We’ve introduced an out of hours ASB Respect Line

Posted on May 20th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

We’ve introduced an ASB Respect Line for our customers to call out of hours if they are experiencing anti-social behaviour.

The line is provided by Case Management Solutions Group who are external customer service professionals with a specialist knowledge to support our customers.

They can take note of anti social behaviour incidents that have happened since a customer last contacted us and they can give advice on what action should be taken next. This can include contacting police or the environmental health team.

The information collected by the out of hours service is sent directly to the investigating officer at Citizen to help progress the case.

Our director of housing Peter Gill said: “We have introduced the ASB Respect Line to support our customers who may be experiencing anti-social behaviour.

“Often anti-social behaviour happens out of hours, and this is a way to report it while it is happening and get advice.

“At Citizen we want to work with our partners to make a positive difference to our customers and communities, and this out of hours service will help do this.”

Once customers have reported problems with anti-social behaviour, we will get in touch with them and offer advice and support.

It’s important to remember if you are in danger then you must call the police straight away on 999.

You can contact the ASB Respect Line on 0800 075 6699 everyday between 5pm and 9am.

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We’ve held a consultation on our updated regeneration plans for Spon End

Posted on May 17th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

We recently held a consultation for customers to showcase our updated plans for Spon End ahead of submitting the planning application later this summer.

We first announced our plan to transform and regenerate Spon End, Coventry, in 2019 and our initial ideas for the area were shared in 2022. At the time we held a consultation event to get customer feedback.

The plans include demolition of the below areas so we can build around 750 homes:

Since 2022, we have updated our plans to include customer feedback. These changes have included the re-siting of blocks further away from existing homes that will be retained and we have also provided more detail on the block design, proposals for the Wellington Gardens area and the green spaces.

Following the consultation event earlier this week, we will take customer feedback on board and plan to submit the application to Coventry City Council for planning later in the summer.

Our director of regeneration services Kevin Roach said: “The regeneration of Spon End is a major project for Citizen which will improve the area for our customers. We are planning to demolish blocks throughout Spon End and build around 750 homes.

“We have consulted our customers throughout the process so we know what is important to them and have adapted our plans to take their feedback on board. This feedback included the importance of green spaces in the area, so we have made sure this is incorporated in our development. We plan to enhance the area around the River Sherbourne and increase the amount and quality of green spaces on the Spon End estate.

“We held a consultation event earlier this week to get feedback from our customers on our current plans before they are submitted for planning permission later this summer.

“At Citizen we want to build homes that meet the needs of our region, and this includes demolishing homes that are no longer fit for purpose and building properties that are warmer, more comfortable and meet our customers’ needs.”

We plan to start the demolition of Kerry House, Milestone House and Trafalgar House in autumn 2024 and, subject to planning permission, will start construction of phase one in Spring 2025.

You can find out more about our plans and give us your feedback here.

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Our development team completes more than 700 homes in record breaking year

Posted on May 17th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

Our development team has had a stellar year and completed 704 homes during the 2023/24 financial year.

This is broken down into 653 affordable homes and 51 for market sale.

It is the first time the team has completed more than 700 homes in a single year.

In previous years the team completed 630 homes in 2022/23 and 515 homes in 2021/22.

Our executive director of development Nick Byrne said: “I am so proud of what the team has achieved in this record-breaking year.

“The team excelled to deliver this number of homes and I am so pleased they have completed more than 700 for the first time ever.

“At Citizen we will build homes to meet the needs of our region and our ambitious development programme commits us to helping meet the ever-increasing need for the right homes in the right areas.

“I’d like to say thank you to everyone in the development team for your hard work and well done for everything you have achieved.”

Between 2023 and 2026 our development team will build 1,650 new affordable homes and up to 300 homes for market sale. Any surpluses from the sales of homes are put back into the business to improve services to customers or provide more affordable homes.

You can read more about our development plans in our business strategy here.

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Our head of partnerships and strategy is shortlisted for a Women in Housing award!

Posted on May 16th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

Congratulations to Natalie Treadwell, our head of partnerships and strategy who is a finalist for a Women in Housing Award.

