Wealden District Council
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Local Offers/Service Commitments Outputs for 2021–2022

The below outlines what progress we have made as a result of the offers put forward at the start of April 2021.

All tenants, Retirement Living Leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – Develop a wide range of ways for you to give us feedback, ensuring we record, monitor, report back to you and learn from this to ensure continuous improvement of our services.

Output – We introduced a housingfeedback@wealden.gov.uk email address and have been promoting this in Threshold and our monthly newsletter. We have been exploring other ways to gain feedback including new surveys. We are currently exploring options such as an email and letter footer to continue to encourage your feedback. We are collating feedback and sharing with managers to ensure issues are addressed and action taken where necessary and that this is fed back to you.

Offer 2 – Work with you to set up a complaints/feedback review panel.

Output – We have recruited a number of tenants and leaseholders who want to be part of the Complaints and Customer Feedback Review Panel. We now have terms of reference in place for the group and will be launching the group a bit later this year.

Offer 3 – Train and support you to deliver at least one scrutiny review during 2021/22.

Output – Unfortunately due to Covid this has not happened. However, we have recruited a panel of tenants and leaseholders. We now have new terms of reference in place and members have signed up to our Code of Conduct. We will shortly be arranging training for the members and will carry out a scrutiny project a bit later this year.

Offer 4 – We will work with you to ensure our Tenant Involvement brochure continues to provide the right range of opportunities for you to get involved.

Output – The brochure continues to be a live document and has recently been updated following feedback to clarify who can get involved and to provide more explicit information on the remit of each option now that the terms of reference have been written. As different options for involvement arise our brochure will be amended and tenants and leaseholders informed of changes so that we can recruit more of you to get involved.

Offer 5 – Find out through our Tenant Involvement Brochure how you can get involved and we will provide suitable opportunities for you to help us to review and deliver services.  This includes reviewing our annual report, our website content and developing next year’s local offers.

Output – We have recruited many new tenants and leaseholders since the brochure was launched but we still want to ensure everyone has the opportunity to be involved in a way which suits them. Work recently started work on our new local offers/service commitments, annual report and website and we hope that many of you will get involved as this work progresses.

Offer 6 – Provide free relevant training to enable you to actively engage, if needed.

Output – We haven’t yet provided any training but we are now promoting the free events run by Tpas which all tenants and leaseholders can attend as part of our membership. We will be delivering specific training as needed in the coming year to ensure those who want to engage can.

Retirement Living tenants, Retirement Living Leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders:

Offer 1 – Work with you to support increased activities in courts, where there is a demand.

Output – We have set-up a number of new Resident Groups in Retirement Courts and are in the process of setting up more. Through work with the groups we will be helping to facility activities. We are working across all the courts to re- start activities following Covid.

Offer 2 – Support the formation of court based residents groups where there is demand.

Output – As above.

Offer 3 – Facilitate ‘networking’ and ‘knowledge sharing’ between courts, where you would like to do this.

Output – We are still exploring how this can be managed and are looking at online options following the installation of broadband into the communal lounges and other communal areas in the courts.

Tenants Only

Offer 1  – When carrying out kitchen replacement works we will give you a choice over your kitchen units, worktops and flooring covers from a pre-selected range.

Output – 86 Kitchens of which 14 were installed in properties whilst they were vacant.

Offer 2 – When carrying out bathroom modernisations we will give you a choice of vinyl floor coverings to choose from.

Output – 9 Bathrooms of which 7 were installed in properties whilst they were vacant.

Offer 3 – We will improve the energy efficiency of our properties in order to help you save money on fuel bills including as part of our maintenance programme moving to triple glazing.

Output – To follow in Autumn Threshold once the data for the financial year has been collated.

Tenants and Retirement Living Leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – We will be continuing to ensure your safety with a programme to replace all fire doors in flatted accommodation.

Output – Year 1 (20/21) – 139 doors fitted general needs. Year 2 (21/22) – 142 doors RL up to 31/03/2022. Year 3 (22/23) – 207 doors RL to be fitted.

Tenants Only

Offer 1 – We will work with you to explore how we can improve and expand upon the information provided on empty properties when they are advertised

Output – We are currently in the process of this review and are putting in place some changes now following customer feedback. This includes a link in all adverts to Google Maps and working with the software supplier to see if we can expand the amount of information given in the text. For new properties we will also look to include floor plans. We are looking to give more information using our publications on what the icons/keys mean. Long-term we are looking at what else is feasible and this will be tied up with a review of our voids process (what happens when a property becomes empty).

Offer 2 – Post Covid we will seek to provide the opportunity to allow successful housing applicants to view a property before it is vacated.

Output – We are still planning on doing this but the continuation of Covid has meant it has been delayed. In 2022/23 we will provide a £25 incentive to the outgoing tenant to enable this to happen.

