Docstoc

Worthing Homes Ltd

Document Sample
Worthing Homes Ltd Powered By Docstoc
					Inspection report

August 2003




Worthing
Homes
Worthing Homes Ltd
p2   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




     Contents
     Summary                                                                              3
                  The Housing Corporation, the Housing Inspectorate and the inspection    3
                  Assessment of the service                                               4
                  What works well in Worthing Homes                                       5
           Recommendations                                                                6
           Worthing Homes response                                                        7
     Overall assessment of service                                                        8
           The inspection: terms of reference and coverage                                8
                  A profile of Worthing Homes housing association                         8
                  How good is the service?                                               11
                  Is Worthing Homes housing association working for continuous
                  improvement?                                                           13
     Review of service areas                                                             14
           Maintaining homes in good condition                                           14
           Letting homes                                                                 22
           Dealing with nuisance and anti social behaviour                               27
           Ensuring that services are sensitive to the needs of communities              31
           Services to customers                                                         36
           Asset Management                                                              41
           Tenant Involvement                                                            44
     Appendices                                                                          46
           The inspection team                                                           46
           Number of person days on site                                                 46
           The inspection process                                                        46
           Reference documents                                                           46
           Glossary of terms                                                             47
                                                     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes      p3




Summary
The Housing Corporation, the Housing Inspectorate and the
inspection
1    In May 2003, a team of inspectors from the Audit Commission visited Worthing
     Homes Ltd, to assess both the services that the association gives to its tenants and
     other customers, and how the association is trying to improve those services for the
     future.
2    The Audit Commission is an independent body responsible for ensuring that public
     money is spent economically, efficiently and effectively, to achieve high quality local
     and national services to the public. Within the Audit Commission the Housing
     Inspectorate now inspects and monitors the performance of local authority housing
     departments, housing associations and other forms of social landlord. In inspecting
     housing associations we work closely with the Housing Corporation, the statutory
     body which regulates housing associations. Our findings are used by the Housing
     Corporation in assessing whether a housing association is well governed, well
     managed and financially viable.
3    Our inspectors spoke to tenants and staff at Worthing Homes Ltd and to members of
     the association’s Board of Directors. We talked to the local authorities, contractors
     and other organisations that work closely with the association. We visited homes that
     it owns and manages. We looked in particular at how well the association performs in
     the following six aspects of the service:
         maintaining homes in good condition;
         letting homes;
         dealing with nuisance and anti social behaviour;
         involving tenants in the activities of the association and tenants’ influence over
         service delivery;
         how the association ensures that its services are sensitive to the needs of the
         communities it serves, including black and minority ethnic communities;
         how customers receive services, including how complaints are managed.
What is Worthing Homes Ltd?
4    Worthing Homes was established in 1998 to receive the transfer of Worthing
     Borough Council’s housing stock in March 1999. The association currently owns
     over 2,400 homes in Worthing, of which 228 homes are sheltered
     accommodation.
5    Worthing Homes aims to help meet local housing needs; provide a best value,
     customer-focused service; support and encourage balanced, sustainable
     neighbourhoods; enhance its financial viability and independence; promote its
     standing in the community and develop its staff to achieve best practice
     standards.
6    The association has an active development programme and plans to build and
     acquire around 60 units each year.
7    The association moved into new town centre offices during May 2002 which include a
     Tenants’ Resource Centre.
p4       Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Assessment of the service
8        Our inspectors have assessed each service area that they inspected and have made
         an overall assessment for:
             how good the association’s services are; and
             whether the association is working for continuous improvement.
9        A more detailed explanation of the assessments can be found on the Housing
         Inspectorate website (www.audit-commission.gov.uk).
10       We have assessed Worthing Homes housing association as providing a service
         that is satisfactory. Our judgements are based on the evidence obtained during
         the inspection and are outlined below. The assessment chart displays
         performance in two dimensions. The horizontal axis shows how good the service
         or function is now, on a scale ranging from failing to comply with the regulatory
         code (at the left-hand corner) to good (right-hand end). The vertical axis shows
         the improvement prospects of the service, also on a four-point scale.
Assessment chart: Worthing Homes Ltd – Inspection Report


       Is the association working for continuous improvement?
                                                                              The service is
                   Fails to                                                   satisfactory.
                 comply with     Scope for
                    code       improvement Satisfactory   Good

Demonstrates
   strong
 capabilities



    Is raising
    standards                                                      How
                                                                  good        The service is raising
                                                                  is the
     Shows
                                                                 service?
                                                                              standards in service
    weakness                                                                  delivery

   Fails to
 demonstrate
  capability
                                                      Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p5




What works well in Worthing Homes
What we found
In our inspection we asked two key questions:
         how good is the service delivered to residents?
11   Overall Worthing Homes Ltd provides a satisfactory service to tenants given its
     operating context. The association has been in existence for over 4 years and
     has made significant progress in delivering the commitments made at transfer. It
     is evident from our inspection that the association has a customer focused culture
     and that staffing teams have been restructured to reflect the emphasis placed on
     service delivery. We met competent and enthusiastic members of staff at all
     levels of the organisation.
12   The association has more work to do on equality and diversity, particularly in relation
     to the management of racial harassment and monitoring. During our inspection we
     found no evidence of direct discrimination. Although weak on race issues, the
     association has responded to the diversity agenda in other ways. It has developed a
     system of floating support for vulnerable tenants. It has worked with the charity, Mind,
     to develop the ‘garden minders’ service.
         Is the association working towards continuous improvement?
13   Worthing Homes Ltd demonstrates a satisfactory capacity for driving continuous
     improvement within service areas. Worthing Homes Ltd is raising standards in
     service delivery. It has made significant progress in developing policies,
     procedures and involving customers since its registration in 1999. It meets, but
     does not exceed, the requirements of the regulatory code. It has established a
     comprehensive programme of Best Value reviews to underpin its work on
     continuous improvement, which have resulted in improvements to the planned
     maintenance and housing management service, in particular. The association
     has been able to demonstrate that it places tenants at the core of its business
     and values tenants contributions. This is evident in its organisational and
     consultation structures. This is supported by the rigorous customer service
     training given to staff. Worthing Homes has achieved Client Charter status, a
     nationally accepted accreditation for best practice in construction procurement.
     However, the association needs to establish a more robust method of monitoring
     and reporting progress on BV to the board and housing committee. The present
     arrangements make it difficult for stakeholders to have clarity on progress and
     impact.
What works well in Worthing Homes?
         Customer focus
         Planned maintenance service and in particular the cost reflective improvement
         works.
         Use of stock condition survey
         Management of temporary accommodation
         Relationship with local authority
         Post lettings visits and satisfaction questionnaire
         Partnerships with other organisations to deliver housing and support services
         to vulnerable tenants.
What could be improved in Worthing Homes
         Clarify responsibilities for gas servicing
p6   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




        Support for victims of anti social behaviour
        A code of conduct for contractors
        The introduction of a policy on Domestic Violence
        Progress on race equality action plan
        Presentation and monitoring of Best Value reviews
        Facilities in temporary accommodation
        Accompanied viewings

Recommendations
14   The main recommendations made to the Board of Directors at Worthing Homes Ltd
     following our inspection are set out below. These are broadly in order of significance.
        Establish clear lines of responsibility for gas servicing
        Introduce support measures for victims of anti social behaviour
        Introduce an appointments system for response repairs
        Review consultation forums to improve effectiveness from a customer view point
        Finalise and implement the revised complaints procedure.
        Introduce accompanied viewings for all new lettings.
        Ensure that targets agreed in the race action plan are met
        Promote the availability of translation and interpreting service provided by
        language line.
        Improve monitoring and presentation of work on Best Value
         Establish a code of conduct for contractors
15   We have asked Worthing Homes housing association to produce an action plan
     within three months to show how it intends to respond to these recommendations.
     The Housing Corporation keeps in regular contact with all the large housing
     associations that it regulates and will monitor and keep us in informed of the
     association’s progress in working to deal with these issues.
                                                      Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes    p7




Worthing Homes response

Worthing Homes welcomes the Audit Commission Inspection report as both a health check
on the delivery of our services and as an integral part of our programme of continuous
improvement.

We found the inspection process comprehensive and robust and the inspection team fair
and objective in their conclusions. We were particularly pleased with the recognition of :

    •   Progress made since transferring in 1999.
    •   Our strong customer focus.
    •   The competence and enthusiasm of our staff.

We recognise we must continue to build on our achievements and the recommendations in
the report will assist us in prioritising those areas requiring further development. We intend
to fully implement all the recommendations by April 2004.
p8   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Overall assessment of service
The inspection: terms of reference and coverage
16   We would like to thank the tenants, staff and board members of Worthing Homes Ltd,
     particularly members of the board, staff, and tenants who made us welcome and who
     met our requests efficiently and courteously.

A profile of Worthing Homes housing association
Role and history
17   Worthing Homes housing association is a charitable registered social landlord (RSL)
     with the Housing Corporation. The association facilitated a voluntary stock transfer
     of 2,400 units of local authority stock from Worthing Borough Council in March 1999.
     Context and performance
18   Worthing Homes is a medium sized housing association working exclusively on the
     south coast. The association compares well with its peers against key performance
     indicators, and is better than the peer group average in some areas. It is in the top
     quartile for income management, average rent charged and emergency repairs
     completed on time. It demonstrates satisfactory performance in the management of
     routine repairs. It does, however, show weaknesses in the management of empty
     homes and levels of satisfaction with tenant participation.
Location and areas of operation
19   Over 99,000 people live in Worthing in over 44,500 households, making it the largest
     town in West Sussex. The town has a modern commercial centre and lies on the
     coastal plain bounded to the north by the South Downs and to the south by the
     English Channel. The town has all the amenities one would expect in a town of its
     size. It is the premier shopping centre in West Sussex with an a variety of specialist
     shops, well-established family businesses, department stores, chain stores and
     supermarkets. The town centre is located off the seafront and is mainly
     pedestrianised. Over the years Worthing has been chosen by a number of national
     and multi - national companies for their headquarters and as their main operating
     bases.
     Housing in Worthing
20   Worthing has a varied housing stock in terms of both age and type. Most of the
     older properties are in Central and Eastern areas of the Borough, with post-war
     growth to the West at Goring and Durrington and north at High Salvington.
        68% of the housing stock consists of houses, evenly split between detached,
        semi detached and terraced properties.
        29% of the stock is flats and most of which are purpose built.
        Around 80% of the total housing stock is owner occupied.
        Registered Social Housing stock comprises approximately 16% of the total
        housing stock.
        Private sector house condition surveys carried out by the Council in 1993 and
        1998 indicate that the majority of unfit properties are in central Worthing.
        Worthing has a black and minority ethnic (BME) population of 2.8%.
                                                         Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes     p9




