Tuesday, 11 December 2012

Housing Ombudsman

Firstly I would like to state that the requirements to go through a step are flawed and unnecessary. The Government’s intentions would have been better served by tightening up the regulatory requirements on Registered Providers to deal with complaints ‘right first time’ and ensuring Tenant Scrutiny Panel had an explicit role in overseeing handling of and learning from complaints backed up by good relationships between Ombudsman and Regulator. It is perverse that social housing tenants are the only group of people unable to access an Ombudsman directly and in the longer term this will prove hard to sustain.
That said I have four main areas of comment:
1. The consultation proposes informing involved Designated Persons of the outcome of their referral and Regulator or Boards or Scrutiny Panels where landlords refuse to comply with the Ombudsman’s findings. This is unnecessarily restrained. I would propose that all outcomes, not just non-compliance, are shared with Regulator, Boards and Scrutiny Panels. This would ensure that the Regulator had access to available information about poor services, Boards were aware of outcomes as the accountable and responsible body for landlords and Scrutiny Panels to support their co-regulatory role in holding landlords to account. All can then decide what response, in line with co-regulation, they should take from a position of knowledge not ignorance.
2. The consultation also rightly raises the issue of time limits for handling of complaints but is unspecific about what these might be. Either the Ombudsman should set some broad parameters for time limits or refer tenants and landlords to industry standards which would be a reasonable guide.
3. The proposal to only hear cases where there is “significant adverse effects” on tenants seems unduly restrictive and contrary to the concept of co-regulation as set out by the Government. Tenants would want to be reassured that cases where their complaint might be justified was dealt with satisfactorily. Restricting this to the worst cases only would condemn most referrals to a perverse limbo where tenants were unable to have their case dealt with.
4. Finally many landlords are considering the best way to handle the requirements of the Localism Act. Should they stay with three or reduce to two stages? What is the role of Tenant Panel – could this be the Scrutiny Panel? Should there be a preferred route? I understand and agree that the Ombudsman won’t arbitrate in the process but instead offer feedback. However some consideration with landlords and tenants by the Ombudsman before 1st April 2013 and sharing examples more widely might avoid the need for such feedback in the future.

Response to Housing Ombudsman Consultation

Firstly I would like to state that the requirements to go through a step are flawed and unnecessary. The Government’s intentions would have been better served by tightening up the regulatory requirements on Registered Providers to deal with complaints ‘right first time’ and ensuring Tenant Scrutiny Panel had an explicit role in overseeing handling of and learning from complaints backed up by good relationships between Ombudsman and Regulator. It is perverse that social housing tenants are the only group of people unable to access an Ombudsman directly and in the longer term this will prove hard to sustain.
That said I have four main areas of comment:
1. The consultation proposes informing involved Designated Persons of the outcome of their referral and Regulator or Boards or Scrutiny Panels where landlords refuse to comply with the Ombudsman’s findings. This is unnecessarily restrained. I would propose that all outcomes, not just non-compliance, are shared with Regulator, Boards and Scrutiny Panels. This would ensure that the Regulator had access to available information about poor services, Boards were aware of outcomes as the accountable and responsible body for landlords and Scrutiny Panels to support their co-regulatory role in holding landlords to account. All can then decide what response, in line with co-regulation, they should take from a position of knowledge not ignorance.
2. The consultation also rightly raises the issue of time limits for handling of complaints but is unspecific about what these might be. Either the Ombudsman should set some broad parameters for time limits or refer tenants and landlords to industry standards which would be a reasonable guide.
3. The proposal to only hear cases where there is “significant adverse effects” on tenants seems unduly restrictive and contrary to the concept of co-regulation as set out by the Government. Tenants would want to be reassured that cases where their complaint might be justified was dealt with satisfactorily. Restricting this to the worst cases only would condemn most referrals to a perverse limbo where tenants were unable to have their case dealt with.
4. Finally many landlords are considering the best way to handle the requirements of the Localism Act. Should they stay with three or reduce to two stages? What is the role of Tenant Panel – could this be the Scrutiny Panel? Should there be a preferred route? I understand and agree that the Ombudsman won’t arbitrate in the process but instead offer feedback. However some consideration with landlords and tenants by the Ombudsman before 1st April 2013 and sharing examples more widely might avoid the need for such feedback in the future.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Phil Morgan Annual Report 2011 - 2012

