Resident-led Scrutiny Reports
09/05/2012 1:25 pm
What is the best practice approach for development of Resident Scrutiny Reports?
Is it right for senior management teams to have final editorial rights?
Should senior management teams re-write and reformat reports before they go to the decision-makers, or should these report formats be agreed ahead of the Scrutiny Project?
What can Resident Scrutiny groups do when they find that their reports have been amended by senior officers?
To what extent can residents push for publication of their reports on websites and to be provided on request?
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09/05/2012 4:19 pm
A scrutiny panel's report is a summary of their findings and recommendations.
You may wish to discuss with senior managers the findings in your report and ascertain which of the recommendations are deliverable. In some instances, your recommendations may not be realistic due to operational functions and structures. If senior management is asking you to remove a recommendation, be sure that you are confident that the reason behind it is valid and not simply because the idea is not liked.
With regard to formatting I would suggest that you find out what the preferred format for board reports is and ensure that your report is formatted in the agreed way. Board papers are often presented in a uniform way as it is easier for the board to read and digest especially when there are a lot of papers for discussion.
Do you need to a report or could you do a presentation straight to the board?
I would also suggest that once the report has been to the board and either approved or commented on that it is published even in summary form. Publishing your reports not only helps the wider tenant population see that you as a group are open to scrutiny, its a great way to encourage people to get involved especially if they can see that the work you are doing is having an impact. You might want to consider publishing your findings alongside comments from the board and the senior managers, highlighting which recommendations are to implemented.
I suggest that you speak to your senior managers in the first instance about why they feel that the report needs rewriting. Do you have a mentor? They may be able to help you in preparing your report or working with senior managers.
Hope that helps
09/05/2012 8:22 pm
Resident Led Scrutiny?? are you having a laugh? Senior management will only sanction stooge led scrutiny- to be fair to management do you really expect them to allow non staff members access to confidential material, what is the benefit to the organisation to allow inconvenient truths to reach the public domain
09/05/2012 11:31 pm
TSA was never more than a paper tiger- tenants are generally regarded by many housing professionals as scroungers and work shy- frequently belittle those residents who engage in "participation" with thier landlord as "the usual suspects"
co-regulation will involve a hand picked group of unaccountable stooges and lackies-rip off procurement deals will continue service charges and rents will increase inversley proportional to service delivery and the cowboy contractors will continue laughing all the way to the bank
10/05/2012 12:56 pm
Bit harsh on a number of housing professionals raindrop, no doubt there are a few like that but a lot want to do the best for their tenants. The sector has been badly let down by the TSA with the new framework and a number of poor quality consultants who have seized on the introduction of scrutiny panels as a means of making money. At this moment a lot of the panels neither help the tenants or the business. There is a significant waste of resource going on and there are not many winners here.
10/05/2012 2:01 pm
It is as wrong to label all social housing staff members as you have Raindrop as it is for anyone to label all social housing tenants as work shy scroungers. No doubt in both groups there are a few like that, but the majority just want to do the best that they can - a little mutual respect goes a long way.
10/05/2012 4:19 pm
Usual Suspect "a lot want to do the best for their tenants." !! how nauseatingly patronising is that for an attitude amongst housing professionals- some of whom wouldn't last a week in a real competitive job where if you piss off your customers they vote with thier feet-tenants are stuck more often then not with thier landlord. There are good housing professionals no doubt but they know which side thier bread is buttered- what housing professional is going to put thier job on the line and put the tenant's interest before senior managements?
11/05/2012 1:20 pm
their tenants is like saying their customers or their family . not patronising at all. most people want tp do a good job regardless of what they do . And why is the tenants interest different from the senior manangements ?
I would hope both (in decent organisations) want to see effecient business delivering high quality service , home and communities.
Every trade and sector has its share of poor quality staff why should housing be any different.
11/05/2012 1:24 pm
1. Why is the term 'their' in this context patronising? What term would you have used? I interpret the use of the term 'their' in this context as 'taking some responsibility' rather than patronising.
2. When you say housing staff 'wouldn't last a week in a real competitive job', which job do you have in mind? I used to work in sales before housing and I'd happily bring in some of the 'private sector' principles to housing - but don't then come crying to me when I start looking out for the needs of the business, and I start getting MUCH harder on rent arrears, and I start looking for REAL efficiencies in services. If you want to start treating social housing like the private sector then fine - but I'll start giving you a service that is comparable to the service a private landlord / letting agent would give you for the rent you pay. You wanna play hardball? Bring it on, sunshine...
3. ...Or perhaps you could just accept, as hard as it might be for you, that social housing is a different beast to the private sector - 'the real world'. Like or not plenty of us actually do have passionate debates and discussion with colleagues and management about putting the interests of tenants first. Just because we can't respond or act on the every whim of every tenant, that doesn't mean tenants are getting a bad deal from us.
