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December 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting and board strategic event

The CPB was updated on the Silva board meeting that took place on 3 December 2020:

  • Contractor appointment for a large electrical programme taking place over the next three years
  • Approved government-specified rent increase of CPI +1%
  • The Housing White Paper
  • Iveagh Court
  • Development scheme of 25 rented homes in Wokingham
  • Reviewed the Silva response to Covid-19
  • Development would focus on land led schemed, developing housing with partners
  • A new environmental project
  • Community investment
  • The strategic plan from 2018-2021.


The action tracker

The CPB agreed the notes from the September meeting were accurate and asked for updates on the action tracker.

The CPB was assured that:

  • Silva would consider the ways it could offer NHS workers more flexibility for repair appointments
  • Simpler customer leaflets about Silva’s policies had been signed off and would be reviewed in the next CPB meeting.

Safeguarding policy

The CPB was updated on the safeguarding policy:

  • The updated policy has not changed the way safeguarding is managed by Silva, it has been updated to be more robust and detailed
  • Customer-facing colleagues would receive specific training.

The CPB was assured that:

  • Colleagues are provided support from HR, wellbeing guardians, a whistleblowing policy and personal safety devices including a phone app and a button they can press if they feel unsafe. In extreme cases, calling 999 is available
  • The recognition of cuckooing would be made clearer in the policy.


Housing Ombudsman complaint code

The CPB was informed of the new complaint handling code, which gives the Housing Ombudsman more power to ensure housing associations are accountable.

The CPB was assured that:

  • Silva will do more to advise customers of the complaints process
  • Silva will look into an issue where a community connector does not need to give permission for someone to discuss their case on behalf of a customer
  • Silva will do more to share lessons from complaints with customers and the board.


Social Housing White Paper

The CPB was updated on the Social Housing White Paper that was published by the government. The White Paper focuses on the customer experience and outlines seven commitments customers should expect from a landlord.

The CPB was assured that:

  • Silva already engage in the majority of the activities outlined by the White Paper and that it will be a case of improving and building on what is already in place
  • An assessment of Silva against the customer involvement proposal section will take place in January 2021
  • Silva has adopted a Customer Charter of ‘We care, We listen, We act.’


Forward planner 2021

Meetings in 2020 were heavily policy focused to ensure consistency, but with most policies now updated and approved, the CPB agenda for the future is more flexible.

A standing agenda for future meetings includes:

  • Reports from the Silva board
  • Performance measures
  • Climate impact
  • Customer strategy progress
  • White paper assessment.

The CPB will contact Silva with any further ideas.

October 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting

The CPB was updated on the board meeting that took place on 22 October 2020. They were updated on:

  • Business assurance
  • Performance and compliance.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • Concern was raised about all workers using appropriate PPE and procedures when in customer’s homes. The CPB was assured that strict guidelines were in place and being carried out
  • A question on PPE and safety procedures would be added to the transactional survey following completion of work in customers homes.


New board member introduction

The CPB was introduced to Maggie Porteous, the new board partner to the CPB, who will provide the voice of the customer on the Silva board.


Customer insight and engagement report

The customer insight report for the last quarter was reviewed to provide assurance on insight from complaints and the findings from customer surveys. The main points were:

  • Whilst complaints increased in the last period, they were down compared to the same time last year
  • Most complaints related to the time taken to complete repairs
  • No other main themes were evident
  • We received 65 compliments
  • Not as many transactional surveys were carried out due to fewer repairs being completed
  • Overall satisfaction was higher than our target
  • Customer hub satisfaction had improved.


Annual customer perception survey

The CPB was presented with the annual customer perception survey, taking place in November 2020. The questions remain mostly the same, with minor changes and the addition of a new question about Covid-19.

Initial highlights would be provided in mid-December and the full report will be available in January 2021.


Customer contact policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the customer contact policy.


Safeguarding policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the safeguarding policy.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • Specific timescales should be indicated in the policy.


Tenancy sustainment policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the tenancy sustainment policy.


Rechargeable repairs policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the rechargeable repairs policy.

