“Our ambition is to create flourishing communities in our part of Wales, where everyone has a quality home to live and where people who need it are supported and encouraged.”
“Welcome to our round-up of 2018/19. This was our first complete year of us working towards our new Corporate Plan 2018-23.
“It’s a challenging plan and this year was about getting us ready for a new structure while still delivering our core services throughout every one of the 365 days. As a community mutual we are proud to have an approach that pulls in expertise from our staff, membership and Board to keep us focused on making improvements all the time.
“Our aim is to become an agile organisation set up to make it easy for people to do business with us. Our customers will be the judges and we look forward to asking them how they feel we are doing through the year ahead. We want to be trusted to provide excellent customer experiences.
“In the Performance section, you can read our latest results and our target for 2023.
“An annual report is a look back but we are an organisation that is always looking forward after learning from past achievements. I hope that this report leaves you feeling as good as we did over what we have done as a community mutual and enthusiastic for the coming year.
“If you have any comments or questions please get in touch.”
You can find our annual monitoring report to the Welsh Language Commissioner here.
Andrew Lawrence, Chair of our Board
Alan Brunt, Chief Executive
To help people to be happy in their homes.
To help our customers to be more independent.
To provide services for our customers that are shaped by them by.
- 585 residents had pre-tenancy assessments to check they were ready to become a new tenant. Our staff followed up with 203 residents who needed light-touch ongoing support and advice during their tenancy to help it remain sustainable.
- We supported 252 tenants with digital and financial support.
- Homelessness is an issue in Torfaen. We teamed up with Torfaen Council and developed a pilot project to held find appropriate housing for applicants while meeting all the legal duties.
- To support new tenants moving to Universal Credit we organised a joined up approach with partners including the Department of Work and Pensions and Citizen Advice to reduce the risk of arrears during this change. Since July 2017 there has been an increase of £31,662 in arrears for the 1,684 people that have moved to UC since July 2017. Community Housing Cymru said that our figures are very low compared to other areas. A direct link into Citizens Advice helps our customers to get their case solved quickly.
- We verified 82 new Universal Credit claimants.
Kimberly Williams, our HR advisor
“Every day on the news you hear about the housing crisis and the poverty and challenges our modern world has given our ever growing population. “It’s nice to know that you are doing your small bit to help improve our community and the lives within it.”
- Our Homes That Work project supported 62 families and 128 individuals across Torfaen. The project helps people who are hoarding.
- Our Torfaen 50+ service (funded by the Welsh Government’s Supported People Grant) supported 690 people (71% were social housing tenants.)
Andrew Davies, our employability officer
“We love helping people get back into work and training through our projects. 539 people participated in our That Works Training Academy.159 of the gained employment and 27 went on work placements. 296 accreditations were achieved and 67 continued onto further education/training opportunities.”
- Anti-social behaviour affects our communities. Our work to manage any incidents effectively saw 74% of residents tell us they were satisfied with the way we deal with anti-social behaviour. This increased from 58% in 2017.
- Customers are demanding better online services. During 2018/19 we increased the number of customers with a My Bron Afon online account by 70% from 1,957 to 3,320. This was helped by the improvement of customer experience and introduction of new services. Customers can view their current rent balance, set up a direct debit and report repairs.
Shannon Love, customer services team leader, said: “My team are often the first point of contact that people have with us, so knowing our customers well and having the right information when we need it, helps my team deliver great customer experiences.”
- 548 members were actively involved in improving our services and volunteered for 3,484 hours Their invaluable experiences and views has helped us get better policies, strategies and changes to services. service changes. An example of this was the redesign of the complaints policy. The policy was changed to a complaints, compliments and comments policy which enables issues to be dealt with informally in the first instance, whilst still providing a formal process should this be needed. The new policy makes it easier and quicker for issues to be solved as early as possible.
To provide high quality homes that everyone is proud of.
To build and retain homes that are fit for the future.
- We built 36 homes in 2018/19. Our aim is to have built 450 new homes by the end of 2023.
- South Wales Fire and Rescue Service asked us for an empty flat in The Tower to carry out a training exercise and we were happy to help. Read about their event where they rescued two dummies from a 13th floor flat. Throughout the year we work closely with the fire service and you can learn more about this relationship here.
Lee Randell, our gas installer
“We now use tablets so it’s helping cut down on paperwork and provide a better customer experience.”
- Henry Hughes House was built in 1923 and was once the home of the Pontypool Free Press newspaper. This video shows how we sensitively converted it into nine new homes. We worked in partnership with Torfaen Council and received funding of £559,480 from Welsh Government’s Vibrant and Viable Places fund.
- Read the story of a resident who suffered a double stroke moved into one of three adapted bungalows we built in Cwmbran. The homes were built using £377,000 funding from the Welsh Government’s Integrated Care Fund for residents with complex care and support needs. The project was planned by the In One Place Health, Social Care and Housing partnership. This Gwent-wide project ensures landlords work closely with councils and health services to provide housing that meets the needs of patients.
