Welcome to our Annual Report to Customers for 2017
To make it easier for you to read our annual report on your mobile or a tablet we’ve kept it brief and to the point.
Throughout the report we’ve added lots of links to more detailed information if you’d like to find out more.
The rent we charge our tenants has reduced again this year which is good news for some of you, but it does mean that we’re bringing in less money, so we’re working to reduce our costs to offset this.
Rent and how it's spent
We’ve introduced a new way to pay your rent over the phone and changed the way we handle direct debits, which saves us money and streamlines the process for you. If you haven’t swapped over to a direct debit yet, just head over to our website and fill in our simple form.
One of the biggest ways we can reduce our costs is to make sure people pay their rent on time. We work hard to support tenants who are struggling to pay – and it’s working. In 2015-16 we were owed £531,000 in unpaid rent. That number is now down to £401,000, about 2.5% of our total rent. This is the lowest our outstanding rent owed has ever been, and we’ll continue to work hard to lower this figure.
Some of our tenants have seen their pay and benefits frozen, as well as other changes to benefits. This has made it harder to budget and manage finances. Moving to Universal Credit is one of the big changes that some of you will see in the next year.
It’s an essential part of being able to pay your rent so we’re doing our best to help our tenants as they move onto Universal Credit. More of you will move onto it in the next 12 months, depending on where you live.
The timetable for the roll-out of Universal Credit across our area is available on our website. If you are moving to Universal Credit make sure you get in touch with us so we can work out how we can help with the switch.
So we’ve told you how we’re collecting rent, and what we’re doing to help you pay your rent. But the important question is – how are we spending the rent you pay and providing quality services that give value for money?
Investing in our homes
In 2016-17 we spent £2.35 million on improving your homes, an increase of £90,000 from the previous year.
Our planned works programme over the past year included upgrading:
- 154 kitchens in Barnsley, Manor, Longley, Upperthorpe and Netherthorpe.
- 87 bathrooms in Auckley, Maltby, Heeley and Dronfield.
- 243 central heating systems in Maltby, Longley, Manor, Upperthorpe, Netherthorpe, Beighton and Balby.
- 100 windows and doors at homes in Chapeltown, Netherthorpe, Greasborough and Auckley.
We asked all of our customers how satisfied they were with the quality of the planned work we carried out.
- Heating 96%
- Kitchens 96%
- Bathrooms 78%
- Doors and windows 100%
When we looked into your feedback on bathrooms we found that it took longer to complete the work than expected. In future we will be more realistic with timescales and make sure that tenants know how long the job is likely to take.
Our Home Maintenance Team
Our Home Maintenance Team (HMT) is very popular with customers.
So, we think you’ll be pleased that it’s growing and will be doing even more of our maintenance work. By expanding the team, and bringing more trades in-house, we’ll save thousands of pounds a year on the VAT we’d normally be paying via contractors. We’ve calculated that by 2019 the expansion of the team will be saving us around half a million pounds per year.
During 2016-17 we employed a plasterer, joiner, plumber, builder, electrician and a glazer.
"Expanding the team means we’re able to keep bringing in new apprentices, which creates employment opportunities for local people."
Our Neighbourhood Environmental Action Team, or NEAT for short, is our in-house team dedicated to keeping your neighbourhoods and communal areas in great shape. The team includes handypeople, gardeners and cleaners.
The team has made such an impact in 2016-17 that they were awarded 24 Housing’s Best Green Scheme Award in 2016. They were recognised for their range of green initiatives, including growing vegetables and plants in their poly tunnel to replant in our neighbourhoods and at our LiveWell schemes.
And it’s not just our staff who have been recognised for their efforts in the community. Our amazing Maltby Environmentalists continue to go from strength to strength. In July 2017 they scooped the Excellence in Community Action award at the national Tenant Participation Awards.
We’re now regularly seeing 20 or more children turning up to our weekly litter picks, come rain or shine. They’ve even inspired the formation of a second group in Maltby’s China Town.