The CPB was assured that:

  • There have been improvements on the void relet process and a home will not be handed over until certain standards are met
  • In regards to fences, while we have a general principle outlined in the policy each case will be treated individually.


Storage and disposal of possessions policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the storage and disposal of possessions policy.

The CPB was assured that:

  • While a timeline is given as a guide, each customer will be dealt with individually
  • Charges would usually be made weekly.


 Evictions policy feedback

Silva asked for feedback on the evictions policy.

The CPB commented:

  • This is a serious issue, which everyone needs to be able to understand, so it will be provided in another language if requested.


Together with Tenants

Silva updated the CPB on the National Housing Federation Together with Tenants charter.

The CPB was informed that:

  • Silva will work to involve customers more in governance
  • Silva’s governance will be updated
  • Silva will work on the complaints process to meet the new Housing Ombudsman criteria.

September 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting

An update regarding the board meeting held on 10 September 2020 was given to the CPB, reports were considered on:

  • Health & Safety
  • Organisational redesign and restructure
  • 2020 financial plan
  • Brexit considerations
  • Garage estate plan (new licence approved)
  • Development schemes
  • Iveagh Court
  • Covid 19 and response to pandemic


Customer improvements policy

The customer improvements policy had been updated to the current Silva branding, making it easier to read with no major changes as there had been no changes in legislation.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • It is a lot more straightforward and easier to read
  • The wording regarding leaving the property as found should be refined to ensure that any improvements were not removed
  • A caveat statement would be considered about compensation


Aids and Adaptations policy feedback

The Aids and Adaptations policy had been renamed and updated to the current Silva brand and style, as well as adding detail and clarity about adaptations.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • The policy implies from the beginning that it is only for those over 55. The wording will be reviewed to ensure that customers realise aids and adaptations are provided for anyone with a requirement.


Independent living policy feedback

The independent living policy has been updated for style and brand, as well as providing greater detail on addressing independent living, and the services, personal care and health and safety for customers.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • The policy needs refining to be consistent in paragraphs 1.1 and 4.2
  • Wording will also be reviewed where someone may have a live-in carer, or intermittent career and is therefore not under-occupying the property. It will be made clear that each case will be considered on its merits.


Leasehold management policy feedback

The leasehold management policy was the first one to outline Silva’s responsibilities to leaseholders and vice versa. A dedicated team now deals with all leaseholders and this policy supports that team.

The CPB had no comments on the wording or understanding of the policy


Home purchase policy feedback

The CPB was presented with the home purchase policy, which is specific to leaseholders.

The comments from the CPB were:

  • If some leaseholders agree to the work but others don’t Silva should still have an obligation to maintain a building in good order
  • If payment is refused then there is legal recourse, and if leaseholders are not satisfied with the quotations, they can go to a tribunal for review
  • Customers should have the ability to appoint their own contractor, but Silva also must agree to this


Section 20 policy feedback

The Section 20 policy outlines the legal responsibilities that Silva has for consultation on work at properties, as well as payment options for leaseholders that were preiously in a separate policy.

The CPB had no comments on the wording or understanding of the policy


Garage estate plan update

The CPB was updated with information on the garage estate plan, with a new team managing the garage portfolio.

The CPB was informed that:

  • Each site with garages would be reviewed and where necessary, consultation would be undertaken
  • The waiting list is being worked through
  • Solar panels would be considered


Reviewing payment methods project

The CPB was shown the project to review the payment methods that people use for rent and how Silva could ensure that the best options were used for customers and the association.

The CPB was informed that:

  • A digital solution would be the first objective, but there would not be a barrier to those unable to access a digital option
  • The consultation aims to understand why customers pay as they do and see if they could use a more convenient option
  • The best option for each customer will be considered and adopted


Repairs update

The CPB was given an update on Silva’s repairs service.