- £6m was spent on improving our homes including work like kitchen replacements. Our Asset Management Strategy and five-year plan was approved for us to achieve Welsh Housing Quality Standard for all properties by 2020.
Lucy Challenger, our Community Housing Assistant
“Our Repairs Handbook was rewritten with help from staff and members. Its aim is to clearly explain what we are responsible for as a landlord and what tenants are responsible for.”
- £1.48m was secured from the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme to start to build 12 homes made from straw bales and foam insulated panels for residents aged under 35.
- The average energy rating on our homes is over 72%. We continued several capital works programmes including external wall installation, cavity wall insulation and thermostatic valve replacement to help make our homes more energy efficient and comfortable for residents.
To support our communities to help themselves.
To ensure our communities are safe and attractive environments.
- Our Love Where You Live and Work programme made it easy for residents to report issues in their communities and for us to be able to follow them up.
- Through our partnership with Pobl, the Go Girls and the Brothers, we supported young people across Torfaen and Newport to have their voices heard regionally and nationally on big issues such as child sexual exploitation, youth homelessness and mental health. for international womens day
- The conversations we have had with colleagues in Health and with Lynne Neagle, Torfaen AM, about the growing mental health crisis in our communities has helped to prompt the Health Board to commission research into the issue and find possible solutions.
- We supported 28 local groups by sharing £9,850 in small grants between them. Users of Victoria Village Hall in Abersychan talk about how we helped them successfully apply for a £10,000 Awards for All grant from the National Lottery.
- Four Torfaen women set up a fitness class thanks to a £500 grant from our community grant scheme. The PoundFit group are now running classes in schools and community halls.
- Every Wednesday evening we give up our canteen space to a large group of adults with learning disabilities so they can meet up chat, play games and have fun. It’s run voluntarily by one of our community involvement officers. We love the Elevate club. Meet some of the members.
- Pupils at Blenheim Road Primary School help to keep their community clean and litter-free. A member of staff dressed us a ‘Granny’ to help them think more about the impact of untidy streets.
- The St Dials Ward Community Group are really active and organise an annual Party in the Park. We went along and showed our support with a stand where we were able to talk to lots of residents.
- Young people from a youth club in Blaenavon came to our Baker Street retirement scheme and did a 60-minute makeover. Read this blog from Claire Dullea, our community manager, who said: “Young people were brought to tears after being thanked by the residents.”
- We helped set up visits from children at a nursery to Riverside Court retirement scheme. Ria Gibbs, our community involvement manager, said: “Since we started there has been an increase in residents using their communal lounge on the day the children visit.”
To have a great reputation.
To develop our organisation to meet our business needs.
To support our staff to realise their full potential.
- We achieved Customer Service Excellence accreditation demonstrating our commitment to our customers.
Lee Walsh, our ICT Operations & Development Manager
“We are continuing to develop our IT solutions to provide more online services for tenants, a web chat facility and improving systems to enable staff to work in the communities. My Bron Afon includes an ability for a customer to set up their own payment plan. We believe we are the only housing association across the UK that provides this functionality.”
- Every month some staff receive a Making a Difference award to show appreciation of their work based on compliments that demonstrate our values.
- We developed our Organisational Development strategy (2018-2023) and a new Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy (2019-2023).
- Staff are able to share their views on employee issues in many ways including staff surveys, employee forum, Ask Alan (a way to ask our chief executive anything) and our communications and engagement group.
- We achieved the Corporate Health Standard.
Ian Harris, our Head of Direct Services
“I’m proud of my team who provide essential services to our customers 24/7 in all weathers whenever they can. They really make a difference to our customers’ lives through their dedication and top quality work.”
- Continuous learning is essential for our staff. We organised 152 classroom based training sessions for staff.
- Alan Brunt, our Chief Executive and Neil Edwards, our Director of Resources, played key roles in the Welsh Government’s Housing Review with the sector. Our Strategic Management Team members continue to be active participants in a wide range of local, regional and national partnerships. For example, the Torfaen Public Service Board (PSB) , Community Housing Cymru’s Strategic Delivery Groups and the Welsh Equalities Network.
- We are an active partner with Torfaen Council on a broad range of topics including PSB membership; our shared service Homeseeker partnership; Health Social Care strategic and operational groups; our role as a Housing Development partner and as a Supporting People service provider.
- The transformation programme we started shows our commitment to reduce customer effort and create business efficiencies.
- We re-tendered our insurance programme and saved over £100,000 which recognised our ability to manage risk.
- Business owners met some of our staff to find out more about the millions of pounds worth of contracts that will be tendered over the next two years.
It’s great to get acknowledgement from colleagues in the sector for our work. This is a list of some of the awards where we either won or made the shortlist.
Welsh Housing Awards: We won the Building Safer Communities and Supporting Future Generations awards
Pat Chown Award– Capturing Creativity award by Community Housing Cymru
UK Housing Awards- Campaign of the year
Welsh Housing Awards- New Ideas and Approaches and Empowering and Involving Communities Award
Promoting Independence Awards- The Creativity Award
Happy 10th birthday to us 🙂
We turned ten on 31 March 2018 so during this year we held a number of events to celebrate with residents, members and staff.
