South Tyneside Homes
South Tyneside Council

Tenants Annual Report 2017



Welcome to the Tenants’ Annual Report 2017, our first online Annual Report. We hope that you find this format easier to digest and more accessible. The report is divided into sections which highlight what services have achieved during 2016/17. Paper copies of each section of the report are available on request – call 0300 123 66 33.

Each year tenants from across South Tyneside join together to help write the Annual Report by examining performance information and assessing how South Tyneside Homes performs against the standards set out in the Regulatory Framework. Through our role as tenants we are independent and are able to provide you with a balanced report on how South Tyneside Homes is performing and more importantly where there is room for improvement going forward. This is why it is important that the Annual Report is written by tenants for tenants.

  • Why Do We Need a Tenants’ Annual Report?
  • The View from the Organisation

Why Do We Need a Tenants’ Annual Report?

The Regulatory Framework for Social Housing 2015

The Homes and Communities Agency is the regulatory body responsible for social housing. The Regulatory Framework sets out what the Homes and Communities Agency expects of registered housing providers by setting out ‘standards’ for service delivery.

South Tyneside Council, in partnership with South Tyneside Homes, is responsible for ensuring these standards are being met in a clear and accountable way. They must demonstrate that they have worked with customers to develop and agree standards that set out how services will be delivered. The Annual Report sets out the standards and shows how South Tyneside Council and South Tyneside Homes work with tenants to ensure that the standards are being met.

Back To Top

The View from the Organisation

2016 has seen the completion of our Decent Homes programme ensuring all our homes are modern, efficient and provide good value for money for our customers. During the year we have had a major focus on integrating and improving services for customers in an environment of ongoing austerity from Government. This work will be carried through into 2017 and will see us remodel our customer services to provide greater accessibility, reduce waiting times and provide new modern ways to access our services electronically.

We will continue to invest in mobile working for our staff to ensure that they are able to give customers greater accessibility and flexibility on how they access services and interact with our staff. We will remodel our repairs service to ensure it is efficient and effective and our staff will begin to issue fixed penalty notices for residents in South Tyneside who continue to litter or let their dogs foul in the local area.

Finally our Income Management and Welfare teams and our Homefinder and Empty Homes teams will integrate to provide a greater focus on the needs of customers and enable us to improve information, advice and service delivery for customers.

  • Councillor Ed Malcolm Chair of South Tyneside Homes’ Board
  • Councillor Allan West Lead Member for Housing and Transport
  • Paul Mains Managing Director of South Tyneside Homes
Back To Top

Involvement and Empowerment Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Provide opportunities for tenant involvement and empowerment
  • Support tenants in their ability to be involved in scrutinising, shaping and improving services
  • Have a focus on good customer service, choice and complaints that is clear, simple and accessible to tenants
  • Understand and respond to the diverse needs of customers.

The Involvement and Empowerment standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section, or read an overview of performance against this standard.

  • Customer Involvement
  • Customer Services and Feedback

Customer Involvement

During 2016/17, customers were involved in the setting of new service standards for the company. A poster was developed to highlight performance of the most important standards so this is easy for customers to understand. Customers have also been involved in a number of other projects aimed at improving the services which customers receive. This has included improving information available to customers as well as reviewing services and suggested ways in which they can be improved. A total of 85 recommendations were made to senior managers about how services can be improved. Customers have been invited to attend numerous training and development courses including ICT and delivering presentations which helps to improve their skills and confidence.

Progress on reviewing the organisation’s Equality Policy and Equality Impact Assessments has been slower than anticipated. Completing this work will be a priority for 2017/18 as it is important to ensure that all customers can access the services provided by the organisation. The Involvement team have also struggled to get more customers involved in activities despite active advertising in the past year.

Being involved has improved my confidence and outlook and I feel my views are valued. I have attended numerous training courses which has improved my skills and knowledge which look good on my CV. I can also pass this onto my friends and family.

Dan Melville, Involved tenant

During the coming year, the Involvement team will be exploring new ways to engage with customers to ensure that everyone’s views can be heard. This work will also be integrated with wider service improvements across the organisation. Also, a new website will be launched with input from involved tenants. The new website will be easier for everyone to use and will work much better for those accessing this from mobile phones and tablets.

For further details on what involvement groups have been working on and how you can get involved in shaping housing services, visit the Involvement section of our website.

