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Agenda item

Challenge for Change

Presentation and Report of Challenge for Change Tenant Scrutiny Panel – Customer Access.



The Committee received a presentation and report which gave a summary of the the latest review into a part of the Council Housing Service.  The purpose of this project was to see how effectively customers were able to access the housing service.




Present for this item were Peter Brown (Project Manager, Future of Council Housing), Louise Cassin (Housing Business Plan Team), Grace Collins (Tenant Scrutiny Panel) and Carrie Hedderwick (Tenant Scrutiny Panel).




Carrie Hedderwick stated that the Challenge for Change was a set up a few years ago as a Customer Scrutiny Panel consisting of tenants, leaseholders and customers of the housing service.  She outlined what the project objectives were this time with regard to what information was available to customers, how they could access it and what barriers there were to accessing the service.  The project was also to identify how satisfied customers were with the Customer Services Promises Charter and delivery of the service to see how it coped with demand. Ms. Hedderwick stated that the purpose of the project was aimed at reviewing the customer experience when contacting Housing Services by either telephone or visiting the Neighbourhood offices, but acknowledged that people cannot always attend the Area Offices due to commitments such as working, child care, job interviews etc.




Grace Collins referred to observational visits to housing offices that had been carried out undercover to see how well the service was working.  At these visits, a review of existing leaflets and the information available was observed. She outlined the recommendations from a survey that had been sent out to customers to gather their views on access to housing services. These were to radically improve the quality and accessibility of information on the Council’s website, explore opportunities to deliver housing services in shared buildings or spaces i.e. as at Crystal Peaks, improve in-person, telephone and online access to services and that better training be provided to staff to enable them to resolve queries, rather than passing the customer on to another team.  The survey showed that, generally people were satisfied with the service they received, there were a lot of negative comments about the length of time it had taken to get through to speak to a member of staff and the lack of communication regarding the call queue. 




Members made various comments and asked a number of questions, to which responses were provided as follows:-




·                     It was stated that the survey hadn’t set out to separately account the views of those with disabilities, the visually impaired nor those who were hard of hearing, although this was captured in the survey demographics. It was intended to follow up in six months’ time with suggestions to assist disabled people access the services easier.




·                     Members of the Panel had visited the Gleadless Valley Neighbourhood Office and had found that the staff were very helpful but were not able to assist with all queries.  The Panel felt that staff should be able to deal with all enquiries as people didn’t want to ring a call centre and would prefer face-to-face contact or a local number.




·                     Housing+ was introduced as a new model for the delivery of council housing services which aimed to provide additional support to help people look after themselves and their home through Neighbourhood Officers. It was hoped that the results from the survey and the C4C recommendations would help to improve service performance.




RESOLVED: That this Committee:-




(a)       thanks Peter Brown, Louise Cassin, Grace Collins and Carrie Hedderwick  for their contribution to the meeting;




(b)       notes the contents of the presentation and report and the responses to the questions raised;




(c)        requests Housing+ update be brought to a meeting of the Committee soon; and




(d)       supports the recommendations made by the Challenge for Change Customer Scrutiny Panel and requests that an update on action to the recommendations be brought back to this Committee in six to nine months’ time.


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