Phil Morgan 2011-12
Welcome
As I commented last year, ‘I became confident of a market – in consultancy and commentating – for someone with integrity and honesty to stand up for tenant involvement and improving services.’ My approach to widening involvement – by improving services and anchoring it through robust scrutiny – remains as vital over this past 12 months.
I’m pleased to have worked with a range of landlords and tenants and helped realise the real achievements outlined here. And I’m pleased to be able to comment on major housing matters through 24dash.com and Housing magazine. I’ve relished the opportunity to speak at events and to judge the Housing Excellence and Housing Innovation Awards.
I’ve also continued my voluntary activity through Wulvern Housing, CIH North West committee, St Hilda’s CE Primary School and the Manchester Jazz Festival.
I welcome the same accountability that I insist on when working with landlords and tenants. Enjoy reading.

Phil Morgan

Consultancy
LB Hammersmith and Fulham
My main project during 2011-12 was reviewing resident involvement at LB Hammersmith and Fulham. Previous reviews had all proposed widening involvement which hadn’t been implemented. I spent time listening to residents, officers, councillors and MPs. My review concluded that the council’s approach to resident involvement, which had remained the same for 24 years, no longer worked. I led a consultation on a new resident involvement strategy and recruiting to new resident bodies.
Outcomes
• The council adopted a new resident involvement strategy – now more residents are involved in more ways with more impact on service delivery
• It consulted on ending the tenants levy
• As a result, it ended the levy – saving £170,000 a year
• A Local Residents’ Panel and Repairs Working Group were set up – including participants from diverse backgrounds with no prior involvement
• I worked closely with councillors, officers, residents, leaseholders and MPs, gaining bipartisan support

Central & Cecil Housing Care Support Resident Scrutiny Panel
I have continued my work with Central & Cecil’s resident scrutiny panel. I led an away day to discuss the implication of the Localism Act, closer working with the Central & Cecil board, how best to monitor its improvement plan, and widen communication with residents and staff.
I carried out a full review of the panel’s effectiveness including external comments from two active residents in Greater Manchester.
Panel’s impact
• Making a difference to the services and culture of Central & Cecil
• Monitoring performance on service standards
• Well placed to take on a monitoring role currently held by the operations committee
• Playing an active role in monitoring care performance as well as housing
• Using portfolio holders, reserving places for residents who meet the criteria and action tables to record agreed actions

Red Kite Community Housing
I have worked closely with Red Kite to develop its improvement commission which has an improvement and scrutiny brief, reflecting the organisation’s tenant-led ethos.
Outcomes
• Terms of reference agreed by the Red Kite board
• Three taster sessions for interested tenants and leaseholders
• Three staff sessions on the commission’s role
• Working with Red Kite staff and board to recruit 11 commission members
• Support for an induction and early work programme

Other consultancy work
• Nottingham City Homes – developing a co-regulation strategy with residents, staff and board members and setting out a new tenant involvement approach that emphasises widening involvement and service improvement. All proposals have been adopted.
• LB Croydon – supporting the resident scrutiny panel to complete its first service review of the council’s contact call centre. The report is with the panel for final agreement, and soon be presented to council officers.
• Jephson Housing Association – new work on its approach to tenant scrutiny
• Islington & Shoreditch Housing Association – a service review of cleaning and ground maintenance
• Family Mosaic Tenant Scrutiny Panel – support on co-regulation, its first service review and its relationship with Family Mosaic
• Green Deal for Sustainable Homes – authored a summary of parts 1, 2 and 3

Speaking
• East Midlands Tenant Participation Forum: Should tenant panels be accredited?
• Riverside South East Tenants’ Conference: How resident involvement has evolved
• East Kent Housing AGM and Tenants’ Conference: Tenant involvement matters
• LB Hammersmith and Fulham Leaseholders Conference
• Blackpool Tenants Academy: Key issues facing tenant scrutiny
• London Tenant Scrutiny Network: Preparing service review reports and key issues facing tenant scrutiny
Judging
• Housing Innovation Awards – 1 March 2012, London
• Housing Excellence Awards – 9 May 2012, Old Trafford