Back To Top

Customer Services and Feedback

There are a variety of ways that customers can contact the organisation to make enquiries and give feedback to suit their needs and preferences. This includes online, by phone, email, letter, in person, via third parties acting on behalf of a customer and in other languages. Last year, the complaints policy was re-launched following a review by customers. Also, improved signposting to things such as the 24 hour automated payment line led to average call waiting times reducing from 176 seconds in 2015/16 to 41 seconds in 2016/17 which means customers receive a more timely service.

Whilst staff at South Tyneside Homes strive to learn and improve from feedback, there are further improvements which need to be made in this area and the feedback system will be changed during 2017/18 to include prompts to record improvement notes.

The implementation of new process mapping tools to provide better consistency and handling of enquiries incurred further delays and it is hoped that progress is made during 2017/18. In addition, improvements will be made to the way in which customers can make contact with the organisation, including the introduction of a LiveChat service on the website and the ability for customers to order repairs and book appointments online.

Back To Top

Tenancy Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Allocate properties in a fair, transparent and efficient way and have ways for tenants to mutually exchange
  • Develop and provide services that will support customers to maintain their tenancy and prevent unnecessary evictions
  • Publish clear and accessible policies which outline their approach to tenancy management, including interventions to sustain tenancies

The Tenancy standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section, or read an overview of performance against this standard.

  • Homefinder
  • Empty Homes
  • Tenancy and Welfare Support
  • Rent Collection


Last year, a triage system was introduced at Homefinder alongside an appointment system to allow the team to prioritise cases and deal with customers in greatest housing need. Partnership working continued with agencies including Armed Forces Outreach Worker and Employment Project Worker to support applicants. A total of £460,000 was also saved during the year by actively matching properties to customers based on their needs and requirements to make better use of available properties.

Although mutual exchanges are advertised and discussed with applicants, the uptake is not as high as hoped. A new Allocations Policy will be introduced in 2017/18 which will place greater promotion and emphasis on mutual exchanges as an option for customers.

During the coming year, the Homefinder and Empty Homes teams will be merging to form a new Housing Solutions service. This will provide a single point of contact for customers throughout the application process which will improve the customer experience and provide better support to customers before starting a tenancy. A new Homeless Reduction Act will be introduced which will place more emphasis on preventing homelessness.

My recent experience with the service was really positive. The Homefinder team supported me through every step in the process – everything just seemed to click and I am really happy in my new home.

Mr Elliott, New Customer, South Shields
Back To Top

Empty Homes

Repair times for empty properties reduced last year. Routine repairs reduced from 13.71 days to 10.48 days (24% reduction) and major repairs from 54.45 days to 47.42 days (13% reduction). These improvements resulted in a speedier service for customers and lead to an 8% decrease in the amount of rent lost through the re-letting of properties.

There are still a very high number of customers transferring from one property to another. Last year 40% of properties were transfers. This creates a strain on resources which could be better used elsewhere. Another challenge the team face is that a small percentage of stock is in low demand which can affect the sustainability of areas.

During 2017/18, Empty Homes and Homefinder teams will merge to provide a single point of contact for customers throughout the moving process. The way in which properties are marketed will be changed to provide better information to customers on available properties. There will also be a greater promotion of mutual exchanges as a housing option to ensure that the right customer can be found for each home.

Back To Top

Tenancy and Welfare Support

Last year, Area Management teams implemented new improved processes to ensure that customers can manage their tenancies. Of the new tenancies which were started last year just 17 tenancies lasted less than 6 months (only 1.38%) which is important for maintaining communities. The Welfare Support team secured over £3million of additional income for customers including a total of £370,000 lump payments through supporting individuals to apply for jobs, benefits and support opportunities. A number of campaigns are being developed to help prepare residents for the introduction of Universal Credit in February 2018.

The Welfare Support team supported me through a minefield of paperwork to get my budget back on track and maximise my income. Thanks to the team my life is much easier following a very challenging time.

Janice Hall, Jarrow resident

Whilst the Welfare Support team have been successful in supporting customers across South Tyneside, high demand has meant that waiting times are lengthy despite the introduction of telephone advice. To ensure that customers can access the help and support they need as quickly as possible, the information advice and support available online will be improved. The demands on the service will be analysed during 2017/18 and further improvements will be made to ensure that customer demands can be met.

