It’s now almost a year since we shared a summary of our improvement and recovery plan. In summer 2023 our Interim Chief Executive updated you on our progress and the steps we have taken to improve the services we deliver for you, our customers.
Over the past months we’ve continued to make real progress against each of the five key themes in our plan. Our key priority remains to provide safe and good quality homes for all our residents. You can read the update below or we’d be very happy to talk it through with you if you’d like to contact us.
Amanda Newton - RBH Chief Executive
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Recovery Plan Progress Summary
- The Damp & Mould (D&M) Taskforce Team has been in place since December 2022 and continues to take swift action to identify and remedy damp and mould problems in our homes.
- Installation of ventilation systems into homes across the Freehold neighbourhood to help address damp and mould issues is progressing well and is due to be completed by 18 December 2023. We’re also looking to roll out the installation of ventilation systems in other areas where the type of home suggests there could be a risk of damp and mould.
- We have completed an initial trial of humidity smart meters in some RBH homes and our programme to roll these out to homes affected by damp and mould has now started.
- Our focus now is on revisiting the homes that have been treated in the past year to understand how effective that’s been and understand what if anything we need to change.
- A damp and mould policy is in place which sees each damp and mould case that is reported being assessed to determine priority. We look at things like the severity of the issue and whether there is any household vulnerability to ensure we are prioritising those most in need.
- As well as addressing underlying causes and remedying damp and mould in our homes we are supporting tenants to understand causes of damp and mould and have provided information and guidance on how to manage and prevent condensation forming.
- We’re working closely with Rochdale Borough Council where we have a process in place for them to report any concerns of condensation or mould to RBH that are raised as part of their re-housing application process.
- We’ve upgraded our telephony system in our Contact Centre and made enhancements to the RBH portal to enable customers to upload photos of any concerns in relation to repairs including damp, mould and condensation.
- We remain focused on improving the quality of our homes and neighbourhoods, with the Board approving an additional investment of £45 million going into our customer’s homes over the next 4-5 years.
- We are currently inspecting all of our homes to provide us with a full picture of the condition of each to enable us to assess how we’ll spend the allocated money to improving our homes. We’ll have an initial view from the first 40% of homes inspected by the end of 2023 with the rest completed and a full picture by March 2024. This has slipped a little, but we will have the information we need to inform our business plan for the coming year.
- The number of homes not meeting the Decent Homes Standard is reported to our Board on a quarterly basis, and our investment programme will be revised as necessary as stock condition surveys are assessed.
- An external review by Altair of our Repairs Service has been completed and a report and recommendations reported to Board. The recommendations will form part of our wider programme of business and service improvement in the team.
Tenant Involvement and Empowerment
- Over the last few months, we have made fundamental changes to the way we engage with our customers and support their diverse needs. Three new Engagement Business Partners have been recruited, who are actively working in the community, holding weekly community drop-in sessions and organising community-based activities.
- We have introduced new procedures to promote the use of the Video Language Line Interpreting Service to support tenants who do not speak English as their first language, or who have limited understanding of English, or who are hard of hearing, and we’ve seen a definite uplift in the number of people accessing this.
- The Neighbourhood Team have adopted a locality based working model, which sees neighbourhood officers having a designated area to focus on. They hold regular drop-in sessions with customers to raise any issues or concerns and to ensure we are visible in our communities.
- A new Complaints Team has been created to deliver our new way of working to support both our customers and our internal teams. The new team is now responsible for overseeing all complaints from start to finish. Instead of just focusing on the process of resolving a complaint, we are getting underneath what went wrong and aiming to prevent further service failure. We’ll be sharing the learning from complaints with colleagues in the coming months.
- We now have Tenant Voice Forums (TVF’s), which provide an opportunity for our customers to come together and discuss the issues in their areas. So far we have held two sessions in each area; Heywood, Middleton, Rochdale and Pennines. The first sessions were held in August where we captured what tenants liked and didn’t like about RBH services, we also captured suggestions for improvements. At the TVF sessions in November, we were able to feedback to attendees what we had heard and what work had already been done and/or was planned. You can find out more about the positive changes that have been made here. The next round of TVF’s will take place in February and every three months thereafter. We also host an online session after each round of face-to-face meetings for anybody that can’t attend in person.
