Agenda item

Agenda item

Tenant Satisfaction Survey

The Housing and Homelessness Panel has requested a report giving an update on the results of, learning from and response to the Tenant Satisfaction Survey as part of its investigation into Tenant Engagement.

Bill Graves, Landlord Services Manager, will be available to present the report.

The Panel is asked to consider the report and raise any issues for possible recommendations to make to Cabinet when the write up of its findings on Tenant Engagement is completed.



Bill Graves, Landlord Services Manager, presented the report on the results of the Tenant Satisfaction Survey and the Council’s response to the Panel.

The Tenant Satisfaction Survey was the first undertaken by the Council since 2015. Given the period since the previous survey and the low response-rate to the previous survey the Council had undertaken a census of all tenant and leaseholders. Normally, the Council would then compare its performance with peers, but few comparators had undertaken surveys since Covid, with those who had seeing significant variability in satisfaction.  The Council’s own reduction to services and repairs was likely to have acted as a dampner to satisfaction.

In headline, 85% of respondees were satisfied with the Council’s service. Below that, however, there were a number of issues, including

-       satisfaction with the Council as a landlord

-       satisfaction with the standard of the home

-       tenant’s views listened and acted upon

-       satisfaction with the outcomes of anti-social behaviour

In addition to the numerical data provided, over 1700 comments had been provided as part of the survey giving a rich seam of information for the Council to understand the concerns and issues of its tenants and leaseholders. Members of the Housing team were in the process of following up comments made by those who gave permission to do so to discuss and seek to understand more. This information would continue to shape the improvement plans developed.   

The key area for improving satisfaction related to the repairs service, which was the primary source of both satisfaction and dissatisfaction. The Council had been working with its repairs provider, ODS, to improve communications with customers around repairs, and undertaking immediate post-job satisfaction surveys. Those tenants providing a score less than a seven out of ten would get a follow up call to understand more about how the service could have been improved, with the feedback for individual operatives tracked to understand and improve issues detracting from their level of service. This survey was being developed with the input of both the Tenant Satisfaction Team and the Tenant Ambassadors. Technological systems and new supply chain approaches were enabling greater efficiency of existing staff to undertake work. The new portal, through the QL system, would enable tenants to report, view and track repairs. A proactive schedule of revisiting homes which had reported damp and mould to check on the adequacy of the previous work had already begun. 

Results showing dissatisfaction with the quality of homes were of a deep disappointment to the Council and at present it was unclear what was driving the dissatisfaction. All Council homes met the Decent Homes standard. Understanding this was a priority for the Council. In the meantime, the Council was planning to invest £51m over the course of the forthcoming Medium Term Financial Plan, with a further £8.7m to improve energy efficiency. The extension in the Social Housing White Paper of responsibility for improving the local area also meant further investment in the Great Estates programme.

Communication between the Council and tenants was being invested in. The White Paper made it an area on which it was necessary to report, and it was clear that although a minority, younger tenants showed greater dissatisfaction in this area, indicating improved means of communication were necessary. The new QL portal was anticipated to support this. Vulnerable tenants would be visited in person.

A disconnect between tenant expectations over anti-social behaviour outcomes and what the Council could reasonably do did lead to some unhappiness. Even when the Council did successfully stop the anti-social behaviour further, draconian measures were expected by tenants. In addition, Covid had made it much more difficult to manage anti social behaviour, with lockdowns increasing the incidence by perpetrators and reducing the tolerance by victims. A new ASB policy had been launched, as well as visits by the ASB team, to address this as far as possible.

At a strategic level, the Council was looking at to improve service levels and outcomes, including the Service Integration Project, and a Customer Experience Change programme, and an externally undertaken service delivery review to consider the shape and remits of the teams providing services to tenants with a view to making improvements.

Following the presentation, Councillors made a number of comments and raised a number of questions. Repair and disabled-adaptation time was raised as an issue. It was recognised that with Covid things had been challenging for repairs, but the key issue was to ensure that repairs were reported. Many times complaints of repairs not done had no repairs listed as being requested in the last 18 months. A delay of more than a month should be escalated. Larger-scale disability adaptations would require a request from an occupational therapist first. These could take some time to fulfil, with design, planning applications and building all contributing to the overall time taken.

Concern was raised over the link between lower rates of satisfaction across the board by younger tenants and the suggestion was made that this may be due to overcrowding. Those respondees who assented were being contacted, which would begin to shed light on this trend.

Olga Siiddon, one of the tenant ambassadors highlighted the importance of the Tenant Involvement Team in communicating and engaging tenants, and sought clarity on the ongoing resources available to them. The work of the Tenant Involvement Team was praised for their award-winning work, though a difference between involvement and engagement was put forward. The Council needed to undertake greater engagement, meaning communicating with those who had had nothing to do with it for – in some cases – years. It was important to hear their views as much as it was to hear the views of those wanting to contribute in other ways also, those who were more involved. Staff resource created to undertake the additional engagement envisaged was being included within the draft budget and a new team established to cover the multiple areas where tenant engagement would be necessary under the requirements of the new white paper. Further provision was being made to extend the number of Tenancy Management Officers also in the draft budget.

A suggestion made by the Panel focused on the need to establish a specific identity for Landlord Services, which was distinct from just ‘the Council’. This might help develop relationships with tenants at a lower, more accessible level, than the Council as a whole. Though definitely having benefits, it was also necessary to bear in mind that the Council as a whole was a landlord, and that Landlord Services did not deliver the entirety of the Council’s landlord function. This question would be one which would be looked at as part of the external review.

The potential for geographical mapping of responses in order to identify problem areas and inform future capital expenditure was explored. Largely, the answer was yes, and this would be fed into some work which also considered issues such as let-ability, repair spend and incidence of ASB to identify housing assets in need of greater investment. The Panel provided specific challenge over the 55% satisfaction rating on Blackbird Leys and looked to opportunities arising from the regeneration scheme for the area for solutions. Though the engagement work for the regeneration was not being undertaken by the Council but its development partner, Catalyst, these concerns would be passed on for inclusion within the engagement programme.




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