During 2017/18, the Welfare Support and Income teams will work more closely together to allow the organisation to better support customers and prevent evictions. Area Management teams will also be looking at how customers can be better supported before starting a tenancy to make sure that they can start their tenancy in the best way possible.

Back To Top

Rent Collection

During 2016/17, the income team collected 99.77% of rent from customers, an increase of 0.20% on the previous year. Staff are now equipped with tablet devices allowing them to provide better support to customers in their homes. There has been greater promotion of telephone rent payments and direct debits, which increased from 5,700 to over 7,000 in the last year. This is a more efficient method of paying rent and allows customers to manage their tenancy. New customers are also required to pay rent in advance at sign-up to make sure that they start their tenancy in the right way.

There are a number of challenges facing the team over the coming year as a result of the introduction of Universal Credit and the Benefit Cap which will affect a large number of customers. During 2017/18 the Income team will work more closely with the Welfare Support team to ensure customers can be supported with these changes.

In the year ahead, South Tyneside Homes will also be looking to improve the use of technology to identify cases which need increased support and assistance from staff. A “rent first” culture will also be developed where staff will work with customers to maximise the amount of rent collected.

Back To Top

Home Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Provide a quality of accommodation that meets the Decent Homes Standard
  • Carry out a cost-effective repairs and maintenance service to homes and communal areas
  • Meet all relevant legal requirements that provide for the health and safety of the occupants in their home
  • Provide an adaptations service that meets tenants’ needs.

The Home standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section, or read an overview of performance against this standard.

  • Repairs and Maintenance
  • Gas Servicing
  • Asset Management
  • Planned and Programmed Works

Repairs and Maintenance

The team has continued to offer customers a variety of ways to report a repair 24 hours a day including telephone, text, email, writing, in-person or typetalk. Customers are offered a range of appointments including evening and weekends where requested. In January 2017, a new Repairs and Maintenance Policy was introduced which clarifies responsibilities for customers and South Tyneside Homes and will help to manage expectations. A total of 102,219 repairs were carried out last year with 99.71% of routine repairs carried out within timescale.

Despite all of the methods of reporting repairs and the range of appointments available, tenants were not available for 12% of repairs appointments. This results in lost time, income and fewer appointments being available for customers.

When a repair is not completed at the first visit and a follow-up repair is needed to source materials, equipment or technical advice, the computer systems cannot carry this out seamlessly. During 2017/18, systems will be upgraded and operatives will receive new handheld devices. This will improve functionality and allow operatives to raise this work while at the customer’s home.

Due to changes in the method of collecting customer satisfaction information, performance decreased last year to 89.03%. Satisfaction is now gathered at the point of completing a repair making it much easier for customers to provide instant feedback on the service.

Back to Top

Gas Servicing

During 2016/17, the Gas Servicing team completed an annual gas service at every single property for the sixth year in a row. This is a legal requirement and vitally important for ensuring appliances are safe to use and prevent unwanted breakdowns. Flexible appointments were also offered to customers to carry out the service at their convenience. Over 500 appointments were carried out at evenings and weekends. A new pictorial leaflet was also launched to improve information to customers and outline what to expect from their gas service.

A new procedure will be launched during 2017/18 to gather customer satisfaction on the gas service to make gathering this data much easier and more effectively than before.

During 2017/18, the team are also looking to introduce a new system to allow customers to receive their annual gas safety certificate electronically. The new system will also improve the efficiency of operatives and help to ensure that gas appliances are safe.

Back to Top

Asset Management

The Asset Management team completed the Decent Homes programme in December 2016, with £20.7million being spent making 3,130 properties decent. Following the completion of the programme, a new five year plan was implemented which aims to maintain properties. A new Fuel Poverty Plan was also implemented following work with involvement groups. This aims to tackle fuel poverty issues in South Tyneside by raising awareness and educating customers on how to heat their homes effectively and getting the best deal for their energy supply.

Around 1,500 properties did not receive Decent Homes work during the programme; this may have been for a number of reasons including previous tenants refusing work. One of the team’s challenges for 2017/18 will be to revisit these properties and provide a further opportunity to have this work carried out.

Last year, a total of £173,000 in funding was gained for a variety of environmental schemes including cavity wall insulation programmes and a scheme to install efficient heating systems in a number of properties. Going forward, funding opportunities will be more limited meaning that obtaining funding for projects will be a bigger challenge for the team.

