Annual Report for Tenants - Plain Text Version

Each year we publish an Annual Report for tenants to show what we've achieved over the previous 12 months and how we meet national standards. The report for 2020-21 is available below.

West Lancashire Borough Council

Housing & Regulatory Services

Annual Report

2020 - 2021

Total number of homes - 5863

Total number of garages - 1554

28 properties have been bought through the Right to Buy scheme

Home Finder Facebook page now has 1082 likes

Number of housing enquiries dealt with by our Customer Services team – 29,025

This has reduced from last year as Wates handled repairs calls

Number of housing enquiries that we received via our website – 295

Letting our Homes

We helped 434 households move into their new home

Costing us on average £4,281 to prepare each property
In an average time of 55 days which has increased from last year.

We received 3558 enquiries through the homefinder website about moving house - www.westlancshomefinder.co.uk

110 furnished tenancies were created to support new tenants set up their home

153 tenants in total moved through a transfer or a mutual exchange

93% of housing applications are made online

447 tenancies were ended with an average tenancy lasting for 9.6 years

Top 3 reasons why tenants left their property

  • Deceased
  • Transferred to another Council property
  • Moved into other social accommodation

Percentage breakdown of why tenants left their property;

  • 28% deceased
  • 24% transferred
  • 14% went to other social landlords
  • 13% went to private
  • 8% other
  • 7% abandoned
  • 6% move to live with family/friends

Your Rent

£24M the amount of rent collected during 2020/21 for both homes and former tenants.

1919 people accessed our money advice service. 

The Money advice team helped tenants secure £392k in paying their rent and supported tenants in securing personal income totaling £468k.                                        

1335 families were helped to move onto Universal Credit and to manage their money more efficiently.

We collected £101.9k of the former tenant debt and £19.4k from recharges.

448 tenants were prevented from facing court proceedings following help from our money advice service. We supported our tenants during the pandemic, and this meant 0 tenants were evicted from their homes due to rent arrears.

For every pound we received in rent this is how we spent it.

  • 37p on investment in major repairs and new homes
  • 23p on staff and service running costs
  • 21p on day to day repairs and planned maintenance
  • 14p on loan interest payments
  • 4p Towards funding services in 2021/22
  • 1p Bad debts

Improvements and Repairs

Total number of repair enquires 27,234

99.71% of our homes had a valid Gas Safety Certificate. Our aim is to achieve 100% and we ask that you work with us to ensure we reach this, by providing access to your home when we contact you to arrange an appointment.

We spent £2.4M carrying out 15,443 repairs to your homes

95% of customers were satisfied with the repairs service

£1.6m the amount we invested on your homes by completing our investment programme
895 homes benefited from our investment programmes

127 homes had new windows installed costing £212k

147 homes had new roof coverings & loft insulation work carried out costing £328k

150 flats had communal fire risk safety works installed costing £77K

50 flats had changes in standard for smoke detection installed costing £79K

379 homes had new heating/ hot water systems installed costing £255k

£40k was spent on installing disabled adaptations to tenant's homes

£140K was spent on electrical upgrades

£1.7K was spent on upgrades to our sheltered housing

£1.2K was spent on structural works

£10K was spent on our environmental works programme

We regenerated 7 blocks, benefiting 42 homes of low-rise flats which included replacement of roofing materials, external wall insulation, replacement of windows and communal block upgrades, costing £445K.

Your Neighbourhood

133 tonnes of rubbish were collected over 6 community action days from across the borough.

Information was given to residents about the safe storage of bins and waste leading up to Bonfire Night.

We handled 111 anti-social behavior (ASB) cases.

We aim to provide support for victims of ASB and where possible put the necessary steps in place to prevent any further problems.
As part of this process we have issued a number of written warnings to tenants.

We continue to work with our partners such as the Police, Lancashire Fire Service, Illegal Money Lending Team and Trading Standards to combat ASB in our communities and we work with our partners on issues that affect our region such as County Lines issues, Modern Day Slavery and illegal money lending.

