Inclusive homes, services and support
Welcome to our latest annual report which gives a snapshot of what we have achieved in the last 12 months and what we want to do going forward.
The financial year 2021/22 was one of recovery from the pandemic and delivery of some of our long-term plans. Stand-out successes included the completion of the Arches Home Standard programme, the awarding of the Investors in People Gold standard to our staff team, and the progress of Together with Tenants and the extension of resident engagement activities.
The safety of our residents continues to be paramount. We have enhanced our approach to fire safety, in line with new government guidance, and continue to give the highest priority to our daily gas, electric, water hygiene and repairs health and safety works. We also completed the first 12 months of our programme to tackle damp in properties and continue to work proactively with residents to ensure properties remain warm and dry.
Adding more good quality homes to our stock remains high on our agenda and, despite many challenges with development, we delivered 21 new homes and will add a further 25 in 2022/23.
Works in progress include energy efficiency improvements to properties to keep bills and carbon outputs down. We have committed to bringing our properties to a minimum energy performance level C by 2026, ahead of the 2030 government target. In recognition of
the cost of living and other challenges, we have increased our resources in customer-facing roles. The improved support service to residents is making a real difference in accessing funding for tenants and securing support services from partner organisations.
We are pleased to have retained the maximum G1 V1 rating from the Regulator of Social Housing. Behind the scenes, improvements in 2022 in the use of technology and processes will bring efficiencies and better services to customers in the future.
We have kept this year’s report brief and have provided links to areas of our website where you can find more detail. If you, a family member, or friend would like to read the report in another language or format then you can access options on the website or request a printed copy.
As always, our thanks go to our residents, board, colleagues and partners for their support through the year. We look forward to working together to further improve our services in the coming years.
Inclusive homes, services and support
In April we consulted with residents on how well we deliver against the national Together With Tenants commitments. We consulted again in September on what services were the priority for our residents and the feedback was used to co-design our approach to engagement that has been approved by our board.
Communal Cleaning scrutiny– a residents’ panel asked our residents who receive this service for their views. The panel’s eight recommendations were approved by Arches board for implementation.
Website Portal– Six residents tested our customer portal upgrade and provided suggestions for improvements.
Page Hall Pilot scheme–With colleagues from Fir Vale Community Hub, Sheffield Roma Network, and the Council, Arches staff played a key part in the Pilot, a three-month initiative to improve the Page Hall area. Every Monday morning, staff were door knocking, reviewing bin provisions, supporting pest control activities and informing residents about recycling.
In just a few months our new Tenancy Sustainment Caseworker supported residents with:
Celebrating Ramadan: In May we gifted dates to our residents in Burngreave. Dates are traditionally used to break the day’s fast.
Community day: we held a community day in our Dinnington neighbourhood with children’s activities and skips provided for residents
Foodbank donations: our staff and contractors collected for the Burngreave foodbank, including Christmas gifts. We also made a £500 donation.
Wellbeing calls: during the winter lockdown we were in contact with 52 residents, giving support and advice and someone to talk to.
Properties and Neighbourhoods where people are proud to live
Neighbourhood plans have been created with the following objectives:
The current neighbourhood plans can be found at: www.archeshousing.org.uk/about/ publications
Arches Home Standard has been delivered!
In April 2018, fewer than 40% of properties met the Standard. Now 99.16% of our homes do. The few homes not at the standard are due to tenant refusal or other tenancy management issues.
The £3.67m programme included:
Building and Fire Safety - We take our responsibility to keep customers safe very seriously.
There are new laws on fire and building safety. Our updated Fire Safety policy strengthens measures for all blocks of flats, inspection, managing identified resident vulnerability and other fire risks (eg hoarding and storage of mobility scooters). Our 2022 Building Safety Strategy adopts best practice principles and measures.
We consulted residents who helped shape a Resident Engagement Strategy for Building and Fire Safety. This creates a framework for a programme of resident awareness about their statutory duties to cooperate in the Fire Management Plan for the blocks where they live.
Delays to Day to Day repairs were caused by factors such as the capacity of contractors and where customers expressed a preference to delay a repair. We continue to work with our tenants and contractor partners to provide quality repairs at a suitable time.
Energy Efficient Homes
In partnership with specialist consultants, we prepared a costed plan of energy efficiency measures for our 152 properties not meeting EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) level C. We aim to complete the property upgrades by March 2026, ahead of the government target of 2030.
This year we moved 3 homes from D to C rating, undertaking major works including insulation to external walls, roof and cellars, boiler and heating controls upgrades, new doors and windows.