In fact, the group have so many great things to share they’ve started their own video blog on our website. If you’d like to find out more about the group, just click here.
You can take a look at all our work in our neighbourhoods in more detail by scrolling through the picture gallery below.
Having your say
We want to provide great services for all of our customers.
The best way to do this is to involve customers when we design services, and when we review them.
Our Customer Challenge Group
scrutinises how we do things and makes recommendations on how we could do them better.
In 2016-17 they examined how we capture and record customer feedback on service charges.
Our Customer Improvement Panel
work with us every month to improve our services and customer communications. Last year one of the most important things they worked on was to review our maintenance services. They helped us to identify what repairs and maintenance issues we should take care of, and which ones should be the responsibility of tenants.
What you've told us
Whenever we receive a complaint we take it seriously. We use the learning from every complaint to improve the services we offer and help make sure we don’t make the same mistake twice.
The number of complaints we’ve received has been gradually decreasing year on year. We hope this shows that we learn from what you tell us, and that we’re getting things right most of the time.
- 402 2012-13
- 367 2013-14
- 296 2014-15
- 295 2015-16
Some of the things we’re most proud of when looking back at your feedback from 2016-17 is:
- 98% of customers who moved into a new home said they were satisfied with it
- 87% of customers were satisfied with our overall service
- 87% said they were satisfied with how we dealt with their anti-social behaviour complaint
Building new homes
We all know that we’re in the middle of a housing crisis. There simply aren’t enough new homes being built.
Genuinely affordable housing
Housing associations like SYHA have an important role to play in building the new homes we desperately need – homes that are genuinely affordable and meet a variety of needs.
In 2016-17 we’ve built or acquired 65 new homes for rent or shared ownership, and we’re well on track to meet our ambitious plan to build 1,180 new homes by 2021.
With Government cuts to funding social housing, we’re looking at alternative construction methods and different sources of funding to help us build even more new homes.
By thinking differently we’ve been able to pilot some exciting new approaches to building new homes. You can take a look at the different methods by scrolling through below.
The way we LiveWell
Despite continued pressure from Government cuts to funding, our LiveWell services have continued to go from strength-to-strength in 2017.
In particular, we’ve focused on the growth of our social prescribing services across South Yorkshire.
We’ve now brought our Doncaster Social Prescribing service into our LiveWell portfolio. The impact the service has made in Doncaster has been remarkable, and a great testament to the power of social prescribing. Over the past year the service has worked with an incredible 1,375 people in Doncaster.
In an evaluation of the service carried out by Sheffield Hallam University, 81% of customers felt more confident in managing their own health, which resulted in a 68% reduction in visits to their GP. They calculated that for every £1 spent on the service, it generated more than £10 of benefits in terms of better health.
The success of Doncaster Social Prescribing has let to us being commissioned to provide the service not only in Barnsley, but in the Upper Don area too which covers Stocksbridge, Deepcar and Oughtibridge.
Launched in April 2017, our social prescribing team in Barnsley, called ‘My Best Life’, received 166 referrals in their first two months working in the area.
The Upper Don Social Prescribing service launched in August 2017 and has already developed strong ties with local GPs which has resulted in the first referrals to the service.
We can give you lots more facts and statistics about the power of social prescribing, but for us, the most powerful stories are those our customers tell.
We’ve also grown our older people’s services in Sheffield.
Building on the success of our Support 55 project, which supported older people living in North and West Sheffield, we’ve now been commissioned to expand the service across the entire city.
‘LiveWell at Home’ will work with people aged 55 and above with a range of housing and health related issues.
There’s isn’t enough room to tell you about each and every one of our amazing LiveWell services.
If you’d like to find out more about our services and the work they do, head over to www.syha.co.uk/livewell
Your home is just the beginning
As you’ll have probably worked out, we aren’t just about bricks and mortar.
It’s not enough just to have a roof over your head – we want our customers’ experience with us to be a joy, and for them to flourish in their home.
