Agenda and minutes
Venue: Town Hall
Contact: Alan Garside / Jodie Kloss
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Dychton.
Disclosure of interests
There were no disclosures of interest.
Actions from previous meeting
The notes and actions of the meeting held on 24 September 2018 to be submitted and signed.
The notes from the meeting held on 24 September 2018 were submitted and signed.
The Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer (AG) advised the task group that all of the actions from the meeting had been completed.
A report of Watford Community Housing (WCH) is attached addressing the questions raised by the task group.
Representatives from WCH will also make a presentation to the task group.
The Chair introduced the report from Watford Community Housing (WCH) addressing the questions raised by the task group. Members noted the contents of the report.
The WCH Group Director of Operations gave a presentation to the task group on the operation of Watford Community Housing. This focused on service improvement, the customer experience and digitalisation, developing new homes, areas for improvement, what tenants thought of the services provided (including a range of survey and benchmarking data), information on service charges and value for money drawing on sector comparisons. He concluded by explaining how staff wanted to deliver the ‘Super Brand’, how board and senior management were committed to delivering great service and growth - and how tenants were generally satisfied with services.
Members asked questions in four broad topic areas - the WCH Chief Executive and Group Director of Operations:
· Clarified that service charges did not include personal charges tenants were responsible for - such as water and gas supply. Tenants were provided with a break-down of the charges.
· Explained that charges were rarely made for services that were not provided and with appropriate reimbursements being made where identified. The onus was on WCH not to charge where a service was not provided. Service charges were non-profit making and losses were sometimes made. For example, all of ground maintenance costs were not always recovered. If there was a service failure - a credit note was obtained from the contractor.
· Advised that checks were made on 10% of services to ensure they were properly provided. WCH held regular meetings with contractors to discuss issues. The organisation investigated complaints from tenants and received feedback on services from resident inspectors who were well placed to provide information. In addition, feedback was provided by estate officers.
· Explained the steps that could be taken when a contract’s standards or performance indicators were not being met - these included improvement plans and with the potential for contracts being terminated. 60% of a contract related to qualitative issues and 40% to cost.
· Advised that there had been the lowest number of queries in relation to service charges for a number of years in 2018.
· Clarified that there was a legal requirement for annual boiler checks - and WCH had a 100% success rate in September. A service of the boiler was included in this check.
· Explained that small third party maintenance contracts were granted to limited companies. Performance was monitored on the lines of the larger contracts with the 10% check on the services provided for example.
· Advised how non-European Union procurement rules allowed leaseholders to employ contractors – although this rarely happened. The contractor would have to comply with health and safety requirements to be viable.
· Explained that the average time for letting a void property was 38 days. However, this was reduced to 10 to 12 days in respect of houses. Sometimes people requested further works that added to the time period. WCH had a proactive housing management approach to identifying void ... view the full minutes text for item 10.
The task group to:
· Consider any next steps for their work programme
· Agree a date for a meeting in January 2019 following the residents’ drop in sessions
A. Further meeting with Watford Community Housing
It was agreed that the further meeting with Watford Community Housing should take place towards the end of January 2019.
Action: Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer (AG)
B. Residents’ drop in sessions and survey
Members agreed the questions for the residents’ drop in sessions and online survey. They also took away posters publicising the sessions and survey for distribution in all WBC wards.
· Publicise the drop in sessions and online survey on the WBC website
and associated social media – Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer
AG) with the Communications Team.
· Provide task group members with a JPEG version of the A3 and A4
posters publicising the drop in sessions and survey – Committee and
scrutiny Support Officer (AG).
· Provide all WBC members with an A4 poster to help in publicising the
drop in sessions and survey – Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer
· Prepare a pro-forma containing the agreed questions for completion at
the residents’ drop in sessions – Committee and Scrutiny Support
· Arrange for an officer to be present at the Watford Town Hall drop in
session on 13 December – Committee and Scrutiny Support Officer
Watford Community Housing Task
The meeting started at 6.30 p.m.
and concluded at 8.20 p.m.