Low-energy light bulbs were provided to 76 homes.
Our 2022/23 investment programme includes over £700,000 worth of energy efficiency measures.
In April 2021 we undertook a comprehensive review of all reports of damp, mould, condensation or disrepair.
We have adopted a zero-tolerance approach to damp and disrepair. This does not mean zero cases; the age of some housing may require intervention such as repairs, ventilation or insulation. Our proactive approach triggered over 100 inspections of homes in the first 6 months and contact with over 200 residents.
Effective diagnosis is critical. We make multiple visits and undertake regular monitoring to review and analyse data. We discuss with customers the effectiveness of advice and measures. It takes time, sometimes over 12 months, to find solutions. If another episode occurs, we respond and support residents.
In collaboration with decarbonisation experts and three partner housing associations, the project established a ‘decarbonisation baseline’ for Arches and a high-level plan
for how we can achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. Analysis of property data found that the average energy rating (SAP) score for an Arches property is a relatively high performing 75, against a social housing average of 69. In the short to medium term we will prioritise ‘fabric first’ property improvements to reduce heating demand.
More high-quality homes for rent and sale
In 2021/22 we took handover of 21 rented homes. These are part of our ambitious growth plans, as we continue to deliver our 10-year Growth Strategy.
May 2021: Two x 2-beds and a 3-bed property, the final homes on Cutlers Walk, Wickersley, built by Harron Homes.
June 2021: the apartment block has six 2-bed homes, the final phase on Avant’s Sorby Quarter development.
In partnership with Rotherham Borough Council, Arches completed 10 x 2-bedroomed semi-detached bungalows homes on four sites. Built by Keystone Yorkshire Limited, they have a large entrance hallway, level access shower room, garden and patio. Each home has its own solar power system, designed to require no tenant management, and free electricity. Unused electric is fed into the national grid. The homes are ‘A’ rated for energy efficiency.
March 2022: two 4-bed, three storey homes on a small infill site, let for affordable rent.
We ended the year with 1,300 homes owned and managed. We anticipate the handover of 25 homes in 2022/23 and are looking ahead for further opportunities to build in our region.
In 2021/22 we sold 7 new shared ownership homes and worked with existing shared owners to assist in the re-sale of their homes.
Arches is part of the South Yorkshire Housing Partnership. The group has five priorities: the supply of affordable homes, the road map to net zero carbon, housing and health, economic growth and employment, and preventing homelessness.
A well governed, financially strong, ambitious agile organisation
We’ve worked hard over the last few years to create a great place for our people to do their best work – for you our tenants, leaseholders, and customers of tomorrow. That’s why we are really proud to have achieved recognition with a Gold seal of approval from Investors in People!
Through Agile@Arches staff can work flexibly. This means they are more accessible to help you. They have greater authority to make decisions which achieve positive outcomes.
We will be continuing to develop as an employer so that we have the right people, at the right time, providing services that we can all be proud of, and that put customers at the heart of what we do!
Arches Annual report finance
We have maintained a steady financial position in 2021/22. Income has continued to grow with the addition of new properties. Expenditure on repairs and reinvesting in our properties, a priority through the Arches Home Standard, totalled £2.14m in 2021/22 and is budgeted to be £2.25m in 2022/23.
We continue to compare well to our peers in terms of providing value for money, keeping our ‘core’ administration costs low and maximising spend on our housing stock.
More detail on our finances and Value for Money performance, including details of board and governance arrangements and risk management and assurance can be found in our Annual Report and Financial Statements at Annual accounts
Our 2021 – 26 Corporate Plan is available at Arches Corporate Plan 2021 26
This year we have seen an increase of 107% in the volume of formal complaints received, whilst the escalation rate has remained relatively stable:
The increase in formal complaints received reflects an improvement in recognising and progressing complaints through the formal process, offering customers more timely recourse and clear accountability through a thorough investigation.
An annual review of complaints is included on the Arches web site.
Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
We are committed to recognising and respecting the diverse needs of our customers and staff so that the services we provide, and our workplaces, are fair and inclusive to all.
We believe it is important that the people we employ, and who govern how we work, have a good understanding of the communities we serve.
We continue to take steps to increase the diversity of our staff team by promoting our vacancies widely to get the best applicants and have been successful in attracting a high calibre of candidates. The percentage of our staff who are from a black or Asian background and the number of women has steadily increased.
In 2022 we will review our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Plan as part our training and development programme for all staff and agree how we can better serve the wishes and preferences of our customers, board and staff team.
* People from a black or Asian minority background