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What we've been working on

Scrutiny Panel

Review into fire safety communications

Scrutiny panel digital project 3

The Scrutiny Panel have completed a review of fire safety communications.  

The Panel aimed to add value to the work the organisation does and help maximise the effectiveness of communication with customers about fire safety in their home.

The review was carried out between October 2020 and January 2021.

The review was carried out as a remote exercise because of COVID restrictions, without face to face engagement by the Scrutiny Panel. The approach to the review included:

  • staff discussion
  •  a desktop review of materials used to communicate with residents
  • a review of materials used by other housing organisations
  • photographic evidence
  • a survey of residents, and
  • in-depth online discussions with residents

It was clear to the Panel having completed the review that residents feel safe where they live and know what to do in the event of a fire. 

Feedback from the customer survey and from in-depth discussions with residents was extremely positive about how the organisation communicates messages around fire safety and what it does to keep residents safe.

However, the Panel found a number of areas where it felt that improvements could be made, and the Panel made 25 recommendations for improvement.

These findings relate to principally to the use of:

  • Website and social media
  • Notices and Noticeboards
  • Strategies for local resident engagement about fire safety

By September 2021 all recommendations had been implemented.

The Scrutiny Panel spent over 130 volunteer hours working on the review engaging with staff from across the organisation specifically in housing and area management, compliance and communications.

For more information on fire safety and how to keep safe, see Fire safety: What you should do to stay safe.

Check and Challenge Group

During 2020 / 21 the Check and Challenge group have been reviewing policies and have reviewed the ASB policy and the newly updated customer complaints policy following the published Social White Paper November 2020. 

They also carried out the following reviews.

Review of Housing and Homelessness Letters

The group completed a review of the housing and homelessness letters between February 2021 and June 2021. They examined the content of the letters from a customer's perspective from the three stages of the application process:

  • Application
  • Review
  • Homelessness

The Check and Challenge group felt overall the letters they reviewed were relatively easy to read. However, the group believed they could make changes and improve the content of the letters by updating key information and making the letters easier for customers to understand by reducing some of the legal terminology.

The group approached the review by conducting:

  • desk top reviews of the letters
  • staff discussions
  • group discussions on revised letter content

Their recommendations included all letters should have a consistent approach, the letters should include updated information on mutual exchanges and to include the freephone number for people at risk of homelessness.

The group presented all their recommendations to Housing and Homelessness Manager and 24 recommendations have been implemented by February 2022.

Review of Anti-Social Behaviour information

The Check and Challenge group reviewed the content of Anti-Social Behaviour information available to customers on South Tyneside Home's website between November 2020 to December 2020.

This review was conducted by:

  • a desk top review of current information available to customers
  • staff discussions
  • a review of other housing organisations ASB information

The group spent a total of 28 volunteer hours reviewing ASB information and put forward 13 recommendations for website improvements.  These improvements are currently being developed and the group have been invited to a viewing of the improved web content end of March 2022.

Due to covid restrictions, all reviews and meetings were held remotely. 

2021 Tenants' Annual Report

This year's Tenants' Annual Report was launched in October; once again this Annual Report has been written by tenants for tenants and highlights areas within the organisation where services are performing well and also importantly areas that need to improve. 

Tenants' Annual Report 2021

See previous Tenants' Annual Reports.

For a paper copy of the Tenants' Annual Report 2021 contact: