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Sustaining Strong Communities

Sustaining Strong Communities

We are focussed on supporting the development of sustainable communities and to raise the aspirations of current and future generations

Enabling Sustainable Tenure

We are focussed on supporting the development of sustainable communities for our current and future generation of residents.  We have a fundamental interest in developing sustainable communities as a core activity as they will in the longer term make a positive contribution to the ongoing viability of our business.

Our Sustainable Communities Strategy is our "live" delivery plan that drives our services and community interventions.

Maximising tenancy sustainability is a key component of business success both in terms of stabilising the rental income stream and reducing the operating costs that are associated with high turnover of tenancies. We will achieve this through providing effective and supportive allocations processes that match need to supply and also by offering support for life changing events, securing sustainable employment for tenants and residents, improving tenant's financial wellbeing and through offering wider products and services to enable home ownership and other types of tenure.

Housing Management

The continuing impact of Welfare Reform has changed our approach to managing and re-letting homes.  Working in partnership with our Repairs and Maintenance contractor Mears, we keep to a minimum the time a property is empty.  We have adopted a proactive approach to marketing low demand properties and provide value for money incentives to help customers move in to their new home

Research indicates that a tenancy is most likely to fail in the first 12 months.  To address this we have adopted a “tenancy ready” approach to lettings.  This focuses on ensuring that prospective tenants are able to afford the cost of their home before being offered a tenancy, understand the responsibilities of the tenancy agreement, and have the skills and knowledge they need to manage a successful tenancy.

Sustainable Tenancies

Making sure our customers can safely sustain their tenancies is key to achieving sustainable communities and a sustainable business.  Increasing tenancy sustainability through providing effective support to tenants is one of our business priorities. Our Housing and Communities Team help tenants deal with life events and other complex issues that may impact their ability to manage their tenancy.  We proactively assess the risks of our customer sustaining their tenancies providing timely and appropriate referrals to support services.

Enabling Sustainable Tenure Performance and Achievements 2015/16

  • Processed 2,400 housing applications with 58% of received via digital means
  • Allocated 211 low demand properties from October 2015 to March 2016
  • Let 69% of properties on the first offer
  • 80% of tenants were satisfied with the home they moved into
  • Reduced the average cost of a void repair by £945
  • 93% of tenants were satisfied with the overall voids service, a 1.5% increase from 2014/15
  • Achieved £400,000 savings through voids process improvement, whilst reducing re-let times and rent loss from empty properties
  • Tenancy turnover for 2015/16 was 12%
  • Reduced the number of “at risk” tenancies from failing in the first 12 months by 34%
  • Provided enhanced tenancy support  to 219 households from pre-allocation with 99% sustaining their tenancy over 12 months 
  • Investigated and resolved 250 complaints of Anti-Social Behaviour with only one case resulting in eviction.  All other tenancies were successfully sustained
  • Identified 12 households with complex hoarding problems, all of which have been supported to sustain their tenancy
  • Referred 8 “high risk” households to the Fire Service Safer Homes programme
  • Funded £5,000 of additional fire safety measures through Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service
  • The first Social Landlord to sign a “Memorandum of Understanding” with Durham and Darlington Fire & Rescue Service on how we will share information and cooperate on home safety and fire risk issues.
  • 99% of customers attending a Smart Start Programme have sustained their tenancy

2016/17 Look Forward

Moving forward to 2016/17, we will aim to:

  • Reduce tenancy turnover to 9.2%
  • Increase tenancy sustainability to 97%

Enabling Socially and Economically Balanced Communities

Sustaining strong communities and raising the aspirations of the current and future generation of tenants and residents is core to livin's purpose and also has a proven positive contribution to ongoing business viability. Investing in communities is key in creating sustaining places to live and work and we are committed to promoting economic, social and environmental sustainability within our communities.

Our approach to regenerating communities is determined through our Community Plans, containing a range of business intelligence indicators such as: levels of unemployment and health, levels of debt, and the condition and lettings of our homes.

We monitor and review the progress made in delivering sustainability through our Sustainable Communities Strategy and will adjust our approach accordingly as each community’s needs evolve.

Through our Resident and Community Engagement Strategy we aim to empower residents to become actively involved in the regeneration of their communities.

Moving forward, we will deliver a focussed regeneration programme to improve failing communities and we will shape our services to meet the diverse and changing needs of our current and future tenant base.

livin Community Regeneration Fund

The livin Community Fund offers individuals and groups the opportunity to apply for funding that can make a real difference to the places where they live, work and play.  The Fund aims to support applications that contribute towards the achievement of our Sustainable Communities Strategy.