The CPB was informed that:

  • From 16 September 2020, some types of repairs will resume
  • Repairs appointments will be able to be made via the phone and MySilva as usual
  • A lot of work had been done to address the backlog of repairs built up during the lockdown, and planning had been undertaken to ensure that what was being offered could be carried out
  • When the service opens back up again on 16 September 2020, demand will be monitored to ensure it will not have to be closed again


Feedback from the customer partnership webinar

In August a webinar was held for customers with members of the executive team giving short talks and answering pre-submitted questions.

The CPB was informed that:

  • 40 people had registered their interest in the webinar, but only 22 had logged in
  • Another webinar will be scheduled but held later on in the day to see if this impacts on attendance
  • Content will be developed and the option to ask live questions will be investigated


CPB and board recruitment

The CPB was updated on the recruitment for two new board members:

  • Two new members had been recruited and will join Silva in October
  • The calibre of applicants was very high and there was a very strong field to select from

The CPB was also updated on the recruitment for two new CPB members:

  • Only one application was received so far, so the recruitment strategy would be reviewed
  • Members were asked to spread the word and encourage those they thought were a good fit to apply
  • The deadline to apply would be extended

July 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting

The customer partnership board was briefed on what the Silva board meeting discussed earlier in the day:

  • Assisting the board of compliance with regulatory standards
  • Reviewing compliance with the National Housing Federation code of governance
  • Annual health and safety and equality and diversity inclusion reports
  • Update on Covid-19 – Silva has not changed its approach to keep colleagues and customers safe
  • Access policy was signed off
  • Iveagh Court update
  • Review of board and committee effectiveness with improvement plans
  • Approach to the recruitment of two new board members


Approach to policies

An approach was suggested to allow the CPB comment on and for Silva to update policies effectively:

  • The CPB would check for language and ease of understanding on policies that are legally, contractually, or regulatory based
  • The CPB will be consulted on the approach and methodology of policies that are more flexible


Access policy

Not much on the access policy can be changed due to the Large Scale Voluntary Transfer agreement. Tenancy standards by the Regulator of Social Housing also need to be met. The policy was updated for language and presentation.

The following information was clarified to the CPB:

  • Councils have the right to fill vacant properties and they usually give people the best options, rather than going directly to the social housing provider
  • Impact assessments for equality and diversity were carried out for this policy and would be sone so for all policies


Decant policy

The CPB was informed that this policy sets out:

  • What Silva will do if someone cannot stay in their home through no fault of their own
  • The approach is set out for all different scenarios
  • Details of compensation payments and when these would be applicable are set out. Along with eligibility criteria allowing customers to purchase their home

The CPB felt the policy was comprehensive and fair


Environmental services policy

The CPB was presented with the environmental services policy and report, which was considered by the executive board. The content of the policy will not change, but will be split into three different policies:

  • Estate services
  • Grounds maintenance
  • Trees

The following information was clarified to the CPB:

  • Small plots of grass cut off within housing groups could be offered to customers as a garden
  • Private gardens are the responsibility of the customer and customer relations partners will review estates and inform people of their responsibilities
  • Cleaning the roads and streets is the responsibility of the local council
  • A clear set of environmental services schedules and timetables will be published on the website


Customer insight and engagement (quarter one) report

The results of the customer insight and engagement report for quarter one was presented to the CPB:

  • A reduction of complaints had been seen dues to the upskilling of Silva colleagues to resolve issues at the first point of contact
  • Complaints are being acknowledged and resolved ahead of service standards
  • More customers are responding to and engaging with surveys and questions from Silva
  • 88 compliments were received during the quarter


Customer event – August 2020

The CPB was informed that a customer webinar was being planned to be held in mid-August.


