Welcome to our Annual Report from Bedford Citizens Housing Association.

Welcome to our Annual Report from Bedford Citizens Housing Association.

Chairman's Report

This report covers the financial year to March 2021. It has been a year like no other and has required new ways of working and living on the part of all those connected with the Association, whether tenants, residents or staff.  My first message must be to record heartfelt thanks to everyone for successfully meeting this challenge and in consequence enabling Bedford Citizens Housing Association to look to the future with confidence.

It is pleasing to report that many of our Services continued to operate well. Demand for our general needs, special and extra care housing remains high with very low void levels. Tenants have however had to adapt to new ways of living and we look forward to a return to some of those activities that have had to be suspended during the Pandemic.

The challenges facing Charter House have been more significant and changing, frequently with very little advance warning. The sourcing of personal protective equipment during the early days of the Pandemic, the periodic changes in both admissions and visiting arrangements, the introduction of testing to protect both residents and staff are some examples of what has had to be achieved.  These challenges fell to be met by a small group of staff under the leadership of our Chief Executive and the long hours and hard work on their part should be recognised by all.

Throughout the year, the welfare and protection of our tenants and residents has been at the heart all our activity. Our thanks go to them for their support and loyalty in difficult times. We have been sad to have had to say good bye to some – either through Covid or through other illnesses – and we repeat our sincere condolences to their families and friends. They are much missed.

Thanks must also go to all the Association’s staff for their work and commitment during the year. They have shown great courage and incredibly high levels of care. The work of our Chief Executive and her Assistants has especially been vital.

Finally I take this opportunity to thank my fellow Directors who have continued to support both me and the Board in an exemplary manner.  They are all volunteers and their willingness to adapt to new ways of working and indeed help in many practical ways is much appreciated.

We start the New Year with confidence and hope  – there will undoubtedly be more challenges to face but I know that with the good will and record of all those linked to the Association, we shall succeed in our aims.

Dick Wilkinson | Chairman

Value for money

BCHA recognises the importance of demonstrating that we deliver Value for Money (VFM) to our residents, tenants, governing body, stakeholders and regulators.

VFM is defined as the relationship between effectiveness, efficiency and economy, often described as the value chain. VFM is a positive and desirable outcome for any organisation of any size.

BCHA has a relatively flat management structure, providing a local service and operating mainly from one centre, as such it already has in place an operating structure well placed to demonstrate relatively low costs, high productivity and successful outcomes.

How we currently manage and monitor VFM

  • Annual review of the Business Plan objectives.
  • Six monthly review of performance against the Key Performance Indicators identified in the Business Plan by the Board. These will be reviewed during 2021/22.
  • Monthly review with budget holders to explain variances and prepare a rolling annual forecast.
  • Monthly management accounts scrutinised by the Senior Management Team.
  • Quarterly review by the Board of the key risks facing BCHA and measures taken to limit the risks.
  • Benchmarking our performance with other organisations of a similar size and type.
  • Annual review of performance of all contractors and consultants with whom we spend over £1,000pa.
  • Periodic reviews of service delivery, asset management and procurement.
  • Annual report on savings made by negotiating current contracts and supplies.
  • An asset management strategy which is reviewed annually. We can track the income v expenditure of each individual property and currently all properties are viable.
  • Updating our risk asset register in line with Homes England guidance.
  • VFM targets for the Senior Management Team and budget holders.
  • Using a tender process to obtain the best price for large scale planned works.
  • Understanding our properties and our maintenance liabilities through internal expertise.
  • Having a greater focus on planned work instead of responsive repairs.

Sector Scorecard and VFM Commentary

As a registered provider of social housing we have to report in our accounts to the Regulator how we have performed over a number of areas to demonstrate that we offer value for money to our communities and residents. Some of the metrics are very technical and are about how we cover interest payments on our loans, many of the metrics we use to measure are the same as we have reported to our residents and tenant’s year on year. These are the key performance indicators that the Senior Management Team monitor on a monthly basis and the Board review each quarter. Each year we develop a delivery plan to measure the progress we are making towards our forward looking targets which reflects our forward focused 5-year business plan.

Annual Report to Tenants

Finance Report

Chief Executive's Report

There are 2 main elements to BCHA’s operations their role as a Housing Association providing homes in extra care, sheltered housing and general needs properties and also as a provider of a care home.

Bedford Charter House

In common with all social care providers, BCHA has been significantly affected by the COVID-19 outbreak and taken extensive measures to mitigate risks to the wellbeing of residents and colleagues, as well as to the organisation’s financial security.

Bedford Charter House closed to visitors in March 2020 in lie with national guidelines. Robust infection prevention and control measures have been in place since this time, and Bedford Charter House has received positive feedback from the Care Quality Commission following an infection control inspection in February 2021.There were confirmed cases of COVID-19, at Charter House The majority of residents recovered from their symptoms; however, the organisation has also sadly lost residents to COVID-19.

There has been a drop in occupancy at Charter House, due to suspending new move-ins whenever there was a suspected case and again when testing was available when the first cases of the outbreak were confirmed in January 2021.

Greater availability of testing for colleagues has had a positive impact, helping some people to be able to return to work more quickly and safely. The take up of the vaccine has been high amongst staff, we were pleased to welcome a team of NHS colleagues on February and March 2021 to vaccinate both residents of Charter House and staff.

Wider testing has also meant that we are able to facilitate visiting supported by testing for the relatives and friends of those living in Charter House which means that this vital contact can take place regularly again. We work alongside the support of relatives and friends and in person contact is really important to the wellbeing of residents.

BCHA - Housing

We continued to provide services to tenants including repairs and maintenance and were able to upgrade the fire doors in a number of schemes and blocks during the year. We were not able to gather in large groups which prevented some of our normal tenant meetings, as community cases begin to fall we will be able to resume this contact with our customers again.

We have maintained regular contact with tenants and maintained a presence in our sheltered schemes at Maydenbury and Bedesman’s during the year. We also shifted our meal service to hoe delivery at Oak Way to help to keep tenants safe. We continued to provide care services to Oak Way residents who wanted this service.

I am immensely proud of our staff team who have worked throughout the pandemic. They have adapted to new rules and ways of working and continue to provide really excellent services to all of our customers. I would like to give my thanks to all of the staff team who have worked hard through extraordinary circumstances. All of the team showed their resilience and very caring nature as they continued with their work whilst many were advised to stay at home.

As an organisation we face some new challenges as we adapt to a new environment. I am confident that the team here at BCHA will continue to work tirelessly for our customers and will continue to put them at the heart of what we do.

Marie Taylor | Chief Executive