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National award for housing association

Housing Plus Group scooped a national award for a project to improve customers’ homes.

The group, which includes South Staffordshire Housing Association, introduced a new Home MOT programme which visits groups of homes a neighbourhood at a time. Its teams of multi-skilled operatives give properties a ‘check-up’ and carry out a checklist of work including minor external repairs and painting, cleaning and mending gutters, re-laying uneven slabs on pathways and attending to fences and gates.

The Home MOT programme has allowed the association to maintain its investment in home improvements despite falling income resulting from welfare reform. Recognising the innovative qualities of the project as well as extremely high levels of customer satisfaction, the National Housing Maintenance Forum (NHMF) presented Housing Plus Group with the Best Customer Impact award at its national conference on 24 January.

“Customers love the project because it doesn’t just improve their own home, it brings a facelift to the whole neighbourhood,” said Home MOT team leader John Grosvenor. “The reaction of our residents is the best part of the job. It feels good to make a difference to a community.”

Housing Plus Group is investing £1m per year in the Home MOT programme, benefitting 1,200 homes annually in neighbourhoods across south Staffordshire. The project has helped catapult the local association into the top quartile nationally in surveys asking housing association customers whether they are satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live.

In feedback, 99% of customers said that they liked the new service and 100% of customers surveyed found the Home MOT project more convenient than having the same work carried out in a number of visits. The project delivers annual savings of £350,000 on the cost of doing the same work as responsive repairs.

“The Home MOT project has enabled us to achieve increase the level of work carried out at the same time as reducing our operational costs,” said property director Stephen Collins. “We have delighted our customers, reduced calls to our Customer Services team and delivered outstanding value.”

The NHMF award judges spotlighted the Staffordshire project as an innovation with the potential to be adopted throughout the industry.