Percentage of resident population in ethnic groups:

                                            Worthing                            England

White                                           97.2                             90.0

Mixed                                           0.9                               1.3

Asian or Asian British                          0.9                               4.6

Black or Black British                          0.3                               2.3

Chinese or Other                                0.6                               0.9
                                                                      Source: 2201 Census, ONS

  The average price of housing (£’s) in Worthing during 2001 was:


                                     Worthing                          England and Wales


Detached                 Average Price    % of households       Average Price    % of households
                                          living in this type                    living in this type
                                         of accommodation                                 of
                                                                                  accommodation

Detached                   204,396              22.5              178,806                 22.8

Semi Detached              133,931              23.7              101,733                 31.6

Terraced                   103,613              21.4               89,499                 26.0

Flat                        74,668              23.5              120,185                 19.2

All Property types         117.426                                119,436
                                                                Sources: The Land Registry, 201
                                                                            2001 Census, ONS
21      Within Worthing in 2001, 77 per cent of households were living in owner-occupied
        accommodation, whilst 10 % lived in social rented housing (renting from the
        Council, a Housing Association or a Registered Social Landlord), and the
        remaining 13 per cent rented privately, or lived rent free. (All household figures
        from 2001 Census, ONS).
Profile of tenants
22      The findings of the associations most recent customer survey carried out in 2001,
        found that:
           52% of respondents had been tenants for 10 years or more
           50% had lived in there current home for more than 10 years
           excluding sheltered accommodation, the average number of homes which
           include children is 37%
           Only 19% of respondents were in employment
           65% of respondents relied on state benefits and pensions
p 10     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




            57% of respondents were 60 + years old
Strategy and priorities
23       Worthing homes aims to be a key provider of affordable homes in Worthing and the
         surrounding area. The mission statement summarises the approach taken to service
         delivery and development. ‘Building neighbourhoods not estates, providing homes
         not housing.’ Their core objectives include:
            To be in the top performing 25% of comparable housing associations
            To Increase the number of homes in management
            To Increase their current customer base by 25%
            To promote ‘housing plus’ initiatives
Performance indicators (PIs)
PIs for social housing-owned properties – general1


 Performance Indicator                         2000 -   2001 -    2001 -     2001 -  2001 - 2002
                                                2001     2002      2002       2002   Comparison
                                                                 National   Quartile   Group
                                                                  Mean      Position   Mean


 Average weekly gross rent              £      49.94    52.81     59.87        1       61.85

 Average increase in weekly
 gross rent (a) Self-contained          %       3.3     10.5       3.3         4         4.5
 dwellings.

 Weekly cost of management              £      7.39     8.11      11.02      N/A        9.97

 Weekly cost of repairs                 £      14.39    13.80     14.04      N/A       16.47

 Rent collection                        %      99.22    97.58     93.71        1       96.61

 Rent arrears                           %      2.96     2.44      5.51         1        3.37

 Rent written off                       %      0.41     1.29      1.21         3        0.44

 Rent lost due to vacant
                                        %      1.08     1.68      2.24         3        1.33
 dwellings

 Dwellings vacant and available
                                        %       0.9      1.0       1.3         3         0.8
 to let

 Dwellings vacant and not
                                        %       0.2      0.3       1.4         2         0.5
 available to let

 Re-let time                         Weeks      3.5      3.9       5.2         2         3.8




     1
                                                                 Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes          p 11




 Tenancy Turnover                         %         3.2          5.0         7.2          N/A           4.7

 Lettings to BME households               %         7.1          6.4        14.6          N/A           4.3

 Average SAP rating                                   -          68           60           1            56

 Change in SAP                                        -           0           2           N/A            3

 Failing Decent Homes
                                          %           -          0.7        19.5          N/A          18.3
 Standard

 Emergency repairs completed
                                          %          96         100           95           1            97
 in target

 Urgent repairs completed in
                                          %          96          96           92           2            92
 target

 Routine repairs completed in
                                          %          91          97           93           2            92
 target

 Appointments made and kept               %           -           -         93.4          N/A          96.1

 Tenant Satisfaction overall              %          62          84           79           2            81

 Tenant Satisfaction with
                                          %          62          55           60           3            64
 participation
Fields are comparative groups of associations. There are six such groups for general needs: four representing
the Housing Corporation fields of registration (London, Central, South or North), one for all associations owning
more than 5,000 properties and one for specialist providers of housing for older people. There are four supported
housing groups, one for each field of registration

Structure and operation
24     Worthing Homes has 71 staff, who work in the following 6 departments providing a
       full range of housing and development services.
           Corporate Services
           Housing Services
           Finance
           Care services
           Property services
           IT

How good is the service?
Is the service shaped around its customers?
25     Worthing Homes provides a responsive and accessible service to tenants. Its
       offices are centrally located, with parking spaces designated for customer use.
       Staff are easy to contact and are generally responsive to tenants. Customers
       can contact staff in person, by phone, by voice mail and by e- mail. The
       association’s newsletter ‘Home News’ is produced bi- monthly. It is highly
       informative and well produced. Opportunities for participation and training are
       well publicised. The newsletter is available on audio tape and in large print.
p 12   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




26     The cost reflective improvement scheme was developed in direct response to
       tenants’ views during the pre transfer consultation period. Worthing Homes have
       placed significant emphasis on involving customers. They have developed
       appropriate structures and have sufficient resources to ensure that tenants views are
       reflected throughout the organisation.
27     By its own admission, the association has more work to do on equality and diversity,
       particularly in relation to the management of racial harassment and monitoring.
       During our inspection we found no evidence of direct discrimination. Although weak
       on race issues, the association has responded to the diversity agenda in other ways.
       It has developed a system of floating support for vulnerable tenants. It has worked
       with the charity, Mind, to develop the ‘garden minders’ service.
28     Worthing Homes have installed closed circuit TV in two sheltered schemes in
       response to residents concerns about security.
29     In terms of confidentiality, satisfactory arrangements exist for storing tenancy
       information. However, the custom of naming individual tenants and their addresses
       in committee papers in the case of harassment or eviction is not good practice , and
       arguably breaches their confidentiality.
Does the service provide quality homes that meet people’s needs?
30     The association works well with other organisations to provide quality homes that
       meet peoples needs. Its works with other partner organisations to provide the
       floating support service, and the gardening scheme for those unable to maintain
       their gardens. Worthing Homes has a thorough understanding of its operating
       context. It has worked well with the local authority to respond to the changing
       customer profile by developing more two bed accommodation for younger
       households. It has also developed partnerships with two local NHS trusts to
       provide affordable housing for key workers.
31     The permanent accommodation provided by Worthing homes is generally in a good
       state of repair and has been improved in accordance with the undertakings made at
       transfer. However, although the temporary accommodation we saw during the
       inspection was in reasonable condition, the shared facilities meant that it did not
       effectively meet the needs of the tenants, particularly those with young children.
Does the service make best use of resources?
32     Worthing Homes does provide value for money, although it needs to ensure that
       development activity keeps pace / exceeds the rate of Right to Buy sales. The
       rate of RTB purchases means that the number of properties has reduced whilst
       management and office costs, remain the same. The cost of providing a
       management service has the potential to increase significantly, if this is not
       addressed.
33     Worthing Homes does make good use of its people resources and IT. The
       association converted and refurbished an outbuilding on the site of its new offices.
       The building, which was originally earmarked for demolition, has been converted into
       a resource center for tenants and the wider community. The resource center is self
       financing. The housing services team was recently successfully restructured using
       BV principles to make more effective use of staff and improve customer services.
Overall assessment
34     Overall Worthing Homes Ltd provides a satisfactory service to tenants given its
       operating context. The association has been in existence for under 4 years and
       has made significant progress in delivering the commitments made at transfer. It
       is evident from our inspection that the association has a customer focused culture
       and that staff teams have been restructured to reflect the emphasis placed on
                                                    Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 13




     service delivery. We met competent and enthusiastic members of staff at all
     levels of the organisation.
35   The association has more work to do on equality and diversity, particularly in relation
     to the management of racial harassment and monitoring. During our inspection we
     found no evidence of direct discrimination. Although weak on race issues, the
     association has responded to the diversity agenda in other ways. It has developed a
     system of floating support for vulnerable tenants.

Is Worthing Homes housing association working for
continuous improvement?
Are there formal and widely used internal processes for driving continuous
improvements?
36   The association has a Best Value programme through which it has to delivered
     service improvements. The programme was put together in 2000, following a
     newsletter survey asking residents prioritise areas for review. Focus groups were
     subsequently arranged. The tenants priorities were improvements, major works
     and estate management. The association used tenants comments to draw up
     draft service statements, which have in turn influenced the service provided.
     Each service manager is responsible for carrying out BV reviews for their area.
     These are reported to the board in local authority style committee papers.
     Although regular reports are presented to the board, the overall impact of BV on
     Worthing Homes is difficult to assess. There is no summary of progress made or
     analysis of the BV programme. It is, there fore, quite difficult for tenants, staff
     and board members to see what difference BV is making.
37   The association also has a corporate plan, which is reviewed and updated regularly
     by the management team, and reported to the board twice yearly. The plan sets out
     the priorities for the organisation across all service areas. This is then fed down to
     frontline staff by the service managers.
38   The association does compare its self with other housing providers, through the
     LSVT Bench Marking club. It also provides maintenance services to Servite Homes
     and maintenance and management services to Guildcare.
39   Worthing Homes has been awarded Construction Clients Charter, a nationally
     accepted accreditation for best practice in construction procurement, status ahead of
     the target deadline for 2003/04.
40   All staff have been on ‘Mary Gober’ customer care training and it forms part of the
     induction training for new staff. The Gober training method is derived from the US
     and was developed out of the realisation that good quality customer service could
     give commercial businesses the competitive edge. Worthing Homes view customer
     care training as critical to empowering staff and to being customer focused. They
     have allocated £9 000 for training new staff in the Gober method.
Is it using feedback from residents and other stakeholders to critically examine and
improve services?
41   Worthing Homes does use customer and stakeholder feedback to critically
     examine and improve services. The involvement of tenants in the BV process
     and the emphasis placed on tenant participation is evidence of this. The
     association currently has 6 tenant directors on the board. In addition there are
     four consultative forums, including sheltered and leasehold. The association
     carried out a customer satisfaction survey in 2000 and issues customer
     satisfaction questionnaires with all repairs orders.
p 14   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Does it have a track record of setting ambitious targets and achieving them?
42     At the time of the Housing Corporation’s visit, a year after registration, the
       association did not meet performance standards. However, it took prompt action
       to address the identified weaknesses and fully met performance standards by
       May 2001.
43     The association has moved offices twice during its inception. It initially delivered
       services from the town hall, moved out to nearby buildings after 18 months and
       moved into Davison House less than I year ago. Davison house was originally a
       school building which, had been used by town planning staff, prior to be being
       sold to Worthing Homes. The association’s aim was to find fully accessible
       centrally located offices, with plenty of customer parking. They have succeeded
       in sensitively converting the building into light airy offices on time and to budget.
       The new building has helped to regenerate a run down corner of the town centre.
44     One of the associations major is achievements is the progress it has made with
       its improvement programme. It has carried out 2000 improvements to homes
       since transfer, including, kitchens, bathrooms and door entry security systems.
45     Working with Mind to develop the ‘Garden Minders’ scheme was an ambitious
       proposal which has resulted in the provision of a garden maintenance service for
       sheltered tenants, whilst providing employment and training opportunities for local
       people, who as a result of their mental health may not have had the opportunity to
       find employment.
Overall assessment
46     Worthing Homes Ltd demonstrates a satisfactory capacity for driving continuous
       improvement within service areas. Worthing Homes Ltd is raising standards in
       service delivery. It has made significant progress in developing policies, procedures
       and involving customers since its registration in 1999. It meets, but does not exceed,
       the requirements of the regulatory code. It has established a comprehensive
       programme of Best Value reviews to underpin its work on continuous improvement.,
       which have resulted in improvements to the planned maintenance and housing
       management service, in particular. The association has been able to demonstrate
       that it places tenants at the core of its business and values tenants contributions.
       This is evident in its organisational and consultation structures. This is supported by
       the rigorous customer service training given to staff. Worthing Homes has achieved
       Client Charter status. However, the association needs to establish a more robust
       method of monitoring and reporting progress on BV to the board and housing
       committee. The present arrangements make it difficult for stakeholders to have clarity
       on progress and impact.

