Scrutiny Panel - Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis

We wanted to explore how we should best support our tenants through these tricky times. Here's what our customers told us and how we'll use their comments to make offer support where we can.

Supporting customers through the cost of living crisis - your recommendations

In autumn, 6 tenants, 1 shared owner met to discuss how we might reasonably support customers through difficult times. 

This Scrutiny Panel made 13 recommendations and these are detailed below.

The Trust was asked to introduce a Cost of Living Working Group, made up of customers, staff and stakeholders. 

The Trust can't control what's going on with politics or the economy. But the group can work together to make sure the Trust understands and communicates the ever-changing cost-of-living crisis. 

Update April 2023

Customers, staff and stakeholders have signed up to join the new working group. Our income and sustainment teams are creating an agenda for the upcoming sessions, which will be arranged soon.


Some of our staff specialise in helping customers with difficult and upsetting situations. 

Our staff are professional and driven - but seeing so many people face such intense challenges can take it's toll on their mental health.

So, our Scrutiny Panel have asked us to look at ways to support the mental health of our staff. This will help us reduce the amount of time our staff might become poorly for, and then we can maintain the support that we offer to our customers.

Update September 2023

Mental health training completed by staff as follows:

- Resilience training. 

- Stress awareness. 

- Managers mental health. 

When our Tenancy Sustainment Team help a struggling customer by signposting them towards support services, we're going to introduce ways to get feedback on the service from our customers:

  • We'll introduce surveys for customers when our sustainment team has finished working with them
  • We have a 'perception survey' that we use to gather feedback from customers. We'll add a question about our support services.

Together, this feedback should help the Trust find out which areas of our service we need to improve for better support for our customers.

Update - May 2023 

We're currently looking at what other housing associations ask their tenants after receiving help from their own tenancy sustainment teams. We'll use this to create our own set of questions for customers. 

The Panel wanted us to write a procedure for our staff and create better e-learning content which shows what our operatives should do if they have safeguarding or cost of living concerns about customers. This would include a process where we offer support to customers who are asking to 'cap' their gas (turn off the supply).

Update - June 2023 

Our tenancy sustainment teams are in touch with our Learning & Development Manager and together, they're reviewing the content we currently create for staff.

The Panel asked us to create campaigns that would engage friends and family to refer somebody that they're worried about into our support services. 

This could cover a social media push to encourage younger tenants to check in on their neighbours. 

This would increase reports into our Tenancy Sustainment Team for customers who may not think they need or want support.

Update June 2023

Our communications team have created a strategy to reach friends and family both online and offline.

This includes a leaflet with support services titled 'take one for a friend' and weekly social media posts linking to our blog posts where support can be requested. 

The Scrutiny Panel recommended we publish the services we offer in a variety of ways - like top tips from the gas team, or information about the tenancy sustainment team.

This is something that we already do and plan to continue with. For example:

The Panel have asked us to look into printed material for customers too, like leaflets. 

The Panel asked us to use more case studies inside the Trust for staff and outside the Trust for customers too. They asked us to cover topics like -

Here are a few examples of blogs that we have already published:


The Panel asked us to take a look at how we refer customers to our Tenancy Sustainment team, so that we can make sure the process is working. 

The Panel wanted us to review:

  • The support we offer in new tenancy sign up packs 
  • The information we include in letters and what language we use
  • The information on our website


The following recommendations were also agreed

The Scrutiny Panel additionally asked us to:

  • Consider how our most vulnerable customers are/aren't using digital services in our new Digital Inclusion Strategy. This piece of work, from our Data and Insight team, is coming soon.
  • Think about how the Trust can proactively contact tenants to remind them to update their Universal Credit accounts.
  • Prepare for blackouts with a proactive communications plan that shows what responsibilities the Trust has to keep customers safe and what responsibilities our customers have for their homes.
  • Update Challenge Group regularly with the progress and usefulness of our new safeguarding report.

Coming soon

We'll be recruiting for our next Scrutiny Panel on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB) soon. Let us know if you'd be interested in finding out more.

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