That’s why we provide a range of extra services that support people with things like feeling lonely, finding work, volunteering and channelling their inner creativity. Given that we provide a range of health and social care services, we also give our customers the chance to help shape some of the services that they access.
We also campaign to tackle and challenge some of the biggest social issues we’re facing at the moment. We’re working with our customers to put an end to homelessness once and for all, as well as challenging the stereotypes social housing tenants face in the national press. You can find out more here.
That’s a whistle-stop tour through the types of extra support we offer, but if you click through the images below, you’ll be able to find out a little bit more about these services.
To provide great services that are efficient and effective, we need to be in a strong financial position.
We want to be here for the long-term, and be ready for any potential challenges that we might face. This means we need to offer the best possible value for money.
There’s no way to talk about this sort of thing without showing you lots of numbers, and we know that’s not the most exciting thing to read.
So, if you’d like to find out more about how we’re providing value for money to our customers, why not check out our Value for Money Statement for 2017. It gives you a full break down of how our services are performing across SYHA.
If you’re more interested in the main headlines on how we’re providing value for money, we’ve picked out some of the things we’re most proud of:
- Renegotiated our property insurance premium, saving us £87,000.
- Installation of solar panels for our customers has saved them an estimated £67,000 a year in energy costs.
- By implementing a new salary exchange scheme for pensions, we’ve saved £48,000 on National Insurance contributions.
- Saved £22,000 a year on our planned gardening works by appointing a new contractor.
- Initial savings of around 80% on our legal services by joining the Central Housing Investment Consortium Framework.
- Renegotiated our energy contracts at a saving of £16,000.
- Our new furniture procurement contract will save us an estimated £18,000.
- Installation of air source heat pumps and voltage optimisers for our customers has saved them an extra £9,260 a year on their energy bills.
Throughout this report we’ve told you about the work we’re doing with our customers, but we’re equally proud of the amazing achievements our staff have made over the past 12 months.
Once again we find ourselves named as one of The Sunday Times Best 100 Not-For-Profit Organisations To Work For – rising from 62nd in 2016, to 40th in 2017 – and we’ve got high hopes for 2018!
It’s a real testament to the hard work and dedication of our people that we’ve been recognised in such a way. We’ve picked up a range of other accolades over the past year, including being named as an Investor in People Gold organisation as well as a Disability Confident employer.
One of the most exciting pieces of news we received over the past year was that not one, but two of our people were recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List.
Our Chief Executive, Tony Stacey, was awarded an OBE for services to social housing – a career which began back in 1979. Ruby Smith, our Head of Co-design and Improvement, was awarded an MBE for services to her local community of South Anston, and was one of the youngest recipients of the award in 2017.
We’re really proud of the opportunities we offer our staff, whether it’s personal development through our award winning LeadWell programme, our generous employee benefits or our apprenticeships offer – our people always do us proud.
Their generosity never ceases to amaze us with staff raising nearly £1,000 in the past 12 months for charity, on top of their own personal fundraising efforts.
As you’ve already seen in the section above, we’re doing lots of work to ensure we provide the best value for money to our customers.
But in order to keep doing this, we need to keep adapting to the changing needs of our customers. Over the next few years, we’ll be making changes across the business to make sure that we’re able to work more effectively, and give our customers access to services wherever, and whenever they need to access them.
One of the main ways in which we’ll be transforming the business is to move our customer services online. That means that in the future customers will be able to report repairs online, take a look at the latest rent statement and interact with us in whatever way suits them best.
By investing in new IT systems that will enable us to provide these new digital services, we’ll be able to reduce our operating costs and reinvest money into building new homes and providing quality services.
Our aim is that by 2020 we’ll have 66% of our customer-led transactions taking place online.
There’s so much going on across the organisation that we couldn’t possibly share it all with you, but if you’d like to find out more about a specific area that you’re interested in, these documents might help you.
Get in touch
We hope you enjoyed reading our annual report for 2017, and we’d love to hear what you thought about it.