How we are doing
CEO Jeff Skipp
Overview of the Financial Year
We have implemented a new housing management structure which provides focused support to our tenants across the geographical areas within which we work. Our primary focus over the past 12 months has been tenancy sustainment and prevention, minimise the need for formal action and to support individual tenants to maintain and increase their independence. We have also focused on further increasing our engagement with tenants, ensuring even greater input into the management of their home and the estates where they live. We will ensure housing officer ratios are maintained at a ratio of no greater than 1:150 units per housing officer (current average 1: 112). This has provided capacity and staff resource to further develop and maintain strong relationships with tenants enabling early interventions and again minimise the need for formal action through early intervention. The outcome of this initiative has been to offer tailored support to our tenants, 98% of whom have received tenancy audits/property MOTs during the year, reducing the number of voids whilst improving our repairs service by greater oversight of works and resolving issues at an early stage.
We have invested further in our planned and responsive maintenance provision including Landlord Health and Safety with additional resource during the year. We have maintained our focus on Landlord Health and Safety, completing our five-year cycle of electrical testing this year. We have also implemented a new compliance management I.T system alongside the introduction of a new property compliance officer post, enabling us to maintain even greater oversight of landlord health and safety compliance with real time reporting.
Our care & support services have continued to focus on delivering quality services to people with higher or more complex needs, who are currently the furthest away from community living; often residing in more institutional forms of care and support. Ability have also been able to reduce the amount of support hours some customers require over time, delivering cost savings for commissioners whilst supporting individuals to have greater control and autonomy over their lives. We have achieved the above in a continued environment of insufficient financial resources to support the delivery of high-quality social care. Through partnership and negotiation we have achieved full cost recovery in 95% of our services. However, funding remains for our services incredibly tight and we have to maintain strong management focus on social care expenditure to maintain financial viability of our services. We will once again be negotiating with local authorities in 2019/20 to ensure we gain sufficient inflationary increases to cover the cost of the increase in the National Living Wage (NLW) effective April 2020. Whilst Ability fully supports the increase in the NLW, if services are to be maintained we believe it is incumbent on both central and local government to ensure future funding for social care is increased to recognise the additional costs associated with increased staffing costs as a result of NLW increases. For Ability HA social care staff represent in excess of 70% of the costs associated with the delivery of services and we cannot continue to bear indefinitely, inflationary increases which do not represent the actual costs of delivering social care.
To deliver great services we require great staff and to ensure we have staff that are trained and able to support our customers well, we have expanded the training we offer to staff including Positive Behaviour Support, supporting people with Alzheimer’s and palliative support to name but a few. We have also increased the management and leadership training we offer including “Lead to Succeed” for supervisory staff whilst also increasing the number of managers and aspiring managers who undertake and complete QCF Level 5 in Health and Social Care. Only through ensuring our staff and managers have the skills and knowledge to undertake their roles well can we be assured as an organisation we can deliver high-quality services to our customers.
As an organisation, we have invested significantly in both ICT hardware and software over the past year. We have implemented a robust infrastructure and invested in a new integrated software platform in Housing, Finance and Care. We believe this system will facilitate transparent and real-time management information, support greater management oversight and enable timely decision-making. We have also outsourced our payroll provision and the implementation of a new HR system. These developments, whilst implementation has at times been challenging and consumed management time, will positively impact on our business moving forward.