Offer 3 – We will review the use of Flexible Fixed Term tenancies to ensure they meet both the needs of our tenants and of the Council.

Output – This project has been delayed but should complete now in 2023/24.

Offer 4 – Support you to access suitable housing for your needs. Including addressing under occupation through the use of the Transfer Incentive Scheme, over-crowding through transfers, moving to age-restricted, Retirement Living or extra care housing or through the use of aids and adaptations.

Output – To follow in Autumn Threshold once the data for the financial year has been collated.

Tenants and Retirement Living Leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – We will retain a dedicated Retirement Living Court management service.

Output – We continue to provide a court manager service to all our 11 retirement living courts.

Offer 2 – Building New Council Homes – The Council will continue to invest in council homes to rent, as well as shared ownership.

Output – To follow in Autumn Threshold once the data for the financial year has been collated.

Tenants and Retirement Living leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – Carry out estate walkabouts to ensure our estates are well maintained. Exploring the opportunity to introduce them in areas not currently covered.

Output – Some walkabouts took place last year, however others were cancelled due to Covid restrictions.

Offer 2 – Actively promote walkabouts and encourage residents to attend and in some cases lead in delivering them.

Output – Some walkabouts took place without residents due to Covid restrictions.

Offer 3 – Employ Estate Wardens across the District to promote safer and cleaner communities on Council estates.

Output – The Council’s Housing & Property Service continue to employ 3 Estate Wardens who work closely with the Housing Officers. Between them they work across the whole district to ensure council estates are clean and safe places to live.

Offer 4 – Work with local residents to explore community use for small pieces of HRA land – pocket gardens, wild flower gardens etc. to improve the environment for local communities.

Output – This piece of work will now commence in 2022/23 now our Resident Groups are getting up and running again following the easing of Covid restrictions.

Offer 5 – Work with residents to explore options for addressing litter on estates. Including supporting residents to deliver litter picks by providing litter pickers, bags, etc. and organise for the waste to be collected and disposed of after the litter pick.

Output – Due to Covid, events such as litter picks have been unable to take place.

Offer 6 – Provide temporary dog fouling signs where communities identify that this is a problem.

Output – We have had no feedback requesting dog fouling signs via Tenant Involvement but this is likely to be due to Covid restrictions which meant that Resident Groups until recently were unable to meet.

Offer 7 – Work with residents to find ways of ensuring their ongoing monitoring and feedback on standards of grounds maintenance or cleaning contracts.

Output – We have been and are continuing to recruit block and estate champions to provide a mechanism to allow this to happen on a consistent and regular basis. We have tried other options including individual feedback but this has not worked.

Offer 8 – Run annual garden competitions, subject to demand.

Output – This did not happen in 2021/22 due to Covid and we are exploring other mechanisms to deliver such events in 2022/23.

Offer 9 – Explore with you the possibility of running a Tenants and Retirement Living Leaseholders Awards.

Output – This was approved by the Council’s Cabinet in December 2021 and we will run our first award programme later this year through Threshold.

Tenants and Retirement Living leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – Continue to help you get online in partnership with other organisations, through events, information and access to computers, training and much more. Ensuring these opportunities are widely promoted.

Output – We continue to work closely with the Library service and other Street Learning providers to ensure access to IT training. We continue to actively promote Street Learning courses via Threshold, website and our monthly newsletter.

Offer 2 – In partnership with you and other organisations explore the potential for Community Digital Champions.

Output – Unfortunately, we haven’t been able to progress this during 2021/22 as hoped but we have worked with the library service who have recruited volunteers to provide digital support. We are keen subject to the availability of volunteers to expand the service out into the community.

Offer 3 – Continue to run the Street Learning project and widely promote the free courses on offer.

Output – The Street Learning programme has run another three terms of courses this year and many other ad hoc courses. We have also recruited another two training providers. These have included both in-person and online courses. We continue to try to deliver new courses, so please let us know if you have any ideas.

Offer 4 – Explore with you and partners how barriers to accessing training and support can be addressed.

Output – The use of both online as well as in-person courses via Street Learning has meant that we have been able to reach residents across Wealden for whom transport to access courses would normally be an issue. It has also meant that those who suffer from anxiety or who would struggle to attend a course with strangers in an unfamiliar setting have been able to attend.

Other – Health and Wellbeing

Tenants and Retirement Living leaseholders & Right to Buy Leaseholders

Offer 1 – Work with the Community and Regeneration team and partners to provide Health and Wellbeing opportunities ensuring these are promoted as widely as possible. Including promoting the Wealden Dementia Alliance.

Output – We are working very closely with the Community and Regeneration team and are actively promoting their work, including Wealden Dementia Alliance and their meetings and events. We are in the progress of setting up dementia awareness training for our tenants and leaseholders in partnership with them.