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Residents at the heart - our performance report

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Housing associations should be among the most trusted and accountable organisations in the country and that means having a stronger, more balanced relationship with our residents. 

It means being more open and honest, doing what we say we will, learning from when we get things wrong and enabling residents to hold us to account. 

The residents in our engagement structures play a key role in monitoring what we do – as well as helping us maximise our impact in communities.

These pages tell you more about that and:

  • how we’re doing 
  • what’s going well 
  • and where we need to do better.

 

Give us your feedback

Please tell us what you’d like to know more about, or how we’re doing.  Please don’t include personal details (like your name, phone number or email address) as we can’t reply to feedback given here. If you’d like us to respond, please contact us.  

Feedback

Resident and Board Partnership

Our Resident and Board Partnership (RBP) has had a big impact on how we run the business. Members of the group have also shared their voices on the national stage, talking about subjects that affect all social housing tenants.

“We’re all committed to making sure the voices of residents are heard and that they receive great services from Sovereign… It’s a genuine partnership, where residents and Sovereign are working together to make things better for everyone.”

Joyce Ward, Chair of the Resident and Board Partnership

Resident and Board Partnership

Scrutiny Coordination Group

Scrutiny Coordination Group

“It’s great to be able to review how Sovereign works, at such a detailed level. It does take a lot of time and effort to do these scrutinies but… it means our voices as residents can be used constructively to recommend different ways of doing things when it’s needed.”

Paula Grebot, Chair of the Scrutiny Coordination Group

Our Scrutiny Coordination Group (SCG) works with resident Scrutineers to review our services in-depth, giving us a resident perspective on how we can make changes to improve them when we need to.

Repairs scrutiny

Last year the SCG completed a scrutiny into why residents make repeat calls about repairs – a theme in several complaints and the reason for 1 in 6 calls to our Customer Contact team.

We’re now acting on their recommendations and have already made some changes to our repairs text messages. Other improvements will take longer or need particular technology (for example, developing an automated system so residents can book repairs appointments through the MySovereign portal).

What next?

The latest SCG scrutiny is now underway into complaints. The SCG, along with volunteer resident scrutineers, are looking at how we can improve our services to reduce complaints (and respond more effectively if things do go wrong).

National voice

Over the past year, Sovereign residents have:

  • met Dominic Raab, MP (then Housing Minister)
  • met Alok Sharma, MP, Minister of State for Employment 
  • attended a Houses of Parliament discussion on the benefit of social housing to society
  • hosted talks and input into National Housing Federation (NHF) ‘Great and trusted landlord’ research
  • input into the NHF ‘Together with tenants’ initiative
  • attended Chartered Institute of Housing and NHF conferences
National voice

RBP member, Joyce Ward, is also on the ‘Together with tenants’ national advisory panel and RBP member, Nick Williams, has joined the Consumer Standard Working Group with Tpas (national tenant engagement experts).

We were also invited to speak at seven conferences and events to share our experience of resident engagement. And we won or were shortlisted for seven awards recognising the dedication of our engaged residents, and the team that supports them.

Community engagement groups

We have nine Community Engagement Groups, made up of 69 Sovereign residents and 48 other members of the community. Located across Sovereign, they’re working with us to make a difference in their area: from exercise classes to coffee and cake, from play areas to planting.

If you’d like to join one of our groups, set up your own, become a member of the RBP, SCG or a resident scrutineer, you can find out lots more about resident engagement at Sovereign.

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Your safety

Keeping you safe in your home is a top priority for us and we’re committed to meeting all our legal responsibilities. This includes providing smoke alarms as well as checking and servicing gas, oil and solid fuel appliances in annual safety checks and completing regular inspections of electrical systems. In our blocks of flats and similar sites, we make sure that fire risk assessments (FRAs) are up-to-date, there are appropriate smoke detectors and fire alarms, fire doors and other fire safety measures.

Over the year we visited 36,000 homes to make sure all of those with gas have a valid gas safety record. We also completed nearly 600 Fire Risk Assessments and closed more than 1,700 fire safety actions or checks. If you’re a resident in a flat or similar accommodation you can ask us to send you a copy of the latest Fire Risk Assessment for your building. If you live in one of our taller buildings (six storeys or more), we’ve also published some summary safety information about these blocks.

You can also find more information and advice online about our #GetFireSmart campaign or our work around gas safety, asbestos and the safety of the water supply in your home.

