Annual Report 2013/14

About Red Kite

On 31st March 2014:

We owned 6005 tenanted and 627 leasehold homes (homes used to be owned and managed by Wycombe District Council until December 2011 – they are now owned and managed by Red Kite Community Housing).

We had these types of homes available:

No. of Bedrooms No. of Homes
Bedsits 262
1 Bedroom 2165
2 Bedrooms 1417
3 Bedrooms 2107
4 Bedrooms 48
5 Bedrooms 4
7 Bedrooms 1
9 Bedrooms 1

We had 34 sheltered housing schemes across the district, providing homes for tenants aged 55+.

There were 15 places on our Board – 6 for tenants and 1 for a leaseholder.

We had 130 members of staff (21 of these were fixed term contracts and 11 were agency workers).

Our focus over the last year has been on delivering the promises made to our tenants and leaseholders (in the transfer offer document) before the homes were transferred to Red Kite.

As a community organisation, we are truly tenant-led, which means that our tenants and leaseholders inspire and influence the design, delivery and outcome of everything we do, in lots of different ways.

Jennie

Jennie Ferrigno

Chairman

"As a tenant, and Chairman of your Board, I can tell you that the past year has been a whirlwind! Breaking away from the ownership of Wycombe District Council (WDC) has been a challenge in itself but we have managed, we believe, with some great success stories. As a Board, we have also made some very difficult decisions which have had an impact on some of you, but the outcome for social housing in the future will be positive as a result. Our responsibility as a landlord is to make sure that our business remains viable and fits the needs in today’s environment. We will continue to try and deliver a service that is different and with your views taken into account, wherever possible. Although no longer a part of WDC, we are still governed by changes that are made by Government and sometimes this means that we have to respond to changes that we do not create, but rest assured we will do everything we can to ensure that you are part of our decision-making process because we are truly tenant-led.

"I have gained so much knowledge this year and met some wonderful people. As an involved tenant it has been a privilege, and a challenge, but probably one of the most humbling and exciting periods of my life. I love every minute of it and look forward to welcoming any other tenants who feel they would like to give it a try."

Home Improvements

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

Red Kite Annual Report 2013 infographic

We started work on a pilot project of eight Wimpey No Fines homes (built just after the war as temporary homes) to increase energy efficiency, reduce bills and improve comfort.

We made great progress with our flagship Castlefield Regeneration scheme, setting up a panel of tenants and leaseholders who help make decisions about the whole project. We also started our consultations and shared initial ideas with the community.

We invested more than £700,000 in the installation of wet rooms, stair lifts, and minor aids and adaptations to support tenants living in their homes:

Work Number completed
Shower/wet room 98
1 Bedroom 10
Bathroom adaptations 14
Stairlift 17
Ramp/Thresholds 2
Door entry/handsets 5
Hard standing 4
Other 16
Total 166

We published a 10 year plan for improvements to leaseholder homes and we continue to update the programme for tenants as it develops.

Donna

Donna Barnard

Member of the Castlefield Regeneration Panel

"As a member of the panel, I have seen Red Kite actively trying to recruit as many members as possible from all ethnic, household, tenure and financial backgrounds. The open day held in March was a great success and as a result more members have joined the panel. As the project nears the planning application stages, the panel hopes more members continue to join as the scheme progresses further.

"Red Kite has empowered the panel by arranging a day trip to visit similar regeneration projects to help tenants understand the various options and problems so they can make decisions and shape the direction of the project. As with any major project, there have been some challenges along the way, but these have been explained and addressed in transparent discussions at meetings. All views and opinions are listened to and acted on when appropriate. Joining the panel is a clear way for tenants’ views to be expressed and filtered into the whole project."

Repairs

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

82% of repairs were right first time, so we were able to complete them during the initial visit.

In May 2014, we announced that from 1st August 2014, Ian Williams would no longer be responsible for repairs and maintenance. This change was made after listening to your feedback and considering the ongoing issues with their performance.

We are now working with involved tenants to select a long-term partner to deliver your repairs service in the future, which we will announce after we go through the process to appoint them – until then, Kier Services Ltd will carry out all repairs.Repairs can be reported in the following ways:

Norman

Norman Gilman

Repairs and Maintenance Interest Group

"I have been a member of our Repairs and Maintenance Interest Group for a number of years and have surprised myself at how much I have learnt about all the work that goes on behind the scenes to deliver the service. We are kept informed about what is going on and have a real chance to input into decisions about how our repairs service is delivered and the standards that we work to. We have built up great relationships with Red Kite staff and have developed a true partnership, where we can give our view from the ground and share it with staff who have their own professional view.