Enabling Socially and Economically Balanced Communities Performance and Achievements 2015/16

  • 10 funding applications made to deliver targeted interventions in York Hill Estate, Spennymoor
  • Achieved ‘buy in’ from residents and home owners on York Hill Estate, Spennymoor to commence significant regeneration of the community to maximise visual impact and revitalise community spirit
  • 2 stakeholder groups established in York Hill Estate, Spennymoor and Western Ward, Newton Aycliffe with purpose of improving the aspirations and sustainability of these communities
  • Provided 836 residents from within our communities the opportunity to become involved in 25 focused consultation activities
  • Generated £4,477,050 in social value within our target communities during 15/16
  • Supported 62 community based projects
  • Invested £168,297 in communities via the livin Community Regeneration Fund
  • 69% of projects secured match funding – totalling £401,161
  • 18 family learning courses delivered a total of 156 sessions, engaging with 128 adults and 140 children

2016/17 Look Forward

In 2016/17, we will aim to:

  • Generate £4m in social value through employability and health and wellbeing programmes

livin Futures

livin Futures is a key element of a wider work programme aimed at tackling unemployment. It comprises a set of long, medium and short term interventions (pathways) to support people of all ages and abilities into employment.  Designed to ‘open doors’ and give people the best chance of getting a job, the programme offers a choice of 18 pathways delivered in partnership with Mears, Sunderland Football Club’s Foundation, local schools, colleges and others.

Through these pathways, which include: pre-apprenticeships, school-based programmes, and skills foundations, we inspire young people by: raising their aspirations, improving their confidence, increasing their skills levels, and supporting them to overcome the day-to-day issues that can be a barrier to them getting a job.

livin Housing are showing that when local companies focus their programmes on a single issue a huge positive impact can be achieved;

Les Ratcliffe TD, Head of Community Relations and Corporate Social Responsibility, Jaguar Land Rover and Chair of Judges at BITC

I think livin Futures is great at helping out the community, and bringing good spirit amongst us. I didn’t know how to access or register for different job sites, I am now confident to do this. They are always there to help out anybody with job searching and courses, and have a big impact on the village where I live;

Lauren livin tenant and livin Futures participant

livin Futures Performance and Achievements 2015/16

  • Awarded the Business in The Community “Inspiring Young Talent Award” 2015
  • Supported 835 people to improve their employability skills
  • 276 people supported into employment
  • 253 people supported into Further Education or Training
  • Over 300 people have gained additional qualifications
  • Generated £3,881,926 in Social Value during 2015/16

2016/17 Look Forward

  • Support 960 people to improve their employability skills.
  • Support 280 residents into employment
  • Assist 305 residents to gain qualifications
  • Support 255 residents into further education or training

Financial Wellbeing

We believe that in order to be a sustainable business, the future financial sustainability of our communities must be a priority.  Through innovative programmes such as our Debt Advice Service and Monkey, the Financial Wellbeing team supports residents to increase their economic wellbeing and help them manage their money in a more sustainable way. This includes pre tenancy support via the Smart Start programme, which helps improve tenancy sustainability.

Financial Wellbeing Performance and Achievements 2015/16

  • Delivered pre-tenancy support to 420 applicants through our Smart Start programme  
  • Managed £409,565 worth of debt for 342 customers
  • Identified £388,342 in additional benefits for our customers
  • Helped customers claim £89,500 in discretionary housing payments
  • 1,281 of livin’s customers were supported through the Monkey Project with fuel, furniture or finance issues
  • 1,041 of livin’s customers were referred or signposted to a variety of local, affordable, furniture, carpets and decorating suppliers through the Monkey Project
  • Signposted 495 customers to services which provided advice and support on utilities

2016/17 Look Forward

  • Identify those customers likely to be affected by the Local Housing Allowance Cap and help them to plan for a reduction in their income
  • Support customers under the age of 21 to move into employment thereby removing them from their reliance on housing benefit
  • Refer customers who are unemployed or in need of training to livin futures
  • Identify those customers likely to be affected by the Benefit Cap and support them to plan for the reduction in income
  • Support customers as they transition to Universal Credit
  • Increase the take up of Credit Unions
  • Promote the benefits of basic bank accounts
  • Increase the take up of home contents insurance
  • Promote SmarterBuys Store as an ethical alternative to high interest rate furniture providers
  • Provide energy assessments through Managing Money Better
  • Increase the number of customers accessing the Northumbrian Water Reduce Tariff
  • In partnership with Monkey develop a financial capability training facility
  • Carry out research to better understand the support customers need when they are in financial difficulties
  • Carry out research to better understnad why tenancies fail
  • Increase digital payment methods such as Direct Debit and make it more appealing for customers
  • Push further digitisation of correspondence through increase channel shift of customers to My Livin Space
  • Utilise the learning from the Nudge Project when carrying out marketing campaigns
  • Apply for accreditation for Financial Wellbeing Service to demonstrate it is a service that operates efficiently, effectively, economically and delivers excellent service to customers


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