A photo competition was popular and the winners are on display in our office.
Cake fans got the chance to show off their creativity in our baking competition. All the cakes were sold off with the money going to Velindre.
Torfaen is a beautiful county so we organised a ten-mile walk with a difference. Along the way the walkers collected litter and finished the course with twelve bags of rubbish, one child car seat and a bicycle.
Key Performance Indicators
73 shared ownership homes
906 leaseholder properties
Staff- 432 (full time equivalent)
These are our Corporate Plan targets for the year, our performance and where we aim to be in 2023.
|Area||Indicator||2018/19 performance||2018/19 target||2023 target|
|People||85% of tenants satisfied that we listen to their views and acts on them||72%||75%||85%|
|90% say it's easy to do business with us||79%||83%||90%|
|% of tenancies sustained independently >12 months following provision of support -||87.5%||70%||90%|
|Homes||450 new homes (*refinance takes place mid way)||36||Not set||450|
|Housing occupancy level as % of housing stock||98.72%||98%||99%|
|Communities||90% of tenants will say their local area is clean and tidy||74%||70%||90%|
|% of tenancies not subject to ASB casework||95.88%||90%||99%|
|Our Business||Improving operating margin||15.5%||8.3%||15% (2021)|
|Cashflow before development expenditure||Positive||Positive||Positive|
|Liquidity available sufficient for next 18 months||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Number of RIDDOR's (zero tolerance)||6||0||0|
|Number of working days lost due to sickness per full time employee||18.91||12||7|
|Higher than 80% staff satisfaction||42%||65%||80%|
|Interest cover (Taken from Business plan)||4.9:1||1.1:1||1.1:1|
|Net debt per unit (Taken from Business plan)||£6,926||£10,217||£10,217|
Financial Viability and Value for Money
Our Value for Money strategy 2017-2022 sets out how we will achieve value for money across the organisation. This document is helping us embed a culture where value for money is a key consideration in every day decisions and service delivery.
In 2018/19 we achieved an operating margin of 14.35%. We have set a target to increase this to 15% by 2020/21, involving net savings of £4 million.
We have to ensure we are affordable and sustainable in the medium to long-term so we can make the biggest contribution possible to our communities at a time when external factors mean they are likely to need us most. This means making the most of the budgets available to us, working as efficiently and effectively as possible so we can get more of our work done right the first time and provide services that are easy to use.
|Units developed as % of units owned||0.45%||0.20%|
|Customers satisfied with us||82%||84.5%|
|Customers satisfied that rent provides value for money||85%||86%|
|Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)||1.75%||1.18%|
|Operating costs per unit||£3,454||£3,782|
|Management costs per unit||£1,247||£1,314|
|Reactive repairs costs per unit||£2,095||£2,197|
|Major repairs costs per unit||£1,098||£1,119|
|Bad debts per unit||£62||£45|
|Weighted average cost of capital||4.28%||3.96%|
|Free Cash Flow||£5,236||£2,970|
|Gross arrears/ turnover||4.51%||5.31%|
|Rent per social housing unit||£4,975||£4,795|
|Rental void loss per social housing unit||£54.88||£54.85|
Where every £1 comes from
How we spend every £1
Our Annual Statement of Compliance was reviewed by our Board and signed off by our Chair, Andrew Lawrence, and Chief Executive, Alan Brunt. This confirmed we “met the Performance Standards as set by Welsh Ministers in accordance with Section 33A of the Housing Act 1996.”
This diagram shows our governance structure and how the involvement of our membership links to the Board. The aim is to engage the membership in both strategic thinking (Mutual Futures) and in operational matters (Scrutiny Team and Tenant Services Forum).
Audit & internal controls performance
We operate a three lines of defence model of assurance linked to its Corporate Plan. Assurance comes to the Board from a wide range of sources including risk management, suite of corporate Key Performance Indicators, internal and external audits.
Beyond the Board room our approach to ensuring risk management is embedded into the culture of the organisation means sharing best practice and identifying and communicating lessons learnt. Periodically we undertake stress testing in order to identify the impact of certain risks on the business plan.
In March 2019 the Welsh Government published its Regulatory Judgement on us. Click here read a copy.
We are a registered social landlord, which means we are regulated by the Welsh Government. From time to time, they carry out a regulatory assessment which checks how we are operating and how we are doing against our delivery outcomes. The outcomes are focused around providing good and affordable homes, governance and finance. In early 2019 the Welsh Government regulatory team decided that we had successfully met the regulatory requirements and Identifies and manages new and emerging risks appropriately and meets viability requirements and has the financial capacity to deal with scenarios appropriately.
Our Board are always striving for continuous improvement and have a Board Appraisal each year which was carried out in 2018/19 by an external provider. The findings were that we have “a highly skilled professional Board that seems to be working well as a team”