"I have had a particular interest in the Wimpey No Fines project and also been involved in visiting Stoke City Council (who also work with Kier) to see how they manage their repairs calls and how we can learn from them to make improvements here at Red Kite."

The Right Home For You

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

As part of helping tenants adapt to the challenges of welfare reform, our Board approved a scheme in June 2013 to support tenants affected by the bedroom tax to move to smaller homes – including cash and practical help with moving.

We spent £20,000 in the last financial year on supporting tenants to move to more suitable homes.

Our homes are available for those who need them and are based on the Housing Register held by Wycombe District Council. If you want to apply for a home please visit the Bucks Home Choice website.

If you want to move home, we can help with a mutual exchange which is a way of finding a home to swap with an existing tenant so your home better suits your needs.

Dorothy

Dorothy Coomer

Neighbourhood Interest Group

"The speed dating events were very friendly and relaxed occasions where tenants could meet and chat, and discuss what accommodation they were looking for and what they were offering in exchange, over a cup of tea and biscuits. Generally the reasons were for larger homes to accommodate growing families, or to downsize to something more manageable, or simply a move to another area for work reasons etc. The events were very well attended and proved to be really useful, with those who weren't successful asking Red Kite to hold more events in the near future. As an involved tenant, I was particularly impressed at the relaxed atmosphere and the numbers of tenants who came along to both events."

Rent & Arrears

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

Most of our income came from the rent and service charges that you pay – we use this money to channel it straight back into services for you, your home and your community

Staff in our new Relationship Team make sure that rent is paid on time and do what they can to help those who have difficulty paying, get back on track

Each month, between 2% and 3% of rent is uncollected. This means that we are still devoting significant resources to tackle rent arrears, which affect the amount of money we have to improve our services.

Marta

Marta Tarapata

Neighbourhood Interest Group

"My involvement as a tenant has been such a great experience for me. I got to know the team at Red Kite, how things are being taken care of and what our rent money is used for. As a tenant, hopefully I have brought a few fresh ideas, from our point of view. Our achievement has been great so far...and if we carry on with the good work, it will be even greater in the future."

Sheltered Housing

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

During the year we carried out a review of our sheltered housing to make sure that our sheltered homes are sustainable in the future. As a result of this, we are now investing in 27 of our sheltered schemes which will receive a range of improvements such as new kitchens, bathrooms, front doors and windows and boilers. A further two schemes which have been re-designated for general needs housing have also been included in our improvement programme and one other scheme has been added to our Castlefield Regeneration Programme

For the remaining six of our schemes, they cost more money to maintain than we receive in income, so they are not as financially sustainable in the future. After an extensive consultation with tenants, a decision was made to close four schemes and partially close another two.

We have met with the 76 affected tenants to talk about their needs and are helping them find suitable homes within our other schemes.

A total of £66,241 was spent by tenants at our sheltered schemes. Each of our schemes is given a budget of £50 per home to spend on things that will improve the quality of life for the residents. The idea is that it brings the communities together to spend the money for the benefit of all residents. On 31st March 2014, 13 schemes had formed committees to manage their budget with their own bank accounts, with three schemes yet to spend the money they have available. Examples of things that have been purchased include garden furniture, plants for communal grounds and renewing communal TV licences.

Bernie

Bernie Hunter

chair of the Sheltered Housing Interest Group

"The last twelve months have been a great learning curve for me as a member of our Sheltered Housing Interest Group and a member of the Annual Report team. With the help of staff and other involved tenants, I have started to understand what it takes to run a business of this size and complexity. I can only thank everyone involved for their help, and friendship over the time I have been working with them."

Your Involvement

Over the last year, lots of you have been involved in different ways. With a tenant chair of our Board we have ensured that we were a tenant-led organisation starting at the top making strategic decisions about our business.

