Customer Scrutiny Panel Annual Impact Assessment Report 2022

1. Introduction

1.1 This has been a busy, successful and rewarding year for the Customer Scrutiny Panel (CSP), which has seen new members recruited in March and July 2022 being fully embedded and trained to deliver effective independent scrutiny. Alongside ‘on the job training’ there has been specific bespoke training sessions covering an introduction to housing policies, understanding performance management and governance/regulatory compliance.  The increased competency and skills are reflected in the quantity and quality of service reviews, scope of reality checking activities undertaken and monitoring and reporting on service improvements.  The increased level of confidence to deliver feedback and communicate with the Board, Executive and officers has positively supported the role of the CSP as your critical friend and partner.

1.2 The CSP would like to thank June Patey (Chair) and Kate Roberts (Vice Chair) for their leadership and commitment to increase the quantity and quality of reviews delivered and ensuring that the profile and standing of the panel has been positively raised. The CSP is grateful for their hard work welcoming from mhs regular reporting on review outcomes and promoting the work of the CSP though verbal and written briefing updates and presenting review reports highlighting potential opportunities for customer focused service improvement and recognition of achieved service improvements across mhs.  This approach with the support of mhs has positively contributed to an increase and speed of service improvements being completed especially this year around Tenancy Support Services and Customer Services combined with the welcome recognition that our partnership working has positively contributed to increasing levels of customer satisfaction and service improvement.

June Patey says “Being an integral part of the mhs governance structure reinforces the important role of customer scrutiny to challenge and support the business ensuring that customers are at the heart of decision making - having a real voice and sharing customer insight by removing barriers and promoting joint working between decision makers, those delivering services and your customers, real partnership working”.

1.3 During the year the CSP has welcomed the opportunity to support mhs, gathering a range of service specific customer insight supporting the corporate strategy and values and assisting with identifying potential service improvements from a customer perspective. In addition, the CSP provided an independent customer response to the Housing Regulator as part of the mhs response to the national consultation process to create new landlord service standards for all social landlords to meet.   The CSP recognises and values the hard work of the Board, Leadership Team and Executive officers lead by the Chief Executive to complete this important task to consistently ensure mhs is in a strong position to meet the challenges of regulatory compliance.

1.4 The CSP would like to thank Louise Humphrey (Scrutiny Champion) and Oonah Lacey (Independent Mentor) for their hard work and dedication helping the CSP achieve so much and play such a vital role to assist mhs on their journey to consistently deliver high quality services for all customers. The CSP would like to use this report to personally thank Ashley Hook for all his support and guidance to the CSP ensuring that the role and work of the CSP is valued and positively contributes to delivering independent scrutiny.

2. Key highlights

2.1 Sustained an active and effective CSP with 10 active members, having lost three members due to ill health and conflicting work commitments preventing active participation with the work of the CSP. The CSP is a strong team, demonstrating increased levels of investigative skills and proven commitment to delivering effective and robust scrutiny.  There has been no additional recruitment of new members since July 2022 to allow the intake from 2022 to become established as part of a strong and effective team.  A new recruitment drive will commence January 2023 and be supported by a competency recruitment process and induction training.  Capacity training to continue personal development of all members will form an integral part of the annual work plan for the CSP in 2023.

2.2 The profile of CSP members continues to represent general needs and homeowners. There is a need to reach out to improve the demographics of members to represent the wider community in 2023 with a focus on ensuring that there are adequate numbers of CSP members with daytime availability to complete key reality checking activities which is critical to all service reviews.

2.3 There was an onsite CSP and Governance training and team building event in August 2022. In January 2023 there will be a team building and planning session to share outcomes from the CSP member Personal Development Reviews held in November 2022 giving an opportunity to review and learn from feedback.  The key highlights noted are:

  • Continue hybrid working/ on site and virtual
  • Build on the WhatsApp communication by establishing a work dedicated group and social group
  • Consider having a rotating Chair for meetings open to all, members as part of capacity building and succession planning
  • Annual CSP Officer elections through a secret ballot following review and updating of CSP Terms of Reference completed November 2022
  • Welcomed regular agreed review of action plan updates from mhs and recognise the need for closer monitoring and validating of agreed service recommendations through mystery shopping
  • Maintain work commitment of 3 service reviews a year
  • Open up presentation opportunities to all CSP members
  • Increase training to cover, presentations, report writing, interviewing, being an effective CSP officer and panel member
  • Introduction of 360 personal development reviews 2023
  • Overall, the CSP welcome and recognize the value and impact of positive open scrutiny and opportunity for job shadowing and observation as an integral part of all reviews
  • The CSP consider their work and role is key to promoting and embedding service improvements and that this year has seen a significant positive change by officers to listen, meet and feedback to the CSP and that reporting on service improvements has increased clarity and can be validated through mystery shopping which featured in October 2022

2.4 Welcomed opportunities to meet with Board members and the Executive for corporate updates and sharing of service review findings and recommendations. Having a voice is seen by CSP members as being important and using their knowledge to provide customer and service insight.  This partnership is highly valued and has proven to enhance understanding and support ‘making a difference’.