Commentating
• @philmorganblog
• 24dash.com
Decent housing for teachers, nurses and young coppers, 26 September 2012
Grant Shapps - the Good, the Bad and the Wikipedia entries, 21 September 2012
Selling off dead expensive social housing, 28 August 2012
Because volunteers are worth it, not worthies, 18 July 2012
Swift and certain justice, 5 July 2012
Housing's coming home to Manchester, 11 June 2012
Working from home, 18 May 2012
Payment of board members – the £100bn question, 8 May 2012
A simple question for Mr Shapps, 25 April 2012
Tenant involvement isn't ‘cuddly’, 11 April 2012
The Tenant Services Authority – how to disappear completely, 10 April 2012
Large scale voluntary transfer hasn't gone away, you know, 16 March 2012
Mansion tax not bedroom tax? 17 February 2012
o Making the right to buy work for tenants?
Tenant scrutiny is seriously detrimental to lazy landlords, 23 November 2011
The FIT is dead, long live the Green Deal, 2 November 2011
• Housing magazine
Defence Council Housing, 15 March 2012
o Green Deal jobs for tenants October 2012


With thanks…
Thank you to the tenants, residents, leaseholders, councillors and board members of LB Hammersmith and Fulham, Central & Cecil Housing Care Support, Red Kite Community Housing, Nottingham City Homes and LB Croydon for their support and tolerance of my advocacy of change.
Thanks more specifically to the following:
• Teresa, Geoff, Gerald, Shaun, Laura, John, Daniel, Anthony, Andrew, Paul, Janet, Ros, Shereze, Ibrar, Val, Sarah, Angus, Virginia, Michelle, Marilyn, Sheila, Susan Virginia, David, Tom, John
• Lee, Andre, Sally, Madeline, Laura, Meleri, Phil, Brian, Kieran, Jeanne, Winston, Rose, Derek, Adrian, Julia, Caroline
• Belinda, Jennie, Michele, Trevor, Neil, Robert, Donna, David, Christine, Jim, Khalid, Paula, Celia, Diana, Mohammed, Adam, Teresa
• Nick, Lesley, Kim, Kate, Janet, Andrew, Sheila, Afzaal, Cheryl, Gary
• Chris, Ian, Liz, Riki, Carol, Chris, Guy, Caroline, Ruth, Sheryl
• Wendy, Sue, Mike, Peter, Lyn, Lucy, Chloe, Helen, Brendan, Keith, Wendy, Sunnae,
Special thanks to Jane, Helen, Sarah, Debbie, Magnus, Sue, Barbara, David, Jeremy, Carla, Sue, Julia, Aileen, Geraldine, Michelle, Amber, Jon, Chris, Magician 73, Gill, Cathy, Deborah, my many salsa dancing partners, Simon, Radiohead and Helen
Dedicated to my lovely grandson Mylo

Monday, 17 October 2011

Phil Morgan's Annual Report


Phil Morgan 2011-12
·
Welcome
Just over a year ago I was thinking about what to do next.
Having led the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS) for ten successful years, I had taken the idea of tenant scrutiny and local offers into the Tenant Services Authority and seen them implemented into its regulatory framework.
I met ALMO and housing association chief executives, directors of housing, contractors, tenants, former bosses, housing agencies – lots of people I’d worked closely with. And I became confident of a market – in consultancy and commentating – for someone with integrity and honesty to stand
up for tenant involvement and improving services.
Little things started to fall into place…
·
Grant Shapps’ utterly barmy ideas on a ‘democratic filter’ brought out the fire in me – to make tenant involvement work at a local level and to write about it.
·
I chaired the International Union of Tenants Congress
in Prague 1-3 October 2010
·
I joined the Chartered Institute of Housing North West committee, chairing a Budget briefing and running two sessions on social enterprise with Helen Scurr for the North West and West Midlands
·
I became a board member for Wulvern Housing
·
I started blogging for Dash Housing
·
I became a regular columnist for Excel Publishing for Northern, Midlands and Southern Housing
·
I joined the Guardian’s Housing Advisory Panel.
Here I detail the consulting, speaking and commentating that
followed.