Natalie has been shortlisted for the Woman of the Future – Housing Association award.

The Women in Housing awards champion the successes of women in the housing sector.

Our executive director of development Nick Byrne said: “Natalie has been nominated for this award not only for the work she does but how she does it.  I am so proud of everything Natalie has done for Citizen, particularly for her work building genuine relationships through a very empathetic style with her colleagues, always placing herself in the other person’s shoes when consulting and arriving at solutions.

“Natalie has written a fantastic strategy for us which is unique in that it’s not a boring stand-alone development strategy but a document that supports what Citizen is trying to achieve as an organisation around improving customer satisfaction, linking into our change initiatives like ‘Putting Our Citizens First’ which is our organisation-wide programme that seeks to embed a customer-centric focus into our culture.”

In recognition of the role Natalie continues to play in the directorate and the wider organisation, her role has recently been enhanced. Her new role as head of partnerships and strategy means all her skills relating to fostering internal relationships will be put to use for external partnerships too.

Nick added: “I am confident that the enhancements to Natalie’s job will be only the latest step in her leadership journey and that she will go from strength to strength and become one of affordable housing development’s great leaders and for all the reasons above should win the Woman of the Future award.”

Natalie added she is proud to be a finalist at the awards.

She said: “When I found out I was shortlisted, I didn’t know what to say!

“It was an honour to be nominated for the award but to be in the shortlist is overwhelming to be honest.

“I had to check the email over and over to make sure they hadn’t made a mistake!

“I think it’s a great demonstration of the way we are heading as a company and I’m proud to be a finalist for these awards.”

The awards take place on Monday 24 June at Manchester Central. We wish Natalie the best of luck!

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Affordable homes at Sonnet Park are handed over and ready for customers

Posted on April 23rd, 2024 by Elaine Davies

Affordable homes at Sonnet Park in Stratford-upon-Avon have been handed over to us and are ready for customers to move into.

We have partnered with Persimmon Homes South Midlands on the scheme which is made up of 22 affordable homes and 45 outright sale.

The affordable homes have been handed over to us and this was marked by a visit to the development by our director of development Richard Whittaker and Persimmon Homes South Midlands’ managing director Russell Griffin.

Our development project manager Alex Mackness said: “It’s fantastic news that homes have been handed over to us at Sonnet Park to help with the housing need in the area.

“At Citizen we are committed to working with our partners to make a positive difference to our customers and communities – and our partnership with Persimmon is an example of this.

“We’re looking forward to our customers moving into the homes at Sonnet Park and we hope they will be very happy living there.”

Russell Griffin, Managing Director at Persimmon Homes South Midlands, said: “Handing over a portion of our homes at Sonnet Park is the latest example of our successful partnership with Citizen, which is delivering much-needed new homes for local families.

“We’re continuing to work hard to prioritise quality and affordability for all our customers. As well as the homes which have now been transferred, the average price of a Persimmon home is 25% below the market average in England and Wales – extending the opportunity of home ownership to more local families.

“We’ll continue to work closely with our local partners to ensure our investment makes a positive difference to communities across the region.”

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We’re backing the NHF’s campaign calling for a long-term plan to solve the housing crisis

Posted on April 17th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

The National Housing Federation (NHF) has launched a campaign urging political parties to commit to a long-term national plan to solve the housing crisis which would support thousands of households in the West Midlands.

Many families are in desperate need of a safe, suitable and affordable home and we are backing the campaign, alongside several other housing associations in the West Midlands, ahead of the mayoral elections.

Figures provided by the NHF found that 64,382 households were on the waiting list for social housing in 2022/23 and only 13,579 new social housing lettings were available across the West Midlands.

This is broken down into:

This means on average across the West Midlands at the current rate of lettings, and if no other households joined the waiting lists, it could take just under five years before every household currently on the waiting list can move into a suitable home that they can afford.

Our chief executive Kevin Rodgers said: “As rising house prices continue to outpace wages and where the average price of a home is over eight times average wages, the West Midlands desperately needs more affordable homes to serve a thriving economy.

