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Longhurst Group Customer Forum - Annual Review 2021



The Longhurst Group Customer Forum (Customer Forum) will ensure that agreed service delivery standards to all customers are being achieved and that Longhurst Group meets the expectations and outcomes of the Consumer Standards:

  • Tenant Involvement and Empowerment Standard.
  • Tenancy Standard.
  • Home Standard.
  • Neighbourhood and Community Standard

The Customer Forum members (see appendix B) are now fully aware of the Social Housing White Paper (November 2020), which is in line with Government legislation.

This report is a review of the work of the Customer Forum covering the period of January to December 2021.

Customer Forum Achievements 2021

Policy reports were presented to the Customer Forum for them to provide their assurance that customers had been consulted with prior to the policy developments and their recommendations had been considered.

Policies approved:

  • Tenancy Management
  • Customer Care
  • Hoarding
  • Service charges
  • Aids and Adaptations Policy

In addition to policies the Customer Forum:

  • Gained greater understanding of how the White Paper impacts on the Group 3 Customer Forum Annual Report 2021
  • The Scrutiny Team reported on the relet standard. This was presented by a Scrutiny Team.
  • Procurement updates including insight into the evaluation process.
  • We reached a decision about how we’d recruit and support a new Chair and Vice Chair.
  • Fed into the interim contract with Mears, monitoring the repairs and voids situation
  • Increased membership - Since the last report, six new members joined, bringing our membership up to 10.
  • Updates provided on Customer Engagement activities eg Clean and Green Inspectors project, Mystery Shopping and scrutiny exercise.
  • Updates are now provided in a report format to every performance meeting.
  • Members of the Customer Engagement Team are present for questions.

LGCF aspirations for 2022

Recruitment and appointments
  • To appoint a Chair and Vice Chair
  • Recruitment of two additonal members bring the total to a 12 member capacity.
  • Membership to be inclusive of a broad range of age groups.
  • Representing customers and homeowners.

To be quorate at a formal meeting requires five customers to attend. The Customer Forum seek to fill all the remaining vacancies in 2022 in order to eliminate/minimise non-quorate meetings in the future and to continue the meeting’s function effectively.

Initial appointments to the Customer Forum enveloped a broad talent and balanced diversity across Longhurst Group’s customer base (General Needs customers, Sheltered Housing, Assisted Living, Leasehold, Shared Ownership and Homeowners). To fill all the vacancies will enable the LGCF to expand its customer diversity, to include age and the geographical areas of Longhurst Group.

Careful consideration to be given to the diversity of customer categories and age range by continuing with video conferencing using Microsoft Teams. It’s inherent flexibility within the revised Longhurst Group working practices has helped the business meet the constraints through the Covid-19 pandemic.

Appointment of Chair

In 2021 a member was appointed as Chair, however resigned due to personal reasons.

Following stage one recruitment we were unable to fill positions of Chair and Vice Chair due to the personal situations and commitments of the Forum members. This situation has now changed and a process is in place to appoint a new Chair/Vice Chair in April 2022

Relationship with the Board

Key Features:

  • The Board/Customer Forum will meet annually to discuss customer insight, feedback and Group performance from across the whole organisation. This’ll be from a clear, pre-set agenda focussed on wider customer engagement, not just the Customer Forum feedback.
  • Attendees/Members will be a mix of Group Board Members and Customer Forum Members. In addition, an Officer and minute taker will be in attendance.
  • Minutes of the Board/Customer Forum will be published for all Group customers in the customer newsletter.
  • The Group Board will receive a Customer Services update report each quarter, extracts from the minutes where this is discussed at Board will be shared with the Customer Forum.

There’s an aspiration to work more closely with Group Board and this is something the Board have also raised.

Currently the Customer Forum meet the Board at an annual meeting. The Customer Forum have the opportunity to escalate any items arising at each of their meetings.

There’s an aspiration to develop a regular two-way dialogue between the Customer Forum and the Board.

We believe the feedback loop between the Customer Forum and the Board needs to be tighter to improve connectivity.

Customer engagement

We’re looking for more customers to get involved and help improve services provided by Longhurst Group. Some of these improvements include:

  • The development of a new Scrutiny Team
  • To develop a customer webinar/workshop to raise awareness of what we do and what involvement opportunities are available
  • Web based portal for involvement, consultation and customer voice
  • Interactive customer spotlight sessions
  • The Customer Forum welcome feedback from other engagement groups to keep them up-to-date with ongoing developments and outcomes.

The Customer Forum envisage Longhurst Group will create a framework for sustainability giving a broad understanding of how to tackle economic, social and environmental challenges that will be pivotal in the future of the business and its customers.

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