Luton Community Housing

Annual Report 2018

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Luton Community Housing
Executive Summary

A word from the Chair
This year, our theme at Luton Community Housing (LCH) has been about progress. We're using new ways of working to do things more effectively and efficiently. And we're continuing to keep our customers and service users, and their progress, at the very centre of everything we do.
Dr David Cheesman Dr David Cheesman
Chair, Board of Directors

Taking advantage of technology

This report is a good example of our creative use of technology. We've produced it digitally because it's more convenient now for most people to read, and it also means we're not wasting money on printing.

We've found that our recent investments in IT and telephone services have enabled us to work in different and better ways. We can be more flexible in where we work and how we stay in touch. This is better for both customers and ourselves. And we can collaborate more easily to avoid losing time on complicated processes.

This year, we're also launching a customer 'portal' (see General Needs Housing section for more information), which will give customers the convenience and information they need to help them manage their tenancy.

A more holistic approach

It's not just technology that's making a difference to our performance though. In housing services, we've reduced arrears by introducing a more holistic style of working, taking time to talk to our customers to get a better understanding of their needs and challenges. And in supported housing we're using coaching to tackle the source of problems such as antisocial behaviour.

Internally, our Interact project has significantly improved our communication with – and better understanding of – one another. And our Work Positive initiative is aimed at improving our wellbeing and happiness, which should ultimately boost our productivity.

Diversity wins

We continue to be progressive in our approach to diversity too. Congratulations to our CEO, Lynda Rees, who won the prestigious CEO of the Year 2018 award at the National Centre for Diversity's Grand Awards ceremony. We were also shortlisted for Most Improved Organisation and climbed to 20th place on the centre's Top 100 Index.

It's striving for awards such as these that helps us to keep our focus on continuous improvement and fairness.

Of course, moving forwards doesn't mean letting go of our long held values such as achieving excellence in the delivery of services to our customers. As we face new challenges like the roll out of Universal Credit later this year, these values will take us through.

Dr David Cheesman
Chair, Board of Directors

Meet the Board

The board represents the diversity and professionalism that we work towards at Luton Community Housing. All but one of its members are from Luton and Bedfordshire. And they all take a keen interest in guiding us to fulfil our five-year business plan and professional mission to support people and help them find accommodation.

Mr Bashir Ul Hafeez

(Vice Chair and Chair, 2006 – 2011)

Bashir was a Principal Officer in local government and became a Councillor in the Borough of Newham, serving as Chair of several committees. He retired to Luton in 2002 and became involved with Luton Community Housing shortly afterwards.

Mr Abdul Malik

Local businessman Abdul moved to Luton in the 1960s after qualifying as an engineer and has been on the Luton Community Housing Board since 2003. He's been involved with race and community relations in a voluntary capacity, and represented minorities with local government, chairing equalities panels. He was also a lay member of the local police authority and has been on the Board of Luton Law Centre.

Mr Peter Rickard

Peter has been a tenant of Luton Community Housing since 1971. He and his wife live in the Hightown area of Luton and he joined our Board as a tenant representative in 2007. He brings practical experience of being a tenant.

Mr Glyn Early

Glyn joined the Luton Community Housing Board in 2012 on his retirement as Managing Director of a long-standing family building firm. Glyn brings practical experience of house-building and public service contracts, as well as local knowledge. He's keenly interested in supporting local charitable organisations, especially fundraising with Luton Rotary Club.

Ms Sarah Markham

Sarah joined our Board in 2012. She works for Luton Borough Council (LBC) as Head of Housing Operations and has been a trainer. She also has previous experience of working within other housing associations.

Mr Iain Smith

Iain is a retired solicitor who worked in local authority. He attended his first Luton Community Housing Board meeting as an observer in July 2016 and became an official Board member in March 2017.

Mr Mostaque Koyes

Mostaque became an official Board member in May 2017. He is a director of a leading local business and has a wide network of influential contacts. He's introduced many initiatives into the community: Community Magazine, Inspire Business Magazine, Business Curry Club, LETS Fair, LETS Hub, Community Soup Kitchen and the annual Community Awards Ceremony. By sharing his experience, Mostaque aims to make a sustainable difference to Luton residents.

Mr Vinod Tailor

Vinod, a former High Sheriff of Bedfordshire for 2017-2018, has lived in Bedfordshire since around 1972. He worked in the banking and financial sectors for 40 years, and is involved in several organisations in Bedfordshire, London, India and Africa. Vinod is an active member of the community and is very interested in local affairs. He first attended a Luton Community Housing Board meeting as an observer in June 2017 and became an official Board member in May 2018.

And finally, our Chair...
Dr David Cheesman

David spent many years as Head of Research at the Housing Corporation (now the Homes and Communities Agency). Since stepping down from there, he has been a visiting professor at Sheffield Hallam University and is now a policy adviser at the Financial Conduct Authority. David has lived in Luton since the 1980s and is concerned that the town does not always get its fair share of opportunities. He has been our Chair since 2011.