“Clear political direction and support is critical if we are to provide the right homes of the right quality for the people of the West Midlands.”

The shortage of affordable homes in the region means that more and more people have had to turn to living in expensive, insecure private rented homes. This has left many facing impossible choices as they struggle to balance rent with other essential bills, or risk facing homelessness.

The widening gap between the demand for social housing and the availability of it is not an anomaly in our region. It is a result of decades of underfunding and underinvestment in affordable homes by successive governments. This has led to a chronic shortage of social housing and contributed to the housing crisis we’re in today.

Housing associations are ambitious to do more to tackle this crisis, but it will take a long-term commitment from local and national governments to address.

As the mayoral election in the West Midlands grows closer, access to affordable housing has become increasingly important among voters, with over half saying the government should prioritise building social housing, according to the NHF.

We’re joining the NHF’s call for political parties to commit to a long-term national plan to solve the housing crisis to support the thousands of households in the West Midlands in desperate need of a safe, suitable and affordable home.

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New features added to our customer self-service portal, My Account

Posted on April 9th, 2024 by Tammy Palmer

Citizen adds more features to its self-service portal, My Account, offering customers a more convenient way to manage their tenancy.  

The portal, first launched 10 years ago, and rebranded five years ago, offers customers the choice to pay rent, view their rent account, raise queries, and manage their repair bookings, online. 

 

Frances, a Citizen customer, said: “I have recommended My Account to other customers as it is quick and easy to use, for me. I realise not everyone is OK with setting up and using My Account. I helped my friend set up a My Account with Citizen. He has been in his property since the 1990’s. He likes that repairs can be booked on the system, as he was always using up credit on his pay as you go phone.”

 

As part of its continuous improvement programme, the Customer Experience Team at Citizen carried out a review of how customers were using the portal. Taking customers feedback into consideration, the team has now added a set of new functions, offering customers more choice in how they access and use services.  

 

The new features, include: 

 

At the same time, customers can enjoy the legacy features of the portal:    

 

Scott Worth, Director of Customer Experience at Citizen, said: “We understand that in today’s fast-paced world, people lead busy lives, and traditional office hours may not always be convenient for our customers to access services – which is why we are enhancing our customer portal.  The portal offers customers the flexibility to self-manage their account, anywhere, at a time, that suits them.  We strive to improve our services based on customers’ feedback and the positive response to the portal, to date, is encouraging, and we want to build on this success.  We encourage customer to continue sharing their thoughts and suggestions to ensure we are providing services that meet their needs.”

 

Find out more about My Account, here and join the thousands of customers managing their own tenancy. 

 If you are a customer and already registered with My Account, but have forgotten your password or username, revisit the My Account page to reset your login details. 

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Consumer regulation standards go live in April

Posted on March 27th, 2024 by Tammy Palmer

Social housing landlords are now required to meet standards set by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH). In September 2023, we told you about the changes that the regulator was proposing to the Consumer Standards to ensure that tenants live in safe, quality homes, have choice and protection, and can hold landlords to account.  

The regulator consulted with over 2000 tenants in developing the new Standards and invited all social housing tenants and landlords to give their views. Citizen invited you to have your say on our website and in the September 2023 newsletter and we also responded directly to the consultation, including valuable feedback from our involved tenants. 

 The new Consumer Standards and Code of Practice will be available on the Government’s website here from 1 April 2024, when they come into effect. They relate to safety and quality, transparency, influence and accountability; neighbourhood and community; and tenancy. 

Citizen fully supports the changes and remains committed to ensuring that we comply with them. We will continue to provide you with further information on these changes. 

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The latest round of the Citizen Local Fund is open

Posted on March 26th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

The first round of the Citizen Local fund for 2024 has opened and you have the chance to apply for up to £3,000.

The fund is for projects and initiatives which promote and support wellbeing, reduce isolation and enhance local areas.

Customers living in our communities can apply for a slice of the £50,000 funding which is available throughout this year.

In our previous round we supported 11 organisations across the West Midlands.