Review of service areas
Maintaining homes in good condition
Key features of the service
Responsive repairs
47     The responsive repairs and maintenance service delivery is provided by the property
       services section who form a team of well qualified surveyors and support staff. They
       are managed by the head of property services. The team is also responsible for
       processing empty homes (voids) and the management of a small direct labour
       organisation named Worthing Homes Workforce. A range of small contractors are
       employed to deliver the repairs service. Specialist contractors provide mechanical
       and electrical services. All gas appliances are scheduled to be serviced by a CORGI
       registered contractor, who issues the landlord’s health and safety certificate for each
       home annually on behalf of the association.
                                                     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 15




48   Worthing Homes has six repair response categories, which are set out below
     together with the association’s target times and the percentage of repairs carried out
     within target shown in brackets:

      Priority 0 = to be completed within the same working day (99.00%)

      Priority 1 = to be completed within 24hrs (96.00%)

      Priority 2 = to be completed within 3 working days (96%)

      Priority 3 = to be completed within 7 working days (96%)

      Priority 4 = to be completed within 12 working days (96%)

      Priority 5 = to be completed within 22 working days (96%)

      Priority 6 = emergency response outside normal working hours (100%)

49   Tenants can order repairs by visiting the main office or by telephone, in writing or
     by e -mail.
50   An outside normal working hours emergency repairs service is provided by the
     principle repairs service contractor who is directed to emergency requests for
     service by an off site call centre operation. All requests for emergency service
     from residents are referred to an on duty member of the surveying staff for
     authorisation.
51   When work is ordered through the association’s computer system against a
     schedule of rates (SOR). The printed repairs orders are batched up and collected
     by the principle contractor on a daily basis.
52   The association does not have an appointments system. Contractor’s make their
     own arrangements to gain access to tenants’ homes by either a cold call or
     attend at a pre arranged time following the cold call. Arrangements to gain
     access are made by the association’s staff for emergency or urgent work.
53   All empty homes receive a gas safety check, an electrical test, cleaning and a
     lock change prior to letting.
54   An annual gas servicing and health and safety check is provided and the
     landlord’s health and safety certificate (CP12) certificate is provided to the
     resident.
55   The association delivers its responsive service through its principal contractor,
     PH Beck Ltd, who are based locally in Worthing.
56   Worthing Homes Workforce, the in house direct labour organisation have
     responsibility for voids. Both they and PH Beck Ltd act as back up contractor for
     each other as directed by the association.
57   The association delivers its mechanical and electrical services through a variety
     of local and larger companies. Generally the Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT)
     measured term contract (MTC) is signed with each contractor following a tender
     exercise. All contractors used are on the Association’s approved list and some
     will be registered with the Department of Industry’s ‘Constructionline’.
58   Performance reports are made to the Board of management quarterly and to
     residents via the annual report.
59   Service standards are well documented within the tenant’s handbook. The empty
     homes standard is one of clean, safe and lettable.
p 16   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




60     Some potential works are pre inspected where the service request cannot be
       defined by way of the SOR.
61     Work is post inspected. All jobs costing more than £750 together are
       investigated, together with a random manual selection of 10% of all orders
       completed.
62     Regular formal meetings are held with Contractors to discuss progress,
       outstanding work, the quality of work achieved and health and safety issues.
63     Customer satisfaction with the repairs service is measured by the association
       using prepaid postage survey forms which are an integral part of the printed order
       and customer notification. These are returned to the responsive repairs manager
       for analysis and publication of results.

        Published performance indicators for the association are set out below:

                         Emergency            Urgent         Routine (7 days)      Customer
                                                                                  Satisfaction

        1999/2000          99/77               96.89              90.73

        2000/2001          98.86               97.18              91.72              86%

        Contract re: tendered and awarded to present contractor

        2002/2003          100.00              98.30              95.23              98.17

Key Findings
64     The service standards are clear and well set out in the tenant’s handbook,
       internal procedures, and on the association’s intranet. The contract, by which the
       principle contractor delivers the service sets out clearly the service standards to
       be met. The JCT MTC form is considered by one of the contractors to be
       adversarial despite good working relationships between the association and main
       contractor. It does not readily facilitate the formation of long term or project
       partnering arrangements. Staff advise that there are no plans in place to change
       the current method of service procurement.
65     The quality of those repairs inspected in tenants homes were generally
       satisfactory. However some examples of less than satisfactory service delivery
       were observed. These included poor workmanship, less than absolute respect for
       tenants’ homes and workmen arriving without access arrangements being
       previously made. These observations are not unexpected in a situation where the
       principle contractor employs sub contractors on lowest price to deliver those
       elements of service which are deemed of a specialist nature. The association
       does not have yet in place an agreed Code of Conduct by which the contractors it
       employs to deliver the service abide by.
66     Although a customer satisfaction survey form is sent out with each tenant’s repair
       notification, the association does not record the results of its post work
       inspections.. This data should be discussed during contractor liaison meetings.
67     The responsive repairs contractor does not self impose post work checks and the
       results of those which are carried out are not published. Staff advise that the in
       house post work checks are used as a management tool but results are not
       published. This situation is true for both the repairs principal contractor and the
       Workforce, who undertake void repairs.
                                                   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 17




68   The association has not as yet commenced implementation of the cultural
     indicators for Egan compliant registered social landlords. The association’s five
     year work plan to achieve full compliance does not start to address these issues
     until the latter period of the plan.
Key Features
Planned Maintenance
69   The maintenance and cyclical works programme is planned by the contracts
     section consisting of a contracts manager, a senior contract surveyor and two
     surveyors together with two clerk of works. One of the clerk’s of work provides
     health and safety services and is also the appointed planning supervisor for the
     association’s maintenance and cyclical programmes.
70   Five year programmes of work have been produced to deliver the cyclical
     redecoration programme, the cost reflective improvements (CRI) programme and
     catch up repairs. The standard Joint Contracts Tribunal (JCT) forms of contract
     are used.
71   Of particular note, is the association’s computerised gas maintenance tracking
     system whereby reports can be run to identify properties which have not been
     serviced.
72   The association has achieved Construction Clients Charter status ahead of the
     target deadline of 2003/2004.
73   Worthing Homes has a strategic plan for cultural change and improvement . In
     particular, the CRI programme, although initially tendered using the adversarial
     JCT MTC form has many elements of good practice. Product team integration
     and quality are a high priority. Integrated team meetings with the contractor mean
     that staff benefit from positive contracting experiences. In addition, the production
     of the show flat demonstrating the quality of work and choices available to
     tenants and prompt payment to the contractor for ‘zero snags’, are all features of
     this good practice.
74   Since the association’s formation the maintenance programme has concentrated
     on delivering a programme of catch up repairs and the programme of (CRI’s).
     The pace of these programmes has provided little opportunity to consult with
     residents on wider regeneration issues.
75   The CRI programme was formed out of a promise made to existing tenants at the
     time of transfer whereby tenants could apply to have a series of improvements
     made to their homes, irrespective of condition of the existing facilities, for an
     increase in the weekly rent.
76   The application process for the CRI’s is now closed, the programme of
     improvements will take two further financial years to fund and complete. The
     programme has been published and homes prioritised according to the condition
     of the existing facilities.
77   Consultation is carried out once the contractor has been appointed. An initial
     letter, from the association is sent, informing tenants of the impending works. The
     remaining consultation and liaison is managed by the contractor. Tenants are
     kept up to date with information packs and open meetings, managed by the
     contractor’s resident liaison officer.
78   Once works are completed , a follow up personal visit is made 7days later by the
     contractors tenant liaison officer to ensure the customer is satisfied with the
     quality of service provided.
p 18   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




