Small is not only beautiful, it’s better value too
Can you improve value for money by increasing in size? A group of eight small Housing Associations in the Greater Easterhouse area have commissioned a report which goes some way to challenging this perception. Easterhouse Housing and Regeneration Alliance (EHRA) asked the Scottish Housing Best Value Network (SHBVN) to produce the report for its Tenants’ Conference in April 2015. It detailed the performance of EHRA members, comparing it to Scottish averages as reported to the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) in the Annual Return on the Charter. The report made interesting reading for the EHRA residents, who were asked to give their views on value for money. It found that:
- average rents charged by EHRA landlords were 11% less than average rents across Scotland (£64.89 compared to £72.70);
- 89.4% of tenants were happy with the overall service they received, compared to a Scottish average of 87.9%.
- 93% of Tenants felt satisfied that they were kept informed by EHRA landlords, while 87.6% were happy that they had the opportunity to participate in the Associations. This compares to 88.9% and 78.4%, respectively across all of Scotland.
There may be a direct correlation between these high satisfaction levels and the quality of the stock - 97.9% of EHRA stock meets the Scottish Housing Quality Standard (SHQS), compared to only 87.4% across Scotland.
Perhaps more evident is the link between satisfaction levels and service provision. On average, EHRA landlords complete emergency repairs in 2.7 hours - across Scotland the average is 4.4 hours. Non-emergency repairs are completed in 3.2 days (Scotland: 5.8), while EHRA Landlords get 94.1% of repairs right first time (Scottish average: 90.3%).
Good neighbourhood management saw 92% of anti-social behaviour complaints resolved within timescales (the Scottish average is 79.4%) with the average time to re-let a house at 12.2 days (compared to 28.4).
Value for money is evident: achieving high satisfaction and great service levels may be every Association’s aim, but the ability to do it while also achieving financial efficiency is setting a standard for excellence. EHRA Landlords manage to provide their service while keeping operating costs per unit at £2540, compared to the Scottish average of £3869; unit management and maintenance costs are £1685, compared to £2009. Gross rent arrears are 3.7%, compared to 4.5% nationally.
EHRA staff and committee members are in no doubt that these results are achieved because their size and local control make them more responsive and accountable organisations.
Linda Cameron, Chairperson of EHRA, commented:
‘Greater Easterhouse has a great track record in creating sustainable communities, while maintaining affordable rents. Tenants are at the heart of everything we do, and we are absolutely delighted that the report confirms this.”
While some may look to other indicators for value for money, EHRA believes that this report proves how better value is achieved when services are delivered on a smaller scale, with community decisions made at community level.
The SHR monitors and assesses landlords’ performance against the Scottish Social Housing Charter, and is responsible for protecting the interests of tenants, homeless people and others who use services provided by social landlords. The SHR recently stated that value for money is an area it may focus more upon in the coming months.
EHRA members are: Blairtummock Housing Association, Calvay Housing Association, Easthall Park Housing Co-operative, Gardeen Housing Association, Lochfield Park Housing Association, Provanhall Housing Association , Ruchazie Housing Association , Wellhouse Housing Association