While our governance rating has always been compliant, we needed to improve some aspects of our governance arrangements and are pleased that the regulator has received sufficient assurance to make this decision.
We also continue to comply with the financial viability elements of the Governance and Financial Viability Standard.
The regulator has seen improved oversight of services and data, and our corporate strategy progress has shown consistent, steady improvement in our three strategic objectives – outcomes for customers that make us proud, homes we would be happy to live in, and building new homes and successful communities.
The regulatory judgement endorses our business plan, which is robustly positioned in a landscape of challenging and changing economic and consumer regulatory conditions.
Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick MBE, Chair of the Board, said
“We are very pleased that Wandle has regained its G1 rating. It is welcome news that the regulator recognises the hard work put in, and progress made, to improving customer service and the quality of stock condition information.
“I would like to share a personal thanks to members of the Board and Executive team, both past and present, and to all colleagues at Wandle for their diligent work and persistence in delivering our corporate strategy. I am also grateful to residents for continuing to share feedback and work with us on topics that matter to them most.
“Everyone at Wandle knows that while we have made excellent progress, there is always more we can do to improve outcomes for customers, and there is a clear commitment from colleagues and leadership to continue building on the foundations laid.”
New fire door inspections in buildings over 11 metres
If your home is in a block that is over 11 metres (or five storeys or more) in height, under the new Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022, all fire doors in the communal areas and flat front doors should be inspected each year.
Frankham Fire Consultancy will be visiting blocks to inspect the communal fire doors and also to check flat front doors to identify if repairs are required and to help ensure everyone is kept safe in their homes. We’ll let you know about a week beforehand when they will visit your block.
To also help ensure the fire doors are kept safe if you see any that do not shut properly or look damaged, please contact us today.
Want to know how to check a fire door? Check out this 5 step fire door check:
Remember, if you spot anything that’s not right, or you want us to check let us know.
Financial accounts and strategic review 2022/23
We are pleased to share the published version of our annual accounts and strategic review for the year ended March 2023.
Having launched our Corporate Strategy last year, we’ve been progressing the delivery of key activities that underpin its first year. We are pleased that we’ve seen continual improvements against our performance targets and through engagement with our customers launched our supporting customer experience strategy. Through this we have gained valuable feedback, informing where we can continue to build on improvements we’ve already made – and go further.
We are pleased that whilst the economic headwinds meant that we saw much of our cost base increase, we have delivered a healthy surplus of £24.1 million, 104% above last year (£11.8 million).
During the year we underwent our in-depth assessment with the Regulator of Social Housing which reconfirmed our G2/V2 rating. This gave us a clear understanding of where we need to focus our efforts to achieve a G1 status, and we are working with our Regulator to revisit this rating during the course of the next year.
Welcome to the May edition of Wandle’s update for stakeholders. As my first update to you, I would like to share my reflections on the context of the housing sector, the progress that has been made against our Corporate Strategy at the end of its first year and what we are looking to achieve this year. With inflation levels not seen for decades, supply chain challenges, a raft of new regulation and legislation requirements, and increasing external scrutiny, the sector is feeling the pressure. Wandle is also seeing increasingly high levels of customer contact on all issues – and we’ve brought in extra resource to work with residents on damp and mould, and to combat disrepair. Building safety remains a top priority – all our mid-rise properties have had full assessments, and we are working hard with the original contractors to agree and plan the programme of rectification works. We are delighted that our customer satisfaction levels are higher than year ended 2021/22 – both in our regular perception surveys, and transactional feedback. Our headline figure stands 20% higher, and staff are more focussed than ever on providing reliable, quality services. We’ve launched a new, expanded in-house repairs service, to meet demand and better serve residents, and are using technology to keep residents informed of their repair, with live tracking on the day. We are forecasting a strong surplus which will be prioritised toward reinvesting in our current homes alongside delivering a pipeline of new affordable homes. We’ve been able to continue to support our customers that are impacted by the cost-of-living crisis with our Helping Hand fund making tangible differences to them. I got to see the impact that a decent home can have on families when we officially opened a new block of 33 homes, including 23 for social rent, in Canada Water last month, and met Jhonny, who’s new home gives him the dignity and space to live independently with his family. (read more below) My focus will be on ensuring we deliver on our commitments to achieve outcomes for customers that make us proud, taking advantage of understanding the needs of our local communities. Your insight and feedback is equally important so I am looking forward to meeting and working with you as key stakeholders.
33 new homes in Southwark
Wandle colleagues recently celebrated the handover of 33 new homes at Whaling House, Canada Water, Southwark. The scheme, purchased from Scape’s Canada Water development, comprises 10 shared ownership properties and 23 homes for social rent. There is also a landscaped communal rooftop garden, with views of London for residents to use. Colleagues from across the business joined residents to view the high-spec homes. There was also a ribbon cutting with Wandle resident Jhonny Laimes, Chief Executive Anne Waterhouse, and Tracey Lees who has recently retired from the position.