79     Key performance indicators are not subject to contract , however performance is
       monitored including tenants satisfaction with the service, the time taken to carry
       out the work and satisfaction with the contracts section.
80     The work plan did not require the association to address diversity issues last
       year. It is noted that in the current year key contractors /partners are to be
       encouraged to collect statistics on BME and female employees.
Key findings Maintenance
81     Staff is satisfactory.
82     The association has not produced a comprehensive five year programme for the
       benefit of residents. Staff are to be trained on how to interrogate the stock
       condition survey for programme information. Historically, the association has
       concentrated on delivering the pre transfer promises including catch up repairs
       and the CRI programme. Initially the catch up repairs were of a greater value but
       current planned expenditure favours the CRI project. These programmes of work
       are well set out and the expenditure informs the business planning process.
83     The computerised tracking system identified that 4% of homes did not have the
       annual gas service during 2002/2003. The procedure to deal with no access is
       under review but currently it is unclear which member of staff has the
       responsibility to ensure that the access to all homes is gained.
84     The association does not have a programme of checking electrical wiring
       installations in tenant’s homes but it was noted Portable Appliance Testing (PAT)
       was well documented in sheltered accommodation.
85     Worthing Homes does not have an asbestos register, in which it should record
       the removal, encapsulation or monitoring of asbestos, which staff or contractors
       could encounter in the course of their daily duties.
86     It was noted that access audits have not been carried out as per the
       Discrimination against Disability Act. However two members of staff trained to
       undertake these.
87     The quality of information and service provided to tenants by the contractors
       tenant liaison.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
88     The overall performance in responsive repairs is satisfactory. There is clear
       evidence that service standards are well publicised both to tenants and staff. The
       repairs observed in tenants homes were generally of a satisfactory quality, with
       tenants being given the opportunity to comment upon quality of work for every
       repair carried out. Worthing homes performance compares well with that of its
       peers. The planned maintenance service was considered to be good. This
       judgement is based upon the current programmes of work carried out by the
       association and tenant feedback. The association specifies quality materials; the
       work is completed to a good standard within a partnering framework. We found
       evidence to demonstrate that both client and contractor were committed to
       ensuring continuous improvement.
                                             Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 19




What works well?
         Cost reflective improvement works
         Contractors tenant liaison role
         Post inspections
Positive practice
Zero ‘snags’ reward system

Construction Clients Charter Status
p 20   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Key findings and recommendations for response repairs and planned maintenance

Issues – Responsive repairs                        Recommendations


Planning the Service


The association delivers its responsive repairs    The association should introduce a Contractor’s
service using a principal contractor and sub       code of conduct whereby the clauses currently
contractors based upon lowest price. Evidence      within the MTC contract are used with others to
from visiting the association’s customers          form the code of conduct. The contractor and sub
identified examples of service which were less     contractors should sign up to and adhere to the
than could be reasonably expected and could        code. Monitoring systems should be put in place
have be avoided if a contractors code of           to measure its effectiveness.
conduct had been in place. For example, the
                                                   The association should examine the benefits of
use of dust sheets.
                                                   its current post work checking policy and
                                                   systems with the view to replacing the current
There is no appointments system in place.
                                                   system with one which will provide complete
Arrangements are made for access only in the
                                                   assurance that the quality of work and service
case of emergency or urgent work.
                                                   provided to residents by contractor and sub
                                                   contractors is of a uniform high standard.

                                                   regulatory code 3.4.2

                                                   The association should introduce an
                                                   appointments system to provide choice and
                                                   certainty to customers.

                                                   regulatory code 3.4.2

Equality and Diversity Issues


There was no evidence that the association         The association should review its clients
had started any form of dialogue with its          Charter work plan and actions to be taken with
contractors about equality and diversity issues.   a view to take on board recommendations of
                                                   the (Movement for innovation) M4I respect for
                                                   people report’s findings.

                                                   regulatory code 2.7

Panned maintenance


The existing gas procedure is currently under      As a matter of urgency the association’s gas
review and further work has been                   procedure should be reviewed so that
commissioned to ensure that the association’s
knowledge of all gas installations is complete.    It is clear to all staff where responsibility lies to
                                                   secure entry to all homes requiring service and
The properties not serviced last year have         issue of the Landlord’s health and safety
been identified within the current list of         certificate.
properties to be serviced.
                                                   Full information is at hand to the contract
The association does not have an asbestos          administrator of all gas installations in homes
management strategy and or asbestos                managed by the association
register.
                                                   Due regard is paid to gaining access to those
The association does not have an electrical        homes not issued with a landlord’s health and
wiring installation inspection programme in        safety certificate
place. However, the association ensures that
each empty home meets current standards.           regulatory guidance 3.4 d and e
     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 21




The association should produce an asbestos
management strategy and consider the
production of an asbestos register and with
reference to the HSE publication ‘Methods for
the determination of hazardous substances’. It
should also consider a survey programme to
inform the strategy.

regulatory guidance 3.4 d

The association should review its policy with
regard electrical wiring inspection to ensure
that electrical wiring to each and every home
is inspected on a regular basis.

regulatory guidance 3.4.d
p 22   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Letting homes
Key features of the service
89     Worthing Homes allocates an average of 200 homes each year. As a large
       scale voluntary transfer organisation (LSVT), it has a formal nomination
       agreement with Worthing Borough Council to provide homes to applicants for
       whom the local authority has a statutory obligation to house. Although there are
       other housing associations working within the borough, Worthing Homes is the
       primary provider of affordable accommodation.
90     The association has recently restructured and has moved away from a
       centralised lettings team. Instead, the associations’ empty homes are allocated
       by six neighbourhood housing officers (NHO’s), who meet weekly to match
       applicants to the available empty homes. Although the NSO’s are generic,
       covering all aspects of allocations and tenancy management, they are not
       involved in deciding what repairs or the level of decoration should be carried out
       in empty homes.
91     Worthing Homes owns and manages six hostels used by the local authority to
       provide temporary accommodation for homeless people. It also manages seven
       privately leased properties for the council.
Key findings
92     Worthing Homes has a good relationship with the local authority. The association
       fully meets its obligations as set out in the nominations agreement and works
       cooperatively with the council. The association has a good knowledge of the local
       area and has demonstrated its willingness to actively assist the local authority
       through its development programme and by being flexible in allocations. As a
       result, the association is viewed as a responsive and positive organisation.
93     The nomination agreement requires that 75% of empty properties should be passed
       to Worthing borough council for allocation. At least 50% of these nominations must
       go to non statutorily homeless persons on the councils register. The remaining 25%
       are let to applicants on Worthing Homes own housing register. The priority for
       rehousing is based on a points system. The arrangements works well from both
       organisations perspectives.
94     Worthing Home does not operate or participate in any choice based lettings
       initiatives. The local authority has yet to fully explore this area.
95     The association works with a number of other organisations to provide and/or help to
       sustain tenancies. For example, one property is leased to Worthing Women’s Aid.
       Two properties are leased out to Stonham housing association to enable specialist
       services for young people to be provided. Another two properties are leased to West
       Sussex County Council to provide accommodation foe asylum seekers as well as a
       family center.
96     In addition to these, Worthing Homes works with Mind, Ability Housing Association,
       Sussex Oak leaf, Worthing Women’s Aid to provide a total of 57 supported
       tenancies.
Service Delivery
97     The association does not conduct accompanied viewings to empty homes.
       Prospective tenants are issued with the keys and view the property by themselves.
       They return to the associations offices and make an appointment to sign the tenancy
       agreement. We consider that the association is missing an ideal opportunity to
       establish a positive relationship with new customers from the start. Accompanied
       viewings provide an opportunity to:
                                                    Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 23




         answer questions about the property and local neighbourhood
         explain what post occupation repairs / planned improvements are to be carried
         out
         explain what type of heating system is installed / caretaking arrangements
         provide information about the locality and any tenant involvement activity
         Sign the tenancy agreement
         Improve relet times
98    We consider that Worthing Homes could improve its customer care by introducing
      accompanied viewings for prospective tenants.
99    During the course of our inspection we saw three empty or void properties which
      were considered ready to let .The condition of the property was generally safe
      and lettable. In one of the properties, the existing older style kitchen units,
      although serviceable, had been painted bright yellow by the previous tenant.
      There was also a large ageing boiler on the wall which dominated the kitchen.
      This raised the issue of the link between the improvement programme and the
      processing of empty homes. This was further highlighted when we spoke to a
      tenant who had moved into his home in March 2003, who told us that there was
      barely any kitchen, just 2 cupboards. He and his partner had been told that they
      would have a new fitted kitchen but had not been given a date for the installation.
100    We saw variable standards of cleanliness. Worktops and kitchen cupboards
      were reasonable, but areas such as floors and underneath sinks could be
      improved. The views of the tenants we contacted, as to the state of cleanliness,
      also varied. One said her house had been ‘immaculate – it was tip top’, whilst
      another said that the standard of cleaning was ‘alright’. The association initiated
      its own post lettings satisfaction survey of new tenants in January 2003. The
      results of the first 13 weeks were analysed in May 2003. They showed that 82%
      of new tenants found the property to be clean. Only 46% felt that their new home
      was in good decorative order, and of these 43% considered the decorating
      allowance to be inadequate. Only 64% said that their homes were in a good state
      of repair.
101 Worthing homes are aware that improvements could be made to the decorative
    condition of empty homes, and have developed proposals to directly employ a
    professional decorator and an assistant, whose role would be to redecorate a
    minimum of three rooms. During the inspection, we attended a housing
    committee meeting, where the proposal was agreed in principle. The association
    believes that it can obtain better value and improved customer satisfaction.
102 The standard of information given to tenants seems to vary according to the type of
    property offered. Tenants moving into the newly refurbished homes in Sackville Road
    were given detailed information about the central heating system and how it worked,
    whilst others in non newly refurbished accommodation were not. However, the sign
    up pack given to new tenants contains some useful information, including how to
    report repairs, the assured tenants charter, how to become involved in the running of
    the association, and information on gas and electrical supplier contacts.
103 Worthing Homes does carry out follow visits to new tenants 4 to 6 weeks after sign
    up. There is a variable approach to these visits by neighbourhood services officers.
    We were told that some make appointments with tenants at sign up, whilst others call
    when they are in the area. The interpretation of the purpose of the visits also varied.
    One neighbourhood service officer told us that they would check to see that there
    were no obvious problems, and that the new tenant was showing consideration to
    neighbours. Another member of staff had a more positive view, seeing the visit as an
    opportunity to assess satisfaction and discuss any housing benefit or rent related
    issues.
p 24   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




