My Bron Afon

Annual Report/ Self-evaluation 2019/2020

Introduction

The last week of 2019/20 will be remembered for the start of the Covid-19 lockdown where we had to quickly transform our services like never before.

We saw a fantastic team effort from our colleagues to provide services to our customers in a very different way. Customers knew they could rely on us thanks to the trust and relationships we had formed with them over the years.

Throughout 2018/19 our relationships with our partners- including the health board, police and council- became stronger. This work gave us an excellent head start when Covid-19 came along and partnerships became more essential than ever. These successful partnerships will be vital as we support Torfaen’s communities through the recovery of Covid-19 in the coming years.

Over the year we:

  • Achieved highest regulatory judgment.
  • Outperformed our financial plan.
  • Achieved the target operating margin.

The was managed through a restructure as we reorganised our services to deliver our corporate plan objectives and to start to shift to the agile business that we want to become.

It was a challenging year but has put us in a good position to do our very best for our customers through 2020/21 and into the future.

We hope you enjoy looking back on the last year at some of our success stories from being in the heart of Torfaen.

Andrew Lawrence, chair of our Board

Alan Brunt, Chief Executive

Welsh language

You can read our annual monitoring report to the Welsh Language Commissioner on our website.

One Bron Afon

Our reorganisation introduced the new Customer Experience and Transformation teams to focus on delivering excellent customer experiences and providing support for the business to improve services to make better decisions.

Our customers will see more of our colleagues as we move services closer to communities. Teams will work together more closely to improve performance.  We want to become a stronger, more confident organisation with a reputation for first class customer service and be a great place to work

The changes will give us more opportunities to have conversations with customers and be able to listen and act on their views. The restructure has emphasised the importance of listening and responding to the feedback, being transparent and finding ways to simplify and speed up processes wherever possible.

Financial Viability and Value for Money

How we spend every £1

Responsive repairs 32p
Property depreciation 11p
Planned maintenance and improvements 27p
Cost of delivering services 22p
Interest charges 6p
Other costs (Bad debts, etc) 2p

Where every £1 comes from

Rents and Service Charges 74p
Grant and Government Income 17p
Income from other activities 9p
19/20 18/19

Operating Margin

% 12.11% 14.35%

New homes Developed

Number 34 36

New homes developed as percentage of units owned

% 0.42% 0.45%

Occupancy – the proportion of homes occupied at 31 March

% 98.24% 98.72%

Customers satisfied with Bron Afon

% 82% 82%

Customer satisfied that rent provides value for money

% 85% 85%

Return on Capital Employed (ROCE)

% 2.05% 1.75%

Operating Costs per Home

£ 3,789 3,454

Management Costs per Home

£ 1,287 1,247

Reactive Repairs Costs per Home

£ 2,307 2,095

Major Repairs Costs per Home

£ 694 1,098

Bad Debts per Home

£ 46 62

Weighted Average Cost of Capital

% 4.24% 4.28%

Free Cash Flow

£ 9,552 5,236

Gross Arrears/ Turnover

% 4.55% 4.51%

Rent per Social Housing Unit

£ 5,077 4,975

Rental Void Loss per Social Housing Unit

£ 61.18 54.88

Key Performance Indicators

  • No of Homes- 8,045
  • No of shared ownership homes 71
  • No of leaseholder properties 903
  • No of staff – 410 (full time equivalent)

People

KPI

Target 19/20 Performance 19/20

% of tenancies sustained independently >12 months following provision of support

90% 91.84%

% tenants satisfied that Bron Afon listens to their views and acts on them

78% 72%

First point of contact resolution for customers

80% 90.19%

Homes

KPI

Target 19/20 Performance 19/20

% of repairs completed at first visit

98% 99.76%

Housing occupancy level as % of housing stock

98.75% 98.24%

Average number of calendar days to complete a repair

12 days 12.5 days

Communities

KPI

Target 19/20 Performance 19/20

90% of tenants will say their local area is clean and tidy

75% 76%

Our Business

KPI

Target 19/20 Performance 19/20

Operating margin

12% 11.54%

Number of working days lost due to sickness per full time employee

1.25 days 0.76 days

People

 

 

  • 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.

 

Customers helped us improve our process for getting an empty home ready for a new tenant. A group shared their experiences and their views were vital for us changing what we did to make it easier for future tenants.

Watch Lynne Neagle, Member of the Senedd for Torfaen, talks about the role of housing and the mental health of young people.

Proactive work with customers and partners saw our lowest ever eviction levels for rent arrears.

1,047 customers made new Universal Credit claims and our team verified them and offered support which has led to them having lower arrears (as a group) than when they first moved onto the benefit.

Our Working Families project has helped people to switch career or move from full-time to part time work. In this short video, three people involved in the project talk about how the project has changed their lives.

Homes

 

 

  • To provide high quality homes that everyone is proud of.

  • To build and retain homes that are fit for the future.

 

£34.2m million was invested in repairing and improving our homes.