11/05/2012 8:58 pm
Response to Anonymous Calm down dear, to answer your points 1- "thier customers" is ok-slightly patronising although I can accept that treating tenants as customers is positive-obvious point is if I dont like Tesco, I wave bye bye and go to Sainsbury etc- but if Mr Tesco is the only shop in town he becomes like my landlord-i'm stuck with him. I am a tenant of a RSL- but I am not a tenant of any of thier staff and if they referred to me as " thier tenant" I would feel insulted- thats my point of you - tough if you dont like it
your point 2- I have had numerous jobs in the private and a few in the public sector. in the private sector if you mess up, 9 times out of 10 you get given your p45 and walk
I know for a fact that more than a few housing professionals ( especially at senior management level) messes up and gets promoted3- you say tenants of your organistaion get a good deal- if so I would consider doing a mutual transfer - who is it pls
12/05/2012 11:16 am
Omega - I'd be very happy to treat housing staff as though we worked for a private sector company. But in return I'd want to run the association like a private business.
I'd be delighted to give you a service that was eqaul to the social rent you pay. I'd save millions following private sector principles. No need for resident involvement any more - money saved for starters. I'd re-negotiate repairs contracts and save millions by giving you the service that a social rent would pay for in 'the real world'.
My staff would be strictly performance managed - but their targets would be set around income collection ahead of all else. Dealing with ASB? Where's the money in that for me? No, what I'll do is put resources into inspecting properties on a regular basis and making sure tenants are protecting my asset. I'll only be doing the bare minimum repairs, sticking to the tenancy agreement to the letter, regardless of someone's age or ability.
You want private sector values in social housing? Fine by me.
But I suspect what you really want is champagne services on lemonade money. That cake of yours - you can either keep it or eat it.
12/05/2012 1:51 pm
12/05/2012 11:16 am if you giving all this. Tell us all whom our you and let us come and see if what you our saying is true or not.
Well I know being a foot soldiers does happen with our Housing Association.
Champagne service no that what officer get and we all see the benefit and rewards your getting.
No most of you would last in the real world jobs
Well I not getting value for money, right first time repairs and we have recall going back over six months (remember that what our rents pay for the structure, communal areas and some repairs within our home). I also not getting a Service for the staff and nor our my neighbours and they do not adhering to any form of policy & Procedures and we have no Scrunity group, or Tenant Complaint Panel.
Go tell me what portion of my rent goes towards this cost along with Management Services
12/05/2012 2:49 pm
Anon @ 1:51pm on 12/05/12:
What I was talking about (at 11:16am) isn't happening now. I was responding to Omega 3's wish to have private sector values within housing associations.What I was talking about (at 11:16am) was the likely scenario if you start treating social housing like the private sector.
There seems to be an assumption that treating housing associations like a private business will lead to better services for residents. It wont, in my view. It'll lead to more profitable businesses, and staff would be targeted to collect income and do the minimum of repairs as a priority.
As for value... Well, I work in social housing but have to rent privately in the same area as the houses I manage. I pay around double in rent as one of our tenants pays for the same size property in the same area, and I can assure you I get nowhere near the service from my letting agent as our tenants get from us as a social landlord.
Is our service perfect? No. But is it value for money, compared to what is available locally in the private rented sector? Absolutely.
And just to be clear, I don't think that's a bad thing. I'm not resentful of that. What I would like is for the quality and service of all rented housing in the UK (social or private) to be driven up. I'm not in favour of some 'race to the bottom' here. But I do think social housing tenants need a little bit of perspective sometimes.
I actually wish we could pay for some of our tenants to go and live in a local private rental property for a period of time - I'd happily swap places with them for a few months. We could then have a very honest, informed discussion about the pros / cons of each, and I'm fairly confident the social tenant would be desperate to get back to their own home rather than stick with the private rented sector.
One last thing... The term 'housing professional' is a bit of a misnomer I think. Unlike teaching or other 'professions' you don't need a certain level of qualification in order to 'practice' within housing. I'd be happy for such a system to be brought in - it would (or should) guarantee a level of quality in the staff that associations employ.
But on the other hand - if that's the level of quality you would want to ensure in housing staff, and you want to make them true 'professionals' - well guess what? You're going to have to pay for it.
It's all very well having a go at housing staff, but how much does your average housing officer get paid? How many hours above their contracted hours are they putting in each week? How much annual leave do they get?
So yeah, let's make housing officers 'professional' and drive the standard up. But be prepared for rents to go up.
12/05/2012 4:51 pm
Anon at 12/05/2012 11:16 am
pity you have declined to state which RSL you work for -why not create a name for yourself on this forum for ease of access? Mr Self righteous maybe?
you are showing classic signs of housing professional delusion in that just because RSL rent ( which increases above inflation every year) is not rip off market rent somehow it's cheap and consequently residents should be happy with thier lot- just like Oliver Twist in the workhouse. Fact is estate where i live was built 92 years ago and the bricks and mortar subsidy has been repaid hand over fist. Current revenues are not being reinvested in the stock but elsewhere in the empire building organisation.