Anne Waterhouse, Chief Executive at Wandle said: “At Wandle, we support people across south London who need a home and are ambitious in building new homes and successful communities.
“Everyone deserves to have a home they are proud to call their own, and I am delighted that we have been able to help our new residents achieve this.”
Whaling House resident Jhonny Laimes recently moved into a specially adapted home with his family after living in temporary accommodation that did not meet his needs. He had previously lived in an overcrowded temporary one-bedroom property with his wife and three children. Living in an overcrowded home had caused a physical and mental impact on the family, with the lack of personal space and privacy taking a toll.
Jhonny said of his new home, “Previously I lived in temporary housing not adapted to my disability, and my son had to sleep on the floor. I couldn’t get out to the street without help due to the difficulty of the stairs and my life was difficult.
“Wandle have given me the opportunity to live in a house adapted for my needs. I am very grateful for this opportunity because it has given me another opportunity to live.”
Woman of the year finalist
We are delighted to share that Martina Brown, Neighbourhood Customer Service Manager, has been shortlisted at this year’s Women in Housing Awards in the Woman of the year category.
Martina is a passionate and dedicated housing professional, leading Wandle’s Neighbourhood team, and we will be keeping our fingers crossed for the awards night in June.
Disrepair – putting things right, without the courts
As a social landlord, we’re here to help our residents, and provide decent, safe homes.
Sometimes we get things wrong, and we have a robust complaints policy and process that residents can use to put things right when this happens; and this includes when residents are thinking about making a disrepair claim.
We have a dedicated disrepair team, including an in-house solicitor, who are working hard to process claims, get things put right, and fair compensation paid.
We’re seeing more and more claims from companies hiding costs to residents, advising tenants not to allow access for us to carry out needed repairs (and putting them in breach of tenancy agreements), or causing delays in residents getting the compensation they deserve.
We’re raising awareness with our residents of some of the issues with instructing a legal team before letting us try to put things right through our complaints process. We think that this will mean issues are solved more promptly, with fair compensation paid straight to tenants, while minimising the legal fees Wandle pay to defend cases – meaning we can put that money towards repairs, improvements and other services for customers.
Helping Hand fund: Making a house a home
Wandle’s Helping Hand Fund is available to residents experiencing financial hardship who need support – help to buy food, or household basics like furniture and white goods. Our resident support team recently supported a new Wandle resident moving into her new home. Ms DKF* secured a Wandle home after a period living in a women’s refuge. She had already experienced a great deal of upheaval, having previously found the courage to leave an abusive relationship. Due to these circumstances, she found herself with very few possessions and little financial security when she approached Wandle for assistance. Our resident support officer fast-tracked her helping hand fund application for vouchers towards white goods and groceries. She was awarded £800 in Argos vouchers to purchase household essentials, and £100 in Sainsbury vouchers to purchase food to help her settle into her new home. Maria Ramos, Head of Customer Service Delivery said: “It takes an enormous amount of bravery to leave an abusive environment and start again with nothing. The helping hand fund exists to support those who need additional support when life throws difficulties their way. “We always take the time to follow up with our residents who have made use of the helping hand fund, and I am touched to hear that our resident is moving forward and looking towards a bright future.”
Wandle’s estate improvement fund was set up in June 2020 to deliver much needed works to our estates. Many of the projects have been hugely welcomed by residents, and it has delivered a valuable improvement to their local communities. Below are just two examples of how the estate improvement fund has had a positive impact to residents.
Thalia Court The recessed area directly outside the bin chamber doors at Thalia Court was being used as a dumping ground for local shop keepers and passers-by. This meant that the bin chamber doors were often blocked with refuse, and residents were unable to get into the bin chamber which was creating an unsightly and unhygienic mess. For years, bulk refuse collections were arranged every week, often twice a week to continuously remove the piles of rubbish mounting in this location. This was incredibly costly and time consuming – and only resolving the issue for the short term. The estate improvement budget was able to fund works to remove the recessed area for dumping refuse. The final costs for the work works were £20k, and they have added enormous value to the quality of life of Thalia residents as well reduced bulk refuse collection costs.
Belville Close Belville Close residents requested a review of the parking spaces arrangements on their estate. They asked for the parking bay numbers to be altered, the line markings to be repainted as they were needed a fresh lick of paint, as well as additional visitor spaces. The estate improvement fund helped resolve these issues, and create a more harmonious community. One of the biggest challenges to the housing team in delivering these projects is the technical nature of the work. However, they are usually of huge importance to our residents and help create and maintain safe and secure communities.
Direct debits – incorrect notifications
We recently wrote to all residents explaining new rent and/or service charges from April 2023.
Due to this change, we supplied new details to our direct debit partner, Allpay.
