Report on the findings of the 2006 Big Tenants Group Survey by Leeds Tenants Federation
“Having Our Say”
Report on the findings of the 2006 Big Tenants Group Survey by Leeds Tenants Federation
1.0 Executive Summary
The ninth annual survey of residents groups by Leeds Tenants Federation reveals:
- A high level of satisfaction with Leeds Tenants Federation among its members
- Unfailingly high satisfaction with involvement services in Connect Housing
- Improved satisfaction with involvement services in most of Leeds City Council’s ALMOs
- Plunging satisfaction rates in some ALMOs on repairs services
- An almost complete lack of confidence in the effectiveness of resident involvement in one ALMO
- Increased public involvement in residents associations and greater strides in diversity
The ninth annual Big Tenants Group Survey was sent to all 126 Leeds Tenants Federation member groups on 23 February 2006. The survey was accompanied by a letter announcing a prize draw for surveys returned before 1 April with the winning group receiving £100.
By 1 April only 43 completed surveys had been received and a new deadline of 1 May was set. A further 20 groups were contacted and the survey conducted over the phone.
A total of 63 responses were received to the survey. These responses represent the views of the Chair or Secretary of 50% of all Tenants & Residents Associations in Leeds who are members of the Federation. The responses provide qualitative information on the performance of Leeds Tenants Federation, and perceptions of the landlord services of Leeds City Council’s ALMOs and of one Registered Social Landlord, Connect Housing, from a lead member of each tenants and residents group,
This annual survey has been carried out since 1997. This year there were some major changes to the survey both to reduce the size and to focus the questions on more meaningful outcomes. This means that comparisons with previous results are not possible for every question but where figures are available from the 2005 survey they have been included. Results are expressed as a percentage of the numbers of responses to each question and it should be noted that not all respondents answered every question.
3.0 Rate of Return
The rate of return for this annual survey has continued to fall, despite the inducement of a £100 prize. Last year’s sample was 55%, compared to 68% in 2004. The number of Leeds Tenants Federation members increased in that period from 89 to 126.
4.0 Satisfaction with Leeds Tenants Federation services
- 89% find the advice and support of Leeds Tenants Federation useful or very useful
- 89% find the Federation’s free photocopying service and help with leaflets useful or very useful
- 90% find the training provided by Leeds Tenants Federation useful or very useful
- 84% feel that Leeds Tenants Federation is effective or very effective at representing the views of residents at a high level
- 88% of members are satisfied or very satisfied with the service they receive from Leeds Tenants Federation.
These results show high rates of satisfaction with Leeds Tenants Federation and are comparable with previous years figures. In 2005 overall satisfaction was 89% and in 2004, 85%. Questions 1 to 5 have shifted the focus of the survey from measuring take-up of services to an attempt to measure satisfaction and perception. This has only been partly successful. Since the results show that only 78% answered the question on the usefulness of photocopying service, and 81 % responded to the question on training, it can be assumed that some members who do not use the service have not responded. Similarly 89% responded with a view on the effectiveness of Leeds Tenants Federation while others left this blank. It would appear from this that a number of groups perceive Leeds Tenants Federation as primarily a service delivery organisation rather than a representative and campaigning tenants movement. A small number of groups reported dissatisfaction with Leeds Tenants Federation and in each case this has been investigated. Groups who responded in this way were also highly dissatisfied with the services from their ALMO. Their response to Leeds Tenants Federation was based on either a lack of knowledge of the organisation or on an issue of policy rather than service.
5.0 Having Your Say – satisfaction with involvement in landlord services
Overall the results in this section ( questions 6 – 12) show extremely high rates of satisfaction with Connect Housing and increased satisfaction with Leeds City Council’s ALMOs. However, there are worrying indications of a perceived worsening of service in a minority of ALMOs, of extreme variations in satisfaction levels and of a drastic deterioration on repairs issues in two ALMOs.
- 90% find the support they receive from ALMO / Connect resident involvement services useful or very useful. Results from Leeds South Homes, where there was no specialist resident involvement staff at the time, were still very positive so these responses may represent a perception of support from housing staff generally.
- 64% are satisfied or very satisfied that their landlord listens to the group’s views and takes them on board (50% in 2005). However, in Leeds East and Leeds North East, 55% and 59% respectively were not satisfied or were very unsatisfied.
- 59% are satisfied or very satisfied that what they tell their landlord leads to real change and improvements. (In 2005 44% of groups were satisfied that they had the opportunities to change and improve the housing service.) However, results for Leeds East Homes showed that 88% of groups did not feel they could influence their ALMO’s performance and 63% of Leeds South groups were similarly dissatisfied. This question, previously phrased to measure satisfaction that the group had the opportunities to change and improve the housing service, was amended this year following the results of a focus group held by Leeds West Homes. This question is intended as an interpretation of BV 75a, opportunities to participate, but the Leeds West Homes group showed that tenants found the question difficult to understand and, following consultation, it was rephrased this year.