Our Interest Groups have been monitoring our services on the ground and have an input into new developments, our Champions have been out and about monitoring the cleaning on their estates, our editorial panel has been instrumental in putting together your Red Kite newsletter three times a year, and our Core Procurement Group has appointed a number of contractors to carry out work for us and also challenged contractors who haven’t been performing as promised, to list just a few of the ways you have helped to shape Red Kite

If you would like to get involved as a volunteer at Red Kite, please contact us at volunteering@redkitehousing.org.uk or call 01494 476221.

Susan Duncan

Neighbourhood interest Group

"If you want a say in the way Red Kite operates, what better way than to volunteer - it is totally painless and costs nothing but comes with many opportunities. As a member you can have a say in the way services are provided in your communities. We all know what it feels like to moan about something once it’s already happened, but by getting involved, you have a genuine chance to shape things and make sure your views are heard. If you take a pride in your area, enjoy living in your home and have ideas for what could be done even better, then as I have found out from my own personal experience, it really is worth getting involved with Red Kite. It is a brilliant feeling to be part of an organisation that, in my opinion, does exactly what they have promised, and more."

Antisocial Behaviour

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

The top three causes of anti-social behaviour were

  • Noise
  • Harassment
  • Drugs.

Injunctions have proved to be an effective way of tackling antisocial behaviour, since the consequences of breaching the injunctions are very serious. During the year, we were able to ban certain visitors to our homes who displayed drunken, abusive or threatening behaviour.

In August 2013, one of our tenants was sentenced to four months imprisonment after breaching his injunction.

We spent more than £30,000 dealing with antisocial behaviour (ASB), mostly on court fees.

Antisocial behaviour can be reported 24 hours a day through our website.

We have a dedicated team who manage antisocial behaviour and are available to support you and your communities to work through solutions for behaviour that affects you.

We have a zero-tolerance policy for antisocial behaviour, and work with affected tenants to improve situations as much as we can.

James

James Stafford

Neighbourhood interest Group

"I first got involved with Red Kite because I really didn’t think they would be able to fulfil all the promises they made to us when our homes were transferred from Wycombe District Council. I came along to an open day so I could make sure my voice was heard and also keep an eye on what was happening on the ground, and then joined the Neighbourhood Interest Group. How my view has changed over the last couple of years!

"As a member of the group and also a co-optee on the Board for several months, I have been part of a team that is influential in shaping Red Kite and making key decisions. Not only do we have an opportunity to input into how things are done and what improvements are made to our communities, but we have also been involved in decisions about how we manage anti-social behaviour and are kept informed about what’s going on. I have a built up a great relationship with the staff and know that they are dedicated to providing us with excellent services. Where things don’t always go as planned, they do their upmost to put things right and learn from mistakes. It’s been a truly fulfilling experience and I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in Red Kite and our communities."

Choosing our Partners

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

All of the contracts we awarded were shaped and chosen by your fellow tenants and leaseholders on our Core Procurement Group:

  • Repairs and maintenance – when the original Mears contract didn’t deliver what you wanted it to, your Core Procurement Group made a choice about who would be better placed to deliver a service to meet your expectations and a new contract was awarded to Ian Williams who promised to meet them
  • Grounds maintenance - John O’Connor took on the contract from 1st April 2013
  • Gas service and installation, awarded to K&T Heating
  • Electrical works - Lightside
  • Major works – Kier and Keepmoat
  • Other improvement works and specific project works carried out by our Small to Medium Enterprise contracts
  • Community Call Service – Tunstall Telecom.

Your tenant and leaseholder Core Procurement Group led on what the contracts looked like to make sure your needs and priorities were addressed, how the services would be delivered and who the best contractor was to deliver them, considering price but focussing on quality.

June

June Wakefield

Core Procurement Group and Major Works Group

"I really enjoy being part of The Core Procurement Group, as although it can sometimes be hard work, it is very rewarding to feel we are doing our very best for all our fellow tenants and leaseholders by selecting products and organisations that will improve our homes. In my working life I have been involved in various types of procurement but have learnt so much more from this experience.

"I am also part of the Major Works Group and have been visiting a range of different tenants in their homes where they are having new kitchens or bathrooms fitted. They have all made me feel very welcome and it has been a totally positive experience because they have loved the improvement work, and I’m enjoying it immensely!"

Money

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

This is where our money came from
This is what we spent our money on

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014 we received income of £37,119,000 and spent £35,305,000. The surplus will be spent delivering more of our promises to you over the next three years. Our audited financial statements can be read here.