When it comes to your personal safety, we work closely with the police and other agencies on issues like domestic abuse, hoarding and anti-social behaviour so please get in touch if you need advice or support. We also have an anti-slavery statement.

Contact channels

Telephone, email and social media

More people are now using our digital channels (like MySovereign, email and social media) when they don’t want or need to speak to someone in person.  And this is linked to a drop in the number of calls we received - 9,000 fewer than the year before.

Over the year we’ve also made lots of changes to our IT systems – making it easier for our advisors to access the information they need to support you. 

Phone icon


45,937 calls


Email icon


7,915 emails


Social media icon


4,612 messages


What's next?

But there’s more to do in 2019, including software which will give our advisors a single point of access to multiple systems: from who’s listed on your tenancy to when your gas service is due and what type of boiler your home has.

MySovereign

MySovereign is the online home of everything to do with your tenancy and is available 24 hours a day, every day. You can pay your rent, book a repair and update your details all in one place.


Registered users
101% more registered users – over 14,670





Satisfaction journey
Satisfaction with registration journey – up from 80% to 85.4% (March 2019)




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Satisfaction with payment journey – up from 84.4% to 90.3% (March 2019)




Using MySovereign

What's next?

We want MySovereign to become our number one contact channel: letting you get in touch whenever it suits you, at the click of a button. So we’re focusing this year on developing the site to let you do much more online, particularly about repairs and maintenance as we know these are key service areas for our customers.

We’re also making it easier for you to join MySovereign – you can now use web chat if you have any questions while you’re registering.

Sign up to MySovereign

Feedback

Your feedback matters and helps us to do things better, so we collect it in various ways. For example, we carry out surveys with residents who use different services, we also look at the causes of complaints and we analyse why customers are contacting us, to see what we can improve on.

During the year we expanded the sort of feedback we collect, to help us see how we’re doing against our four customer experience commitments:

  • We make it easy

  • We take responsibility

  • We get it done

  • We keep in touch

 

We now measure how much effort customers have to make to get their enquiry or issue resolved (a high score means it was less effort) for some key areas of service, how much they trust us on these areas and how satisfied they are with the outcome.

Anti-social behaviour bar graph
Repairs bar graph
Complaints bar graph

What's next?

    The feedback we’ve collected has given us some clear areas to focus on this year:
  • Resolving as many queries and issues as we can when you first contact us, or being very clear when we will be able to resolve them
  • Making sure our people take individual ownership and responsibility for their role in serving our customers, showing that this is a priority by the speed and quality of actions they take
  • Giving our managers real time, actionable insight so they can respond better to customer feedback and address differences in satisfaction levels

We’ll also focus on setting realistic and measurable benchmarks, to show how we compare with others.

Complaints

We try hard to offer good quality services, but sometimes things go wrong.

The two main services we received complaints about were: 

  • responsive repairs (repairs residents ask for) - 49%
  • housing management - 10%.

 

Complaints icon

Number of complaints

2,306


Causes of complaints - Responsive repairs

Response repairs pie chart larger format

Causes of complaints - Housing management

Housing management issues

Ombudsman cases

If we’ve done all we reasonably can to resolve a complaint but someone’s still unhappy, they can ask the Housing Ombudsman Service to look into their complaint.

We have very few complaints that get to this stage. There were 8 open cases with the Housing Ombudsman at the start of the year and 8 new ones during the year.

Bar chart for results of ombudsman cases:

Ombudsman graph

We recognise that dealing with complaints to a high standard means we need to understand the problem, put it right, apologise and learn from our mistakes. That’s why we revised our complaints policy in 2018 to make the process quicker and easier.

Here are a few other changes we’ve made as a result of complaints.

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Changes to washing machines and driers in our housing for older people, so they can be replaced quickly if they go wrong




Letter
We’ll now send rent review letters to the property and to any alternative correspondence address




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We’ve improved the quality of paint we use for decorating bathrooms



Responding more quickly icon
A new way of working from June means we’ll be able to respond more quickly to daytime emergency repairs




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We’re about to start automatic visits to assess and start treating any reports of condensation, damp or mould




What’s next?

We know there’s more we can do to reduce complaints and handle them more effectively. We’ve recently carried out an internal audit on complaints and the Scrutiny Coordination Group and resident scrutineers are also leading a review on this at the moment.

We’ll share the recommendations from this when we can, and tell you what we’re going to do to respond.