Welsh Housing Sector missing out on nuggets of gold that can improve services according to tenants

The results were published of the national survey of tenants in April. The survey commissioned by CH Cymru with support from the Welsh Government has helped regulators and other stakeholders to profile a picture of tenant satisfaction across Wales’ housing association sector.

Overall the sector should be fairly pleased with the results that show marginal improvements compared with the rest of the UK which demonstrates that much is being done to improve a range of housing services.

In all, the results show that 81% of tenants were either fairly or very satisfied with their landlords and their home, but this fell to 70% when being asked about the quality, community and repairs. What these and other figures demonstrate is that there is still much to be proud of, but much more to do, to improve services in an era of co-regulation.

One of the key areas where the sector came in for criticism was in the processing of complaints, where there is strong dissatisfaction with the outcomes of complaints made to landlords. 46% of those surveyed were satisfied to some degree with the way their landlord handled their complaint, but a further 38% were dissatisfied. The key areas of focus is the speed and feedback throughout the complaints process.

However, overall there is much the sector should be pleased with. It’s just a pity that there are a significant proportion of landlords who still miss out on seeing complaints as nuggets of gold from which services can be improved.

Surprisingly, what the survey does show is that the average age of the sector is around 58 years (plus or minus a couple of years). In addition, the survey also revealed that a significant proportion of respondents either have a disability, or care for someone who has. This should ring alarm bells for the sector, as this age profile are more likely to be impacted by welfare reforms particularly the switching from DLA to PIP and of course the bedroom tax.

This group are also more likely to be a ‘sandwich group’ caught between caring for both sets of older parents while also supporting the aspirations of their adult siblings, including looking after grandchildren during holidays or affordable childcare duties, which may mean some further difficulties in accessing work.

This could well mean that the sector may need to focus on the specific needs of the 50-60 age group and perhaps for the first time see this profile as no longer a ‘safe group’ but a group that will face significant hardships as a consequence of austerity and welfare reforms.

One thing the survey does demonstrate – is that there are significant policy considerations for the sector in meeting both the needs and aspirations of current and future renters in terms of health, economic and well-being issues. Overall though, these are reasonably positive results considering the pressures faced by the sector.

A summary of the survey findings can be found here. http://chcymru.org.uk/en/view-news/the-welsh-housing-sector-is-delivering-high-quality-safe-good-value-homes-a

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