Terrie Alafat CBE, Group Board Chair, introduces the Annual Report for Customers
It gives me great pleasure to introduce this year’s Annual Report for Customers. This review of the past 12 months gives us a chance to reflect on our group performance, where we need to improve and of course celebrate our achievements. I am always so pleased to see the examples of the excellent services colleagues deliver and know everyone at Riverside puts customers at the heart of everything they do. I would like to take this opportunity to thank colleagues for their hard work, and know this gratitude is echoed by my fellow Board members.
Investing in our homes, particularly tackling damp and mould, has been a top priority at Riverside this past year. We have committed to investing £3m annually to keep our customers safe; to fix existing problems, and upgrade ventilation. We have a new Damp and Mould Policy and all colleagues now complete training on damp and mould, so they know how to identify, report and act upon it.
I am happy to report our customer satisfaction with building safety has increased this year. We have continued a programme to improve safety within customers’ homes and good progress is also being made with fire safety remediation. We have a Long-Term Financial Plan and delivery programme in place for the remediation of cladding on our buildings.
I know many of our customers and communities are still facing financial challenges through the cost-of-living crisis caused by the highest inflation rates in a generation, and rising interest rates. I am pleased that our new annual investment into the Riverside Foundation of £2.5m (which will increase with inflation each year) is having an immediate impact. We have been able to help over 2000 customers through expanded tenancy sustainment services, such as Money Advice and Helping Hands (a grants offer to help customers facing the most challenging circumstances.). The new money is also being utilised by our communities who are developing their own, local responses to the cost-of-living crisis, such as Can Cook, an innovative food project which gives people essential cooking skills as well as providing low cost, nutritional food.
As in every Annual Report, I am always hugely impressed by the life-changing services provided by Care and Support. I am always so pleased to see the development of new services and was delighted to see the launch of Op Fortitude, a new service to support veterans facing homelessness.
This year, I am disappointed to say that we have again seen a decline in customer satisfaction levels across a few service areas. We recognise the need for improvement and intend to achieve this change through a new ambitious 3-year Corporate Plan and associated strategies. This includes the new Customer Experience Strategy, which has been developed alongside our valued customers. I am already seeing the impact of this work, with a new dedicated team looking at complaints to ensure more customers are satisfied with our process and outcomes, and to enable more effective learning from the feedback we receive from customers. Over the next 12 months, I expect to see even more improvements to benefit our customers, including an enhanced digital offer, and more localised services.
I do hope you enjoy reading this report.
All Riverside performance figures in this report relate to the financial year ending 31 March 2023. They do not include Home Ownership data.