Enjoy.

Phil Morgan


Consultancy
Rochdale Boroughwide
Housing
·
Supported early work on a proposal for a mutually owned housing association, liaising with the Tenant Services Authority and working with the newly formed Tenants Panel
·
Ran a procurement exercise for tenants recruiting an Independent Tenant Advisor
·
Helped set up and recruit a tenant scrutiny Commission in consultation with tenants and staff
·
Developed terms of reference, a person specification, code of conduct and tenant benefits
·
Ran the requirement process with staff – informal meetings with interested tenants, setting out questions, holding interviews, writing up notes
·
Supported the panel’s (now the Tenant Scrutiny Commission) meetings, led agenda-setting and workplan meetings, liaised about the commission’s work and role
·
Set out working relationships between the Commission and RBH's Operations Committee
·
Ran training sessions on policy and board member development for the RBH Board
·
Mentored the Commission’s chair
‘We are extremely happy with the work that Phil has done for
us. His ability and knowledge within the field are invaluable.’
Lynne Brosnan, Chair, Rochdale Tenants’ Panel

Central and Cecil Housing Trust
·
Appointed residents’ friend by residents
·
Worked with tenants and staff to revitalise a Joint Service User Forum and set up a Resident Scrutiny Panel
·
Set up open forum meetings, increasing residents’ attendance and ability to input into staff’s work
·
Led in recruiting a Resident Scrutiny Panel – setting out terms of reference, person specifications, code of conduct, benefits to tenants ·

Held two drop-in sessions with staff and interviewed 12 successful panel applicants
·
Supported panel meetings, working closely with staff,
the chair and vice-chair on the panel’s workplan and continued development
·
Undertook a review of the panel – all proposals were fully accepted
·
Spoke at the Central and Cecil residents’ conference on resident involvement.
‘Phil has really helped our residents to move forward significantly and we now have a reformed open resident debating forum and a fully formed resident scrutiny panel, with representation from 12 people from a cross-section of our resident population. Individual panel members have been well supported to develop into their role – they speak very highly of how Phil has helped them individually and collectively as a group. I have personally found Phil to be very supportive indeed. He has provided valuable information and insight, shared his experience willingly and has been truly committed to seeing resident scrutiny work in practice for the benefit of our residents and for Central and Cecil as a business.’
Julia Ashley, Business Development Director, Central and Cecil Housing Trust

West Lancashire Borough Council
·
Worked with the council following its Audit Commission report
·
Supported the Council with the Tenant Services Authority on regulatory compliance
·
Ran workshops with tenants and staff to contribute to the Council’s response to the Tenant Services Authority
·
Led work on the voluntary undertaking to the Tenant Services Authority, related overview statement and gap analysis of complying with the regulatory framework.
·
Supported the tenant led Scrutiny Evaluation Group and Service Improvement Groups
‘Your approach to delivering these Projects has been superb. You have delivered projects that were complex and difficult dealing with the often fraught interface between tenants, staff and elected members. Your product has been balanced, well received and led to significant improvements in
delivering change and in how we have been perceived externally. I would have no hesitation in recommending your professional services to others.’
Steve Jones Strategic Housing Manager

Other
·
Ran a development session for Homes In Sedgemoor tenant board members
·
Led a policy briefing session for the City of London
·
Undertook an independent review of Wycombe BC’s scrutiny arrangements.

