achieve increases in tenant satisfaction particularly in regard to levels of tenant participation a further report will be brought to Executive Committee. At this stage it is unclear what additional requirements will be placed on the Council by the new regulator The Tenant Services Authority. 8. Recommendations Executive are recommended to: 8.1 Note the contents of this report; including the proposed action plan and summary findings of the 2008 Tenant Satisfaction Survey.

5 8.2 Approve the Action Plan to address the findings of the Survey with the objective of improving satisfaction levels at the next biennial survey. 8.3 Refer to report to the Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee to monitor the action plan. List of Background City of Lincoln Council Tenant Satisfaction Papers: Survey Lead Officers: Susan DeAston Tenant Liaison Team Leader ext 3739 Denis Powell, Housing Support Services Manager Robin West, Tenancy Services Manage

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