Home Care Link

Home Care Link Service has delivered Telecare and Assistive Technology, installing equipment to 507 properties

We received 64,681 emergency calls.

Our target for call-handling is that 90% of alarm calls should be answered within 60 seconds, and 99% within 3 minutes. We achieved 97.83 % answered within 60 seconds, and 99.82 % within 3 minutes.

Customer Engagement

Due to Coivd-19, many of our traditional forms of involvement such as our Tenant Scrutiny Group and Digital Block Inspectors had to be paused.  We are now reviewing our approach to involvement and scrutiny, to ensure we all tenants have equal opportunities to engage and share their views with us.

7 new tenants signed up to our 'Your Voice' survey group.   If you'd like to receive regular surveys on housing services, please email YourVoice@westlancs.gov.uk to get involved.

Compliments and Complaints

14 formal complaints were received and investigated, in an average time of 15 days.
2 of these complaints were escalated and reviewed by the Chief Operating Officer.

We identified that a number of complaints resulted from issues being raised around our policies and procedures, as well has how we communicate these.  We aim to get tenants more involved when renewing our policies and procedures going forward.

12 compliments were received. Thank you!

Housing Advice

We received 242 housing advice enquiries with 142 of those resulting in a homeless case being opened.

We provided targeted Money Advice support to 49 who were threatened with homelessness

36 families were owed the homeless prevention duty.  We prevented 28 of those from becoming homeless with 21 families of those being housed by the Council.

106 families were owed the homeless relief duty. 68 were helped into accommodation with 54 of those being housed by the Council. Of the remaining families, 5 refused offers of accommodation.

Of all the families that presented as homeless, 79 were provided with temporary accommodation.

We will continue to address homelessness and work with our partners to help to try to prevent it from happening.

Covid-19 – A Year Like No Other

Being in touch with our communities has been vital throughout the pandemic.  As a result the Customer Engagement Team, working with West Lancs CVS and other partners, set up and chair a virtual Community Sector Open Forum, attended by local foodbanks, charities, voluntary and community groups and organisations to discuss how our communities are being impacted, the issues being faced and how we can work together to support our residents.

At the start of the pandemic we mobilised a Financial Inclusion team of 7 officers across the Council to offer support and advice to tenants and residents. In the first 12 months we contacted and supported over 600 residents with money advice and more than 147 tenants had adjusted rent payment plans at the start of lockdown.

We maintained the Income collection service and contacted on average 700 - 800 tenants a week to ensure anyone who had difficulty paying rent had advice and support so that no one worried about paying their rent.

The Homelessness Advice & Prevention Team rose to the challenge to offer temporary accommodation to anyone who was homeless during the pandemic under the Governments Everyone In project. 86 people were provided with temporary accommodation, with 46 of those being helped into their own permanent accommodation.

The lockdown periods where a difficult time, particularly for the residents in our Independent living schemes. To ensure that residents had the support they needed our Independent Living Officers offered an enhanced service providing an increased number of reassurance calls including over the bank holiday periods.

During the pandemic Home Care Link (HCL) continued to monitor its clients 24/7 as many service users were in the higher risk categories and had been asked to self-isolate adding an additional burden of worry, anxiety and loneliness. To ensure this invaluable service continued, HCL still provided its Installation services whilst adhering to Social Distancing and also increased support via our outbound welfare calls, offering advice and services available to our clients.

The West Lancs Together helpline was set up as part of our COVID response to take telephone and online requests 7 days a week from 7am - 7pm for food parcels, medication deliveries, access to priority supermarket slots for shielding residents and signposting for loneliness, digital inclusion and financial advice. Managed by our Customer Services team 15K+ outbound calls were made to vulnerable residents and 4,267 calls and 413 online enquiries taken.

Other Achievements

As expected, Eskbank (Skelmersdale), became the first Tawd Valley Development Company site to break ground in September 2020.  This was quickly followed by Fairstead, Brierfield and Northfield, with a further site at Halton Castle due to start this year.  This will provide the Council with 81 genuinely affordable homes to rent through the first phase of development.