- We’ve reviewed the way in which we govern our business and changed the committee structure that reports to the Board. The Board has created a new Customer Services Committee, which will focus on all things customer related and will be part of ensuring that we deliver great services to our customers that is evidenced by data and feedback from those in receipt of the service.
- We’ve just completed a recruitment process for the three customer positions on the Committee and have appointed two new members who will be exceptional in bringing the customer voice into the boardroom. We’ll introduce them very soon and will be going back out to recruit for the final place early in the new year.
- Our Board is recruited based on the skills we need to govern our business. We revisit this regularly to ensure that Board members have the necessary balance of skills, expertise and experience to oversee RBH effectively and rebuild customer and stakeholder confidence.
- Our new Chairman, Kevin Brady was appointed in April, and he is joined by seven non-executive directors that make up the new Board. The Board will set our strategy and govern RBH through its recovery and into the future.
- Changes have been made to strengthen the Executive Team to ensure it has the right level of skills and experience. This includes the appointment of a permanent Chief Executive and a new Executive Director of Corporate Services. We’re also recruiting a new Executive Director of Finance and Development as John McGrail, who is currently in the role, retires in December 2023.
- Our new customer focussed key performance indicators (KPIs) were first reported to Board in August 2023 and have been reviewed by the Board and its committees since. There is work to do in this area as many of the indicators are showing that we need to improve, and this will be picked up by the Directors with their teams.
- Following a review of our Whistleblowing Policy, an awareness campaign was rolled out to encourage employees to call out any concerns they have that they consider are not being taken seriously. We want to create a culture where calling things out that don’t feel or look right is easy and that things are resolved quickly.
- A review of risk management in RBH has been completed, with changes in progress to the risk strategy to ensure that risks identified by every area and level of the organisation are captured and reported. We live in increasingly risky times and understanding how these impacts on our business and on the services you provide is really important to ensure we prioritise our resources effectively.
- As part of the lessons learnt work, proposals to redefine the balance of responsibilities between the Representative Body and the Board were made to simplify governance arrangements and allow the Board to own key areas, including strategy. An engagement process open to all tenants and employees took place throughout September and October. RBH Members voted to these changes which has now been registered with the FCA and are the legal basis upon which we will work going forward. This provides a brilliant platform for us to work across the Board, the Representative Body and the Executive Team to really showcase what being a mutual means for our members and the people who live in our homes.
- Regular stakeholder meetings are continuing to take place with key stakeholders, including key local authority officers, MPs, Mayors, Council executive members including the Leader and Housing portfolio holder, and all Councillors. These are led by our Chief Executive and the Senior Leadership Team.
- The Directors have recently started to attend the locality meetings led by elected members in their constituencies. Our presence at these meetings has been really well received and we’ll continue to do that so that we can hear directly from Councillors what’s happening in their communities and work with them to make them great places.
- Regular updates are provided to our customers, primarily through the RBH website and email and other social media platforms. In addition, a return to using written methods of communication is being adopted to ensure customers who are digitally excluded have access to the same information.
- Colleagues are kept up to date in a variety of ways and a new internal communications plan is being developed. Currently, updates are provided on the intranet, through colleague briefings and team meetings, through monthly informal feedback sessions with the leadership team via 11@11, via email and Microsoft Teams, and blogs and vlogs by the Chief Executive and senior leaders. A recent addition included drop-in sessions for colleagues to come and speak to members of the Executive Leadership Team, which will be repeated on a quarterly basis.
- An in-depth review was carried out into matters that contributed to the tragic death of Awaab Ishak. Internal and external participants were involved in the review, and a full report along with recommendations was produced. The recommendations are being implemented as part of our Recovery Plan.
- A summary of the lessons learnt report is published on our website and was shared with all employees.