Vision Business Plan 2015 to 2020

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1 Vision 2020 Business Plan 2015 to 2020

2 Contents Para Page 1.0 Introduction Our Mission Our Aims Our Values Our Environment National Context Local Context Residents Staff Our Objectives Strategic Targets Strategic Projects Delivering our objectives Organisational Development Performance Management Risk Management Financial Resources Appendices 15

3 1.0 Introduction 1.1 South Essex Homes is the management company established in October 2005 by Southend on Sea Borough Council to manage the homes of Council s 5850 rented properties and 580 leasehold properties. We have made significant progress in improving services, working with residents and investing in homes over the last 9 years. 1.2 This business plan is about the future. It covers the five year period from 2015 to It is above all intended to be a practical document providing the operating framework for South Essex Homes over the next five years. The objectives we have set are ambitious while recognising the constraints and challenges that continued pressure on public finances create. 1.3 The plan emphasises the importance of our continued relationship with Southend Borough Council and that, for us to continue to add value, the partnership needs to be underpinned by clear expectations and shared ambitions. We understand and accept the need for a continued re-evaluation of our on-going role and articulate through this plan how we see our contribution developing. 1.4 South Essex Homes and Southend Borough Council have a strong track record of achievement in the Housing Service. We believe this provides a sound platform for the future development of the services we provide but also recognises the need for us to invest in our staff, our systems, our residents and our key relationships for us to continue to make a difference in the future. 1.5 The essence of this plan is about practicality and delivery. We have set out clear ambitions and identified outcome measures that will enable us to demonstrate results to both Southend Borough Council and residents. The ambitions set out here will form the basis of action plans which describe the detail of how South Essex Homes will continue to deliver a high quality service for Southend Borough Council by working smarter together. Tony Churton Chair of the Board

4 2.0 Our Mission 2.1 In February 2014 the South Essex Homes Board agreed a new Mission Statement reflecting the company s purpose and the context for the next five years. The statement captures the importance of focusing on our partnership with Southend Borough Council, managing good quality homes, delivering excellent services, providing value for money and it recognises the need to be a genuine partner in the community. Working Smarter Together to: Empower our residents Provide excellent services and quality homes Engage with our communities and work in partnership with Southend Borough Council 3.0 Our Aims 3.1 We have identified five aims for the next five years. These are to: Deliver Value to the Council Empower Residents and Staff Manage High Quality Homes Provide Excellent Services Engage with Communities

5 4.0 Our Values 4.1 Our approach is underpinned by a set of values developed through consultation with staff and residents, capturing the things that are important to us, these are; Customer focus Delivering and designing services around the needs and aspirations of our customers Excellence Striving to deliver the best possible outcomes Efficiency Making the best use of available resources People valuing diversity and the creativity, commitment and innovation of our team Sustainability delivering solutions that offer lasting value 5.0 Our Environment 5.1 South Essex Homes are a Management Company wholly owned by Southend on Sea Borough Council. Our direction therefore is inextricably linked with the objectives of the Council and our overriding purpose is to support the Council in ensuring tenants receive a high quality, cost effective service. Each of the objectives we have identified is intended to respond to specifically identified environmental pressures. 5.2 The National Context 5.3 We face a time of very significant change for housing and the public sector more widely. This business plan is being prepared in a year when both National and Local elections take place and therefore the detail of policy direction over the next few years is difficult to predict. It is, however, likely that public sector spending constraints will remain a priority for The Government. The key factors likely to continue to impact on South Essex Homes are: Housing Revenue Account Reform In April 2012 the Government ended the Housing Revenue Account subsidy system and replaced it with Self-Financing. The stated objectives of this reform are to give: Councils the resources, incentives and flexibility they need to manage their own housing stock for the long term and to improve quality and efficiency Tenants the information they need to hold their landlord to account, by creating a clear relationship between the rent a landlord collects and the services they provide

