Value for money by 62ppN2T


									                   Making our business work

                             Value for money
Value for money standard

TSA required outcome

In meeting all TSA standards, including their local offers, registered providers shall
have a comprehensive approach to managing their resources to provide cost-
effective, efficient, quality services and homes to meet tenants’ and potential tenants’

TSA specific expectation

Registered providers shall demonstrate to their tenants:
      • how expenditure has been prioritised in relation to each of the standards
         and in the delivery of local offers, and in meeting other needs such as
         investment in new social housing provision,
      • how they have ensured value for money has been secured and tested,
      • plans and priorities for delivery of further value for money improvements.

What we are doing now

When we’re deciding how best to spend our money, we try to get the balance
right between:

Economy – How much something costs
Efficiency – What we get for our money
Effectiveness – What we will achieve by spending the money

So while we look for ways to save money, we are also mindful that a low cost
service is not value for money if its standards are low and tenants are unhappy
with it.

Our Value for Money strategy 2008-2013 has 10 objectives including ensuring our
resources are focused on priority areas and any savings generated are reinvested in
front line services, and ensuring that our services are shaped around customers and
that customers are fully involved in setting service priorities and standards.

We have Business Accountants who work with managers to monitor spending and
results, and look for possible savings.

We compare what we spend and what we get for our money with similar social
landlords through HouseMark. This helps us to see where we can make savings in
the future. We compare a number of services using specialist HouseMark
benchmarking clubs. These include Complaints, Estate Services, Resident
Involvement and Repairs. Our HouseMark information is available on our website:

We also carry out benchmarking with a group of housing associations (Sandwell
Homes best practice and benchmarking group). This has included comparing our
empty property work, commissioning costs, home improvement work and our
Customer Service Centre and out of hours service.

We ask tenants for their views on whether our services are value for money. We
consulted tenants on all service chargeable cleaning and estate services before
entering into new contracts. Our Asset Management Panel was consulted on our
new repairs contracts due to start in August 2011. Tenants involved in contractor
procurement and contractor appraisals.

We work in partnership with other organisations to make the most of our combined
resources, and we try to boost our own resources by applying for external funding
where appropriate. For example in 2010-11 our Regeneration Team secured over
£200,000 external funding to maximise every £1 we spent on young people to £6.66.
Our Jigsaw Environmental Services Team also received approximately £250,000
external funding. Residents’ associations in our Older Persons Housing won £11,562
of outside funding for projects such as garden improvements, a health and wellbeing
day, and a trip to the theatre.

Further information about how we seek to achieve value for money in the way we
provide services, in relation to specific standards, is provided in the other sections of
this report.

How we said we’d improve in 2010-11

We said we would make sure we get more savings by procuring services such as
legal advice and recruitment as part of Symphony Housing Group.

       From 1 August 2011 we will procure services such as legal advice and staff
       recruitment as part of our parent company, Symphony Housing Group,
       making significant savings.

We said we would seek to understand our costs and outgoings more, to help us see
where we can save more money in the future.

      We have achieved this through our benchmarking work described above.

We said we would tell tenants about the savings we make and how we manage our

      We put articles in our tenant newsletter. For example in the winter 2010
      edition we had an article explaining how we allocate our planned maintenance
      budget. In the summer 2010 edition we had an article on our repairs
      performance which included cost information.

We said we would make better use of the information that we have about tenants so
we can target our services better.

      We keep information about our tenants, such as age, gender, disability,
      ethnicity, and whether they consider themselves to be vulnerable in any way.
      We run a project called Tailoring Services to look at the best ways of tailoring
      our services to fit the needs of all our tenants. We also use the results of our
      various customer satisfaction surveys to design our services.

We said we would involve tenants more in decisions about value for money.

      Our tenant Asset Management Panel helped us to choose our new repairs
      contractors starting in August 2011. Please see the section below about how
      we have involved tenants in our service chargeable cleaning and estate

Following tenant feedback during our 2009-10 self-assessment, we said we would
identify our top 20 most common repairs, measure our costs against other social
landlords, and examine the most expensive repairs to see where we can make

      We compare our repair costs to other social landlords. We also monitor
      monthly the top 20 properties where we have spent most money. We also
      monitor overall spending on different types of repair e.g. plumbing, electrics
      etc. Our new repairs contracts starting in August 2011 will follow a national
      schedule of rates.

How we are improving in 2011-12

We will check how our new repair contractors are working, to make sure that we get
the most value from the repairs service without increasing the cost

We will evaluate our pre-1919 homes to identify those where we have high
expenditure, high turnover and longer relet times. This means we will be measuring
repair and void costs and high turnover of approximately 3000 properties.

We will roll out local investment plans (Neighbourhood Asset Statements) for our
homes over the next 2 years, with extensive neighbourhood consultation to agree
priorities. So, if security is a priority for people in an area we can look at how we can
make their homes more secure when we maintain them.

We will review our Service Charge Policy and Procedures. We will consult tenants as
part of the review.

TSA specific expectation

Registered providers shall have arrangements for tenants to influence the services
delivered and the cost of those services that result in service charges to tenants.

What we are doing now

We consult residents on all service chargeable cleaning and estate services before
entering into new contracts. In addition to the statutory Section 20 consultation
arrangements we have developed a number of ways for residents to influence the
nature of our service chargeable services. This includes the following:

             Resident involvement in our tender evaluations and contractor
             Development of an Environmental Forum which shapes the nature of
              our service chargeable grounds maintenance services.
             Joint procurement of services with other social landlords. An example
              of this is the tender of grounds maintenance contracts in Runcorn
              which was procured in partnership with Riverside Housing Association

Over the past few years we have managed to stabilise the cost of many of our
service chargeable services. All our services are EU compliant and at the same time
we have been able to drive down costs through innovative procurement methods.
For example, for our recent grounds maintenance tender we set a cap on the
maximum tender that would be accepted. This was to ensure that there were no
significant increases in service charges. Despite changes in VAT and the current
high rate of inflation we managed to cap service charge increases to less than 1%
for both communal cleaning and window cleaning.

LHT are also part of the HouseMark Estate Benchmarking Club and we compare our
costs and service chargeable services with other social landlords. The most recent
results showed that LHT were in the top quartile for 13 of the 25 indicators. We had

the lowest average weekly charge for low rise blocks among all our peers. We have
achieved ISO 9001 accreditation for the management and procurement of our
service chargeable services.

Sheltered Housing service charges are reviewed every year. Tenants are consulted
about any new services and the removal of services.

We had no improvement proposals for 2010-11.

How we are improving in 2011-12

We will undertake a customer satisfaction survey on our cleaning and estate
services and seek to increase value for money by 2%.

We will undertake a benchmarking exercise on our cleaning and estate services with
other similar social landlords, and feed back the results to our tenant Environmental

We will review the Service Charge Policy and Procedures including consultation with

We will upgrade the Warden Call System at The Heys (Meadow Court, Bosco Court
and Ennis Court).


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