Our tenant teams are at the heart of our estates

By Councillor Susan Gambles, portfolio holder for housing and welfare.

This time of year – just before we split off for the elections – is always a period of reflection on our previous 12 months and the progress that has been made.

As cabinet members we get the opportunity to report back on some of these milestones at the annual budget setting of the council.

And this year, in particular, has made me think about how far we have come with our social housing tenants.

Last year I promised that the recruitment of new staff in our estates would make a difference. I explained they would build on existing relationships, create new ones and be very firmly at the heart of our estates, working in conjunction with the most important asset of our services – the people that live there.

As I told colleagues at the meeting earlier this month, my portfolio area is all about people.

  • Watch a summary of our cabinet updates (external link).

In the past 12 months we have made huge progress in strengthening existing relationships and building new ones afresh.

Our Housing Advisory Panel is truly fantastic and we are proud to work with them to create a better service for tenants.

They have provided challenge, foresight and have advocated and championed on behalf of our tenants. Their scrutiny of the housing function has without doubt improved and strengthened the service for tenants over the last 12 months.

This time last year we were still in the early stages of introducing our new tenant engagement team and embedding estate managers, caretakers and letting officers. In the months since, and through building strong relationships with our tenants, we have come on leaps and bounds.  

Our tenant engagement officers help us to really ensure the voice of our tenants is heard loud and clear. They are our eyes and ears, our problem solvers and our fixers.

Our estate managers / caretakers are a crucial asset for us too. They provide the link between tenants and the wider support that our teams can offer. Their input means that, alongside our advisory panel members, we know what matters the most at any given time; what needs sorting, what requires a short-term fix or a long-term strategy.

They’re trained to do a varied role including grounds maintenance duties, litter picking, requests to assist at sheltered schemes and reporting repairs issues.

I believe their success can be measured in the results of our recent satisfaction surveys. Some 1,200 respondents said they would like to get more involved and would like to be more pro-active in helping to shape the services in the future.

And now, more so than ever before, there are plenty of ways to get involved. Here’s just a few: the readers panel, tenant voice groups, the Community Cuppa initiative, the gardening competition is about to launch in time for spring and the tool-shed initiative helps provide tools and expertise.

So, in summary, the introduction of our tenant engagement team, estate managers / caretakers and lettings officers, means we have hit one of my pledges from last year’s budget meeting.

I’m absolutely delighted that we have been able to engage with so many people get their views their ideas listen to the concerns but also to understand how we can improve the services in the way that they wanting that to take place.

We have exciting times ahead and I know there will be even more positive progress to report back next year.

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