Scrutiny and Empowerment Partners Ltd (SEP) is owned by Yvonne Davies. It is a partnership with landlords and their tenants to develop and sustain excellent tenant scrutiny and empowerment arrangements. Yvonne is an experienced consultant and former Head of Housing & Economic Development at the Audit Commission and Managing Director of a Liverpool HA. She wants to support tenants and landlords meet and exceed the expectations of customers.
SEP offers a comprehensive range of services and tools to help tenants and landlords achieve excellence across all services. We are experienced in service review and we can build the capacity of your staff and tenants in a way that promises to challenge the way you work as well as delivering practical outcomes for landlords and customers.
Our products and services are always tailored to suit the context of the organisation we work with, we know that one size does not fit all and so we will work with you to develop a brief that meets your needs.
Why not join and become a member of our scrutiny network?
SEP set up benchmarking arrangements with members of our web based national scrutiny network, Scrutiny and Empowerment Partnership. SEP has also taken over the running of of NHC’s Scrutiny.net from February 2012, so we are now one big and experienced happy family.
Recent FREE meetings have discussed tenant involvement in supporting landlords on welfare reform; new complaints expectations and actions; value for money actions for tenant groups and staff, tenant cashback and involving tenants and new regulatory expectations on empowerment.
Each meeting happens in a different organisation and is themed, members decide the agenda, based on what is currently important to them. Discussions on what works and mutual support for members are all part of our performance club agenda.
The network gives access to free performance clubs – 4 times a year, advice, guidance, good practice and from your desk you can share what other members are doing, including their activity, success, hints and tips as well as their working structures and scrutiny reports on services scrutinised (to name but a few). It will save you time and effort. Take a tour of the features part of the site to see what you could access.
Why not become a member of our Scrutiny and Empowerment Partnership to access all of this extremely useful information on Tenant Advisor?
Membership fees are £450 a year and that gives you discount at our conferences and NHC conferences on empowerment and regulation.
Organisations with 1,500 properties or less pay only £250. Once you join, we will send you a unique password for access to all the information available on www.tenantadvisor.net
Read on to find out more about our most popular service offers, but remember if you don’t see what you want on the list, just give us a call.
1. Supporting landlords and tenants to set up scrutiny arrangements
Are your tenants and staff getting ready to up the tempo on scrutiny arrangements as the new changes to the tenant empowerment standard appear this autumn? Services we offer include the following:
Helping you to develop your approach to scrutiny
We can help you to develop your approach to scrutiny, taking into account your operating context, what your tenants want and the regulatory framework.
Scrutiny arrangements will need to fit in with governance structures in order to meet regulatory requirements from April 2012 as the regulator monitors consumer protection through the governance standard and tests the effectiveness of the tenant challenge:
- Aims and objectives for your approach to scrutiny
- Terms of reference, codes of conduct and confidentiality
- How relationships and communications will work between your scrutiny panel and Board/Cabinet/Committees, the executive team, staff and other tenants (involved and not involved)
Recruiting scrutiny panel members and customer inspectors
- Development of person specifications, skills and roles to ensure diversity of access for tenants
- Advice and support on effective recruitment and selection methods and access to the right training to support partnership working between landlord and tenant
- Involving diverse customers and young people
- Harnessing support from your existing involved tenants
Preparing your staff and Board for scrutiny
- Structures and frameworks for scrutiny
- What to expect from scrutiny and how to embed this
- How to support and challenge findings
- How to develop SMART action plans with measurable outcomes
Induction training for tenants on how to scrutinise
- Defining co-regulation and scrutiny and what it means in practice
- How scrutiny works and the steps to follow
- The national standards and local offers and how to measure them
- Developing a framework for scrutiny and choosing topics to scrutinise
Tenant involvement in Complaints and setting up a Designated Complaints Panel
- Supporting tenants and landlords to scrutinise existing complaints policies and procedures in time for service changes required under the Localism Act in April 2013
- Working with cross landlord Independent Complaints Panels, or training tenants in their potential involvement as the last review in the internal complaints procedure
- Training tenants for their potential involvement as tenant advocates supporting complainants from the beginning through to the end of the complaints procedure
- Training tenants for their potential involvement in scrutinising the actions taken by landlords as a result of formal complaints, ensuring local accountability.
2. Training & support for staff and tenants, including away-days, taster sessions, one off bespoke training and a series of accredited training.
Training can truly empower your tenants and build their capacity and help to address worklessness and career progression. Investment in the right type and level of training will reap huge rewards for the tenants and landlords, particularly when it’s as practical as ours. We offer a range of accredited training, including CIH qualifications. Here are just some of the most popular.
– Team building and soft skills development, for example: assertiveness, presentation, and negotiation skills. It is so important for tenants and landlords to work together. Respecting each-others’ point of view, reaching agreement and demonstrating a united front will help any panel to achieve amazing results.
– Technical skills in broad terms, for example: interviewing skills, analysing data, recording evidence, producing reports and monitoring action plans.
– Reality checker training: including:
- Defining the role of a customer inspector/empty property auditor
- Assessing the landlord promises, including website; leaflets and social media content
- Mystery shopping techniques – by telephone, email, web enquiry, text, office visit and letter
- Estate, block and scheme inspections
- Customer survey techniques and how to use feedback to improve services
Support for the personal development of tenants
- Training needs assessments and personal development plans: we have developed a detailed framework for assessing the Panels strengths and areas for further development.
- Training the trainer: building the capacity of your staff to deliver training to tenants, including fun exercises, templates and programmes of work.