104 The tenants we spoke to had mixed views about the visit but generally welcomed
    them. One tenant told us that he was not given an appointment and was annoyed to
    be woken up for the visit, as he worked nights. We would recommend that
    appointments are made for all post lettings visits.
       Temporary accommodation
105 We visited two temporary accommodation hostels in Langdon Road and Shelly
    Road, near the Town centre. Both were large Victorian houses, which had each
    been converted into five flats. The accommodation consisted of 1one or two
    rooms with private cooking facilities. All had shared toilets and bathrooms. Both
    hostels had communal gardens, which although generally tidy, lacked amenities
    to enable residents to make use of them, e.g. garden furniture. Similarly, there
    was a utility area in each house but no washing machines, spin or tumble driers
    provided by the association. One of the residents had bought their own washing
    machine and was happy for other residents to use it. However, it is unlikely that
    this small domestic machine would be able to withstand heavy usage for a
    prolonged period of time. We found both buildings to be generally well
    maintained and clean. Each house had two bathrooms and separate toilets. In
    all cases these facilities were clean but utilitarian. The communal areas of the
    Langton Road Hostel were in particularly good condition, having recently been
    redecorated.
106 The tenants we met in temporary accommodation told us that the service they
    received from Worthing Homes was good. They found their housing officer to be
    friendly, helpful and easy to contact. They found it easy to pay their rent and to
    report repairs. Residents were confused about who was responsible for advising
    them of the offer of permanent accommodation. The distinction between
    Worthing Borough Council and Worthing Homes Ltd was not always apparent.
    The biggest source of frustration to the tenants we spoke to, was the lack of
    information about when they would be able to move. Residents can remain in
    temporary accommodation for up to two years before an offer of permanent
    accommodation is made.
107 The association monitors and evaluate its services to customers in a variety of
    ways. It commissioned an independent customer service survey in 2001. A post
    lettings questionnaire has been introduced and follow up visits are carried out 4 -
    6 weeks after letting. An Internal audit review of housing systems, including
    allocations, was conducted in July 2002, and found that Worthing Homes had
    good control mechanisms in place for enquiries about access to accommodation
    and for allocating property. The association is a member of the LSVT
    benchmarking club and uses the data obtained to compare its performance with
    other similar organisations. Performance on voids management is reported to
    housing committee on a quarterly basis.
108 Worthing Homes works with the borough council to ensure that vulnerable
    applicants eligible for an offer of accommodation have an appropriate support
    package in place.
109 The association leases six of its properties to other organisations to enable specialist
    services to be provided. For example Worthing Women’s Aid and Stonham Housing
    Association.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
110 Worthing Homes Ltd provides a satisfactory allocations and lettings service. They
    work closely and flexibly with the local authority and are able to provide the
    number of homes required by the nomination agreement. The association
    recognises that it can improve the decorative condition of its empty homes, and
    has well developed proposals to address this issue. The association could further
                                                   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 25




      improve its services to tenants by introducing accompanied viewings and
      ensuring that appointments are made for follow up home visits. The management
      of temporary accommodation is generally good, although the service could be
      enhanced with some attention paid to practical measures such as laundry
      facilities.
111 We found some good practice in the allocations service, for example, the post
    lettings survey. Overall, we found the associations performance in the service area to
    be satisfactory.
What works well?
        Sign up pack
        Post lettings visits and questionnaire.
        Nominations agreement with Worthing Borough Council
        Management of temporary accommodation
p 26     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Key findings and recommendations for allocations and lettings

Issues                                           Recommendations

The association does not carry out               Accompanied viewings should be introduced
accompanied viewings to its empty homes.         to improve the lettings service to prospective
Prospective tenants are expected to conduct      tenants and to help improve relet times.
their own viewing and return the keys to the     Viewings should be used to answer questions
associations offices.                            and provide information relevant to the
                                                 property and location.

                                                 regulatory code 3.5

Appointments are not routinely made for follow   Appointments for follow up visits should be
up visits and there appears to be a lack of      made at sign up or shortly afterwards.
consistency in the understanding of the          Neighbourhood services officers should be
purpose of the visits.                           discouraged from carrying out the visits ‘on
                                                 spec’. All relevant staff should be clear about
                                                 the purpose of the visit in order to improve the
                                                 consistency of the service.

                                                 regulatory code 3.5

Review amenities in Temporary                    The association should assess and review
accommodation hostels                            current amenities in non self contained
                                                 temporary accommodation. For example, it
                                                 should consider the provision of laundry
                                                 facilities, together with garden furniture. This
                                                 should be with the involvement of tenants.
                                                 Longer term, It should also consider providing
                                                 fully self contained units of temporary
                                                 accommodation.

                                                 regulatory code 3.4 and 3.5

Tenants in temporary accommodation have          We suggest that the association works with
little or no information about how long they     the local authority to identify ways in which
will have to remain in temporary                 they can address this issue. Specific
accommodation. There is a lack of clarity        information about the respective roles of each
about the responsibilities of Worthing Homes     organisation issued at sign up may help.
Ltd and Worthing Borough Council. This adds
to the frustration of living in temporary        regulatory code 3.5
accommodation.
                                                       Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 27




Dealing with nuisance and anti social behaviour
Key features of the service
112 Nuisance and anti social behaviour are managed by the neighbourhood support
    officers (NSO), supported by their line managers. The NSO’s provide a generic
    housing management service.
113    Tenants often place these issues as a high priority as a means of addressing so
      called low level nuisance or quality of life issues generally.
114 In a customer service survey of Worthing Homes in 2002, tenants highlighted anti
    social behaviour, and in particular, litter, vandalism and graffiti as being of particular
    concern.



                             Not a          Slight problem %    Serious problem %      Not stated %
                           problem %


       Litter and              31                 30                    20                   19
       vandalism in the
       street

       Vandalism               35                 30                    16                   18

       Graffiti                36                 26                    16                   22

      *reproduced from 2001 status survey

115 Noise from people and problems with neighbours were ranked fifth and sixth
    respectively. Issues of racial harassment were ranked last.
116 Worthing Homes Limited operates in a relatively low crime rate area as confirmed by
    police and the local authority. Sussex Police reported an overall decrease of 13% in
    crime rates in the Worthing area for the period April 2002 to March 2003. This
    included a fall of 3.5% incidents of anti social behaviour. Both organisations
    acknowledged that the general perception does not necessarily reflect this. This is
    partly because publicised incidents in the town centre during the evening tend to be
    linked to the 16 to 26 year old age group.
117 Particular “problem” areas are Angola Road in East Worthing, Durrington and
    Maybridge in West Worthing. These areas are generally characterised by an
    increasingly younger population. There is older housing stock with less defensible
    space. Much of the nuisance is commonly attributed to young people and is seen by
    Worthing Homes to be sporadic, for example worse during the summer and school
    holidays.
118 Worthing Homes has a nuisance / breach of tenancy conditions procedure in place .
    It also has a harassment policy which is primarily concerned with racial and sexual
    harassment.
Key findings
119 Worthing Homes has tended to work on an informal ad hoc basis with the local police
    beat officer when requesting information to help tackle nuisance or anti social
    behaviour. A recent re-organisation by the local force has however removed beat
    officers. The association feels this has frustrated attempts they may have made to
    deal with these issues.
p 28   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




120 At the time of our inspection Worthing Homes had not applied for any ASBOs or used
    Acceptable Behaviour Contracts (ABCs) or made use of professional witnesses. The
    association believes that the level of incidents have not, so far, made it necessary to
    apply for an ASBO. The association has not used any of the formal channels
    available to request information from the police. Staff received training (March 2003)
    on the use of ASBOs and ABCs. The session covered their practical applications,
    cost, approaches to dealing with the issues and the implications for frontline staff.
121 Worthing Homes has very recently become involved in the Anti Social Behaviour
    working group. The group’s first meeting was held in April 2003. It is a strategic forum
    coordinated by the local authority and forms part of Worthing Borough Council’s
    response to its statutory obligation to deal with community safety issues. The group’s
    aims and objectives agreed at the April meeting are:
          To provide a forum to prepare protocols and processes for dealing with anti social
          behaviour in Worthing.
          For relevant agencies to share information and expertise to develop a sustainable
          forum.
122 It has agreed to establish a protocol for low level information exchange between
    the police and registered social landlords. This is a positive development.
123 Worthing Homes has also attended the Safer Neighbourhoods forum which
    discusses the potential use of detached youth workers and looks at issues of estate
    design. It has also represented housing association’s working in Worthing on the
    local strategic partnership.
124 The association believes that much progress could be made if resources allocated to
    community work were targeted to those areas in more obvious need. Until very
    recently youth clubs were only open in term time not school holidays. The local
    authority is now considering the use of out reach workers.
125 Closed Circuit Television is in use at two sheltered schemes; installed as crime
    reduction measure in response to nuisance behaviour. The association is discussing
    the provision of shared mobile cctv equipment as part of the interagency approach.
126 We found a good example of a community initiative started by tenants in East
    Worthing in Angola Road. ‘Micks garage’ was initiated by a local resident in response
    to the longstanding problems experienced by tenants caused primarily by young
    people. The garage project teaches young people how to repair and maintain
    bicycles. The project has since secured funding and support from various local
    statutory and non statutory agencies including the police, local church, Council and
    Worthing Homes.
127 Incidents of anti social behaviour are not recorded separately as they are dealt with
    under the nuisance procedure.
128 There is firm evidence to show that the association does enforce its tenancy
    conditions. For example, there are currently twelve cases of anti social behaviour. Of
    these five are under investigation, one case is under going mediation and four
    tenants have been served with notices of intention to seek possession. Of the
    remaining two cases, one is complying with a stay of eviction order and in the last
    case, the tenant is awaiting eviction. The association considers transfers as an
    additional option as some cases have not been clear cut and / or have been difficult
    to resolve.
129 There is a stark contrast between the action taken by the association to enforce
    tenancy conditions and the tenant perception. The association should promote its
    work on tenancy enforcement to improve the perceptions.
130 The association has had a contract with the Adur Independent Mediation Service
    (AIMS), which it funds, since April 2002. The association’s nuisance / breach of
                                                      Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 29




      tenancy conditions procedure states mediation should be offered if the complaint can
      not be resolved by the neighbours themselves and is ‘not serious in nature and there
      is no risk of violence’. Referrals can be made even if only one of the parties has
      agreed. At the time of our inspection Worthing Homes had referred approximately
      fifteen cases. They have generally been linked to noise and neighbour nuisance.
      AIMS found initial referrals difficult to resolve as they were sometimes longstanding,
      complex or had had police involvement. Referral rates have dropped since
      December 2002.
131 We found that use of the mediation service is not consistent amongst neighbourhood
    services officers, some of whom question its effectiveness.
132 The inconsistent use of mediation raises a question about what if any alternative
    means of support or advice is actually made available by the association to tenants .
    Worthing Homes states that it has a victim centred approach. We found no evidence
    of support provided by the association for victims of anti social behaviour. We might
    have expected to hear about the provision of additional security, the issuing of 999
    only mobile phones, access to panic alarms, victim support, to name but a few. The
    tenants we spoke to believed that the association moved the victim and did not deal
    with the perpetrator.
133 Tenants are advised to contact the police but with mixed outcomes. This is
    particularly pertinent in racial harassment cases. This is dealt with in more detail in
    the section of this report entitled ‘ensuring that services are sensitive to the needs of
    communities’.
134 There were two recent Ombudsman cases relating to nuisance and anti social
    behaviour. It is noted that in one the preliminary report (March 2003) states Worthing
    Homes should:
 “Provide training for housing management staff on their responsibility to investigate
reports of nuisance and harassment and support tenants.”

