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									     Scrutiny Briefing Note

Briefing Note to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee
               1st February 2008

                                     Service Standards

Briefing Note of the Director of Housing and Head of Area and Neighbourhood

1.      Purpose of the Briefing Note and Summary

        1.1   At the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee of 3rd August 2007
              the Area Director (Park) presented a paper updating on the progress of the
              implementation of the Area Agenda across the city.

        1.2   Following receipt of the report, Scrutiny requested a further briefing paper to
              address four specific issues: -

              1.2.1 It was reported that the current (2007/08) target for a re-let of a
                    Council residential property is 33 days. The appropriateness of this
                    target was questioned and it was requested that further information be
                    brought forward to explore the potential for re-establishing this target
                    at 14 days.

              1.2.2 On considering information in relation to rent arrears, Scrutiny wished
                    further information to be presented which identified the proportion of
                    such arrears which are deemed to be the fault of the tenant and which
                    are deemed to be the fault of the Council.

              1.2.3 That further details of the core standards relating to the removal of
                    graffiti be submitted to a future meeting of this Committee

              1.2.4 That further evidence be submitted to a future meeting of this
                    Committee that the EnCAMs system had been embedded and
                    developed within the City Council and was actually producing an end

2.      Main Body of Briefing Note

        Re-let standard for Council residential property.

        2.1   The average re-let time for void empty council homes is a national Audit
              Commission performance indicator (BV212) and as such is monitored
               monthly against a citywide target. This in turn can be benchmarked against
               performance by other housing authorities and Arms Length Management
               Organisations (ALMO’s).

         2.2   The target measures the number of days taken to re-let a habitable home
               from the day the tenancy is ended and keys handed in to the date it is re-let.
               If the property is not habitable and requires extensive capital improvements,
               the time taken to bring it back into a habitable condition is not included in the
               overall period. If a home has been left unoccupied for a long period of time
               but is in a habitable condition then the full period of time that the property has
               remained un-let must be recorded and included in the average re-let time.
               Where hard to let homes are now being let due to increasing demand or
               specific initiatives there can be a negative impact on the re-let time even
               though there is a positive outcome.

         2.3   The re-let target for 2007/08 was 33 days building on the improvements in
               previous years as indicated in the table below:-

         Table 1 -performance and targets from 2002/03 to 2007/08
                 2002/03 2003/04 2004/05 2005/06 2006/07 2007/08           2008/09   2009/10

Performance       97        67        56        69        46        73

Target           100        75        50        35        49        33        31       28

                            Average Relet Time (calendar days)






               2002/03   2003/04   2004/05   2005/06   2006/07   2007/08   2008/09

                                        Performance     Target

         2.4   A report to the Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee of the 23rd
               November 2007 set out performance in relation to a number of indicators that
               have been impacted by the flooding. This included average re-let times -
               which have been seriously affected by the flooding. This is as a result of
               increased repair times for empty properties as resources are diverted to
               repair flood damaged homes. A detailed action plan has been produced, in
               conjunction with the three contractors to improve performance however this
               year’s target of 33 days is not achievable. Monthly performance reports are
               provided to the Area Housing Board and priority will be given to improvement
               of performance in this area. The published targets of 31 days for 2008/09
               and 28 days for 2009/10 are considered to be achievable and would place
       the authority in the national upper quartile (currently 29 days). The CPA
       upper threshold is currently 27 days.

2.5    Table 2 indicates the major cities group comparator performance for 2006/07
       with Hull ranked 7th with a 12 months’ re-let performance of 46 days. The
       target for 2009/10 of 28 days would see the authority matching the best
       performance for comparable authorities.

Table 2 – major cities group comparator performance 2006/07

                                           Performance    Rank
                  Brighton & Hove               35            4
                  Bristol City                  28            2
                  Cardiff County                66            9
                  Derby Homes                   32            3
                  Hull City                     46            7
                  Leicester City                27            1
                  Milton Keynes                 56            8
                  Nottingham City Homes         73            10
                  Plymouth City                 75            11
                  Southampton City              43            6
                  Stoke on Trent City           38            5
                  Swansea City & County         75            12

2.6    Whilst 14 days is achieved by a few authorities (only 6 achieved this in
       2005/06 against a national average of 44 days) it is not thought to be
       achievable in the next 2 years, though continuous improvement against the
       2009/10 28 day target will be pursued.

Categorised rent collection arrears

2.7    There are currently 201 new claims for Housing Benefit in respect of council
       properties that are with the Housing Benefits team for processing. It is not
       possible to confirm if all 201 cases are in arrears, however if it is assumed
       that an arrears situation is created in all 201 cases, this represents 2.5% of
       the total rent collection arrears cases (7889) in the city, as of the 18.11.07.

