The services provided by the year-old housing organisation Homes for Haringey are ‘good’ with ‘promising’ prospects for improvement according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission.
On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the arms length management organisation set up by Haringey Council in April 2006, two stars. This is because services have improved substantially the borough’s repairs and maintenance service scored as ‘fair’ with ‘promising’ prospects for improvement in a previous report published in May 2005..
Adrian Brown, lead housing inspector for London region, said:
‘The new ALMO has demonstrated the ability to deliver substantial service improvements in a number of key areas since it was set up just 14 months before our inspection this May. Homes for Haringey has achieved these through close working with residents, including tenants and leaseholders and an effective board with the support of the Council and dedicated staff across the organisation.’
The inspectors found a number of key strengths:
– Frontline staff provide a helpful and polite service to customers, from comfortable offices that complied with the Disability Discrimination Act;
– an excellent website with comprehensive jargon-free information, alongside good quality written materials in a range of languages;
– a clear understanding of the profile of residents in order to deliver appropriate services to its diverse community; and
– a robust complaints process and good procedures for dealing with racial harassment and domestic violence.
The inspectors also highlighted an effective response repairs service with a good standard of property for reletting as well as high quality estate management and concierge service; very good involvement of tenants and leaseholders in service development and monitoring; good services for leaseholders and high collection rates of leaseholder charges; and well-managed sheltered and supported housing with opportunities for residents to get involved in service improvement; Residents are also getting good value for money (VFM) through new procurement arrangements, new ways for tenants and leaseholders to make payments, VFM reviews of associated Council services and a wide range of other savings.
However, inspectors also found areas for improvement:
– Visitors to customer service centres at peak times wait too long and residents wait too long for aids and adaptations;
– a lack of investment in the stock over a long period and stock condition data now four years old and inadequate;
– gas servicing, although improved considerably, could be better still;
– collection of rental income is weak and rent arrears are increasing; and
– more is needed to improve the effectiveness in dealing with complaints of anti-social behaviour.
The inspection looked at the services provided by Homes for Haringey ALMO, including services to 21,000 tenants, leaseholders and residents in sheltered housing. It also looked at the organisation’s governance and its relationship with the Council.
Copies of the report are available from Homes for Haringey, Haringey Council or from the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports.