Summer edition - August 2023
LATEST NEWS FROM COTTSWAY
It has been a busy past few months here at Cottsway and it’s hard to believe we are over halfway through 2023! We know that it has been a challenging time for many due to the cost-of-living crisis.
We have dedicated teams providing specialist welfare support to those who need it. They have been part of cost-of-living events and have also been on hand to offer advice and support on money issues to customers who have contacted us in need of help.
We’ve once again provided Citizens Advice West Oxfordshire a £51,000 grant to support an independent debt and welfare advice service, open to all Cottsway customers. We also provide space in our offices in Witney to support them in running their services.
This is in addition to rent-free space provided to Witney and West Oxfordshire Foodbank. In the past year, we referred 250 customers so that they could access support from the Foodbank and this was more than double the previous year, sadly a sign of the times we are living in.
We will continue to work to support our customers and help them to maintain successful tenancies wherever possible - if you are struggling to pay your rent please get in touch.
You may be aware that it is a time of change in the social housing sector. Like other housing associations, we are working to ensure we meet new regulatory requirements, including new Tenant Satisfaction Measures which were introduced by the Regulator of Social Housing in April. More on this below.
Safety is our priority and we are always working hard to ensure our homes are maintained to the standards required. During 2022-23, we spent £11.52m to maintain customers’ homes to deliver:
- Almost 11,300 responsive repairs.
- Over 2,300 emergency repairs – 100% carried out within 24 hours of being reported.
- A planned programme of works, including kitchen, bathroom and boiler replacements.
- Important health and safety work, including over 4,500 annual gas services and almost 800 electrical tests at homes.
- Re-fitting of 335 empty properties to ensure they are to a decent standard, ready to become homes for more people.
In the coming weeks, we will publish our Annual Report for 2022-23, along with our full financial statements, to let you know in more detail about what we have done over the last year - look out for this on our website (or if you would like a printed copy, please email us).
Please be assured that we will continue to ensure we meet any further emerging regulations required of us. We will keep you updated on this as we move forward. I hope you enjoy the rest of the summer.
Richard Reynolds - Chief Executive
TENANT SATISFACTION MEASURES (TSMs)
TSMs are part of wider changes by the Government to increase proactive consumer regulation and ensure social housing across the country is of a decent standard, with customers having their voices heard.
The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) has introduced TSMs to make it easier to compare landlords on a like-for-like basis and to hold landlords to account. The measures include:
- 12 perception questions for landlords to ask tenants as part of customer surveys; and
- 10 measures for landlords to report directly to the Regulator, known as Management Information.
We have used Acuity, an independent market research company, to help us gauge customer satisfaction for several years and will continue to do so. We have already amended the perception questions asked in our customer surveys to bring them in line with the new TSMs.
During the first quarter of 2023-24, 85% of customers were satisfied overall with the services we provide. We publish these survey results quarterly on our website.
OTHER WAYS TO HAVE YOUR SAY
It’s important to us that you have an opportunity to get involved and to influence what we do, so that we can continue to improve.
There are different ways you can get involved and have your say. in addition to our TSM surveys, we carry out:
- Surveys among customers who have received certain services from us, such as a repair, to find out how satisfied they are with the work we have done.
- Additional surveys focussing on specific areas of work or services, for example we recently asked customers living in our communal properties to give us their views on the grounds maintenance and communal cleaning services they receive.
You also have the option to be more hands on and join or assist our customer Scrutiny Group or Procurement Group. Alternatively, you can simply give your feedback by getting in touch with us – all customer feedback helps us to improve our services.
MY COTTSWAY CUSTOMER PORTAL AND NEW APP
As a Cottsway customer, you can use our My Cottsway customer portal to:
- pay and check your rent online, including setting up direct debit payments
- update your contact details
- manage your tenancy conveniently at a time that suits you.
My Cottsway is available online or you can also now download it as an app. To register, you need to provide a few personal details and your customer account number (this can be found on your rent statement and most letters we send you).
If you haven't already signed up for the for the new My Cottsway, please do so. Further improvements are due to this service soon!
During the past year, we provided 211 new affordable homes and we now manage over 5,300 properties for rent or shared ownership.
More recently, we took handover of new homes in Bampton, Brize Norton, North Leigh and Witney - all in West Oxfordshire - and Kemble, in Gloucestershire (pictured left), and Swindon.
PLANNING SOME DIY OVER THE SUMMER?
You may be considering some DIY around the house or garden, such as putting up a shelf or doing some painting, which can sometimes lead to accidental damage.
Home contents insurance provides cover for the contents of your home for items such as furniture, carpets, curtains, clothes, bedding and electrical items, as well as jewellery, pictures and ornaments.
Having contents insurance will also mean you’re covered for things like flooding or fire. Contents insurance is not provided as part of your tenancy agreement, so to help you decide whether it’s right for you, we have teamed up with Thistle Tenant Risks, and Ageas Insurance Limited who provide the My Home Contents Insurance Scheme, a specialist policy for tenants.
As a reminder - you can carry out simple painting and decorating work, but major structural changes or significant alterations to the layout of rooms are not usually permitted. It’s important you gain permission from us, so please get in touch before you start any work.
We are redesigning our website to make it easier to use on mobile phones and tablets. The new site will have have a fresh, new look when it goes live in the coming weeks and any changes are being led by feedback from customers.
You will still be able to use the live chat service when available and use all the same online forms to contact us on a wide range of issues – they will just look a little different!
September is a good time to test your heating is working properly before the colder weather begins. This helps to ensure your boilers and radiators work, no fault codes display and the pressure is not too low.
If you find there’s a problem with your heating, then please let us know as soon as possible.
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