2.8    To provide support to tenants in respect of their rent accounts, improvement
       work within the Housing Service will focus on rent collection and an increase
       in preventative/ income maximisation work to enhance the support and
       advice available. This will include reviewing information and support provided
       to tenants at the commencement of their tenancy.

Graffiti Removal

2.9    The national Audit Commission performance indicator for graffiti removal is
       BV212 which outlines the percentage of surveyed areas that are considered
       to be at a good or acceptable standard for graffiti management. The survey
       is currently undertaken by members of Streetscene staff.
2.10   The target for 2007/08 is that no more than 6% of surveyed areas should be
       regarded as falling into an “Unacceptable” category [i.e. falling below a
       classification of “Grade B” on an assessment scale]. To date the following
       citywide results have been returned (currently the information is not available
       on an area basis): -

             Survey 1 (June 07): 13% of surveyed areas at an unacceptable level.
             Survey 2 (October 07): 7% of surveyed areas at an unacceptable

2.11   There is a Customer Promise stating that we remove offensive graffiti within
       a set timescale (Racist and Offensive graffiti to be removed within 2 hours of
       reporting and the remainder to be removed within 24 hours of reporting).
       Currently we are failing to meet the latter promise consistently. In response
       to this, a Graffiti Action Plan has been developed to establish a more joined
       up approach to graffiti response and is also looking at more creative use of
       Community Safety Fund resources as identified in a recent Full Council


2.12   The EnCAMs system of the independent monitoring of environmental quality
       started in November 2005 within Hull City Council. Since then 130 people
       have been trained to undertake the surveys and the Wyke area has been
       used as a pilot for the process due to the high levels of community interest
       and the regularity of completed surveys.

2.13   The Wyke area project has been the subject of a presentation on 11th
       December 2007 at a national Department of Communities and Local
       Government sponsored national conference in London which provided a
       national launch for this process to be adopted by other councils across the

2.14   The overall feeling from those Community Surveyors who actively complete
       the monitoring on a regular basis is that the scheme is worthwhile and
       provides an avenue for residents to become involved in maintaining the
       quality of their neighbourhoods. Various Surveyors have recently been
       involved in the development of a promotional DVD detailing the benefits of
       the scheme in order to develop the system further and generate more
       interest from local residents. A submission has recently been made to the
       EnCAMs “Cleaner, Safer, Greener Network Awards” 2008 for the Councils
       achievement in community engagement through the Community Surveyor

2.15   Observations recorded during monitoring surveys are sent to appropriate
       service areas to action. It is very rare for the same observations to be
       highlighted in further surveys, indicating that environmental actions are
       completed regularly and effectively by Council departments in direct
       response to survey observations, although there are currently no regular
       reports produced to evidence this. This has been identified as an area for
       improvement within the system and it is intended that all completed actions
              are recorded on the CRM system to enable the identification of service
              responses in relation to survey observations.

       2.16   The number of active Community Surveyors has declined over the past 6
              months, largely due to the diversion of staff resources to flood recovery
              work and the impact that the floods have had on large areas of the
              community. There are currently only 20 – 30 active, regular surveyors
              citywide; this is acknowledged as being not enough to provide an effective
              analysis of environmental quality. In response to this, the Community Survey
              system is currently being revised, taking into account the best practice over
              the last two years, and a programme of recruitment for new surveyors is

       2.17   Consideration is currently being given as to how existing (but currently
              separate) environmental monitoring systems can be brought together to
              enhance the spread and quality of data and drive continuous improvement in
              steetscene environmental management.

                   Patch walks are currently completed in conjunction with Tenant
                    Volunteers in areas of social housing which already operate through a
                    clear reporting system that is now well established and will be an
                    important element of demonstrating tenant involvement during the
                    forthcoming Housing Inspection by the Audit Commission. This process,
                    which has been developed in conjunction with the Tenants Forum Service
                    Improvement Group, identifies largely the same environmental issues as
                    the current ENCAMS Community Survey. There is the potential, through
                    working with local tenant volunteers, to incorporate this valuable
                    information into area-wide performance management information in order
                    to provide a broader picture to Area Committee of the quality of
                    environmental management across all parts of each area in addition to its
                    current use as a tool to manage service delivery in local housing areas
                    and to enable feedback to tenants.

                   Community Wardens offer the potential to undertake programmed
                    surveys in conjunction with their regular patrols; it has been agreed with
                    the Goodwin Trust that training in Survey activities will be rolled out to all
                    Wardens and that this becomes a core competency and activity for

       2.18   In combining these quality measures with the ENCAMS process, the
              resulting performance information produced should be far greater and
              produce a wider geographical coverage of the city.

              Stuart Davy                                                        John Hocking
              Head of Area and Neighbourhood Management                   Director of Housing

Contact Officer :      Stuart Davy
Telephone No. :        01482 613257

Background Documents: - None

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