Scrutiny – short and sweet the Peaks and Plains way!
Monday 1st of April 2019
Peaks and Plains Housing Trust are keen to do things differently so Customer Engagement Officer, Maddie Bartlett, was keen to work with Tpas to try out a new way of doing Scrutiny with the aim of making it more practical for customers and getting more people involved.
Tpas was commisioned to work with Peaks and Plains to devise a 2-day programme which will challenge the way they currently do scrutiny. Here, our associate, Emma Gilpin describes how we approached the brief.
First of all we met with the Challenge Group, who are Peaks and Plains most involved customers meeting every 6 weeks to monitor the Trust’s activities. This was a great experience where we spoke to Lisa Earle, the interim Housing Manager, agreed the topic and how it was going to be done.
The group chose to look at, ‘Transfers for Customers in Band C’ because:
- Currently there is no internal Transfers Policy due to using a Choice Based Lettings system, being 100% ‘in’ means Peaks and Plains have to adopt that policy rather than their own
- There was concern this was a false economy as these customers, who the Trust is keen to keep, may then move elsewhere
- Peaks and Plains had received complaints that customers only find out they are being skipped after they have registered and bid for properties
- While exceptions are made it is difficult to be consistent due to a lack of internal Policy and Procedures
Maddie did a brilliant job engaging with customers at events being held by the Trust to gage interest and then invite people to get involved. This ensured the group represented the diverse range of Peaks and Plains customers and was made up of people with interest and/or experience in the current process around transfers.
And so on Day 1 we had a keen gathering of 10 customers who heard from the teams involved in lettings and managing VOIDs. Following lively Q&A sessions and a discussion using a series of case studies the group was able to come up with some draft recommendations and agree further information required for Day 2. At the end of Day 1 feedback was that customers had found it really interesting, well structured, they had learned a lot and felt listened to. Staff who had taken part were also impressed with the group’s questions and understanding of the topic.
So onto Day 2 and we kicked off with a video summary of Day 1 to remind everyone of where we came (plus we had 2 extra people to get up to speed as word had got around)! The group had been sent out the extra information prior to the day and came prepared with any questions/changes to be made to the recommendations from this. They were also able to benchmark against a range of other organisations’ Policies and Procedures to finalise the recommendations.
And we were all done by lunchtime! Just time to chat to customers about the process, find out how they felt and get some promotional videos about the benefits of being involved. Within a week the final report was completed as it was just a brief summary of the process and the recommendations. As was the main feature, a 5-minute video to go to Board bringing the Scrutiny to life, providing a greater impact and enabling them to hear from customers directly involved in the process.
Everyone agreed this was a great experience, really practical and focused on the topic. It had definitely encouraged new people to take part as it was just a 2-day commitment, 8 people came along who weren’t otherwise involved. In fact, the customers enjoyed it so much they were keen to sign up for the next one already and quite a few were also expressing an interest in getting more involved with other opportunities. A win, win!