Unfortunately, we got this wrong first time around. We have already corrected the problem, but this means you might get an incorrect notification from Allpay in the post, before your correct one.
For clarity, no incorrect payments will be taken, but you might get two letters from Allpay. The second one will be the correct one.
We have written to everyone affected, and anyone with questions about this can email email@example.com.
Anne Waterhouse announced as new Wandle Chief Executive
We are delighted to announce the appointment of Anne Waterhouse as Wandle’s new chief executive, taking the reins from Tracey Lees, who retires in spring 2023.
Anne will join Wandle from A2Dominion, where she has been for 16 years, holding a variety of senior roles – including as interim CEO in 2021/22, and most recently as Deputy CEO and Executive Director (Central & Financial Services).
She will be responsible for ensuring the continued delivery of Wandle’s core purpose: supporting people across south London who need a home; and ensuring progress against the corporate strategic plan to 2025.
Chair of the Board: Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick, MBE, said:
“Anne joins Wandle with a proven track record in the housing sector, and clearly has the skills and passion that will support our purpose and deliver our ambitious strategy.
“Anne will work with our Executive Team to further enhance our financial resilience, invest in both our existing properties and new homes across south London, and deliver sustained improvements in our customer services.
“These are exciting times for Wandle. The Board and I are looking forward to welcoming Anne to the organisation, which will begin with a smooth handover from our retiring CEO Tracey Lees in the spring of 2023.”
Anne Waterhouse, said:
“I am delighted to be joining the Wandle team. It’s a challenging and exciting time for the organisation, with a clear strategy in place to do more for Wandle’s customers and communities. Wandle still has an essential role in helping deliver more affordable homes for London but like many in the sector this needs to be balanced with continued investment in existing homes to ensure customers remain safe and secure.
Tracey leaves behind a great team with strong, capable, and talented colleagues and a skilled supportive Board. It is my privilege to join as Wandle’s new Chief Executive, building and accelerating on delivering the commitments made to customers, colleagues and key stakeholders in a sustained way.”
The regulatory judgement confirms our G2/V2 rating of governance and viability. Wandle has changed significantly since its previous IDA. The presenting issues of 2018 have been resolved and the new regulatory judgement has been formed from a much-improved organisation with clear plans to improve further.
The Board is pleased that the RSH has recognised the significant improvements we have made in creating financial resilience, managing risk, and our revised asset management plan.
We have put in place a new corporate strategy with a strong focus on improving our services to customers and how we use data to support decision-making on existing homes.
The Board has already considered the current economic climate and made changes to our delivery plan for new homes.
We are grateful to the regulator for their ongoing engagement, continue to work with them, and are confident that we will deliver our corporate strategy and progress to a G1 governance rating within the next 12 months.
Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick, MBE
Chair of the Board
Chair of Wandle Board announces move from RCGP to RIBA
Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick MBE today announced that she will be leaving her role as Chief Operating Officer at the Royal College of General Practitioners in January 2023, to take up the role of Chief Executive Officer at the Royaly Institute of British Architects.
Dr Vaughan-Dick remains in role as Chair of the Board at Wandle, and her commitment to delivering Wandle’s strategic plan to 2025 remains undiminished.
We hope you will join us in congratulating her on this exciting new step.
Could you join our Board?
We are currently looking for our next Resident Board Member – could you provide strategic direction to Wandle, and oversee and scrutinise our operations? If so, apply today!
Wandle proudly supports people across south London who need a home. That is why we were formed in 1967, and why we exist today. Since then, we have grown into an organisation with over 7,000 homes across nine south London boroughs and almost 200 staff.
Wandle is governed by a Board of Management, that takes strategic decisions about all aspects of what we do. It’s important that we have a resident voice at this top level, and we’re recruiting for this role now.
Announcement from Chair of the Board, Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick MBE
Tracey Lees, who became chief executive of Wandle Housing Association (Wandle) in 2015, has announced that she is retiring.
Tracey Lees’ long career in housing began in 1983 and has included being Chief Executive at The Barnet Group, as well as holding director positions at the Home Group and Thames Valley Housing Association.
Chair of the Board, Dr Valerie Vaughan-Dick MBE, said:
“We wish Tracey Lees all the best for her retirement. She leaves behind a solid legacy with a strong team and a robust foundation for Wandle’s future. The Board and I are proud of what she has achieved and thank Tracey for her role in leading Wandle for the last seven years. The process for appointing a new CEO will commence shortly. Tracey Lees will remain in post until the new CEO joins Wandle.
Tracey Lees, said:
“It’s been a privilege to lead Wandle for the last seven years. I would like to thank the Wandle Board, colleagues, and customers for their support. I will leave behind a strong Board and Executive Team and I wish Wandle all the very best for the future.”
We are currently recruiting for a new chief executive, if you are interested you can read more about the role here.
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