What have our involved customers been up to recently?
Non-financial Development Parameters
Our Development Team wanted customers to tell us what they felt was the most important things to consider when deciding on how and where to build new properties. Our main focuses are on finances and value for money, but what else? What about the things that money can’t buy?
We send out a survey to our involved customers with some information about the different aspects to choose from; and asked you to rate which ones you thought were most important.
A small group of customers met with the Development Team to discuss the survey results, including the comments in the survey to better understand and expand on customers priorities for new developments.
The Development Team combined the customers feedback with the outcomes from the Board Growth Working Party and the local housing policy to create a list of criteria that the Development Team will work to when presenting new development opportunities to the Board.
The Board have agreed this list of parameters that will go alongside the financial considerations of a new development.
Once the Board have agreed a new development scheme, the Development Team will then begin speaking with local residents and businesses, holding consultation events and door knocking. Plans for the new development are then made, refined and fed back to Board, staff and customers at regular intervals.
The aspects customers identified as a priority were:
Design – easy to maintain, storage space, access to private or communal outdoor space
Built Form – accessible to public transport and local shops, level access into town, not a high-rise building, memorable features to buildings or communal spaces
Public spaces – encourage social interaction, trees and plants for quality of life and climate benefits
Sustainability – reducing greenhouse emissions during build, energy efficiency, adaptive to climate-related events.
Rent adjustment & Service Charge Letters
Every year we review our customers rent and service charge to reflect things like interest rates, cost of living and our financial performance and plans for the future. The changes are implemented in April, for the start of the new financial year.
Letters are sent to all customers to info them of their new rent and how it has been calculated, along with frequently asked questions.
It’s important that this letter is clear, transparent and informative. It should be understandable to everyone and offer support to people that might need it. We asked our involved customers for feedback on this letter and the FAQs document via a survey.
The survey results told us that although the letter was clear, there was some uncertainty about whether the rent review seemed fair. There were also several suggestions for additional questions to be added to the frequently asked questions.
What has changed?
The frequently asked questions will now include ‘why has my rent increased?’ to resolve the uncertainty about the fairness of the rent review – essentially the reason for the rent review covers the costs of maintaining homes and providing services. Now that staff are working from home, our Sheep Street offices have closed, you would expect costs to be lower since we are not paying rent on town centre offices. However, there are increased costs in other areas such as increased prices on materials for repairs, especially where supply of materials has become limited.
We have now changed the response to the question ‘Who do I contact if I need some money or debt advice?’ to focus more on the support we can offer to our customers. The point about who to contact about money advice was repeated in the letter and the frequently asked questions.