Our future plans are taking into account the Welsh Government’s Decarbonisation agenda which is set to not only fundamentally change our stock but also the experiences our tenants have living in them as their homes.

We have continued to developed decarbonisation approaches (recently recognised by the Welsh School of Architecture) that will enable a whole organisation response and enable us to support sector wide working.

We worked with Torfaen Council to house 92 homeless households.

We let 619 properties to Homeseekers and carried out pre-tenancy assessments to make sure they were ready to move and take on a home.

Moving home and mutual exchanges can be confusing so we held an event for customers to ask questions and pick up information.

 

Our 100th new home was completed by Lovell on their site at Oakfield Grange in Cwmbran. Alan Brunt, our chief executive, said:

“Inside every one of those 100 homes is a family that now has somewhere to call home. There is a huge demand for genuinely affordable housing in Torfaen so making it easier for more people to find somewhere to live is such an important job for us as the Borough’s largest social landlord.”

Alan Brunt, chief executive of Bron Afon, Lesley Groves, housing manager at Torfaen Council, and Gemma Clissett, regional partnerships director at Lovell.

 

Twelve new homes were built using straw bales and foam insulated panels for residents aged under 35. Tŷ Newidiadau in Garndiffaith was funded by £1.48m from the Welsh Government’s Innovative Housing Programme, is our response to the increasing challenges faced by young people who are unable to access affordable housing.

 

Julie James AM, Minister for Housing and Local Government, toured the building and met some of the new residents. She said:

“Our £90m Innovative Housing Programme helps to test new approaches and technologies to develop more social and affordable housing and create homes with a lower environmental impact.”

Communities

 

 

  • To support our communities to help themselves.

  • To ensure our communities are safe and attractive environments.

 

“Leaseholders are involved in decision that affect them. At a recent event the topic of building insurance was raised. There was a lot of discussion so we organised another event where leaseholders could talk to our insurance and risk manager, a representative from the company helping us procure our next insurance contract and the leaseholder manager. The leaseholders told us that this session gave them a lot of understanding into building insurance and how we make sure it’s value for money. Leaseholders were involved in the recent review of the Leasehold Management Policy and Leaseholder Charging Policy. A session was held for leaseholders to make any comments and suggest any changes to the policies. In this session leaseholders agreed for the two policies to be merged into one Leasehold Management Policy.”

Simon McCracken, leasehold manager

Simon McCracken

 

We visited all of our retirement housing schemes to give advice about fire safety in communal areas.

Mirus provides support for tenants Cwrt Kennard, in Blaenavon who have complex needs.  At  Mirus’ celebration evening we heard how health, social services, Mirus and Bron Afon have helped to create a place that has helped residents to transform their lives.

Young people in Blaenavon visited the residents of Baker St House to help with their garden and to enjoy fun activities together. The project helped to reduce anti-social behaviour in the area and improved perceptions of each other. It was lovely to see friendships being formed and everyone enjoying each other’s company. One resident said: “The full of life young people give me energy and I would love to see them more. The young people have become my friends. I love our chats about today and the past.”

Over 100 young people took part in workshops we ran with a youth service led by Crimestoppers to raise awareness of knife crime. Rebecca Jerman, senior Fearless worker, Crimestoppers, said: “We’ve been overwhelmed by the positive feedback we’ve had from young people, with 99% of those involved stating they would consider using Fearless to report a crime anonymously.”

Go Girls is a partnership project between Pobl and Bron Afon for women aged between 15-25 living in Torfaen, Newport, Caerphilly and Monmouthshire. They created ‘Every 30 Seconds’, a live forum theatre piece that encourages the audience to get involved, highlight Child Sexual Exploitation and challenge oppression. The campaign has been running for over a year and has engaged over 2,000 young people across Gwent and is in the final of the UK Housing Awards for Campaign of the Year.

An incredible £45,000 was given to local groups through our community grant scheme for applications. The scheme is funded by donations from our contractors and given out as grants to help people improve where their communities. Some of the projects included:

  • Pupils at Cwmffrdoer Primary School made hampers for children of people being supported by Torfaen Women’s Aid, older people at a care home, the homeless and animals at a shelter.
  • Tranch Ladies AFC made hampers for people being supported by Torfaen Women Aid.
  • Cocker Avenue Community Centre organised a Christmas Day dinner for people who are alone or homeless.
  • Afon Retirement Forum put together ‘memory packs’ old fashion drinks and retro puzzle for people with dementia.

You can read about some of the other projects here.

In this short video, people involved in some of the community groups that have benefitted from our community grant scheme talk about how it’s made a difference.

Northville Community Group were able to run cookery workshops thanks to a £4,000 donation. The volunteers were given the cash through our contractor benefit scheme from LCB Construction.

 

Helen Clutterbuck, our community involvement officer, said:

“The group wanted to run a series of cookery workshops so residents can learn new skills to cook a variety great tasting, healthy and cost-effective meals.”

