Summary of results from the Big Tenant Group Survey 2005
Summary of results from the Big Tenant Group Survey 2005
Leeds Tenants Federation sent out its eighth annual survey of Tenants & Residents Groups in Leeds to the main contact person for each of its 106 member groups in February 2005.
The results summarised here represent in the main the individual view of the Secretary or Chair of the tenants and residents groups on how both Leeds Tenants Federation and the ALMOs are performing and give a picture of the activity and level of representation of the tenants movement in Leeds. This summary therefore provides qualitative information based on, in the main, the perceptions of the lead member of each tenants and residents group and needs to be balanced by quantitative data or the views of other participants.
This is the first time that we have included responses from other social landlords in the survey. This year the response is too low to have any significance but as Leeds Tenants Federation continues to attract tenants groups from Registered Socail Landlords we hope to be able to build up robust information on tenant group satisfaction across Leeds.
1.0 Rate of return
55% of tenants and residents groups (58 out of 106) returned the survey, compared to 68% in 2004, 63% in 2002/03 and 56% in 2001. This reduced return means that some care must be taken in drawing conclusions from any minor changes from previous years. However, 93% of groups from South East responded and over 50% from 3 out of the remaining 5 ALMOs.
2.0 Satisfaction with services from Leeds Tenants Federation
Tenants and residents groups seem to find it easier now to join and renew their membership of Leeds Tenants Federation. In the second year of running this process in partnership with the ALMOs, 94% of groups said they find it very easy or easy to register their group, compared to 88% in 2004. Only 3 groups recorded any difficulties in the partnership process.
Satisfaction with grant levels continues to be fairly low. 64% of groups think grants are generous or sufficient, compared to 68% in 2004. In Leeds East a clear majority of groups think that grants are not enough to cover their costs.
There has been an increase in the number of groups seeking funding from other sources. 34% of groups – compared to 28% last year - get funding from other sources. Increasingly it is grants from housing associations that are filling the perceived gaps in the funding available from Leeds Tenants Federation. There are signs that groups are not benefiting from the Well Being budgets of Area Committees.
Significantly it is the running costs for premises and the cost of meeting room hire that now figure high in the need for extra funding.
Overall satisfaction with the services of Leeds Tenants Federation has increased slightly to 89% compared to last year’s 85%. New services have proved popular, with 64% saying they had attended one of the big consultation events like Taking a Stand and Bridging the Gap. The new programme of training sessions had attracted 36% of groups in its first season, with 24% saying they plan to come to future training. There are minor improvements too on the take-up of support services with 62% inviting Leeds Tenants Federation to speak at their meetings (up from 59% last year) and 34% of groups using the new newsletter design and copy service an increase from last year’s 28%.
Otherwise there may have been a small decline in satisfaction with Home at Leeds, which 75% now think is excellent or interesting (81% last year), and a slight reduction in the number of groups contacting us for advice or support (60% compared to 73% last year) or coming to our quarterly general meetings (60% instead of 65% last year).
3.0 Satisfaction with tenant involvement in the ALMOs
Last year’s survey pointed to three main areas where tenants and residents groups felt improvements could be made in the involvement services of the ALMOs. This year’s results appear to show that, although there has been an increase in resources put into tenant involvement by the ALMOs, satisfaction among tenants and residents groups has decreased further on these three issues:
- Estate walkabouts
- Involvement in the investment programme
- Involvement in the repairs service
There also seems to have been a slight drop in overall confidence in the ability of groups to influence the housing service. Around half the groups in five out of the six ALMOs, report dissatisfaction with the overall effectiveness of tenant participation. Overall 44% of groups are satisfied that they have the opportunities to change and improve the housing service (compared to 50% last year), with Leeds South homes showing marginally the greatest levels of dissatisfaction. 50% of groups are satisfied that their ALMO listens to their views and takes them on board (compared to 64% in 2004).