Summary of overall performance in this service area
135 Worthing Homes has very recently started interagency and partnership working
    to look at the needs in its areas of operation and to find the best ways of dealing
    with anti social behaviour. It is too early to assess its impact. The association
    has shown that it is willing to tackle nuisance and has had some success in
    securing the eviction of perpetrators through the courts. However, tenant
    perceptions are that the association is falling short of their expectations in this
    respect. The lack of practical support reinforces this perception. Operationally,
    the association needs to ensure consistency amongst the working practices of
    staff.
136 However, the association’s approach on an operational level shows weaknesses
    which have evidently impacted on tenants. Worthing Homes acknowledges there is
    more work to be done in this area of its service. Overall we found the association’s
    performance in the service area to show scope for improvement.
p 30     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Key findings and recommendations for dealing with nuisance and anti social
behaviour

Issues                                            Recommendations

Delivery

Worthing Homes states it has a victim centred     The association should develop support
approach. Yet it offers no practical support to   systems for the victims of anti social
the victims of anti social behaviour. The         behaviour. This might include additional
perception of tenants we spoke to was that the    security measures and establishing links with
association moves the victim and does not         Victim Support.
properly deal with the perpetrator.
                                                  The association should raise the profile of its
                                                  work on anti social behaviour to improve
                                                  awareness amongst tenants.

                                                  regulatory code 2.3, 3.5)

Monitoring & Review

Incidents are not recorded separately as they     Separate recording would help identify
are dealt with under the nuisance procedure.      potential trends and could feed into service
                                                  improvements.
We found that use of the mediation service is
not consistent amongst staff of Worthing          The association needs to establish the
Homes, some of whom question its                  usefulness of the service / level of impact; be
effectiveness. There is no system in place for    clear whether or not staff are expected to use
assessing or monitoring outcomes of referrals.    it for referrals; If so ensure they do, if not
Consequently results are not fed into reviews     ensure some other means of support
of procedures.                                    mechanism in place.

                                                  regulatory code 3.5.4, 3.5.6
                                                      Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 31




Ensuring that services are sensitive to the needs of
communities
Key features of the service
137 The association works with a number of external organisations to provide housing
    services for a diverse range of customers including floating support. Two of the
    agencies with whom Worthing Homes works, MIND (mental health charity) and
    Sussex Oakleaf have been allocated desk space at the offices of Worthing Homes so
    they can meet with customers as necessary. The impetus for this has been the
    Supporting People regime. At the time of our inspection a meeting had been
    arranged to establish a forum for agencies in Worthing to meet with the Supporting
    People Team at Worthing Borough Council.
138 The support services available to vulnerable tenants through Worthing Homes’
    partnership working include:
      Provision of thirteen supported tenancies working with Southdown Housing
      Association, a specialist association working with people with mental health
      issues.
         Provision of floating support for up to thirty people by the mental health charity,
         MIND. Support can be given just for a few weeks duration to help clients get
         through a difficult period or on a longer term basis.
         Provision of six tenancies through Sussex Oakleaf for cases of substance abuse.
         Worthing Women’s Aid is able to provide four places for women experiencing
         domestic violence. At the time of our inspection approximately three were filled.
         Ability Housing Association, a specialist housing association, provides five places
         for people with physical disabilities.
139 The association also leases properties to other service providers, for example to
    Stonham Housing Association for young single people leaving care.
140 Worthing Homes currently manages eight sheltered schemes. One is to be let to the
    local NHS Trust for use as key worker accommodation. Each scheme is managed by
    a scheme manager. The largest, Brougham Court with 126 units, has three. Scheme
    managers have computer and e-mail access to the association’s systems.
141 An out of hours service is provided by Mobile Response Officers after four o’clock.
    They also cover schemes when managers are on annual leave. Scheme procedures
    are identical and so aids cover arrangements in terms of knowing where things are
    kept for example.
142 The association provides a Careline service. It took over provision of the service
    from Worthing Borough Council in 1999 on transfer. The association is a
    member of a national organisation for providers of such services. The Careline
    package aims to help tenants maintain their independence at home as much as
    possible. A small push button device worn on the body or round the neck gives
    the user 24 hour contact with a control centre in Guildford which can ensure
    medical help or relatives and friends can be contacted in the event of an
    emergency. Equipment can be rented or bought. In addition key holder and
    mobile response services are also available. For an extra charge Mobile
    Response Officers employed by Worthing Homes can attend in the event of an
    emergency call out. A monitoring service is also available. Users choose those
    elements of the package that best suits their circumstances. Careline is available
    to sheltered and general needs tenants.
p 32   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Key findings
Black and minority ethnic customers
143 The association has attempted to make contact with the few BME organisations in
    Worthing. These are specifically a Bangladeshi association, a mosque and a charity
    working with young unaccompanied asylum seekers.
144 Worthing Homes does not subscribe to the translation service Language Line as it
    would have a low rate of usage. The association policy is to use the service as and
    when required. However we found that staff awareness of the availability of the
    service, and therefore its use, to be patchy. Most of those we spoke to felt that if
    interpreters were necessary the tenant would bring a friend or family member to
    assist.
145 The association’s information literature is not translated. The association considers
    that given the low number of BME community members in Worthing, there is little
    demand for this service. Tenants can, however, join a mailing list to receive copies of
    ‘Home News’ in large print or on audio tape. This service is promoted in the
    newsletter itself.
146 In 2002 the Board of management at Worthing Homes Limited formally
    acknowledged non compliance against the standards set by the Housing Corporation
    in the delivery of its equality and diversity obligations. This was particularly the case
    in its failure to properly monitor service delivery.
147 Since then the association has worked to address concerns raised over this aspect of
    its business. Whilst the organisation has not formally responded to the Challenge
    Report, it has produced an equality and diversity policy statement and an action plan
    intended to meet each of the required elements in the Housing Corporation’s
    regulatory code. However the policy tends to focus on the internal workings of the
    association, for example recruitment and selection. There is less emphasis on
    service delivery. With the exception of the tenant directors, the association has not
    consulted the wider tenant body on the introduction of the policy statement and
    action plan.
148 According to census information (2001) Worthing’s Black and Minority Ethnic (BME)
    population is 2.7%. In the period 2001 – 2002 the association’s lettings to BME
    households accounted for 4.7% of all new lets. The association has therefore
    exceeded its target in ensuring lettings are proportionate to BME housing need or
    census data. The same is true of its staffing where BME groups account for 4.2% of
    all staff.
149 There are no BME appointments to the board. Women are currently under
    represented with three female members out of 17 places. Staff training on equality
    and diversity issues is proposed to take place by October.
150 There have been three cases of racial harassment in the past year. At least two have
    involved serious incidents of intimidation, threatening behaviour, racist abuse,
    general harassment and vandalism. They have required police involvement. We
    spoke to some of the affected tenants, who reported a lack of support from the
    association despite numerous complaints and of feeling isolated. In some instances
    the fear of reprisals from those concerned was another barrier to a satisfactory
    resolution. Unfortunately in at least one case this was compounded by the alleged
    insensitivity of staff during investigation and in the property offered.
151     At the time of the inspection equality and diversity targets for lettings, tenant
       satisfaction, dealing with racial harassment staffing, governance, tenant association
       membership and use of contractors were still only partially met or not met at all.
       However, performance monitoring information on of ethnicity for 2002 – 2003 was
       available. Worthing Homes has not so far been able to properly collate the statistics
       as planned.
                                                         Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 33




Services for the elderly
152 The Careline service has been promoted through the association’s newsletter, Home
    news. We also found information leaflets available in reception. The association
    estimates it has in excess of 1200 subscribers.
153 Applications for sheltered accommodation are made to the local council. Scheme
    managers carry out the assessment visits. They do not make assessments for their
    own schemes. Previously paperwork required for the assessment process was long
    and duplicated. The suggestions of a Scheme Manager were taken on board and a
    shorter two page version is now used. In Worthing, the assessment criteria for
    applicants to care and nursing homes is stringent, as a result of the high demands for
    the service. For example, applicants generally have to be doubly incontinent. As a
    consequence, Worthing Homes can have residents with high dependency needs.
154 Prospective residents are given information on Worthing Homes’ sheltered services
    i.e. where they are located, the role of Scheme Managers, the services provided and
    other agencies which may be of help, for example the Meals on Wheels service.
155 The service does not currently have an elder abuse policy.
156 We found that due to the specialist nature of the sheltered service and the physical
    location of the schemes the perception is that staff based centrally are not always
    fully aware of what the service is and what role the Scheme Managers play
Domestic Violence
157 Figures supplied by Sussex Police show that 1,127 incidents of domestic violence
    were reported in April 2002 – March 2003. 326 arrests were made. It is however
    acknowledged that such cases are generally under reported. Although Worthing
    Homes has a domestic violence policy, it requires further development.
Services for disabled customers
158 Worthing Homes reception area is fully wheelchair accessible and there is a lift
    providing access to all floors. A portable hearing loop is available for use in the
    building. The association’s equality and diversity action plan does not address
    issues of disability. The association acknowledges it has more work to do on the
    reporting of disability issues to the Board of management.
159 More than 15% of those housed by Worthing Homes are over 60 years old. More
    than half this number are over 75. Over 29% of household members consider
    themselves to have a disability whilst more than 7% are wheelchair users. (CORE
      returns for the period April 2001 – March 2002).