6 Welfare Reform: Welfare reform and the introduction of Universal Credit will affect Council Tenants both in terms of affordability and the mechanisms through which rent is paid. The discontinuation of Housing Benefit funded rent payments direct to Landlords is likely to introduce significant new risks to income collection. Social Housing Reform: The changes to Social Housing provision in terms of tenure, allocations, and provision for homeless people, employment and mobility all have a direct impact on the role of both Southend Borough Council and South Essex Homes. The links between social housing, the healthcare agenda and employment are likely to continue to be a feature in central and local policy. Funding Pressures: Recent years have seen very significant reductions in public expenditure across a wide range of services. Southend Borough Council has been responding to these pressures and South Essex Homes will need to contribute to managing the impact at a local level. Southend Borough Council anticipate needing to achieve significant General Fund and Housing Revenue Account expenditure reductions in the next few years and South Essex Homes will work closely with the Council to identify innovative ways it can help to deliver this. Housing regulation: Changes to consumer regulation of social housing have resulted in moves towards co-regulation and South Essex Homes have responded with the creation of the Residents Scrutiny Panel as well as seeking to broaden the range of engagement options. Although South Essex Homes is not a Registered Provider with the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA) this will be an important issue to progress in Once S.E.H becomes a RP we will have to meet the HCA s various governance and performance standards. It will therefore be necessary to ensure a robust mechanism is in place to contribute to service development. In In addition the need for increasingly robust and effective governance presents new challenges and opportunities for resident engagement. 5.4 The Local Context 5.5 The Challenges faced in Southend on Sea are reflective of the national context and South Essex Homes has a key role in supporting the Council to deliver. Specifically the Councils local Housing Strategy contains 3 aims which are particularly relevant in terms of South Essex Homes role Promote the delivery of quality housing, including affordable, to meet local needs and promote a sustainable and balanced housing market Promote improvement in the quality of the existing housing stock achieving Decent, Healthy and Environmentally Sustainable homes across all tenures.

7 Promoting greater accessibility to different types of housing and promoting independent living for vulnerable groups and continuing work to prevent homelessness 5.6 Southend-on-Sea Borough Council The Objectives identified in this business plan are intended to contribute to helping the Council achieve the strategic priorities set out in the Southend on Sea Housing Strategy In addition to this a Task and Finish Group was established in October 2012 to consider the future contribution of South Essex Homes the findings of which provide a very clear view of the Council s expectations. We see this as very clear direction from Southend Borough Council and as such have shaped the business to respond to these expectations. The Task and Finish Group concluded that: While performance in relation to the management of the Council s housing stock has improved significantly since the South Essex Homes inception there is room for further improvement. There are potential efficiencies to be realised, particularly where shared service provision is possible/desirable. South Essex Homes should be supported in moves to become more entrepreneurial and income generating, while minimising risks to service provision Moves to streamline governance arrangements of South Essex Homes should be supported Moves to strengthen client arrangements, including greater member oversight are supported There will be a need to undertake extensive consultation on any future changes to management of housing stock That having reviewed the options in relation to future housing management arrangements and given the potential for SEH to secure further savings, efficiencies and generate income, the review has, on balance, concluded that the Council should continue with the ALMO model at least until March In addition, the following summarised recommendations from the Task and Finish Group provide a clear context for South Essex Homes business plan. 1. That the Council allows the management agreement with South Essex Homes to run until March 2016, subject to South Essex Homes meeting requirements in relation to performance, savings, efficiencies and income generation.

8 2. In considering the options for the future management, post 2016, of its housing stock, the Council should not exclude consideration of other forms of housing management. This should be done in the light of the Council s requirements at the time and the performance of South Essex Homes. 3. That South Essex Homes is supported and encouraged in their moves to pursue a more commercial approach, with an expectation that their business plans are reviewed regularly, with a view to significantly increasing levels of income earned. 4. That the Council and South Essex Homes continue to work actively to progress further moves to share services, and reduce areas of duplication. 5. That the assumptions built into the medium term financial strategy to reduce the management fee by 500,000 by 2016/17 are endorsed. 6. That the South Essex Homes Board looks to further streamline its governance arrangements and related costs. 7. That recent moves to strengthen client monitoring arrangements of South Essex Homes are supported. 8. That any significant change in the management arrangements for the Council s housing stock is subject to extensive consultation with tenants, leaseholders and other appropriate stakeholders. The Council is under pressure to meet local housing needs as a result of rising house prices and also the level of rents in the Private Rented Sector. It has prioritised new Council House building as a priority and completed the first new Council house in March Further new build schemes are planned at Shoeburyness and other sites in the Borough. The Council is also looking at the following priorities in the coming years:- a) Queensway Regeneration the Council has agreed to investigate the regeneration of 4 town centre Tower Blocks and adjoining area. This will include providing additional homes and having to work closely with the Council s tenants and leaseholders. This will be a shared priority for South Essex Homes too b) Sheltered Housing Review the Council will be reviewing what standards should be in place for good quality Sheltered Housing for Older People throughout the Borough. S.E.H currently manages around 1600 sheltered housing schemes and there are a significant number of older tenants living in general needs accommodation. In addition there are clear demographic trends which highlight that there will be a significant increase of older people living in the Borough over the next 20 years. In addition the Council is keen to explore alternatives to residential and nursing homes and to make the best use of technology such as Telecare. The provision of good quality housing for older people is likely to be a key priority for this Business Plan over the next 5 years.