Northville cheque

 

Two hundred and fifty young people took part in the Gwent Safeguarding Board’s first ever Children and Young People’s Safeguarding Event. We were proud to help host the event.

Our Business

 

 

  • To have a great reputation.

  • To develop our organisation to meet our business needs.

  • To support our staff to realise their full potential.

 

Our restructure through One Bron Afon has seen our team develop new ways of working that moved us closer to our communities to ensure that we deliver on our vision to deliver excellent customer experiences across everything we do.  It is down to the hard work, patience and cooperation of every individual, whether they have been part of the delivery team; part of the Trade Union group; part of the Board or any team member affected by the changes that this has been achieved.

We continue our focus on ensuring the longer term sustainability of our business and have seen positive improvements towards our operating target of more than 15% by 2023.

Staff showed incredible flexibility and commitment throughout 2019/20, and the impact on the Coronavirus lockdown has seen projects that would have taken many months to complete being rolled out in a matter of days.

All of our managers have engaged with our new Leadership course to support new ways of working.

The Organisational Development strategy focus has been on a number of key projects including: attendance and wellbeing, leadership development, improving data integrity and data informed decision making and, developing and embedding robust business improvement methodology.

We supported:

  • Dyslexia awareness week which included an inspiring talk from one of our heads of service about his personal experiences.
  • Mental health day by promoting how one of our colleagues who uses you tube to share her personal experiences to 137,000 subscribers across the world.
  • Wales-Wide Virtual Pride by sponsoring a hugely successful event which was aired online on 23, 24 and 25 July.

We’ve also supported the Black Lives Matter campaign and signed up to the Deeds not Words Pledge, along with other housing organisations, so that we can help address the concerns of Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) communities who face racial inequalities.

Looking to the years ahead

 

The Welsh Government’s sustainability and decarbonisation agenda is going to be key to how we plan ahead. We created a new Sustainability Manager role and are committed to having a whole business approach to- they are not just opportunities for asset management.

This last year has seen us adapt and change quickly which we feel puts us in a good place as we plan ahead in the post Covid-19 world.

Our  portfolio of projects will sit alongside our business as usual activities and drive improvements that will be shown through relevant KPI indicators. Currently we report to Board on a quarterly basis on our key strategic indicators and we also have a separate suite of metrics against corporate plan reporting.

In the future we need to make sure that our measures are fully aligned to our Corporate Plan and are relevant for the plans for that year. We propose a change to the regular reporting and provide an update on projects for that quarter and proposals for the quarter ahead.  Future reporting will show monthly progress from our business as usual metrics and this coupled, with our portfolio progress will provide Board with a rounded picture of our performance.

Happy customers

 

“This email however, is to tell you of the exemplary conduct by the workforce, who are at my home carrying out repairs. Since arriving, they have kept me well informed of what has been happening each day and each evening.”

“I have been very ill with mental health problems and Sandy was really was very helpful and honest with me.”

“The tenant said she can’t thank Kate enough for her help and support with her tenancy issues.  She said Kate was so understanding, kind and knowledgeable and helped her resolve her issues and that without Kate’s support, her mental health and anxiety would have deteriorated.

“I was amazed at the speed in which you responded and acted, as well as the way you have made the communal entrance cleaner, tidier and far more pleasant. A huge thank you. I am very happy being a leaseholder for Bron Afon with fantastic service like this and hope to live here for many years to come.”

“My support worker, Julie has helped me make my house a home and has supported me with my anxiety. The difference the support has made to me is that it has changed my life.  I am living and able to go out and about.”

“They were lovely blokes and finished up in no time. People are quick to report when something goes wrong, so I thought I’d leave you some good feedback.”

“I would like to express my utmost thanks to Luke, who today spent most of the day repairing outstanding issues in our home.  Luke deserves high credit for his work and should be commended.

“I would like to pass on my thanks to the two trades guys who replaced my garage door. They did an absolute fabulous job, showing me how to open the new locking system. They also looked happy and smiling which was a bonus and very courteous.”

Support to stay in his home

We supported a tenant who was drinking heavily and in arrears. He was in a dispute with his neighbour. We got him help to cut back on his drinking and linked him up with mental health support. Our community safety team managed the issue with his neighbour. His rent arrears are improving after we set up a payment plan. He feels happier in his home and doesn’t want to move.

The ‘bedroom tax’

Living in a home with a spare bedroom was causing money problems for a tenant who was desperate to move. We helped her apply for a discretionary housing payment and hardship fund. His garden was overgrown and he was ‘ashamed’. We were able to get the garden cleared up to help her application to move. We went with her to the job centre as she was confused by her Universal Credit. Her new home is a one-bedroom flat that she is managing and her health and wellbeing has improved.

The death of a partner

An assessment of a tenant whose husband had passed away made clear she was suffering with mental health since the death of her husband. Her arrears were increasing after her benefits were stopped so she had no income. We helped her to move to a smaller home in the same community where she had friends. We linked her up with a bereavement service who gave her counselling. It was lovely to hear she is ‘over the moon’ with her new home.