New Year is often a time for reflection, and I have taken the opportunity at the start of 2024 to reflect on the work we do here at Hilldale and what this New Year might bring.
Hilldale is an important part of many people’s lives. We provide a safe and secure home to nearly 1,000 tenants, many of whom are amongst the most vulnerable in society and require additional support. That support is provided by more than 60 Care Providers across 59 Local Authorities.
I started my journey with Hilldale over 3 years ago. Alongside my fellow board members, to whom I am grateful for their dedication and support, and the rest of the Hilldale team, we remain committed to further strengthening our governance and financial viability as well as delivering excellent services to our tenants.
We have come a long way over the last few years and continue to see positive improvements. One of those has been our repairs service which has undergone a significant transformation and is now providing the good quality service that our Tenants deserve. This has been possible through stronger data, planning and a new experienced and customer focussed team. Our tenants are also benefiting from a long-term property investment plan which is keeping them safe and ensuring that we deliver against the Decent Homes Standard and going beyond this where we can.
In the last few months, we have also launched a new programme to improve the energy efficiency of buildings by introducing measures such as solar panels and internal wall insulation. This will contribute to our aim of reducing our carbon footprint, as well as, crucially reducing utility bills for our tenants at a time when the cost-of-living crisis is impacting on some many.
In July last year, we were delighted to add four directly owned properties to our portfolio through the support of Change Housing group. These properties help strengthen our financial position and provide much needed homes in the communities we serve.
This year, we are forecasting a surplus which is not dependant on Hilldale growth. This is a significant step forward for the organisation and has been achieved through more robust financial management and oversight.
In March, I look forward to the findings from our tenant satisfaction measures (TSM’s). We are committed to ‘getting under the bonnet’ of these and focusing our efforts to improve the areas our tenants are telling us need attention.
The Board and I have been focussed on improving our ability to listen to the views of our Tenants and their advocates. I am pleased with our progress to date, and more is planned. Our tenants require additional support with everyday living, and this means we must work harder and go further to hear and involve them. We have recently launched a new Tenant Voice Panel with six members, the panel will help us drive improvements and report directly to the board. They will ensure the tenants voice is heard loud and clear in our strategic decision making.
My role includes the responsibility to remain aware of and mitigate the current and future risks to Hilldale. The recent sector risk profile report by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) highlights the challenges we and others continue to face. The RSH asks for clear strategic direction and priorities with robust mitigation. Through the work of the board, the Hilldale team and partners, our governance continues to strengthen. We launched our 2023-2026 business strategy last year and have clear priorities and goals to achieve.
All at Hilldale know how far we have come and have yet to go. Together, alongside our tenants and colleagues, we will continue our journey with our tenants at the heart of everything we do.
From me and everyone at Hilldale, Happy New Year.
James Boyd – Chair