We spent £14,541,000 on delivering the promised improvements to your homes.

Khalid

Khalid Khan

Improvement Commission

"As a tenant member of the Improvement Commission, I keep a watchful eye on how the money Red Kite receives is spent. I want to make sure that the money I pay and my fellow tenants and leaseholders pay in rent and service charges results in all of us getting services that are value for money.   

"The Improvement Commission has a key role in scrutinising the services that Red Kite provides. Over the course of the last year we completed two service reviews on anti-social behaviour and on new bathroom andkitchen installations. We are currently looking at how Red Kite uses feedback from tenants and our findings and recommendations will be reported to the Board later this year. The opportunity to drill down in each of these areas and look in detail at how services are provided, what works and what doesn’t ,is a really exciting one and I feel privileged to have the opportunity to help shape Red Kite. We are always looking for new members to join us so if you want to learn new skills, build up your CV and work with a great team of people, please get in touch."

Communities

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

Last year tenants were responsible for choosing where to spend money on improving the quality of life for local people. These are some of the community projects that we chose to support:

  • A new website for Wycombe Women’s Aid so visitors have access to really important information on how to access this brilliant service
  • A co-ordinator for Movers and Shakers classes that promote health and wellbeing for older people
  • The Wycombe Community festival
  • A project at Lane End where local residents have come together to regenerate their playing fields and sports pavilion
  • A van for Chefs for Jesus to serve food and drinks to those who need it
  • Three new Shopmobility scooters.

You also spent money in your neighbourhoods:

  • Improving parking areas
  • Landscaping communal garden areas
  • Replacing fences
  • Putting in raised flower beds
  • Improving play areas.

Applying for the fund is easy... just follow the simple process on this page.

Michelle

Michelle Ball

Chair of the Neighbourhood Interest Group

"I have been involved with the Neighbourhood Interest Group for two years, most recently becoming the Chair of the group. It’s really worthwhile being part of a group that contributes ideas on how our communities can be improved. It’s also a great feeling to be able to award the funding on good ideas such as garden furniture for sheltered accommodation and improved car parking at various other schemes. Our input has helped to make a positive outcome in our communities and it’s clear that our voice is heard, as you can see from the projects we have supported over the past year."

Empty Homes

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

It has taken more time on average than we would have liked to re-let a home. We need to make sure that each home meets our lettable standard before a new tenant moves in. This is an area which we are giving a high priority and working with our tenants to look at ways of reducing the time taken.

Robin

Robin Stevens

Leaseholder and Repairs and Maintenance Interest Group

"For the last year I have been an involved leaseholder and my particular interest has been in the time it takes to re-let an empty home. I have also shown an interest in some homes that, for one reason or another, have been left unoccupied for a long time. A lot of work has already taken place to speed up the time taken to re-let empty homes, and many of the other unoccupied homes have been brought back into use, which of course means more rental income. Rest assured I will spend more of my time on your behalf working with the staff team at Red Kite attending meetings, visiting other organisations and looking at ways that we can cut this time and improve the quality of homes for new tenants."

Your Feedback

Between 1st April 2013 and 31st March 2014:

Over the last year, we have been focused on increasing the amount of feedback captured, including complaints.. We see all feedback, compliments, complaints and comments, as genuine opportunities to make a change so that the reason for the complaint doesn’t come up again. We still have a lot more to do in terms of making sure we tell people about all the things we are doing to improve services as a result, but that’s what we’re working on now

Our Improvement Commission has started a review of the feedback process to see what works and what doesn’t, and look at improvements we can make.

You can give feedback in lots of ways, which include:

Vince

Vince Conlan

Chair of the Tenant and Leaseholder Committee

"Having been an involved tenant ever since we set up Red Kite, I know just how important it is that we get feedback from anyone who uses our services. It doesn’t matter whether it is good or bad – we need it!

"Without it, we don’t know what we are doing well and what we need to change. It was only as a result of your feedback that we knew that our repairs contractor wasn’t meeting the standards that we set and we were able to do something about it. The feedback you gave us about our previous grounds maintenance contractor also meant that we’ve changed the contract to have more grass cutting. We, as involved tenants, use your feedback (in all areas of our services) to help shape Red Kite. We need to know what everyone thinks so we can act on your behalf so please keep it coming in and thank you for your responses."