We developed a Financial Inclusion strategy. This means that for the next 3 years we have a plan that will support our aims to continue to work in close partnership with our stakeholders so that all residents have access to support and services to reduce financial inequalities across the Borough.

We have started to use a new system that automates outbound contact to all our former tenants this means we can make more contacts each week by telephone or text rather than using letters

We have updated our Homefinder website to make it fully mobile responsive.  This allows the customer to bid, complete applications and read content manages easily from a smart phone or other mobile device.  Customer can now retrieve their forgotten login details without having to contact the team

In January 2021 we implemented digital signature software which allows new tenants to sign their Tenancy Agreements from their phone, tablet or laptop. As well as being faster and cheaper than the previous paper-based system it allows greater flexibility to new tenants who can read and sign documents at their convenience.

Over the last two year the Council has invested in our Furnished Tenancy Scheme, this has allowed us to create over 100 additional furnished tenancies, supporting tenants to move into their new home. 

We are supporting initiatives to improving tenant's wellbeing and removing isolation.  Doorstep Movement classes have recently been piloted in two of our Independent Living Schemes Crosshall & Bathsprings, these have been well very well received.  Live Longer Better (Opimal Ageing Consultations) have also been taking place at Hillock Close, Richmond Court & Victoria Court. We are now looking to roll this out across all schemes.

This year we have worked with colleagues in our Environmental Health team to introduce the Noise App. The App allows tenants experiencing ongoing noise issues to record incidents whilst they are happening and send it into their Neighbourhood Officer for further investigation.

So far 422 of our tenants have signed up to the tenant's home contents insurance scheme.  To find out more about the scheme please email insurance_services@westlancs.gov.uk or telephone 01695 585047.

Investing in the Future

Having the skills and confidence to get online is a part of everyday life and is a great way to stay connected with friends and family, shop online and manage money through online banking in the comfort of your own home.  We are dedicated to helping our digitally excluded tenants get online. The Customer Engagement Team have teamed up with "We Are Digital" to offer residents free 1-2-1 training sessions which can be done remotely at home and are designed to cover all the basics of being online including how to use the internet safely.  

Residents who are interested in the free courses can text WEST LANCS and their name to 07825 844 417 or can call 01695 585216 (standard text and call charges apply).

We are currently reviewing and updating our Complaints Policy, ensuring the process is clear and easy for tenants to navigate.

The first homes developed for the Council by Tawd Valley Developments will be ready for families to move into in autumn 2021.  The 2020-2025 business plan has been refreshed and planning permission will be submitted for 50 more affordable homes at Fairlie, Skelmersdale.  The plan is ambitious, and the Company are expecting to develop a total of 363 homes, across a range of tenures, over the life of the plan.

The Homelessness Team successfully bid for funding to set up a Rough Sleeper Support Service. The service offers those who are sleeping rough or are at imminent risk of rough sleeping who have complex needs that have prevented them from sustaining their own tenancies, the chance to have their own tenancy with a dedicated support worker. Five flats have been dedicated to the scheme and each tenant receives 4 hours of intensive support provided by the Birchwood Centre plus access to wider Birchwood services. The scheme went live on the 1st April 2021 and is already changing lives with tenants volunteering, looking to enroll on education course and engaging well with wider support services.

The Tenancy Services Team are developing a programme of Estate Walkabouts; where representatives from a number of Council departments and partner agencies such as the Police, work together to identify issues and improve the neighbourhoods. The first walkabout took place in Digmoor, Skelmersdale on the 12/08/21, going forward we hope that local residents will join us.

The Independent Living team are working with our colleagues from Leisure to promote the Loose Weight & Feel Great active weight management sessions Summer/ Autumn to all our schemes.

We want to ensure our tenants are in control of their finances and help them maximise their income.  As a result, we've launched a new benefits calculator and budgeting tool on our website.  For more information please email moneyadvice@westlancs.gov.uk

What do you think?

We would like to know what you think about this report. Please contact customerengagement@westlancs.gov.uk and let us know your views.

Facebook

Twitter

Instagram