After a few very challenging years, Cornwall Housing has reported significant improvements in the number of tenants waiting for housing repairs, maintenance, inspections and compliance work.
Following a recovery improvement plan launched by Cornwall Housing earlier this year, to tackle the build-up of work waiting to be completed across the county, the teams have seen improvements and are on target to reduce the backlog.
“Historically it hasn’t been business as usual,” said Iain Sim, Interim Managing Director for Cornwall Housing. “The coronavirus pandemic, shortages in labour markets, the damage caused by the recent storm Eunice, constraints on the supply of materials and rising costs, and, quite frankly, a lack of real customer focus, have all contributed to the backlog over recent years.
“We know this isn’t good enough, which is why we’ve launched our recovery improvement plan. We’re committed to getting this right and delivering for our tenants right across Cornwall.
“The Covid lockdowns meant that repairs and maintenance were not able to be carried out for significant periods. In addition, we do know that many tenants had been waiting too long for work to be carried out even before the Pandemic struck, which has not been an acceptable level of service.
“Cornwall Housing has seen a big increase in the number of repair requests from tenants over recent months. Some tenants were understandably nervous to report repairs during the pandemic which is why we¹re seeing a huge surge lately” added Iain. “Despite the surge, we have, with the support of Corserv Facilities, our new repairs and maintenance partner, been able to see a reduction in the number of logged, and outstanding repairs reduced from 2,700 in November, to 1,700 responsive repairs at the beginning of April.
“In addition, we have also more than halved the number of outstanding inspections that have been awaiting a visit from 1,800 to 600 today.
“However, we know we have a big task ahead of us, and in addition to how we deliver our day-to-day responsive repairs, we are also developing new ways of investing in our homes for the future. Later this year we will be starting a full stock condition survey to ensure that we have the right information to target our capital spend more effectively. We want to target necessary compliance work and direct funding into a more fabric-based approach, such as new roofs.
“Part of the improvement centres around better communication. This will take the form of additional newsletters, free advice leaflets, via the website, through our Tenant’s Forum, emails and texts. Sometimes communication can be challenging as it¹s estimated 30-40% of our tenants do not have access to the internet. However, we are investigating additional ways to contact these residents so no one is left out.”
To help Cornwall Housing get through the build-up of work, they’ve brought in additional teams plus a new triage system for communicating about inspection visits. The new system will allow a rapid response service that ensures all reports are dealt with as swiftly and efficiently as possible.
“The new service is very popular with tenants as our experienced triage teams are using their extensive knowledge and expertise to accurately classify the issue. The rapid response teams are then quickly dispatched with a real insight into the job enabling them to deal with it as quickly and efficiently as possible.
“We’d like to thank all our tenants for their support and continued understanding during these tough times. We know that Cornwall Housing’s service hasn’t been where it should be over recent years and we don’t think it’s good enough. Our tenants spoke, and we listened. We recognise that we have a long way to go and some tenants have been waiting too long for repairs to be completed.
“Through a series of new initiatives, our teams working together more, the fantastic support and work from Corserv Facilities, the new triage system, better communications and with a new Board of Management to oversee progress, we are starting to see improvements all round,” added Iain. “As long as we¹re not hit by further lockdowns or exceptionally fierce storm events such as Eunice, we are confident these improvements will continue, until we provide a service, we can all be proud of.”
Header image shows Iain Sim, Interim Managing Director for Cornwall Housing.