GWSF: Covid impact on services clear but local associations still leading the way
Performance on tenant services provided by community-based housing associations continues to be strong despite the obvious challenges faced by landlords and tenants during Covid, according to the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF).
The Forum’s Charter Report focuses on 20/21 – the year most affected by lockdowns and other restrictions. It also features some analysis of the Covid data returns for the first half of 2021/22.
Overall satisfaction rates fell slightly across all social landlords, though levels remain high – and are still highest (91%) among the Forum’s members.
On emergency repairs, the sector as a whole saw longer response times, but with performance still strong in the circumstances. And community-based housing associations continued to provide the quickest repairs at an average 2.8 hours, compared to 3.8 for other associations and 5 hours for councils.
Not surprisingly, tenancy turnover fell across the sector to around the 6%-7% level compared to the usual rate of nearer to 9%, but Covid data shows this picking up in the first half of 21/22.
Homelessness lets were up across the board, as all social landlords targeted this area during the height of Covid. GWSF member associations gave 37% of lets to homeless households, compared with 30% for other associations – both well below the 50% rate for council housing departments.
Forum members saw arrears maintained at 4.4% in 20/21, whilst other associations actually saw a reduction to 4.1%, with council arrears up from 7.3% to 8.2%.
One of the biggest downturns was in void relet times, with GWSF members seeing a big rise from 22 to 52 days, other associations from 30 to 57 days and councils from 37 to 59, affecting void rent loo across the sector.
GWSF chair Helen Moore said: “We know how much community-based housing associations did to provide essential support to people during lockdowns, but this report is a reminder of how well they kept up performance on basic tenant services where this was possible. Having a truly local association as a landlord has always made a difference to tenants and there’s no sign of that changing, whatever the challenges.
“One thing to watch for now will be the extent to which wider factors affect Covid recovery. For example, we know from the 21/22 Covid data that whilst relet times are faster than in 20/21, they’re still a long way from pre-pandemic levels, suggesting that supply chain problems and issues with energy companies are generating a much broader set of challenges to manage.”