2.5 Reality checking activities form a key part of our service review methodology. A new opportunity to shadow officers and operatives with our Responsive Repairs Review positively contributed to the overall content and impact of our review.  The learning and the partnership of trust has elevated the appreciation on both sides that scrutiny allows all to openly share feedback and demonstrate all the positive work that is being carried out to deliver high quality services for all.  There is a keenness by the CSP and mhs to expand and develop this new open and transparent approach further in 2023.

2.6 The CSP completed three service reviews in 2022 - Tenancy Support Services, Anti- Social Behaviour and Responsive Repairs Service. These reviews all identified the great things being delivered and identified additional recommendations for consideration.  A number of recommendations have been implemented and others will be considered following the appointment of new officers.

2.7 Customer Services Mystery shopping report completed October 2022 focused on customer experience accessing a range of mhs services. The CSP tested accessing the Call centre focusing on responsive repair calls and accessing information and advice on other mhs services.  The feedback has highlighted that there has been an improvement in the way that the Call Centre operates but a number of new findings and recommendations were identified especially around dropped calls, quality of call handling around diagnostic of repairs and lack of information on events/updates related to mhs.  There will be ongoing mystery shopping of the Call Centre through 2023.

2.8 Tenancy Support Services - The CSP completed a ‘detailed review’ in 2022 focusing on testing all tenancy support services provided from the start of a tenancy to supporting customers to sustain their tenancy long term. A number of recommendations were provided and a detailed service improvement plan is now being implemented.  This review was considered a high priority bearing in mind the anticipated economic crisis and the challenges facing all customers.

2.9 A review of the management and delivery of anti -social behavior was completed following ASB being raised as a concern for a number of customers through the Tenancy Support Services customer survey. The review in 2022 highlighted opportunities to refresh and improve the handling and support offered to those experiencing ASB and a service improvement plan is now in place and will be tested in 2023.

2.10 Visitors to the CSP - The CSP welcomes all opportunities to meet Board members and Executive Directors and other officers at CSP meetings over the year. This has consistently provided a very helpful opportunity to receive corporate updates on the work of mhs and the opportunity for the CSP members to ask questions.  It was pleasing to hear the positive feedback on how the work of the CSP is valued.  The CSP would also like to thank all officers that have participated with our reviews and for giving time and support to the CSP.

2.11 Volunteer Time - CSP members have volunteered over 2,000 hours to deliver their scrutiny work. This reflects the increased skill of CSP members to work more effectively independently and as a team delivering more active reality checking activities within the business and in the community.  There is a strong team of trained CSP members that can complete site inspections and record findings to support service reviews.

2.12 Reality Checking Activities are an essential and valuable part of any scrutiny review. To support the work of the CSP they have completed the following reality checking activities:

  • Resident surveys 3 with over 500+ respondents providing feedback
  • Focus Groups (12) with residents looking at specific service experiences total of 35 attendees
  • Conversations with residents out in the community and feeding back through the CSP WhatsApp group
  • Interviews with 54 officers across all reviews completed
  • Site visits to observe and meet officers working in the office and operatives delivering services in residents homes

2.13 Annual Work Plan 2023 - key planned activities:

  • Recruitment of new members January to February
  • Formalising virtual Friends of Scrutiny Group as part of succession planning and capacity building
  • Planning and scoping review topics (3) January
  • Updating CSP webpages, and creating a communication working Group January
  • Training bi monthly covering- using technology, regulation, performance management, interview skills, presentations, running effective meetings etc.
  • Monthly CSP meetings (12)
  • Mystery shopping reports to mhs (4)
  • Personal Development Reviews November
  • CSP Impact Assessment Report January
  • Developing a CSP value for money assessment process, testing and submitting for a Housing award June
  • Developing our Scrutiny Guidance and training manual September
  • CSP officer annual elections December
  • Creating working groups to help manage workload and meet member interests, e.g. Communications and recruitment work groups etc.
  • Look to consider the best approach for the CSP/mhs to develop a landlord wide Scrutiny Champions Network to increase opportunities for shared knowledge, skills and benchmarking etc.

3. Conclusion

  • The CSP would like to thank mhs for the support and opportunities offered to be your ‘critical friend’ and recognising the independence, value and crucial role of the CSP.
  • The Chair June Patey and Vice Chair Kate Roberts would like to thank every CSP member for their support and hard work. Together we are strong, and everyone contributes to the high quality scrutiny work that we all aspire to deliver.

The CSP will spend the time between January and February focusing on recruitment and training and housekeeping allowing the business space to continue to embed service changes under the new leadership of appointed officers.