During 2017/18 improvements will be made to the website to include information for customers on the new five year planned maintenance programme. The Asset Management team will also be co-ordinating new build housing schemes across the Borough in partnership with South Tyneside Council.

Back to Top

Planned and Programmed Works

Following customer feedback, the Programmed Works team focused a lot of attention last year on reducing spending on sub-contractor work by completing as much work as possible in-house. An example is rewiring work where sub-contractor spending was reduced by 71.95%. This has improved customer satisfaction and allowed operatives to develop new skills. The team has also been involved in the construction of 10 new build properties which will provide new homes in South Tyneside. A total of 321 adaptations were installed last year helping customers remain in their homes.

At times during the year, the team has found it difficult to programme work as effectively as possible, sometimes due to emergencies which are beyond the team’s control which has affected the availability of resources. A works programmer will be recruited to improve the planning of work to minimise the effect of any emergency work.

During 2017/18, the team will be looking to further reduce spending on sub-contractors by retaining as much work as possible in-house to deliver a more cost-efficient, customer focused service. The team will also be continuing to work on new build schemes across South Tyneside.

Back to Top

Neighbourhood and Community Standard

What The Regulator Says Landlords Should Deliver Under This Standard

  • Keep neighbourhoods and communal areas clean and safe
  • Co-operate with relevant partners to help promote social, environmental and economic wellbeing
  • Work with relevant partners to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour in neighbourhoods

The Neighbourhood and Community standard covers the following services. Please click below to see the relevant section, or read an overview of performance against this standard.

  • Area Management
  • Community Safety and Tenancy Enforcement
  • Handy Estates
  • Housing Plus

Area Management

During 2016/17, Neighbourhood Officers were provided with body cameras and received training to issue Fixed Penalty Notices for littering and dog fouling. Area Management teams have held many positive conversations with residents to educate the public and it is hoped that new powers will act as deterrent to potential culprits.

A number of local improvement and regeneration projects have been supported across South Tyneside throughout the year to improve the environment and the lives of local people. Projects included:

  • East Shields and Whitburn – Coordinated a wall and fencing programme on Hertford Avenue which has led on to further improvements including wall pointing, roofing, external painting and canopies improvements;
  • Hebburn – Supported the ongoing regeneration of Hebburn New Town and working with residents affected by the work;
  • Jarrow and Boldon – Supported the development of new build properties in the centre of Jarrow and on the Lakes Estate to provide new homes for residents;
  • Riverside – environmental improvements to shrubbed areas and open spaces to reduce noise and anti-social behaviour issues in the area;
  • West Shields, Cleadon and East Boldon – Improvements to blocks of flats in Gainsborough Avenue and Nevinson Avenue to improve the appearance of the area.

It was anticipated that Neighbourhood Officers would be equipped with mobile devices last year; however this was delayed due to technical issues. It is hoped that this will be rolled out during 2017/18 which will allow staff to spend more time on estates proactively managing neighbourhoods.

During 2017/18, Area Management teams will also be further developing their approach to resident engagement through targeted projects in local communities. It is hoped that this will prove to be more effective in developing effective contacts with residents in their neighbourhoods.

Back To Top

Community Safety and Tenancy Enforcement

During 2016/17, the Community Safety and Tenancy Enforcement team continued to use excellent partnership links with Northumbria Police, Tyne and Wear Fire Service and Environmental Health to prevent and tackle anti-social behaviour issues across South Tyneside using a variety of tools and powers. The team dealt with 960 new cases with 97% of customers satisfied with the outcome of their issue. The team delivered “Don’t Suffer in Silence” leaflets to ensure residents are aware of how to report issues and where to get support. The Victim Support Volunteer Network also provided emotional support to 188 victims of anti-social behaviour, which was a 50% increase compared to 2015/16.

During 2017/18, the website will be improved to ensure that residents can get in touch for help and support. New web content will be added to provide more information to customers and include links to partners and other agencies.

There are currently a lot of noise nuisance cases reported but there is limited equipment available to help deal with these issues. During 2017/18, the team will be exploring the option of using a mobile and tablet application for residents to record evidence of noise nuisance on their own devices which will improve the team’s response to such issues.