9 c) Local Housing Company the Council is keen to look at new and innovative ways to raise additional funding to build new Council homes and one option being considered by the Council is to set up an new Company which could build new Council houses with private finance from Banks or Building Societies. This would provide S.E.H an opportunity to work closely with the Council on this incentive which could result in more properties being managed in the future. d) Accessing Private Rented accommodation the Private Rented sector is becoming less affordable to local people and rents are increasing. This could be an area where S.E.H works closely with the Council to try and secure longer term Private Rented properties for local people. e) Welfare Reforms the introduction of Universal Credit will be an important consideration for both the Council and S.E.H (alongside the overall impact of Welfare Reform)in the next 5 years to ensure that tenants are supported and are managing their budgets. 5.8 The views of Residents Development of this plan involved detailed consultation with residents along three dimensions. These were; The ways in which South Essex Homes and Southend Borough Council engages with and involves residents and; Residents views about the service they experience, what works well and work we could do better. The regular input from our on-going relationship with residents including, The Forum, The Tenants Voice Association, The Federation and our established focus groups. In terms of involving residents the feedback we received was: While South Essex Homes are good at involving residents and the link with sustainability was supported we could do better. We need to engage with different residents including younger people, disabled people and people from ethnic minorities. Residents need to be able to engage with Southend Borough Council more effectively. In terms of the Service residents told us: Service was generally good and the mainstream activities worked well, and performance had generally improved.

10 We need to help manage allocations more effectively particularly around the allocation of sheltered housing to vulnerable people. We need to get better at communicating particularly around more complex issues. We need to work more effectively with other agencies in ensuring support is properly coordinated. 5.9 The views of Staff 5.10 All staff across the organisation were given the opportunity to participate in the business planning process. Staff provided views on what they thought South Essex Homes should be doing and also on ways in which they could be helped to do their job more effectively. Staff told us that we should: Make Customer Service a top priority and we should help residents support and develop their local communities Review and invest in our support systems. Look for ways to broaden the service and generate income using our skills to contribute to the health agenda and contribute to partner organisations. Improve communication between teams and between SBC and South Essex Homes at an operational and managerial level. Effectively manage performance and invest in training and personal development. Encourage staff and teams to be part of the solution. 6.0 Our objectives 6.1 Within the environmental context described and the framework of our aims we have identified key strategic objectives to be achieved over the next 5 years. These are set out below and are supported by specific strategic targets and projects in the following sections of the plan.

11 Delivering value to the Council We will: Work in partnership with the Council to critically review our purpose and contribution. Deliver the agreed savings and efficiencies in the Management Fee provided by Southend Borough Council. Maximise external sources of funding. Review the Value for Money Strategy and VFM Self-Assessment. Empowering Residents and Staff We will: Develop a strategy to increase the engagement options for a broader range of residents Continue to work in partnership with the Residents Scrutiny Forum to deliver actions identified from independent reviews. Ensure our Team have the skills and capabilities required to achieve our mission through the investment, development and training commitments in our Organisational Development Plan Become Investors in People (IIP) Gold accredited and a Top 100 employer over the life of this business plan Managing high quality homes We will: Complete the agreed Decent Homes programme funded by 31st March 2017 (subject to availability of funding) and review the current reinvestment standard in line with funding availability to inform the approach once full decency is achieved. Contribute to environmental sustainability through product specification, waste reduction and the identification of available alternative funding streams

12 Support and encourage residents to improve their management of the use of energy and cut associated energy bills. Further develop and utilise our Strategic Asset Management capability to provide accurate, high quality advice and information for the Council in in line with the Council s regeneration and redevelopment programme. Providing Excellent Services We Will: Comprehensively review our IT and other systems to ensure staff are equipped to deliver excellent services, improve communication Achieve year on year improvements in performance and resident satisfaction and against agreed service delivery indicators and targets. Support all residents to ensure sustainability of tenancies and leases. Engage with Communities: We will:. Seek to ensure there is clarity around service charges and the costs of specific services can be identified. Identify initiatives to enhance the communities where residents increase satisfaction with neighbourhoods. live and Support Southend Borough Council in achieving its objectives, including regeneration, renewal and redevelopment projects Working in partnership with the Council and other providers to contribute to building community capacity and securing inward investment 7.0 Strategic Measures Develop in partnership with the Council and external agencies to provide advice and support to residents to minimise the impact of Welfare Reforms.

