Customer Scrutiny Panel Annual Review 2020 - 21

This annual review was written by June Patey, Chair of the Customer Scrutiny Panel in November 2021

Strategic purpose

The Regulator of Social Housing through the charter for social housing residents: social housing white paper reflects many of the commitments in the Together with Tenants framework that mhs homes has adopted, particularly around tenant voice, relationships, accountability, quality, and complaints. There has been a positive and welcoming commitment to further enhance the role and function of the Customer Scrutiny Panel which has been demonstrated through the opportunity for the Customer Scrutiny Panel to independently review, help co-design and co-produce service improvements to enhance services for all mhs customers.  

The remit of the mhs homes group Customer Scrutiny Panel (CSP) is to hold the organisation to account in terms of decisions, performance and conduct. They perform this function by:

  • Holding at least 12 meetings a year
  • Receiving scheduled and requested reports, presentations and performance data
  • Using the information provided to identify areas of interest for independent review
  • Commissioning and delivering service reviews supported by an external consultant focusing on:
    • Customer experience and expectations
    • Internal systems and processes and outcomes achieved
    • Performance management and compliance
    • Value for money
    • Service improvement plans

Review recommendations are converted into action plans, agreed with Assistant Directors. Progress against action plans is monitored by the Head of Governance and Company Secretary (Scrutiny Champion) on behalf of the CSP and reported at CSP meetings. Representatives of the CSP present their review findings and outcomes to the mhs homes Group Board and the Heart of Medway Board.

Membership of the Customer Scrutiny Panel

The CSP currently has seven members:

  • May - September 2021 - two new members appointed following a recruitment drive – Verity La Roche and Julie Nicholas
  • July 2021 – Peter Chalkley resigned
  • September 2020 – Andy Nunn and Rita Holding resigned

The CSP will maintain an open recruitment opportunity through 2021/22 to build the capacity of the CSP to reach the target of 10 members.

2020/21 Work Programme

The CSP completed three reviews in 2020/21:

Review Overall rating - assessed by CSP Number of recommendations
Living and working through COVID Very good 13
My Account Good 24
Estate Services Satisfactory/good with potential 22
Tenancy Support Work in progress -

Activities outside of the CSP meetings

The CSP has had a successful and productive period under the leadership of June Patey (Chair) and Kate Roberts (Vice Chair). It should be noted that the CSP has continued to deliver scrutiny through COVID and has embraced the opportunity offered through virtual meetings effectively. The support and encouragement offered by mhs has been gratefully received and there is an excellent working relationship between officers and the CSP. The CSP is considered a ‘critical friend’ and helpful resource adding value through their detailed reviews providing customer insight that positively contributes to the commitment and aspirations of mhs who genuinely welcome feedback and aspire to ensure that services meet the expectations of their customers. This partnership has significantly developed through 2020/21.

The CSP have engaged in the following activities:

  • Three service reviews - detailed reports
  • 30 interviews with mhs colleagues and residents
  • Two customer surveys
  • Six focus Groups
  • Two recruitment events
  • Training - Risk Management, Data Protection & Equality and Diversity
  • Presentations to Chief Executive, Executive Directors and Board
  • Development of a CSP logo with support from the Communications Team
  • Promoting the CSP on social media to raise the profile and attract new members
  • Creating a new recruitment pack and approach using a competency activity based recruitment approach
  • Reviewed Service Improvement Plans arising from reviews and mystery shopping to ensure that reality meets reported outcomes.

The Governance Team will be working with the CSP to:

  • Review and refresh CSP governance documentation
  • Agree a work plan for 2021/22- target of three reviews
  • Monitor service improvement plans
  • Develop key performance indicators to measure success of the CSP

Communications

Highlights included:

  • The CSP webpage to be updated
  • Summary CSP reports to be shared on the webpage
  • Interview with June Patey have been featured on the website and in newsletters
  • New flyers created for reception and our schemes to attract new members
  • Surveys to support reviews have resulted in feedback from in excess of 500 customers

Financial Implications

The CSP’s budget for 2020/21 was sufficient to cover its activities.

Outcomes

Statement by June Patey CSP Chair 

The CSP has grown in confidence and is an effective working panel of customers that are all actively involved in delivering scrutiny reviews. The skills and knowledge of the Panel has grown significantly and there is a genuine keenness to give time, be involved and positively contribute to delivering high quality work to support all customers.

We all value our independence but recognise the support and kindness offered by mhs homes to help us achieve effective scrutiny. We would like to thank all mhs colleagues that have attended meetings, provided valuable feedback, training and participated with our reviews.

It is only just over a year that we have had Oonah Lacey as our mentor and we have all enjoyed and welcomed the new approach to carrying out our reviews and learning new ways of working. With the support also from Louise Humphrey our Scrutiny Champion we feel empowered and valued by mhs.

The support and interest shown by the Board and Chief Executive has been welcomed and ensures that the CSP has an important assurance role to provide customer feedback to inform the strategic role and decision making where appropriate. I would like to thank Kate Roberts my Vice Chair and every CSP member for their hard work and support and we are on the way to making the CSP even better together

Statement by mhs Scrutiny Champion

Over the last year I have been able to see close up how the Customer Scrutiny Panel conducts itself and prepares its reviews. Despite the voluntary role, I have seen a professional and thoughtful approach to scrutinising the services that mhs homes and Heart of Medway deliver. The driving intention is to help improve the quality of the services and they do this by providing well researched reviews and robust but always constructive challenge.

The Customer Scrutiny Panel have also given important customer perspectives on the draft Strategic Plans for 2021/24 and the Together With Tenants Charter action plan, helping us to shape our offer to our customers. They have presented their reports direct to Trustees, enabling them to hear the customer voice more clearly. The governance of mhs homes and Heart of Medway is strengthened by the Customer Scrutiny Panel and their valuable work.

Statement by mhs homes Chief Executive, Ashley Hook

The Customer Scrutiny Panel is a crucial part of the co-regulation approach at Heart of Medway and mhs homes. I would like to pay tribute to the excellent work undertaken by the Customer Scrutiny Panel over the last year. 

The Customer Scrutiny Panel have published three reviews and have a fourth review in progress. These reviews have provided invaluable insights and 59 specific recommendations for improvement. The Panel’s role of ‘critical friend’ in providing constructive challenge is a crucial element of both our governance structure and our continuous improvement journey. 

The quality of work undertaken by the Customer Scrutiny Panel has grown significantly as their confidence and experience has increased. Whilst there has been some change in membership during the year, June Patey and Kate Roberts (Chair and Vice Chair) have brought clear direction, leadership and stability to the Panel. The quality of the Panel’s work has never been reduced even during periods of lockdown and changing membership.

The new mentoring arrangements with Oonah Lacey have worked very well, and Oonah is proactively helping the Panel increase their impact and effectiveness even further.

All members of the Panel are to be applauded for their important contribution. Special recognition should be also given to both June and Kate for their hard work, energy and commitment.

Risks

The Governance Team will monitor a number of risks to the positive momentum achieved in 2020/21:

  • Recruitment – ongoing to mitigate risk of the panel failing to meet its succession planning ambitions and target of 10 members
  • New Panel members - change in group dynamics and commitment to participate with reality checking activities to support service reviews
  • Transition to CSP officers taking over administrative responsibilities for facilitating meetings and communications