Customer Partnership Board recruitment

The CPB was updated on the proposed recruitment of two new members following Robert Taylor’s resignation:

  • Vacancies will be advertised on the website and on social media
  • The CPB will be updated on progress when appropriate

June 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting

The customer partnership board was briefed on what the Silva board meeting discussed earlier in the day:

  • An annual review of the treasury which included reviewing the borrowing for the next financial year
  • A revised asset strategy plan
  • The next stage of the delivery plan
  • Easing of lockdown arrangements during the Covid-19 pandemic

Financial update

The CPB was updated on Silva’s financial position and information was given on:

  • Maintaining services during the lockdown and when returning to normal
  • The requirement for funds and how the cash position may be affected by Covid-19
  • Ensuring income levels are kept up and more conservative forecasting of shared ownership sales
  • Controlling expenditure, spending where necessary but deferring some costs
  • Budget figures and development plans
  • Reviewing stress testing


Routine repairs

The CPB was presented information on Silva’s proposal to resume routine repairs within customer’s homes:

  • Emergency and compliance work had been carried out following strict hygiene procedures and constant customer communication
  • With recent changes outlined by the UK government, Silva can increase emergency and compliance work and resume some routine repairs
  • Silva will work through the backlog of repairs before taking on new bookings


Clearance in communal areas survey

The CPB was presented with the results of the clearance in communal areas survey:

  • There was a good response to the survey and letters to all blocks will be hand-delivered informing customers of the new procedures
  • There is an approved procedure for handing items back to customers during the pandemic
  • Specific examples of individual responses were mentioned
  • The clearance in communal areas procedure has been approved by EB and will be in force until after all customers have received their letters notifying them


No access focus group

The CPB was presented with the preliminary results of the no access focus group, which looked at why appointments with customers were missed:

  • Customers would like text messages made more easily understood, an email notification, operatives to call while they were on their way and to improve self-service options
  • A full report of the focus group will be going to the executive board in July


Recharge policy survey

The CPB was presented with the results of the recharge policy survey and the subsequent review:

  • The recharge policy is not being changed. However, Silva needs to manage the processes better.
  • Silva could improve the clarification of responsibilities when customers move into a property
  • More clarity is needed on the condition a property should be left in when returning keys
  • Silva should always consider value for money and only charge where necessary
  • Silva should ensure that all colleagues know what to do and how the process works


Hoarding and unsanitary homes policy

The new hoarding and unsanitary homes policy was presented to the CPB:

  • The policy is needed to ensure customer safety, as hoarded homes are a risk to those living within one and those around them
  • Fire is the greatest risk
  • Simple hints and tips could be provided to customers, including signposting and do’s and don’ts


Annual anti-social behaviour (ASB) report

The annual ASB report, which was presented to the Silva board the week before, was shown to the CPB.

  • The report provided information on how ASB cases had been managed during the previous financial year, the steps taken and proposals to provide a better service

The CPB commented that while there are some areas of concern, Silva does not seem to be dealing with them.

Silva will try and help with any ASB case if they can, but the main problem is gaining suitable evidence. But, support can be provided and Silva is linked to several support groups.


Customer Partnership Board effectiveness

The CPB improvement plan was presented to the CPB and stated that:

  • CPB members needed to be committed to preparing for meetings while increasing their participation and contribution
  • Silva would ensure that papers are published in good time and offer additional training as required
  • Once the office is open, CPB members will have the opportunity to spend time with more teams to increase their understanding of the business


Sheltered Schemes Residents Association (SSRA)

An update on the SSRA was given to the CPB:

  • The group used to meet and discuss the services at the independent living schemes. As this is no longer possible, the group has been suspended for the time being

May 2020 meeting notes

The Silva board meeting

The customer partnership board was briefed on what the Silva board meeting discussed earlier in the day:

  • Performance during quarter four of the 2019/20 financial year
  • A new temporary accommodation strategy for homeless people which was agreed with Bracknell Forest Council
  • A review of the customer insight and engagement survey
  • A review of the effectiveness of the customer partnership board
  • Considered regeneration schemes
  • Iveagh Court refurbishment works



The Customer partnership board was updated on the steps Silva is taking to increase its services following the lockdown, whilst continuing to protect the community from the spread of Covid-19.


Our aim is to:

  • Keep providing emergency works in a way that is safe for Silva colleagues and customers
  • Continue the shopping delivery scheme and the phone pals service for those who are self-isolating
  • Restart some grounds maintenance works, along with communal cleaning work in apartment blocks


Customer partnership board effectiveness

We want the customer partnership board to be as effective as possible, so we assessed its existing strengths and identified areas for improvement.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

A customer partnership board improvement plan was proposed based on the results and feedback from the members’ recent appraisals.