160 The association has a disabled adaptations policy. The housing services and
    property services departments have disabled adaptations procedures.
161 Worthing Homes has an aids and adaptations budget of £5 000. Last year the budget
    was £40 000. At the time of the inspection there had been no evaluation of the
    previous year’s expenditure, and whether the reduced budget is sufficient to meet
    needs.
162 The funding of aids and adaptations are divided between minor (which the
    association funds from its aids and adaptations budget) and major (which is funded
    by Worthing Borough Council through the Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG). Worthing
    Homes’ DFG allocation for 2001 -2002 was £95,000 from an overall grant fund of
    £500,000. Although it does not capture the information the association estimates that
    80% of applicants for this service are pensioners.
163 Worthing Homes funded a range of work which included ramps, steps and handrails,
    lever taps, a hard standing, over bath showers and a level access shower. It is
    unlikely that the same range and quantity of works will be funded this year. Works
    funded through the council’s DFG were level access showers, wheelchair storage,
    complete kitchen, a ramp and stair lifts. Waiting times for major works to be the
p 34   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




       funded through the DFG can be quite lengthy, for example a year is not unusual for
       the installation of an over bath shower; one of the most common types of adaptation.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
164 Worthing Homes was found to be working positively in its delivery of support services
    particularly in its networking with appropriate providers. Sheltered staff we spoke to
    were very experienced and well trained. However by the association’s own
    admission the equalities agenda has not been a priority for the organisation until
    quite recently. It also continues to fall short on many of the targets it has set itself in
    its equality and diversity action plan. These would enable it to meet key requirements
    set by its regulator, the Housing Corporation. Overall we found Worthing Homes’
    performance to show scope for improvement in this area.
What works well?
         Partnership arrangements to deliver housing and support services to a range of
         vulnerable tenants with support needs.
         Careline service
         Floating support
         Fully accessible offices
                                                         Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes       p 35




Key findings and recommendations for ensuring services are sensitive to the needs
of communities

Issues                                             Recommendations

Service Planning

The specialist nature of the sheltered service     The association could consider an “open day”
and location of the schemes has given rise to      or session at a scheme(s) for staff at all levels
the perception that centrally based staff are      as an opportunity to help raise awareness.
not always aware of the intricacies of the
service.                                            Worthing Homes should assess the demand
                                                   for minor adaptations to satisfy its self that
Worthing Homes has an aids and adaptations         vulnerable tenants have not suffered as a
budget of £5,000. This represents a significant    result of the significant reduction in budget.
reduction from the previous financial year
2001 -2002. At the time of the inspection there    regulatory code 2.3.3
had been no evaluation of the previous year’s
expenditure.

Delivery and access to services

Staff knowledge and use of the association’s       The association should:
subscription to Language Line is variable.
                                                   a) establish the existing level and type of use
Worthing Homes does not have a specific            of Language Line within the organisation
domestic violence policy despite working
closely with Worthing Women’s Aid.                 b) promote the use of the service within the
                                                   organisation.
There have been three cases of racial
harassment in the past year. At least two have     c) promote the availability of the service to
involved serious incidents of intimidation,        tenants i.e. interpreters and translated
threatening behaviour, racist abuse, general       information
harassment and vandalism.
                                                   regulatory code 3.5

                                                   The association should introduce a domestic
                                                   violence policy, which should include the
                                                   availability of support and advice for victims.

                                                   regulatory code 3.5.4

                                                   The association must ensure that appropriate
                                                   support is available to the victim and that staff
                                                   are trained accordingly.

                                                   regulatory code 3.5.4

Monitoring and Review

The association acknowledges it has more           The association should be mindful of any
work to do on the reporting of disability issues   potential duties as per the Disability
to the Board of management.                        Discrimination Act (1995)

At the time of the inspection equality and         regulatory code 2.1.2
diversity targets for lettings, tenant
satisfaction, dealing with racial harassment       (iii) Worthing Homes must ensure that it
staffing, governance, tenant association           complies with Housing Corporation guidance.
membership and use of contractors were still
only partially met or not met at all.              regulatory code 2.6
p 36   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Services to customers
Key features of the service
165 Worthing Homes provides the majority of its services from its office, Davison
    House, located in Worthing town centre. It is readily accessible from all parts of
    the borough by public transport. It has ample car parking spaces, with specific
    parking bays marked for disabled and parent and toddler use only.
166 The housing management service is provided by six generic staff called
    neighbourhood housing officers (NHO). These staff are responsible for tenancy
    management rent collection and allocations. The average patch size is 400
    homes. In addition, the NSO’s monitor grounds maintenance. They work closely
    with the tenant participation officer to promote tenant involvement.
167 A duty system operates for the NSO’s, so that callers to the office are able to
    speak to an appropriate member of staff. Tenants are able to contact staff by e
    mail and telephone. The association has a voice mail facility, so that messages
    can be left for individual members of staff.
168 The association has a two stage complaints procedure with short response times.
    The finishing touches are being made to an automated complaints monitoring
    system. Worthing Homes has also developed a two way compensation
    procedure, which enables tenants to be paid £12.50 in compensation if a
    contractor and /or member of staff fails to keep an appointment. However, if a
    tenant fails to keep an appointment, they can be fined £12.50.
169 The associations newsletter ‘Home News’ is published bi- monthly, and is
    informative and widely read by residents. It is available on tape and in large type.
170 A customer satisfaction survey was carried in 2001 which said that 86% of
    respondents were happy with the service overall.
171 Grounds maintenance for general needs stock is provided by contractors, First
    National. Environmental maintenance for sheltered accommodation is provided
    by ‘Garden Minders’, a joint project between Worthing Homes and the mental
    health charity, Mind.
                                                   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 37




Key findings
Reception
172 The reception area is pleasant, clean and welcoming with ample circulation
    space. The interview rooms are also light and clean. There are automatic doors,
    facilities for small children and plenty of seating. The notice boards were tidy and
    up to date. There are two reception staff available but usually only one at the
    desk. We noticed that there were busy periods, when a queue of four or five
    customers formed, and there was only one receptionist at the desk. On one
    occasion, the receptionist was trying to resolve a repair query with the contractor,
    whilst others were waiting. We would suggest that the association reviews the
    cover arrangements for reception to ensure that there are sufficient staff
    available.
Customer focus
173 The staff we met at Worthing Homes were general positive and enthusiastic
    about their work and the organisation. There is a strong customer focus and a
    willingness to deliver a good service. The Gober School of customer care training
    has had an impact across the association. The association have made provision
    for refresher training. The Gober training is an integral part of the induction of
    new staff.
Customer survey
174 The last comprehensive customer satisfaction survey was carried out in 2001. It
    showed that 88% of respondents were satisfied with the service overall. This was
    an improvement the previous years survey, when 67% expressed satisfaction.
    However, in the 2001 survey, only 75% of respondents expressed satisfaction
    with the housing management service. Information from the survey was used as
    part of the Best Value review of housing management. This led to a major
    restructure and refocus of the service, resulting in generic staff working on
    smaller patches. Future surveys will help to assess any increased levels in
    customer satisfaction.
175 Worthing Homes has developed a set of service statements for each service area.
    These are a form of tenants charter and have been published individually in ‘Home
    News’. They are yet to be bought together in a revised tenants handbook.
Complaints
176 The association received 103 complaints during the 2002/03 financial year and
    22 expressions of satisfaction. This is an increase of 20% on the previous period.
177 Complaints are reported to the housing committee each quarter.
178 Worthing Homes define a complaint as:
 ‘…an expression of dissatisfaction, however made, about the standard of service or
lack of action by Worthing Homes Ltd’s contractors, agents or its own staff, affecting an
individual customer or group of customers’.

179 The complaints procedure has two stages. The first stage is for the complainant
    to write in explaining their grievance. They can also complain in person or by
    phone. In all cases the complaint will be acknowledged within two working days.
    The complaint is logged and passed to the most appropriate manager. A full
    response or an acknowledgement giving a response by date should be sent
    within five working days. If the complainant remains dissatisfied, they can
    progress to stage two, the right of review by the chief executive. This will be
    completed within ten working days.
p 38   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




180 We reviewed four complaints selected at random in detail during the inspection.
    The complaints and the response were easy to find. All were answered in a
    straightforward polite style. Only one complaint was answered outside the five
    day target date, the remaining three were answered within two days. All except
    one contained an apology. None of the responses advised the complainant what
    to do if they were unhappy with the reply.
181 We found that the procedure is not followed in all cases. By the staff’s own
    admission, the procedure sometimes entails more than 2 stages, with more than
    one manager getting involved. This has been the case where there has been
    complex complaints, involving other stakeholders. The result is that some
    complaints are not responded to within the 5 day target date and have taken
    weeks to resolve. Staff viewed complaints negatively and this has led senior
    managers to revise the complaints procedure.
182 Under the new procedure, the corporate services officer coordinates and
    monitors complaints, and is the first port of call for customers wishing to complain
    in person. A new form has been devised to capture complaints, compliments and
    comments. The association has placed more emphasis on the analysis of
    complaints and the monitoring forms, specifically ask the question ‘How have we
    improved the service?’. It does not, however, contain any equality and diversity
    monitoring information or categories. It was evident that the new approach had
    not yet been fully bedded in. The analysis of complaints and compliments was
    not reported to the board in May 2003, and staff were not clear how black and
    minority ethnic monitoring information was used.
183 It was of concern that the complaints forms were not readily available in
    reception. Anyone requiring the form had to speak to the corporate services
    officer to obtain one.
184 We attended a housing committee meeting and noted that confidential information
    about tenants appeared in the committee paper. For example, details such as
    names, addresses of tenants who had experienced harassment or who were subject
    to eviction proceedings. We consider this to be unnecessary and breaches tenants
    confidentiality.
Compensation and fines
185 The association’s policy of dual compensation and fines has yet to be tested.
    Although much publicised, only one tenant has received compensation for a
    missed appointment, and no customers have been fined for failing to keep an
    appointment.
Translations
186 The association does make copies of its newsletter available in different formats
    to meet the needs of its customers. It was not entirely clear what provision there
    is for translating information to customers who do not speak or read English.
    Front line staff were not clear about the resources available to them.
Grounds maintenance
187 Worthing Homes has a considerable number of grassed areas to maintain, both
    on and surrounding its housing stock. As a result of the transfer from Worthing
    Borough Council in 1999, the association inherited grounds maintenance
    responsibilities for housing developments, where it now owns less than half of the
    homes. Right to buy sales continue to exacerbate the situation. During our
    inspection, we found that the grounds maintenance service provided was
    generally satisfactory, although basic. Effort is focused on ensuring that the grass
    is cut and hedges are trimmed.
                                                   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 39




Additional services
188 The association provides some additional services to meet the needs of tenants.
    For example, a free phone service to the gas and electricity service providers to
    allow new tenants to arrange connection, and existing tenants to resolve queries.
    There is a gardening scheme, open to older and /or disabled tenants, where for a
    small charge, the grounds maintenance contractors will cut grass and trim
    hedges in private gardens. The resource centre, is self financing and used for IT
    training and as a venue for local groups. It is open to all members of the
    community.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
189 Worthing Homes provides a satisfactory customer services to its tenants in all areas.
    It has well trained staff with a strong customer focus, which is evident across the
    organisation. It has good customer reception facilities, and is clearly responsive to
    customers needs. In its short history, the association has managed to develop
    additional services to help smooth the way for its tenants.
190 It does, however, need to ensure that changes to its complaints monitoring system
    are bedded down, and that a full analysis of complaints is reported to the housing
    committee and board on a regular basis. In addition, equality and diversity monitoring
    information must be collected and analysed, and acted upon where appropriate.
What works well?
         Reception area
         Newsletter
         Customer focus
Positive practice
Garden Minders scheme

Garden Maintenance service

Resource center and training courses

Free phone link to energy suppliers
p 40     Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Key findings and recommendations for Customer Services

Issues                                              Recommendations

Complaints forms are not readily available to       Complaints forms should be readily and
tenants on reception.                               openly available to customers, who may prefer
                                                    to complain without having to first approach a
                                                    member of staff, no matter how helpful they
                                                    might be.