Speaking
·
Association of Retained Council Housing National Tenants Conference

Central and Cecil Residents Conference in London
·
Chartered Institute of Housing Future of Regulation conference in London – lead speaker
·
Chartered Institute of Housing Home Ownership Conference
·
East Midlands Tenant Participation Forum
·
Hull Tenant Forum
·
Paragon Tenants Conference
·
Rotherham Tenants Federation’s Conference
·
Sedgemoor Tenants’ Conference on Service Delivery and Involvement
·
Tenants conference organised by Teresa Warn of Teign Housing: Tenant
 Involvement Today

·
West Midlands Tenant Participation Forum

Chairing
·
Centre for Housing Studies Shaping the Future
for Sheltered and Supported Housing Conference in Oxford
·
Chartered Institute of Housing Budget Briefing in
Manchester
·
International Union of Tenants Conference in
Prague

‘At many conferences I have spoken before and after Phil. He was always willing to listen to the tenants’ point of view and put tenants first.’
Dennis Rees OBE, Chair
of National Federation of ALMOs

Judging
Housing
Excellence Awards
Old Trafford 11th May 2011

Commentating
Dash 24 blog
·
May the Force of the Ombudsman be with you!
5th August 2011
·
Yeah but no but yeah but no: Grant Shapps, Vicki
Pollard and tenant scrutiny
27th July 2011
·
Lies, damned lies and statistics about rich tenants
7th June 2011
·
Are tenant triggers the answer to zombie regulation?
24th May 2011
·
Annual reports - good start but must do better
9th May 2011
·
East Midlands tenants say strictly no to government
housing policies
14th April 2011
·
Failing to solve tenant worklessness - tragedy
repeated as farce
6th April 2011
·
To Hull and back - involvement, change and stuffed
Alsatian dogs
25th March 2011
·
Morgan's run - dying to be old? 26th
January 2011
·
New housing, affordable housing and Ringo Starr
4th January 2011
·
Grant Shapps and the TSA - the love that dares not
speak its name
24th November 2010
·
Life after the Comprehensive Spending Review
3rd November 2010
·
Is renting the new black – reports from the
International Union of Tenants Congress in Prague
13th
October 2010
·
No regrets – the future of social housing policy post-TSA 5th October 2010
·
Affordable rents 17th October 2010
·
HCA investment prospectus 22nd February 2011
·
Tenant cashback
22nd July 2011
Northern, Midlands and Southern
Housing
·
Housing regulation: dead and loving it? February 2011
·
Affordable rents and housing benefit May 2011
·
Power to the people? July
2011
·
Tenants and energy efficiency November 2010
Guardian Housing Advisory Network
·
Allowing accountability to lie solely with landlords is a risky business, 14 April 2011
·
Live Q&A: Accountability in social housing – how to get it right, 7 April 2011
·
Five steps towards tenant involvement for landlords to take in 2011, 23 Dec 2010
·
Tenant Scrutiny Panels: an easy way for lazy landlords to thrive? 22 Nov 2010

Inside Housing
·
Regularly quoted: Guess who? 5 Aug 2011
·
Get tenants on board, 26 Nov 2010

With thanks…
Thank you to Rochdale Boroughwide Housing, Central and Cecil
Housing Trust and West Lancashire Borough Council. Each has welcomed my
contribution – even when it challenges. Each supports the idea of making tenant
scrutiny, tenant involvement and regulatory compliance work together
harmoniously.
And many thanks to Helen, Magnus, the CIH WM Committee,
Gary, Dawn, Hilary, Niamh, Jenny, Debbie, Cathy, Sue, Chris, Gareth,
Maxine, Ross, Janice, Kate, Michael, Richard, Steve, Carla, Tim, Peter J,
Rafael, Mick, Claer, Ron, Rupert, Geraldine, Yvonne, Janet, Liz, Jayne, Janet,
Yvonne, Helen, Mark, Andrea, Sarah, Teresa, Philip, Geoffrey, Sarah, Sonya,
Andrew, Jane, John, Sharon, Lynne, Alan, Andrew, Michelle, Andrea, Aydin,
Rachel, Caroline, George, Adrian, Julia, Lee, David, Julia, Martin, Mark,
Helen, Ruth, Alison, Steve, Alison, Jo, Merron, Rachael, John, Hilary, Fiona,
Moira, Nickie, Alison, Deborah, PJ Harvey,
Barbara, Jane, Sarah, Leigh, Bob, John, Hazel, Sandra, Jenny, Chris,
Pat, Pat, Simon, Rachel, Debbie, Carol, Clare, Simon, Julie, Lydia, Jackie,
Tracy, Lisa, Penny, Nadja, Sven, Sven, Sue, Lesley, Su and many tolerant listeners along the
way.