Sovereign Housing
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Scrutiny Coordination Group (SCG)

Scrutiny Coordination Group

The main role for this group is to embed and make scrutiny a valued tool for monitoring, managing and developing our services.

The resident volunteers meet around six times a year to plan a rolling programme to scrutinise our services, then look at what the results show.

The main objectives of the group are to:

 

  • Develop and establish a framework for our resident scrutiny.
  • Develop the role of scrutineers, including recruitment, training/personal development, support packages and succession.
  • Agree an 18-month scheduled rolling scrutiny programme that makes linkages across services.
  • Manage the scrutiny budget agreed with the Board and agree the budget/resource for each agreed scrutiny.
  • Agree the criteria and scope of each scrutiny, including who’s involved, making sure there’s consistency and appreciating that differing approaches may be necessary to meet local circumstances.
  • Analyse findings and recommendations from each scrutiny.
  • Ensure follow-through of recommendations from all scrutinies and follow up if recommendations aren't being delivered or fully implemented.
  • Regularly report progress and outcomes from the scrutiny programme to the Board and the Partnership.
  • Look at other businesses to identify good practice in scrutiny reviews.
  • Regularly communicate the outcomes and impact of scrutiny to other residents, through various communication channel

The housing sector is putting more emphasis on how it listens to, responds and learns from customer feedback. With this in mind, our Scrutiny Coordination Group’s (SCG) latest scrutiny looked at our complaints process.  

Complaints are important: they tell us where we’re going wrong and are a great learning opportunity.

Resident scrutineers and SCG members spent hours interviewing employees, analysing complaints data, mapping customer journeys and reviewing our regulatory standards.

They pulled all of this information together so they could come back with recommendations on what we could do differently.

Watch the video to find out what work they did and what they’ve asked us to look at going forward.

If you’re interested in becoming a Scrutiny Coordination Group member, or a scrutineer, please email scrutiny@sovereign.org.uk.   

We always want to make sure we’re providing the best services to our customers.

That’s why the Scrutiny Coordination Group’s (SCG) most recent scrutiny looked at out why 1 in 6 calls to the Customer Contact team were from residents calling back about a repair. 

Resident scrutineers spent over 100 hours scrutinising this and came back with recommendations on what we could do differently. Some things can be carried out in the short-term, others may take longer or need specific technology. 

Watch the video to find out what work they did and what they’ve asked us to look at going forward.

Sheila Hayward

Find out more by getting to know SCG member Sheila Hayward 

If you’re interested in becoming a Scrutiny Coordination Group member, or a scrutineer, please email scrutiny@sovereign.org.uk.   

Scrutinising our services: residents’ voices at the heart of our lettings service

Our resident-led Scrutiny Coordination Group (SCG), along with resident scrutineers, spent months scrutinising our lettings service in the south, to find out why we weren’t achieving our targets.

The insight they gained meant they could pass on recommendations about what changes we could make to reshape the service.

SCG members Geoff and Sheila led the scrutiny – here, they tell us what happened, what they learned and why it’s important we put residents’ voices at the heart of what we do...

Geoff’s tired - his baby’s just a few months old and waking in the night. Sheila’s busy with her work in local government.

But as Sovereign residents who feel real pride in their homes, they both want to give something back and have found time in their lives to join Sovereign’s resident-led Scrutiny Coordination Group (SCG).

Why they’re involved

Sheila explains: ““The recent Social Housing Green Paper recommended that housing associations bring their residents to the heart of decision-making, making sure that we understand the way that housing associations are run and shine a spotlight to reveal the way things work, warts and all.

“I firmly believe that this is a good thing and Sovereign has already been working hard to achieve this with the SCG, which plans scrutinies to help develop and reshape its services.

Scrutinising Sovereign’s services from a resident perspective

“Our first scrutiny project was examining Sovereign’s lettings service in the South division. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) showed that things weren’t going well, with an average 26 day waiting time for re-lets, compared to an average of just 13 days in the East and West divisions.

“The SCG recruited residents as volunteer ‘scrutineers’, and they, on behalf of the other 130,000 people who live in Sovereign homes, carried out interviews, analysed statistics and researched its current practices and policies to help understand why let times were so long.

“It was an interesting learning experience for all of us and helped us appreciate the level of detail and care that goes into managing over 56,000 homes.

Geoff continues: “For me, the scrutiny was about understanding the broader societal picture, and how Sovereign’s influence can be so important.

What the scrutiny told them

“Scrutineers found that homes weren’t being relet fast enough in the South for a number of reasons – some things Sovereign could change quickly but others required more time because they were affected by outside influences:

  • Housing officers let homes alongside their other work - this isn’t the case in the East and West divisions - which meant lettings wasn’t always their top priority.
  • Applicants weren’t meeting the minimum criteria for affording even social rent prices. This might have been because of problems with their Universal Credit – the lag between applying for it and receiving it.
  • Many people didn’t fit other complicated requirements to do with the property itself and connections to the local area.

Their recommendations

“This led to a number of recommendations from the SCG:

  • The South should have dedicated lettings officers – this was actually done as we were scoping the scrutiny and has had a big impact on shortening relet times.
  • The SCG should revisit lettings at the end of the year, to see if the new lettings team is still working well.
  • Sovereign should continue to work hard to build relationships with local councils, increasing its influence around the nominations process to create shorter routes to lettings wherever possible.
  • It should also put together a plan of ways it can find residents when a property is taking longer to let and continue supporting residents with arrears or other financial issues.

What it means for future scrutinies

Sheila concludes: “It’s been a really useful experience and we learned a lot of lessons about how to prepare our scrutineers for future scrutinies. We’re now moving on to something more intense and in-depth: repeat repairs calls – why do they happen? This is an issue that’s certainly affected me in the past.”

Geoff is also keen to see this addressed, saying: “I’m looking forward to getting my teeth into this one, and really hoping that our outcomes can push through meaningful changes for all Sovereign residents.”  


Read more about the key learning from the SCG's pilot scrutiny.