Back To Top

Handy Estates

The Handy Estates team has continued to work closely with South Tyneside Council to tackle environmental issues and ensure that South Tyneside is clean and tidy. This led to several successful fly-tipping prosecutions last year. A wide range of events were supported across South Tyneside to ensure a positive experience for both residents and visitors. This work included the Great North Run, where over 40 tonnes of waste was collected during the event.

The increasing demands on the service coupled with resource issues means that the team can find it difficult to meet residents’ expectations at times. Providing a 7-day service across South Tyneside can often impact on work during weekdays. During 2017/18, shift patterns and workloads will be reviewed to ensure that areas can be maintained effectively.

During the coming year the Handy Estates team will be delivering local campaigns to highlight resident’s responsibilities in respect of litter, dog fouling and fly-tipping in their neighbourhoods. Education programmes and events with schools and the local communities will target this issue and the impacts, while encouraging residents to take pride in where they live.

Back To Top

Housing Plus

During 2016/17 the Housing Plus team have continued to promote health and wellbeing of all Housing Plus tenants through providing a wide range of social events which were supported with additional funding. These activities and events help to ensure that customers can live independently. Specialist Telecare equipment can be used to ensure residents can remain as independent as possible. A number of Housing Plus residents attended informal awareness sessions on how to keep themselves and each other safe.

Digital inclusion has been promoted in schemes through informal information workshops and providing tablet devices to support tenants in developing their computer skills. Wi-Fi has also been provided to communal facilities at dispersed Housing Plus schemes. Use of this equipment will continue to be promoted throughout 2017/18.

The number of empty Housing Plus properties is at a four year high. During 2017/18, new publicity programmes will be developed to improve how these properties are marketed to potential customers. A variety of open days are also planned to allow applicants the chance to see what facilities are on offer in schemes.

I have lived in Housing Plus for 2 years and love living here. The activities and social events on offer help me make friends, keep active and stop me feeling lonely.

Vera Logan, Housing Plus resident, Hebburn
Back To Top


Customer Satisfaction
Service Area 2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Decent Homes 93.56% 80.65% 89.2%
Repairs 97.44% 97.75% 89.03%
Anti-Social Behaviour 92.6% 93.9% 97%
Empty Homes
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Average number of empty homes 218 194 186
Decent Homes
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Number of homes made decent 3,794 3,404 3,130
Anti-Social Behaviour
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Number of ASB complaints 660 938 960
% of complaints responded to within timescale 99.31% 99.61% 99.6%
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Number of routine repairs 41,704 43,253 43,678
% of routine repairs delivered within 20 days 99.78% 99.55% 99.59%
Number of urgent repairs 24,243 24,313 24,479
% of urgent repairs delivered within timescale 99.67% 99.49% 99.64%
Complaints and Compliments
2014/15 2015/16 2016/17
Number of compliments received 427 489 497
Number of complaints received 799 964 844

Making Sense of the Money

Financial Overview

South Tyneside Homes manages around 18,000 homes on behalf of South Tyneside Council. In 2016/17 income was £68.9million. Below is an overview of how rent was spent during the year.

2016/2017 Spending
£67.0m 100%
Capital Charges £29.3m 43.7%
Repairs and Maintenance £15.0m 22.4%
Housing Management £11.2m 16.7%
Central Services £5.8m 8.6%
Rents, Rates and Taxes £2.4m 3.6%
Estate Management £1.2m 1.8%
Antisocial Behaviour £0.6m 0.9%
Income Management £0.5m 0.8%
Empty Homes £0.2m 0.3%
Tenant Involvement £0.1m 0.1%
Other £0.7m 1.1%

Focus On Income

Most of the income comes from rent but tenants and leaseholders are also charged for services and facilities that South Tyneside Homes provides. The contributions come from various sources such as the fee for collecting water rates from tenants:

2016/2017 Income
£69.0m 100%
Property rents £64.1m 93.0%
Garage and shop rents £0.9m 1.3%
Charges for services and facilities £3.0m 4.3%
Contributions towards costs £1.0m 1.4%

Did you know, for every £1 of rent you pay...

  • 44p is paid out for capital charges (this is the interest paid on borrowing the money to provide the properties)
  • 22p is spent on repairing properties
  • 17p is spent on managing tenancies
  • 8p is spent on central services such as the warden call service
  • 4p is the cost of specialist housing services
  • 5p is spent on miscellaneous costs including rent, rates and taxes