Customer assurance

Silva has not conducted any research on customer assurance in the past and customer experiences can be inconsistent

We want to help Silva customers know what to expect from our business, by introducing a more consistent experience and finding a way of measuring customer assurance.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

Silva’s new customer charter will demonstrate best practice, boost customer assurance and find a way of measuring customer assurance.


Home re-let standards

A review of Silva’s minimum decoration standard for void properties waiting to be re-let was recently conducted, leading to some minor changes.

We want to ensure that our customers live in high-quality homes that they can be proud of.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

The customer partnership board was briefed on Silva’s review of the minimum decoration standard for void properties waiting to be re-let and no further decisions were required.


Customer insight and engagement report

We want to ensure that our customers get opportunities to give their feedback, and we want to be able to listen to their feedback, with the goal of improving the customer experience.

An in-depth report on the customer insight and engagement survey was produced and presented to the customer partnership board by Silva Homes.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

A customer insight and engagement survey will be conducted annually, to help Silva maintain a good understanding of what customers want, as well as identifying key areas for improvement.

Service improvement plans, which feed into an ongoing improvement programme, will be produced based on the data collected by the survey.

March 2020 meeting notes

No access policy

Lots of repairs appointments and safety inspections are being missed by our customers, resulting in the inefficient use of time and resources by our trades teams and our customers (as they need to rebook appointments). In extreme cases, the safety of our homes may be affected.

We want to reduce the number of missed appointments, so that Silva’s resources are used as efficiently as possible and all homes are safe.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

Silva will hold a focus group with 10 to 12 customers to find out why appointments are being missed and how the process could be improved. People from a range of backgrounds, who booked appointments during the last quarter, will be invited to share their views. Then Silva will use these findings to improve its appointment and inspection processes and update its no-access policy.


Recharges policy

Our customers are not always sure what a rechargeable repair is, leading to confusion as to whether they need to pay money for a repair.

We want to ensure value for money and fairness for all customers, we want to be clear about recharging and ensure it is applied in all appropriate cases. 


The customer partnership board’s decision:

Silva will conduct a general survey on rental and leasehold customers who have booked a rechargeable repair in the past 12 months.

The survey will look at attitudes, expectations, awareness of responsibilities and whether they would consider using the service for any additional works.

The survey will be sent out mid-April and the proposals based on the survey will return at the next appropriate customer partnership board meeting.


Communal areas clearance policy

The customer partnership board approved a customer and colleague survey to be conducted about Silva’s upcoming communal areas clearance policy. There is currently no communal areas clearance policy in place and the procedures need to be decided.

We want to create an effective communal areas clearance policy with procedures, timescales and costs that are beneficial to and safe for all customers.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

An online survey will be conducted on all customers living in flats, as well as the Silva colleagues who will implement the policy.

The survey will raise awareness of current issues and will make it clear that there is a zero-tolerance policy when ensuring health and safety.


Customer insight

Regular transactional surveys are currently carried out after customer calls to the customer hub or once repair is completed. This means we are not collecting as much data as we could to help us improve our services.

We want to extend these transactional surveys to other areas of the business and identify areas for improvement. We planned a more extensive insight programme, featuring roughly one survey every month, looking at all areas of the business.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

The customer partnership board approved Silva’s proposal to increase the number of customer surveys it conducts to better identify areas for improvement. The customer partnership board did not have any comments on the proposed questions and was happy with the approach.


Complaints and compensation policy

Currently, complaints and compensation are split into two separate policies. This means that dealing with complaints and compensation has been over complicated.

We have condensed both policies into one, enabling the new dedicated central team to provide a more consistent level of service, with new processes that work well. Complaints are dealt with individually, rather than providing a template response and the response time has improved, with quarterly reporting in place to review any trends. Compensation has been reviewed and some payments have been standardised and are dealt with on a case-by-case basis.


The customer partnership board’s decision:

The customer partnership board approved this approach and endorsed the changes to Silva’s complaints and compensation policy.