Our customers are at the heart of our business. They are our most important stakeholder group and include tenants, residents and other service users. We are committed to achieving customer service excellence in all that we do.
In 2018, the Association achieved another successful review against the Customer Service Excellence Standard and the accreditation will be in place until December 2021. The Assessor was extremely positive about the Association in general, he stated “ng homes were found to have a deep understanding of, and commitment to, Customer Service Excellence. The commitment was displayed from senior management levels through to operations and front-line staff.”
We always strive to treat our customers with respect and be responsive to their needs. We value the views of our customers and actively seek ways in which to engage with and listen to our customers, involving them and working with them to develop and deliver the services that they want.
At ng homes we understand that our people are our greatest resource. Our staff are committed to delivering an excellent level of service to our communities and we value and support all of our people and encourage them to achieve their maximum potential. Our staff are motivated, supported and developed to ensure that the organisation provides excellent services to tenants and other customers and achieves our ambitious objectives.
A renewed focus on staff engagement during 2018 has led to number of innovative initiatives being underway and has contributed to the creation of a positive work environment where everyone can contribute to achieving high performance. We work together to make the organisation the best it can be. We aim to create a workplace where everyone is personally involved and understands how their role contributes to the success of the organisation. Succession planning at all levels is a priority, so we identify clear development routes for staff and recognise the importance of informal types of development, such as mentoring and coaching as well as more formal methods of training and development and we continue to provide opportunities for staff to grow and develop with the organisation.
In 2019, the Association achieved another successful annual review of our IIP accreditation and we were awarded Investors in Young People (IIYP) Gold status. The IIYP review assessed how ng homes attract, recruit, support, guide, develop and retain young people and the Assessor was very impressed by the organisation and spoke very highly of all the people that she met, stating: “The young people that I met with are great ambassadors who spoke positively about their experiences with you. The overall feedback I received was very encouraging and insightful which is further testimony of your commitment and desire to support young people.”
We are committed to ensuring that the housing sector is seen as a place where young people can have a fulfilling job and build a rewarding and meaningful career. To this end we have supported a number of modern apprentices many of whom have gone on to permanent positions in ng homes and beyond. Our trainees are provided with comprehensive training which includes studying towards a recognised qualification from the Chartered Institute of Housing and guidance and support to ensure that they are equipped with the skills and ability to work in a wide range of important roles within the housing sector.
We are passionate about playing our part in ensuring that there is a constant supply of talent coming into the housing sector in Scotland including supporting the SFHA’s Housing Apprentice Action Plan for Scotland which aims to increase the amount and range of Modern Apprenticeships that are available. We fully support the Action Plan’s focus on equality and diversity, addressing issues around gender, additional support and complex needs, and minority group participation including BME young people. We will continue to work with PATH Scotland in this respect and we have had several Trainees who have come through this route. We are also working in partnership with PATH and SHARE to develop and deliver an innovative one year accredited programme during 2019/20.
Volunteers play an increasingly important role in ng homes. We are very fortunate
to have dedicated, skilled and enthusiastic volunteers who support and complement our staff teams. We value the contribution and role of volunteers and we work in partnership with a range of organisations to support them with training and development opportunities to ensure that they are able to get the most from their volunteering, including accreditation where appropriate.
Our Volunteer Strategy forms the basis of this aspect of our work and we intend to build on the current framework for volunteering opportunities to consolidate and expand our regeneration activities and services in order to improve the lives of our tenants, residents and local people across all ages and cultures.
Volunteering opportunities are achieved through a variety of initiatives and activities, from helping develop the landlord report, to focus groups, and community based projects. These include “Activate” a community development training course delivered in partnership with Glasgow University, Pitstops personal development programme and “Song/Shimmy” which is a regular social event for older residents.
ng homes is registered with and regulated by the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR). The SHR has introduced its new Regulatory Framework which takes immediate effect and the Association is committed to ensuring that we are compliant with all of the seven Standards contained within the Framework. We have been classified by the SHR as “systemically important”. The SHR will be reviewing our business plan and financial projections as part of this engagement. The Association will provide the Regulator with an Annual Assurance Statement by 31 October 2019 and we will work closely with the Regulator to ensure that we continue to meet the regulatory standards of governance and financial management. Governance self assessment will continue to be a key feature of our approach.
We are also a registered charity regulated by OSCR and as a community benefit society we are overseen by the Financial Conduct Authority.
The Scottish Government has supported a number of our key programmes and initiatives with funding and this has enabled us to deliver innovative programmes within our communities. We take account of the Scottish Government’s national policy priorities when developing and delivering our services. We are committed to excellent customer service and meeting customer expectations in line with the Scottish Social Housing Charter ensuring quality and standards of service and supporting the Scottish Government’s long-term vision for a safer, stronger Scotland. Where appropriate, we will work with others to influence government policy on housing, community, and health and social care for the benefit of our customers. This was reflected in funding support direct from the Scottish Government and from other public grant programmes including Climate Challenge Fund, People and Communities Fund, BIG Lottery Fund and others. The level of funding support over the last 5 years shows a high degree of confidence in us by various national funders. However, this is becoming more competitive as funding sources become more stretched.
ng homes is an established ‘community anchor’ and we work with local partners to deliver community events and develop community assets, build capacity, develop local people and improve access to support and services. Our aim is to work with a range of partners to deliver lasting benefits to local communities and to have a positive influence on the housing sector in general. Our partners may be small local organisations or groups or they can be large national organisations. Key partners include SFHA, CIH, SHARE, Employers in Voluntary Housing, Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum, Glasgow City Council and the Scottish Government as well as local community based voluntary groups and local businesses / organisations. We are the host organisation for Thriving Places in Possilpark and Ruchill. We also have a strong partnership with SFRS (Scottish Fire Rescue Services) where we host a seconded post.
We understand the importance of loans and treasury management to our business and maintain a strong professional relationship with our lenders. Finance is important to allow us to build new homes and refurbish our existing stock.
We recognise the necessity of compliance with the terms set out in its loans with current lenders, the Nationwide Building Society (NBS) and The Housing Finance Corporation (THFC). We communicate with our lenders in an open, professional and timely manner to ensure that our lenders are aware of our plans and that we are meeting all of our obligations within the terms of our loan agreements and covenants.
Suppliers / Contractors
We have strong working relationships with a variety of suppliers and contractors. Our relationships are built on mutual respect and integrity. We engage with professional, ethical companies that deliver value for money products and services. We will ensure that we continue to develop and maintain sound positive relationships in line with good practice in procurement, contract management and professional services.