                                                    It is a requirement of the Housing
The revised form does not contain equality          Corporation’s regulatory code, that appropriate
and diversity questions to enable the               systems are in place and that activities are
association to effectively monitor complaints.      adequately monitored. The association must
                                                    ensure that monitoring information is included
                                                    on the complaints form.

                                                    regulatory code 2.7, 3.2.1 and regulatory
                                                    guidance 2.7.2.

The association has developed service               Revisions to the Tenants Handbook should be
statements but has not put them together in a       progressed and the service standards
comprehensive format for ease of reference          incorporated for improved accessibility.
by customers and staff. It is envisaged that
this information will eventually form part of the
tenants handbook.
                                                    regulatory code 3.5.6

During the inspection, we observed queues           The association should review staffing
forming in reception with only one member of        arrangements in reception to ensure that there
staff available.                                    is adequate cover.

                                                    regulatory code 3.5.6

Tenants confidential details appear in              The association should ensure that tenants
committee papers                                    confidentiality is respected at all times and that
                                                    information is divulged only when absolutely
                                                    necessary.
                                                  Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 41




Asset Management
Key features of the service
191 Worthing Homes does not have a written asset management policy however the
    association has achieved Construction Client Charter status, produced a
    development strategy and brief and undertaken a comprehensive stock condition
    survey.
192 The Association has a 30 year spend profile produced from a priced stock
    condition survey which is supported by the business plan.
193 The association has fully priced detailed year plans for cost reflective
    improvements and catch up repairs. These are informed from information taken
    from the stock condition survey.
194 It has interlinking strategies between responsive, planned maintenance of
    existing stock and procurement of new property.
195 The association has remodelled existing properties to produce key worker
    accommodation.
196 The published 2003/2004 development strategy sets out housing needs
    requirements in the Worthing Borough Council area. The requirements were
    identified from the Council’s housing need survey undertaken in 2000. The
    strategy sets out how it proposes to make a contribution to meet this need.
197 A stock condition survey has been undertaken. The original survey was
    completed by December 2001, with Revision 1 of the report being produced by
    August 2002.
198 It was demonstrated by the association that from interrogation of the stock
    condition survey the Government’s ‘Decent Homes’ requirements are met for the
    majority of properties (87.30%). which have an average SAP rating of 67 out of
    100 ( newly constructed dwellings building regulations targets are in the region of
    80 to 85). The properties which did not conform to the standard have been
    identified and listed.
Implementation, monitoring and review of the asset management strategy
199 Compliance with ‘Egan’ principles is well underway whereby the association in
    implementing ‘rethinking construction’ has achieved Construction Client Charter
    status. Furthermore the cost reflective improvements programme has been put
    forward and accepted as a Housing Forum Demonstration project.
200 The introduction of a project partnering arrangement for the delivery of future
    phases of the cost reflective improvements programme is planned to be
    implemented.
Key findings
201 The association has no written asset management strategy however many
    elements of a strategy exist and are operational.
202 A 30 year expenditure profile has been produced from the priced stock condition
    survey, which includes all building element costs. There are separate reports
    available, which identify those properties that do not currently meet the decent
    homes standard. The costs of remedial work are contained within the expenditure
    profile.
203 Diversity issues, although mentioned within the construction clients charter
    strategic plan, are not robust enough when compared with the Housing
    Corporation’s guidance on cultural indicators for Egan compliance. In particular
p 42   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




       the development of a policy and working with contracting partners has not been
       addressed effectively.
204 The introduction of ‘zero snags’ on customers homes following completion of cost
    reflective improvement works has increased customer satisfaction. There are
    joint contractor meetings, which help to identify best practice, and a 7 day
    courtesy call to ensure complete and ongoing satisfaction with the services
    provided.
205 The association is aware of housing need over its area of influence by reference
    to the Worthing borough council housing needs survey.
206 Stock condition surveys are complete however the database information requires
    further verification.
207 Standard assessment procedure (SAP) ratings for properties have been measured
    as part of the stock condition survey.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
208 The overall performance is assessed as satisfactory. The assessment is based
    upon the Association’s understanding of housing needs issues within its area of
    influence, its commitment to the Egan agenda of rethinking construction and its
    progress in meeting the decent homes standard targets. However consideration
    should be given to producing a written asset management strategy which will
    incorporate its development strategy and be recognised within its risk
    management strategy.
What works well?
          Stock condition survey
Positive practice
Submitting their approach to management of the Cost reflective improvements to Clients
Charter framework to achieve full charter status the Housing Forum as a demonstration project
The introduction of ‘zero snags’.
                                                       Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 43




Key findings and recommendations for Asset Management

Issues                                            Recommendations

1.1 The association has not produced an           The association should produce an asset
asset management strategy.                        management strategy, obtain approval from its
                                                  Board and provide the necessary resources to
                                                  achieve the strategy’s objectives.

                                                  regulatory code 3.4

2.1 Within the asset management strategy it       2.1 The association should consider ways of
should address diversity issues within its        engaging with long term partners in
working relationship with long term partners in   construction by considering the themes set out
construction.                                     in the M4I working group report on Respect for
                                                  people.
2.1 The stock condition survey although
useable is not yet complete                       2.1 The association should identify the current
                                                  problems preventing full implementation of the
                                                  data contained within its stock condition
                                                  survey and provide the necessary resources
                                                  to secure full implementation.

                                                  regulatory code 3.4
p 44   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Tenant Involvement
Key features of the service
209 As a stock transfer organisation, Worthing Homes Ltd has six tenant director
    positions on its Board of 17. Thus residents have a significant voice in the
    management and focus of the organisation. They have been involved in the
    appointment of the relatively new Tenant Participation Officer (August 2002), and
    in monitoring certain service areas.
210 Worthing Homes has an active Tenant Participation Officer, dedicated TP budget,
    and regular and informative newsletters. It has also recently opened a Tenant
    Resource Centre, which is well equipped with computers and offers a variety of
    IT training courses for residents.
211 Perhaps as a result of the tenant representation on the Board, senior staff appear
    tenant focussed, and tenant surveys are conducted regularly on a variety of subjects.
    There has also been support for recent community initiatives.
Key findings
212 Worthing Homes has a tenant participation strategy, which was last updated in
    2001/2002.It has a dedicated Tenant Participation Officer and budget of £9,000.
213 It publishes regular and informative newsletters (Home News) available in large
    print or on cassette, for which there is a separate budget of £10,000.
214 Worthing Homes has a separate Resource Centre at its central location, which
    includes a dedicated room containing 10 computer terminals. This is used for IT
    training, currently provided by Learn Direct and Crash Computers. Other basic
    life skills training is also available here (i.e. dealing with toddler tantrums,
    budgeting for kids).
215 There are six tenant director positions on the Board, which are all filled.
216 Worthing Homes also has four consultative Forums, including Sheltered and
    Leaseholder.
217 There is support for recent community initiatives.
218 It conducts regular surveys of its residents.
Summary of overall performance in this service area
219 Overall, we consider that the service provided by Worthing Homes Ltd in relation
    to tenant participation is satisfactory, bearing in mind the length of time it has
    operated. It has been proactive in the way in securing funding for resident IT
    training. It intends to continue to fund the Resource Centre and expand its use.
220 However improvements could be in tenant training and ensuring the effectiveness
    of the Forums.
What works well?
          The six tenant directors have helped the organisation to retain a tenant focus.
          The Resource Centre is providing training for not only Worthing Homes residents,
          but also some from the wider community, thus supporting its strap heading:
          Building Neighbourhoods not estates.
          Additionally, Worthing Homes has worked to support recent tenant groups, and
          involve other agencies, in addressing nuisance and anti-social behaviour by
          young people in some areas.
                                                         Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes     p 45




Key findings and recommendations for tenant participation

Issues                                             Recommendations

Forums

Although four groups are currently operating,      The association should critically examine how
feedback we received indicated that some           to increase the effectiveness of these groups
tenants feel little happens as a result of their   and improve tenant satisfaction and
input. In addition, the Forums are led and         involvement.
managed by Worthing Homes staff. Tenants
were told the Forums were not the place for        regulatory code 2.5.3 2.5.4
complaints.

Support and involvement of a wider tenant base

Recent tenant initiatives have received            The association should work with relevant
support from Worthing Homes but other, more        community groups to raise its profile and
long-standing groups have not.                     engage more effectively with its residents.

One group (Stray Cats, with its own drop-in        regulatory code 2.5
centre and funding) has been working with
young people for many years and offers a
ready-made route to feedback from young
people in a deprived/problem area of town.



Funding/support for tenant groups

Currently funding has been on ad hoc basis.        Worthing Homes should consider a more
                                                   strategic approach and incorporate this into its
                                                   revised tenant participation strategy.
p 46   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes




Appendices
The inspection team
Bernadette Fry              Principal Inspector
Judine Alleyne              Inspector
Mary Cork                   Tenant Inspection Advisor
Clive Grant                 Associate Inspector

Number of person days on site
The number of person days on site was 23

The inspection process
The inspection team carried out the following activities as part of the inspection:
         Tenant focus groups
         mystery shopping
         Visits to empty homes
         Visits,
         Telephone interviews
         staff interviews
         attendance at housing committee,
         board member workshop,
         Visit to community projects
         Visits to temporary accommodation hostels
         Meetings were held with: Worthing Borough Council, First National (grounds
         maintenance contractors , Crash Computers, Worthing Police)

Reference documents
       General:
         The associations self-assessment submission prior to inspection
         Business plan
         Annual report to tenants
         Customer service survey results 2001
         Service area documents:
         Maintaining homes in good condition:
                   List
         Letting homes:
                   Internal Audit assignment report July 2002
                   Minutes of Housing committee meeting held on 21 January 2003
                   Sign up pack supplied by Worthing Homes Ltd
         Dealing with nuisance and anti social behaviour:
                                                   Worthing Homes Ltd - Worthing Homes   p 47




     Involving tenants in influencing service delivery:


     Ensuring that services are sensitive to the needs of communities:


     Services to customers:
               (How) are you being served?
     other –

Glossary of terms
   LSVT          large scale voluntary transfer
   Void          empty home
   MTC           measured term contract
   SOR           schedule of rates
   CRI           cost reflective improvements
   CCC           construction clients charter

				
DOCUMENT INFO