We’re inviting all customers to take part in the Places for People Group financial inclusion survey.Financial inclusion is all about ensuring customers are aware and can access advice and services to help live sustainably in their home. The survey is designed to measure how we currently provide financial inclusion activity across the various businesses in the group and what we could do better in the future.
Any updates we make as a result of feedback will be available online and in our magazine Derwent Life.To take part in the survey, please follow this link.
Welcome to our 2017/18 customer report. For the first time, we’re making it available online using the new website as a publishing platform.
We hope this makes the whole thing more interactive, and presents customers with information in a more accessible and engaging way with supporting images and video.
If there’s a particular area of interest, you can skip to it using the content links below. You can also feedback on the report if you are a customer and logged in, by using the comments feature at the bottom of this page.
A note from Derwent Living’s chief executive, Peter McCormack
2017/18 marked Derwent Living’s first full year in the Places for People Group. It’s gone very quickly, and we have achieved a significant amount in that short space of time. Joining the group has been a very positive experience, and it’s been a pleasure to meet and collaborate with new colleagues up and down the country. Much has changed locally at Derwent Living, with new in-house contractors appointed to deliver our repairs and grounds maintenance services. We’re grateful to the teams who have helped smooth the transition of those services and to our customers who have provided feedback on them.
We’ve been making big strides against targets in our business plan, delivering more than 100 new homes across the Midlands in 2017, and are planning hundreds more over the next few years. Developing new homes continues to be a priority but we’ve also been hard at work improving our existing housing stock, improving customer services and getting regular customer input on different aspects of our business. Engagement and involvement of customers in decision making is key for us, and I’m delighted that customers have been able to help shape everything from new customer commitments to how we deal with complaints.
Online, we have made a raft of improvements, making the application process simpler and creating innovative new solutions like this website. It’s designed to make contacting us easier and makes our back office teams more responsive. Our continued focus on digital, as with most modern businesses, will allow us to provide more reactive services which are available at any time and to fit in with the busy lives people lead.
But regardless of performance, achievements or innovation, 2017 will be remembered as a tragic year for housing as we witnessed the catastrophic fire at Grenfell Tower. The events in Kensington have had a profound and significant effect on everyone at Derwent Living and the country at large. And as we await the outcomes of the enquiry, we continue to work with our customers to provide reassurance and support around fire and building safety.
Peter McCormack Derwent Living chief executive
Looking after our homes
Ensuring our stock is well maintained is an important part of Derwent Living’s day-to-day operation and where the organisation spends a significant amount of money. In 2017/18 we spent a budget of over two million pounds (£2,040,372) on day-to-day repairs and maintenance to homes and communal areas across our operating area.
We also invested in the refurbishment of properties, installing new doors and windows to around 100 properties. These installations reduce energy lost through inefficient seals and joins – reducing energy bills and keeping our customers warm. We also installed 206 new kitchens and bathrooms, replacing outdated fixtures and fittings.
Setting the standard
Derwent Living’s performance against its customer commitments for 2017/18 is detailed below.
Customer commitment 2017/18
We will return your call within 1 working day
We will resolve your phone query at the first point of contact
We will acknowledge your complaint by phone within 2 working days
We will offer a resolution to your complaint within 10 working days
We will complete any ‘emergency’ repair within 24 hours
We will complete any repair classed as ‘urgent’ within 5 working days
We will keep appointment dates and time slots that we agree with you for your repairs
We will not close your anti-social behaviour case without your agreement
If you report a repair that needs inspecting, a surveyor will visit and raise a job where necessary within 7 working days
We will respond to your reports by victims of ASB, including those made to our 24 hour reporting phone line, within one working day and discuss how to proceed with you and make sure that you understand the options available
A new suite of customer commitments (which replaces the above) was developed and agreed with customers at the end of 2017 and aligns performance reporting with the rest of the Places for People Group. The new commitments have been measured and reported since April and can be found on our performance page.
We have also introduced a set of customer standards which detail the level of service customers can expect from Derwent Living. These can be found in our customer service strategy.
Derwent Living continued its focus on customer engagement in 2017/18 ensuring customers played an active role in service delivery and development.
The Resident Scrutiny Team were hard at work reviewing a number of different service areas, including how the organisation handles retirement re-lets, digital services, keyworker accommodation and the Regulator’s Home Standard. Reports and findings were fed back to the senior team at Derwent Living as well as the operational managers delivering the service.
In summer 2017 the customer engagement team travelled to schemes across the Derwent Living operating area and talked to hundreds of customers about noise nuisance, anti-social behaviour, BBQs, summer holidays and more. The team handed out information and guidance on how to deal with low level anti-social behaviour and effectively report tenancy issues to Derwent Living.
Derwent Living’s in-house mediation team, set up to effectively resolve neighbourhood disputes went from strength to strength in 2017. The team, which comprises of customers and colleagues works on outcomes which improve neighbourly relations and set firm foundations for positive future interactions. Successful mediation means less formal anti-social behaviour action is taken and more time can be spent on actively managing schemes. This is positive for both customers and Derwent Living.
And our award winning independent complaints panel, made up of involved customers from a number of partner landlords (and as of July 2018 Places for People Group member Luminus) continued their great work. As well reviewing cases which exhaust the Derwent Living’s complaints process, the team also helped us to review the new customer feedback policy and complaints section of our new website, ensuring access to the process is as simple as possible.
Award winning customers
Alwyn Bode was the winner of the Derwent Living David Proud award in 2017. Alwyn has volunteered for many Derwent Living resident groups over the years including being Chair of the Sheltered Housing Forum, a customer representative on the East Midlands Tenant Forum and as a member of numerous panels and forums.
