Agenda item

Witness Sessions

The Panel invited representatives from selected Registered Providers to help inform its investigation in understanding the current processes, practices and systems, together with the provision of support currently being provided to tenants.  It would be beneficial to share best practice, expertise and learning, resulting in positive outcomes for all parties involved and seek to build on the positive relationships already in place


The Panel is aware of the new legislation and consumer standards for Registered Providers due to come into effect in 2024 and consequently was keen to understand the preparation for these.


Representatives from The Guinness Partnership have been invited to assist the Panel’s scrutiny in this matter.


Councillor Irvine has also been invited as the Cabinet Member for Housing.


Whilst the individuals named above identifies those witnesses anticipated to speak at the meeting, this may change subject to availability and, at the discretion of the Chair. Further witnesses may be called in addition or instead of those listed above should they be unavailable.  Due to the nature of the discussions within the above item, should Councillors wish to scrutinise the financial issues or aspects of any arrangements in specific detail that may be viewed as financially/commercially sensitive the meeting may need to move to Part B (exempt item – closed to the public).


The Panel had invited witnesses to help inform their investigation.


Clare Easton, Regional Head of Customer Services South East at The Guinness Partnership had been invited to offer views on the current processes, practices and systems, together with the provision of initiatives and support currently being provided to tenants.


The Panel was aware of the new legislation and consumer standards for Registered Providers due to come into effect later in the year and consequently was keen to understand the preparation for these.


Councillor Irvine, as the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing had also been invited.


The Panel received an introduction from Clare Easton, on Guinness’ work as a landlord in the borough.  The following main points were noted in the discussion:

·         Confirmation provided regarding the process for undertaking tenant satisfaction surveys. It was noted much work had been carried out with regards to resident engagement.

·         With regards to issues such as parking and ASB, it was noted there were challenges given the more emotive subjects on occasions.  However, it was important to engage with residents and partner agencies as it was recognised that working together was the best way to tackle some of the shared challenges faced.  The Panel felt it was important that should problems remain unrectified, the council should have a role in compelling action from registered providers and other agencies.

·         It was noted that ASB was a concern and clarity was sought and obtained on the working relationship with local policing teams and the liaison regarding ASB concerns.  Customer Liaison Officers (Housing Officers) would have the liaison with the local policing teams.  In addition, it was confirmed there were ASB reporting systems in place which would feed through, together with ‘quarterly estate inspections/walkabouts’.  The Panel felt it would be beneficial if ward councillors could be made aware of the estate inspections / walkabouts where possible.

·         It was commented that one improvement which would assist and develop the positive working relationships already in place from the registered providers perspective would be once the tenancy was agreed, to provide as much information (in accordance with GDPR) so the registered provider can assist the tenant fully.  Similarly, the registered provider would provide information to local authorities regarding any associated factors prior to a social tenancy agreement.

·         Recognition that there had been challenges for the repairs service within Crawley brought about through the age of stock, cost of materials, supply issues as well as the damp and mould concerns, all of which were being addressed.  It was important to acknowledge the challenges and adapt new working practices.

·         Acknowledgment that investment was planned for the future which would ensure fit for purpose properties.

·         With regards to the new legislation and consumer standards for registered providers due to come into effect later in the year, it was noted that the data would be provided nationally but the tenant satisfaction measures should be able to be broken down into local authority area. Whilst it was yet unknown how the data was to be published, it was hoped it would be available on the web (eg The Guinness Partnership website) or potentially the Regulator of Social Housing, as the tenant satisfaction measures survey for Crawley Homes was currently live and information was being collected for the Regulator of Social Housing.


Councillor Irvine as Cabinet Member for Housing then updated the Panel that:

·         The nomination agreements existed detailed the nomination arrangements for the allocation of social and affordable rental housing ensuring that the Council’s statutory duties were met by the housing providers operating within the borough. The nomination rights to registered providers properties secured, played a significant role in helping to meet the demand for affordable and social housing locally.

·         With regards to complaints, where this did not result in a satisfactory outcome, tenants had the right to request that the matter was investigated by the Housing Ombudsman.

·         However, it was noted over the many years there had rarely been complaints received about registered providers due to the positive partnership and multi-agency working.



That Panel Members thanked the witnesses for their attendance and contribution, all of which had been most interesting and informative.  The discussion would aid the Panel in forming its recommendations.