Hot topic workshops and away-days for staff and/or tenants
Interactive training and networking on practical topics can be one off, a series of workshops, or, can be delivered through staff and tenant away-days such as:
- Value for money and assessing costs of services
- Meetings you want to come to and what is expected of the roles within a committee
- Project management and event management
- Newsletters you want to read
- Grant funding – how to get it and how to manage it
- Diversity & inclusion, recruiting and involving hard to engage customers
- Top ten questions to ask when interviewing and on service review
- Linking scrutiny with your other involvement structure
- Soft skills like communication, conflict handling and managing meetings, team building, assertiveness, negotiation etc
Why not join with another landlord(s) in your area and commission a joint workshop session and keep your costs down?
3. Service reviews using our assessment expertise and involving your tenants in a major way in those reviews
We have built a bank of good practice in empowerment and our experience of regulation and service review enables us to use inspection techniques, hand in hand with your tenants to complete service health checks and service review.
Our service provides landlords with a robust assessment of their services and an action plan for change/improvement to achieve excellence: This service involves your tenants in service reviews alongside us, building their capacity at the same time as your services are subject to independent scrutiny:
- Involving your tenants in project management
- Working alongside tenants to complete interviews; design reality checks; review documents; agree recommendations which are customer service enhancements and jointly report their views. Supplementing this with a technical audit of whether services are being delivered by reviewing systems, working procedures and testing delivery
- Capturing ideas from Board/Committee, managers, staff involved and non-involved tenants to improve services
- Assessment of outcomes against national and local standards
- Assessment of good practice from other organisations
- SMART action plans, evaluation and monitoring
4. Accreditation rewards and awards
The regulator and government are encouraging independent validation. We are working with the Centre for Public Scrutiny to develop a good practice guide on behalf of the TSA, based on learning from the 10 co-regulatory champions. We are using that experience to work with landlords and tenants to pick up the best practices which work and to develop an accreditation scheme to recognise developing, good and excellent practices for landlords and their tenants involved in scrutiny which is outcome based.
Recognition of the hard work landlords and tenant volunteers put in is the best way to celebrate your investment in scrutiny and can help to take you to the next level. Accreditation assessments are underway with 10 organisations.
Our scheme has three levels of accreditation for incremental improvement:
By working through the levels, or going straight for Gold as Salix and Soha achieved, you will be incrementally improving and embedding learning, whilst both the organisation and the tenants get to show off what they have achieved in earning their award.
In a speech at the Centre for Public Scrutiny recently, Soha expressed how proud they were of winning the award and the fact that the external perspective has given them an action plan to improve further and become even more excellent.
5. Reviewing and enhancing Customer Involvement Strategies, linking this to continuous improvement strategies, the role of governance and the achievement of value for money.
- How up to date is your resident involvement policy?
- As value for money becomes even more important, many organisations are taking the opportunity for a whole scale review of existing mechanisms for involving tenants and linking this to continuous improvement strategies, business planning and the work of their Board.
- We can help you add value through review, renewal and reinvigoration your involvement strategy and its important links to your business. For example:
- Challenging your existing strategy and the outcomes it delivers, in partnership with your staff and tenants
- Reviewing your existing involvement activities and feedback surveys to help you understand how they can achieve a lean fit with your existing reality checkers; service improvement groups and your tenants voice
- Agreeing a new vision and strategy based on the needs and expectations of your customers, the needs of your organisation and tenants, including regulatory compliance and structures of challenge and approval through governance
- Reviewing your continuous improvement strategies to link with the involvement strategy
- Reviewing your structure of reporting improvements to board, to ensure these are lean and deliver efficient outcomes for customers
6. New product development, for example: Helping you to develop & promote the Right to Manage and Tenant Cashback; helping you to use social media and to involve young people.
Right to Manage (RTM)
Our experienced associates have set up over a dozen co-operatives from scratch and used the RTM as a pick and mix to take on the management of small local services and whole estate management. New directions in July from the CLG will mean a greater expectation for landlords to promote RTM in 2012.
- Bringing you up to date with progress on all aspects of the RTM and forthcoming expectations
- Presenting information to tenants on the art of the possible
- Facilitating debate and understanding big and small successes
- Walking interested organisations through the RTM
From April 2012 landlords will be required to introduce tenant cashback schemes. We know there are pros and cons. In learning from our customers who are pilots, we can help facilitate the debate with your tenants, covering issues such as:
- What conditions for cashback might be acceptable?
- How can this promote good tenancy management?
- How can we manage health and safety?
- What opportunities can this give for apprenticeship/trainee and social enterprise models?
- How can this to work for landlords, whilst enhancing tenant choice?
Social Media and feedback from un-involved tenants & young people
Are you up with the times?
- Have you chosen the right social media platform to engage your customers?
- What are you using social networking for?
- Have you been successful in engaging new and young customers?
Why choose to work with SEP?
- Our training is externally recognised, and our reviews are based on extensive experience, so you can trust the quality
- Our associates are experienced in all aspects of service review, assessment and improvement, tenant involvement and empowerment from a landlord and tenant perspective
- We have great partnerships with landlords and tenants who demonstrate excellence and have worked with us to advise on and deliver projects
- Landlords and tenants are left with confidence, templates to carry on and achieve fantastic outcomes, when our work is complete
- We have just published a report with Centre for Public Scrutiny and the Co-regulatory Champions – a good practice guide based on the Champion’s experience, on behalf of the Tenant Services Authority.
- We have built excellent relationships with national policy, the Tenant Services Authority, Communities & Local Government and the Housing Ombudsman services
- Our costs are competitive
We could not possibly cover all of our services but we hope we gave you a flavour of what we can do. Do you want to know more about our services, or ask any questions?
Please call us – we will listen and design a service which is specific to your needs
Telephone: 07867 974659