The David Proud award is awarded annually to an individual or group for an outstanding contribution to their local community, a neighbour, or for getting involved at Derwent Living. Nominations are made by Derwent Living customers.
There were other winners too, Nora Sanders from Allestree and Brenda Tipper from Mickleover both took home Good Neighbour Awards at a special Places for People group ceremony in York. The awards celebrate the commitment and positive impact that residents have on their local community and neighbours’ daily lives.
Customer service excellence
Derwent Living prides itself on providing excellent customer service across the organisation. Our teams aim to deal with customer enquiries as quickly and as effectively as possible, and if you raise issues or concerns we are determined to ensure they are dealt with and not ignored. If we can’t solve an issue or it falls outside our area of responsibility, we will always tell you why and try to put you in touch with someone who can help.
Our approach to customer service saw us achieve the Customer Service Excellence (CSE) standard for the seventh year running and for the third year consecutive year, Compliance Plus for developing and learning from best practice through our neighbourhood mediation service. The CSE standard is a universal benchmark developed by the Government and scores organisations on professionalism, information sharing, timeliness and staff attitudes. It also examines customer insight, the culture of the organisation, access to services and the quality of service given.
Every three years Derwent Living carries out its big customer survey and 2017 was the latest opportunity for customers to tell us what they thought about our services. Asking in depth questions about our business and services allows us to identify areas of dissatisfaction and then use that information to improve.
1700 households completed the survey, 400 more than in 2014. Overall satisfaction was up on 2014 with 86% customers satisfied with the services we provide. 85% of customers were satisfied with their neighbourhood and 89% were satisfied with the quality of repairs.
Learning from complaints
In November 2017 we introduced a new three stage complaints system for customers. The change was made with the input of customers at the bi-monthly forum and members of the independent complaints panel.
The new process now has three outcomes ‘Put it right’, ‘investigate it’ and ‘review it’. When you let us know that you have had a problem with our service, our priority is to ‘Put it right’ for you. If you are not satisfied or if we are unable to solve the complaint on the day, we will open a case and ‘Investigate it’. If you are not satisfied with our response, you can ask us to ‘Review it’ and see if the outcome needs to be looked into.
Throughout 2017/18 we completed* 436 complaints, of which 70% were upheld, 15% were partially upheld, 8% were not upheld and 7% were withdrawn. The outcome percentages are similar to 2016, but with a slight increase to the percentage of complaints upheld, a slight increase to the percentage of complaints withdrawn, and a slight decrease to the number of complaints not upheld.
The table below shows the number and nature of complaints Derwent Living received.
Area of complaint
You can find out more about complaints and how we handle them in the advice centre.
* Often the number of completed complaints is slightly different to complaints received, because complaints completed may have been received last year, and some complaints received may be completed the following year.
Following consultation with residents, we refreshed the format of the homeownership forum. The meeting is run by homeownership officer Sue Wells, and is interactive (rather than a traditional meeting) making it more accessible for residents. The topics the forum covers are taken from the homeownership team plan and resident suggestions.
Helping to grow a community
The Mill Close allotments in Kilburn got a makeover this year and two of the plot holders, Keith and Paul, showed us their impressive produce on a special visit. Customers growing their own fruit and veg is a great way to save money and can be a very healthy and rewarding. Keith said “Having my allotment gives me responsibility and routine – it’s something to look forward to. Gardening is very therapeutic and as I live in a flat without one, the allotment is perfect.”
Fast track housing
In summer 2017, Derwent Living launched its new online application system, part of a concerted effort to speed up the housing application process for customers and back-office teams.
The new platform has removed the need for paper application forms and allowed both traditional local authority nominations and direct lets to applicants to be processed via Derwent Living’s find a home system. Features include the ability to upload scanned documents and photos, and save and return to partially completed application forms at any time. Colleagues can also assist customers remotely and help them complete the form, without the need for posting or returning paper forms.
Weaving the web
Throughout 2017/18 customers helped Derwent Living to design and develop its new website. The scrutiny team kicked things off in spring 2017 by reviewing the organisation’s existing digital offer and making suggestions on how to improve its online services.
Throughout the summer and autumn, the marketing team presented concepts and held sessions with a number of colleagues and involved customers on what the site should look like and how it should work.
To get input from different types of customer, the team visited the bi-monthly forum, before finally getting customers together to test the system prior to launch.
25 years of Derwent Life
2017 was the 25th anniversary of Derwent Life. It started out life in 1992 as a four page newsletter called The Phoenix. In 2006 the newsletter changed to Derwent Life, a customer suggestion as part of a competition. Over the years the magazine has evolved to include local celebrity interviews and competitions as well as news stories from the business and customers. With the launch of the new website, customers can now view a special digital edition.
Building for the Midlands
We developed more than 100 new homes across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire in 2017/18. With a mix of social rent, affordable rent and shared ownership these new homes give local people a choice which fits in with their current lifestyle.
The Mills were one family taking their first steps on the housing ladder with a shared ownership home at Farnsfield, Southwell. They were delighted with their purchase and were hoping to gradually increase the amount of equity in the property, saying: “Being able to buy a smaller share and increase the percentage owned gradually is a big plus. It means that over time customers’ can own 100% of the property if they want to. It’s a very affordable way of owning your own home.”
In 2018/19 we plan to continue our programme, developing over 200 new homes to improve the choice and availability of affordable homes for people in the Midlands.
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