Scrap resident involvement by all means - its a sham-many social providers have staff that are surplus to requirements
I bet my life your schedule of rates is way above what a self employed contractor faced with real competition charges- tenants generally are not getting a good deal from the big procurement contracts signed with big PLC outfits who more often than not sub the wotk out down the line to pissed off badly paid white van man who thibnks soicial housing tenants are all scroungers and does his job accordingly
Housing professionals are not doing tenants any favours- if anything it's vice versa -tenants who are keeping them in a relatively safe and well paid jobs- you need us more than we need you
22/05/2012 9:28 am
There is not a right or wrong way to do Resident Scrutiny Reports. The key issue is what will best lead to outcomes that bring improvements for tenants and prospective tenants. If a key reason to involve tenants in involvement activities, including scrutiny exercises, is so that they can constructively challenge how the landlord operates so that services, value for money or other aspects of the business can be improved, then not allowing tenants to raise the points they wish to raise would seem to be counter productive and not using the potential business advantages that tenant involvement can bring. Certainly if a landlord has asked tenants to carry out a scrutiny exercise then it would be expected that their final report is agreed with the tenants involved.
But it is the job of senior management to manage the information that decision makers receive. It is important that tenants understand the perspective of senior management - eg. are the challenges made in the scrutiny report constructive and designed to improve services or the business? Are conclusions made balanced, objective and based on evidence, particularly of the views of a cross section of tenants? Has the scrutiny report taken into account the views of staff and other stakeholders? Are the recommendations made coherent and practical? Is the report well written, to the point and easily understandable? If the answer to these questions is yes, then it would be concerning if senior management felt that they needed to change reports. It is the job of senior management to advise and assist tenants on these matters so that they can produce effective reports, and in most cases, it is to be hoped that scrutiny work will be done in a spirit of partnership between tenants and landlord. In a well run scrutiny exercise, it would be expected that tenants and senior management are in agreement about the conclusions of a scrutiny exercise before the report reaches the decision-makers. If this is not the case - then there could be faults on either or both sides.
09/06/2012 9:16 am
Resident Scrutiny can rightly take many forms as ultimately it is for the residents and their landlord to work together to determine how they want scrutiny to work. There are however a number of critical principles that should be considered absolutes when designing and applying resident scrutiny that are simply not up for negotiation.
Key amongst these is the notion that resident scrutiny should be resident (or tenant) led and independent. What this boils down to is that, in whatever guise it takes, the form, function, operation and outcomes of the scrutiny function should be led by residents and that they should be free to follow their own direction without being influenced by members of the landlord’s staff or governing body. This of course includes compilation of their findings and recommendations into scrutiny reports and I can conceive of no circumstances under which it would be justifiable for senior managers or any staff for that matter to have final editorial rights, re-write or otherwise amend these reports. They are the resident’s reports and should be held sacrosanct.
I should think governing bodies would be very interested if anyone were trying to adulterate the findings of resident scrutiny on route to them and I suggest that they should be notified directly should this be suspected.
Deep down I think we all know resident scrutiny is inherently a good thing for landlords. If done properly it will make them more accountable, perform better, and be more efficient. But simply knowing this rarely makes it any less scary for some executive teams who may ultimately find themselves having a critical eye focused on them by their governing body. I find that the best approach is to allow senior managers to negotiate a jointly agreed improvement plan with resident scrutineers before their findings are presented to the governing body. It’s so much easier for officers to say ‘things aren’t as good as we thought’ when they can immediately follow it with ‘but we’ve already agreed a plan to improve them’. Same outcome but with far less loss of face.
Of course it may not be a case of trying to unduly influence resident’s findings. It may simply be that managers are trying to help should residents appear to be struggling to write their reports. However the correct response is always to refocus on resident training, confidence and support needs and never, however tempting, to get involved in rewriting or modifying residents reports. If it helps, and it generally does, residents could devise a standard report format into which their evidence, findings and if appropriate, recommendations can be slotted without having to engage in a complete rewrite. Every little helps.
One of those other critical principles I mentioned earlier is based on the idea that resident scrutiny can’t operate in a vacuum and must have regular communication with the wider resident body. There is no hard and fast rule so involved residents should determine the best and most accessible medium for this information such as whether it is the scrutiny report, improvement plan or possibly a combination or summary of both that is most effective. Whatever it is, the wider resident body must know about the results of scrutiny as only in this way can they hope to challenge its effectiveness and to hold their landlord to account for its commitments to improve. Surely this is one of the cornerstones of consumer regulation?
11/06/2012 10:06 am
Resident scrutiny is inherently a good thing for landlords. If done properly it will make them more accountable, perform better, and be more efficient.
However, the devil is as they say in the detail or in the case the how!
It would be a brave landlord that would build the capability of residents to undertake this task, it would be an even braver landlord to give direct funding to a tenant/resident group to appoint their own advisor to build that capabability to an extent where vested interests and self interest only applies to tenants identified needs. Such a brave landlord would need to be accountable - sacked no hand shakes or access to pensions - stand and deliver or fall on your sword.
Power and finance needs to be in the hands of the tenants - they are the major stakeholder; and as the major stakeholder dshould have the power to say enough is enough.