13 7.1 The objectives identified lend themselves to strategic measure in terms of either numerical or project outcomes. The measures or projects associated with each of the objectives are shown in tables 1 & 2 below: 8.0 Strategic Projects The strategic project plans are set out in appendix 1 Action Target Description 2015/ / / / /20 Delivering Value to the Council Deliver the agreed savings and efficiencies in the Management Fee provided by Southend Borough Council Value of Savings delivered 400K 121K 50K Empowering Residents and Staff Become Investors In People (IIP) Gold Accredited and a Top 100 employer over the life of this business plan Managing High Quality Homes Achieve year on year improvement in contractor performance, value for money and resident satisfaction with the repairs and reinvestment service Providing Excellent Services Achieve year on year improvements in resident satisfaction and against agreed service delivery indicators. To support all residents to keep up to date with payment of rent and service charges, thereby ensuring sustainability of tenancies and leases. Engaging with Communities Identify alternative funding streams to enhance the communities where residents live and increase satisfaction with neighbourhoods. Delivery of Accreditation Award IIP Accredited Tenant Satisfaction with repairs and 87% maintenance in general Repairs Completed in Contractual Target 99.40% Time Void Turnaround Time (Calendar Days) 18 Jobs Completed Right First Time 95.5% Percentage non-decent council homes 2.5% Satisfaction of General Needs Tenants 90% with South Essex Homes as Landlord Satisfaction of Sheltered Tenants with 94% South Essex Homes as Landlord Percentage of current rent arrears 1.77 IIP Silver Accredited - Current Rent Arrears (in cash) 589K ` Number of Evictions for Rent Arrears 34 Percentage of Write Offs 0.5% Write Offs (in cash) TBA Percentage of Former Tenant Arrears 1.2% Former Tenant Arrears (in cash) 400K Value of Inward Investment Secured 100K 150K 200K 250K 300K Contact with all tenants under-occupying 100% due to spare room subsidy 9.0 Achieving our objectives 9.1 South Essex Homes has a strong track record and has consistently demonstrated an ability to deliver results. We are confident we have in place the Governance, Leadership and relationship s to continue delivering and achieve the ambitions set out in this plan. Most of all we have confident, capable staff who demonstrate a positive attitude to the challenges ahead. 9.2 In order to support the effective delivery of this plan we have in place clear strategies for

14 Organisational Development Performance Management Risk Management 10.0 Organisational Development 10.1 Our recently developed Organisational Development plan is intended to empower our team and encourage the right approaches and attitudes. We see staff development as a fundamental part of achieving our ambitions which is illustrated by IIP accreditation as a strategic target. In addition we are keen for our staff to have a can do attitude and work in an environment where they are encouraged to take ownership of issues, The Organisational Development plan is informed by recent staff surveys, the staff conference and the day to day feedback we receive from our teams. The plan will enable us to: Increase Opportunities for staff to be involved Apply Consistent Management Practices Improve Communications Utilise Skills of individuals and increase opportunities for progression Achieve Investors in People 11.0 Performance Management 11.1 The company has in place a robust and fully integrated performance management system based on the balanced scorecard approach. The company s performance is monitored on a weekly basis by service managers and similarly by the Executive team. Higher level indicators are monitored through the Governance structure at appropriate intervals. Regular process, performance and value for money benchmarking is undertaken to ensure an accurate and meaningful comparison with the wider sector is established The performance management strategy combined with the planning process enables the targets set in partnership with the Council to be robustly monitored and

15 delivered. This combined with effective leadership and Governance provides the foundation for ensuring the ambitions in this plan are delivered. The full Performance Management Strategy is available as a background paper to this plan 12.0 Risk Management 12.1 The effective management of Risk will be a key factor in the delivery of our business plan. To support the identification and management of risk management we have in place a comprehensive strategy that supports a structured and focussed approach to risk management. The strategy aims to apply best practice to the identification, evaluation and control of key risks and ensure that residual risks are at an acceptable level. We achieve this by; Integrating risk management into operational and management practices and procedures Adopting an effective and transparent corporate approach to proactive risk management Raising awareness of risk management by all those connected with the delivery of South Essex Homes services Anticipating and responding to changing social, environmental and legislative requirements 12.2 To support our management of risk we have in place a risk hierarchy which ensures the appropriate distribution of responsibility for risks. This places risks, allocated by type and/or degree to the Board, Audit Committee, Executive Management Team and Service Managers. The company has in place a formal risk register which covers all identified risks and is reviewed cyclically through the executive and governance framework. The full risk register and Risk Management Strategy are available as background papers to this plan. Work will take place to further strengthen our approach to risk appetite, awareness and ownership of risk Financial Resources 13.1 In moving forward the Company has to strike a balance between reducing cost and maintaining services. In setting the savings targets for the next three years, it is

16 believed that this can still be achieved. It will however be difficult to achieve further savings without adversely affecting services. If there are requirements to make further savings beyond the existing 571,000 to 2017/18, the Company may need to look to use sustainable income from Atilius to support the management fee. A summary of the financial position is set out in Appendix Appendices 14.1 Appendix 1 Project Plan Appendix 2: 5 year Budget Summary

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