Estate walkabouts – where representatives from the tenants group are invited to go on accompanied inspections with housing staff – are an important feature of ALMO Tenant Involvement strategy. Last year, only 39% of groups said they had been invited to go on these regular inspections. A year later, estate walkabouts still do not appear to have been introduced across all estates by any ALMO and only 43% of groups said they had received this service. Leeds South and Leeds West appear to be worst performers in this area but even Leeds North East, who figured as last year’s leader in this initiative, do not seem to be involving all their groups in regular walkabouts.
As last year, not all groups involved in walkabouts (66%) receive written feedback on action from their housing office– and performance here seems to have declined since last year (88%).
Despite housing investment conferences and the start of work on the decency programme, we are seeing continued dissatisfaction with tenant involvement in the investment programme. Only 36% of groups were satisfied (compared to 42% last year) and 43% remain unsatisfied, just as 44% were last year.
The repairs service also continues to be a bone of contention with tenants and residents groups still feeling they do not have an effective input. Only 37% of groups were satisfied that they had a say in the way repairs are carried out – rising to 50% in Leeds South, compared to 47% who were dissatisfied (47% of groups were not satisfied last year either).
Otherwise there have been improvements in satisfaction with tenant involvement. 79% of groups are in at least 3 monthly contact with their Tenant Involvement Officer, compared to 73% in 2004 and 75% in 2002/03. Seven groups (12.5%) said they did not know who the Tenant Involvement Officer for their area was, an improvement on 15% in 2004.
80% of groups have housing staff regularly attending their meetings, an increase on 76% last year; and 67% of groups are satisfied with the support their get from their Housing Office, compared to 71% last year.
4.0 Satisfaction with other agencies
Policing, community safety, and the environment continue to be the main additional issues with which tenants and residents association are most concerned. As we saw last year, partnership working with the key agencies in these fields, is not without challenges and 43% of groups (compared to 34% last year) have encountered problems getting officers to their meetings. Dissatisfaction continues to be highest with the response from the Police with the Highways Service also attract criticism.
Elected members give strong support to tenants and residents associations. 70% of groups regularly invite councillors to attend their meetings and praised the commitment of their ward members.
5.0 Participation in tenants and residents groups
The information on the health and activity levels of tenants and resident groups gained from the survey shows little change on last year. The average group holds quarterly public meetings with between 20 and 50 people regularly attending. It has a committee of between 5 – 10 people and meets monthly. The group distributes 3 newsletters a year and may organise a variety of social events in the area including young people’s fun days, environmental projects, lunch clubs and celebrations at Christmas, Easter and Bonfire Night.
6.0 Hard to reach involvement
Information on the involvement of hard-to-reach groups within tenants and residents associations, shows that 14% (18%) of people regularly attending meetings are under the age of 40 and 2% (7%) are under the age of 25. 52% (50%) of committee members are over the age of 60.
4% of active members of tenants and residents associations are from Black and Minority Ethnic groups (compared to 2.4% in 2002/03 and 4.5% in 2001). Overall we see more involvement from Black or Black British residents in the groups and an under-representation of people from Asian or Asian British ethnic identity.
Of those regularly attending the events of tenants and residents, 23% have a disability (in 2002/03 this was 17.9%).
7.0 Premises and meeting rooms
In the light of the review of charges for Council Community Centres, groups were asked where they hold their meetings and how much they paid for room hire. About a quarter of groups appear to use Community Centres as their meeting venue and are currently not being charged room hire. Most tenants and residents groups using schools, rooms in sheltered accommodation or clubs are also getting free use although some groups give a regular donation.
It is likely then that any new room hire charges introduced for community centres will cause financial hardship for groups who have not previously had to pay for venues out of their support grant.
8.0 Response from Leeds ALMOs
All six ALMOs were asked to respond to the survey results. Three replied. Leeds North East homes contrasted the views of tenants and residents groups with the much higher satisfaction rates indicated in their recent customer survey. Leeds South East felt that the survey results provided, in the main, positive feedback on their tenant involvement work. Leeds West homes are seeking to explore some of the issues raised with tenants and residents groups in their area and are checking tenant involvement services at their local offices.
Leeds Tenants Federation April 2005
Policy & Campaigns In Depth