- 68% of groups get invited to go on regular walkabouts around the estate with housing staff (in 2005 this was 43%). Perhaps the most significant improvement is in the estate inspection or walkabout service where a residents association representative accompanies a member of housing staff on a guided inspection of the estate, focusing on environmental works and external repairs. Leeds North East Homes – the leader in this initiative is now achieving 100% of walkabouts, as does Connect Housing, although performance in Leeds East Homes appears to have worsened since last year (33% in 2006 and 43% in 2005) and Leeds South Homes is still seen as a poor, though improving, performer (38% in 2006 and 13% in 2005).
- 67% of groups receive feedback about what action has been carried out and what work hasn’t been done as a result of estate inspections. This result shows only slight improvements on last years figure of 63% and indicates that many groups still do not have full confidence in the effectiveness of estate inspections.
- 51% of groups are satisfied or very satisfied they have a say in the planning of investment and improvement work by their landlord. This shows a major improvement on the 36% result in 2005 and the 42% of 2004. It seems likely that these results are an indication of the successful completion of improvement work rather than saying anything about involvement in prioritising investment programmes or in the process of work. Unfortunately the improvement appears not to be shared by Leeds East Homes and Leeds North West Homes where 71% of groups responded with dissatisfaction
- 45% of groups are satisfied or very satisfied they get a say in the way repairs are carried out. This performance shows little improvement on previous years. In 2005 37% of groups were satisfied and in 2004 the result was a 42% satisfaction rate. Again it cannot be stated with any certainly that this question tells us about involvement in the repairs service, rather than individual experience of repairs. However the 83% satisfaction rate for Leeds West Homes and Leeds North West may reflect on new initiatives to involve residents in repairs service standards. There were disturbing results for Leeds North East Homes, where 92% of groups were dissatisfied (50% in 2005), and Leeds South Homes where 88% were not satisfied (38% in 2005). These results show an apparent extreme deterioration either in repairs performance or in participation in the repairs service in those two ALMOs.
6.0 About tenants and residents groups
Overall the picture of Leeds tenants and residents associations is of increasing activity rates among residents groups, with more public events, more newsletters being published and distributed, a growing involvement from ethnic minority communities and a wide range of community activities taking place (questions 13 to 22).
- Only 45% of group members claim their out-of-pocket expenses. This question was included to supply background data on the need for a review of grants. The worrying result shows not just that the majority of volunteers are funding their own involvement but poses questions for Leeds Tenants Federation on the uses of the annual support grant for residents associations.
- Only 11% of groups are paying for their own public liability or contents insurance. Although Education Leeds and Learning & Leisure are both asking groups for public liability insurance in their hiring agreements, this information along with the results on room hire, appear to indicate this is not a major factor for any review of grants.
- Only 17% of groups pay for room hire, although others make a voluntary contribution.
- 68% of groups hold advertised public meetings four or more times a year – a positive increase in public activity (53% in 2005)
- Average attendance at public meetings is between 10 – 30 people
- 58% of groups hold monthly committee meetings, an increase from 45% in 2005
- 61% of groups hold social events (an increase on 52% last year) and results illustrate the wide-range of vibrant activities organised by volunteers to make our communities sustainable.
- An average of 5 newsletters are produced each year by each residents group (an increase on an average of 3 in 2005).
- The age profile of associations remains static with 3% under 25, 10% under 40 and 60% over 60.
- Ethnic minority involvement in associations runs at 3.75% Black or Black British (the city wide profile is 1.79%), 2% Asian or Asian British (the city wide profile is 4.51%) and 5% Mixed (the city wide profile is 1.83%), with 89% White.
- Disabled people make up 28% of those attending resident group events.
These three questions are on perceptions of those attending resident group functions and can only be taken as an indicative guide to involvement.
7.0 Comment from Housing Organisations
All the Housing Organisations featured in the survey were invited to provide an initial comment on the findings to be included in the published report. Only two responded within the timescale. Connect Housing welcomed the report and the response from their residents groups. Leeds West Homes commented that overall they were pleased with the survey results and pointed to the fact that satisfaction with their performance had improved on every question with the exception of Q10 since 2005. They planned to use the report to identify some areas for improvement in relation to their involvement with the resident associations..
The results show a buoyant Leeds tenants and residents movement and a strong tenants federation. There are issues to explore further for Leeds Tenants Federation in terms of financial support for residents groups and its perception as a campaigning organisation. The picture for Connect Housing – with responses from 50% of their local residents groups is also very positive at a time of change for the organisation. There have been improvements in the perception of service from Leeds City Council’s ALMOs overall and some ALMOs have demonstrated consistently better results. But the results show alarming swings in satisfaction and big geographical variations in perceptions of service which need further investigation.
Policy & Campaigns In Depth