14. Current Outcomes and Standards: Getting Good Value from Rents and Service Charges (Charter standard 13)
VALUE FOR MONEY (Charter standard 13)
Social landlords manage all aspects of their business so that tenants, owners and other customers receive services that provide continually improving value for the rent and other charges they pay.
This standard covers the efficient and effective management of services. It includes minimising the time houses are empty; managing arrears and all resources effectively; controlling costs; getting value out of contracts; and giving better value for money by increasing the quality of services with minimum extra cost to tenants, owners and other customers.
Question 13a): Would you keep this standard exactly as it is or change it? Please explain your answer.
14.1 Amongst the 94 respondents who answered this question, 68% indicated that they would keep the standard as it is; 28% would change the standard; and 4% did not know whether or not it should be changed.
14.2 Whereas the vast majority of TRGs (82%) considered that the standard should remain as it is, less than half (43%) of RSLs agreed. Nine of the 13 local authorities who expressed a view thought that the standard should be retained exactly as it is. Table 14.1 in Annex 2 provides a breakdown of views by category of respondent.
Views of those in favour of keeping the standard as it is
14.3 Several respondents commented that the standard reflected what social landlords and tenants wanted; it was straightforward and clear; made sense; and encouraged landlords to be innovative.
Views of those in favour of changing the outcome
14.4 Amongst those in favour of changing the outcome, the most frequently occurring comment was that value for money is difficult to define and evidence. Value for money was perceived to be complex and associated with tensions, for example, between short term value and longer term maintenance and upkeep charges; between quality and value.
14.5 Another common theme was that the standard appears to be top-down in nature, with landlords defining value for money. There was a perception that tenants might have a different understanding of value for money. Greater transparency over costs was called for in order to enable tenant scrutiny relating to this standard.
14.6 A recurring view, particularly amongst RSLs, was that continual improvement is impossible and may unduly raise tenants' expectations.
Question 13b): Please provide any suggestions on how we could improve the supporting narrative
14.7 The most common suggestion from respondents across four sectors was that the narrative should include reference to tenants as informing decisions on value for money, for example, linking with customer satisfaction feedback.
14.8 Further suggestions are in Annex 3.