Customer engagement partner Caroline Arrow said: “We’re thrilled to be accepting applications for the latest round of the Citizen Local Fund.

“At Citizen we want to work with our partners to make a positive difference to our customers and communities – and the Citizen Local Fund sees us work with organisations across the West Midlands to do this.

“The fund is there for a range of projects – big or small. We’re keen to support anyone or any group that needs some support to help others.

“We’re looking forward to seeing the applications submitted over the next few weeks.”

Applications for the second round of funding close at 5pm on Monday 13 May. Our Customer Assurance Committee will help us to shortlist the successful bids.

Find out more about the Citizen Local Fund on our Citizen Local Fund web page.

Watch our Citizen Local Fund animation below for further information:

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Improvement work completed on 500 properties in social housing decarbonisation project

Posted on March 20th, 2024 by Elaine Davies

Energy efficiency improvements in Coventry have reached a key milestone with work completed on 500 homes.

Last year we announced we were successful in wave two of the Government’s social housing decarbonisation fund alongside Coventry City Council to carry out energy efficiency works to 2,000 homes across the city.

We worked with the council to submit a bid to the Department of Energy Security and Net Zero (DESNZ) and were successful in receiving a £23.8m grant and we’re also  funding a further £44m to create a £67.6m investment. The money is being spent on energy efficiency improvement works to bring the homes up to an energy rating of a C.

Carbon emissions from domestic properties are the biggest contributors to the city’s carbon footprint (30 per cent of total) so investment to make homes more energy efficient not only reduces energy bills but helps to reduce emission too.

Arthur Beale is one of our customers who has had energy efficiency works completed. These include external wall insulation, fans in his kitchen and bathroom for ventilation and loft insulation – and said he can feel the benefit of the works.

Arthur said: “I am very happy with the work – my house is much warmer now it’s been done.

“Before I had the work done the walls in my house felt cold but now they are warm to touch and you can really feel it when the heating is on. I don’t have to put the heating on as much as I did before the works which is a bonus and the work on the outside of the home makes it look much better too.

“I would definitely recommend these works to other people living in the city.”

Once the energy efficiency works are completed, they reduce the potential for mould growth and reduce the amount of energy the property consumes to keep it a comfortable temperature.

Our chief operating officer Mads Nelson said: “It’s fantastic that we have reached this milestone and completed energy efficiency works on 500 homes and are so pleased to hear the positive feedback from Arthur.

“At Citizen we are committed to working with our partners to make a positive difference to our customers and create better quality homes – and this project has made a huge difference to our customers with an average saving of £250 in fuel once the works are complete.

“We are continuing to work with Coventry City Council, DESNZ and our contractors to deliver warm and energy efficient homes to our customers living across Coventry. We’re looking forward to continuing with the project and completing the remaining homes over the next couple of years.”

As part of the project, we also worked with contractors and Coventry College to train the next generation of retrofitters and help them secure employment. The students complete a bootcamp at the college, following which they are interviewed by employer partners and, if successful, can join a training academy and potentially secure full-time employment.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Communities at Coventry City Council, Cllr David Welsh, said: “I’m absolutely delighted to see the progress of the work to create a better standard of homes for people, especially as it means savings on energy bills for tenants.

“As a council we have seen more and more organisations like Citizen work with us in partnership, playing a major part in improving lives for people. There is lots more to do -when you consider the desperate housing need in the city, but this is an excellent scheme.  I hope we can find ways to expand the work to more homes in the future.”

To support the implementation of the programme, we commissioned director of GJK Consultants Gareth Keith. Gareth said: “It is great to recognise the significant milestone of 500 properties completed and we are delighted to provide project management services to Citizen’s decarbonisation team on this complex retrofit programme.

“The investment will eventually see over 2,000 properties benefit from new energy efficient measures installed in their homes, making households feel warmer and ideally improving their health and wellbeing.  It is great to collaborate with Coventry City Council, Citizen, Coventry College, GJK consultants, contractors, and suppliers in this ambitious project which will have such an impact to so many people in Coventry.”

Find out more in the video below:

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