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Our Group

Pobl is a group of companies offering great homes, care and support that make a difference to people’s lives.

Homes and Communities

We provide high quality housing that is affordable in communities that are safe, attractive and supported to thrive. We manage over 13,000 homes and we’re creating thousands more, making homes affordable.

Care and Support

We work with people to help them feel safer, empowered and more included in their community. We provide great care and support to 9,000 people, each an individual.

Commercial

We work in partnership, building and managing great homes and accommodation across Wales, including 4000 student rooms.

Running the Business

The teams behind the scenes that support the Group achieve its purpose. These functions include; Finance and Procurement, Organisational Development, Corporate Services and Technology and Business Solutions.

Well Governed

Ensuring the highest standards of governance, leadership and risk management are at the heart of the way Pobl Group operates. Following the formation of Pobl Group in April 16 the establishment of highly effective Boards and a talented Senior Leadership Team have been a primary focus.

Governance Milestones During the Year

Over the last year we have taken the time to reflect on how well we are doing. An independent governance review was undertaken by Campbell Tickell, to reflect on how our governance arrangements are operating. The review also supported the development of a new Board appraisal system, a succession plan and ideas for how Pobl Group could evolve its governance culture and systems. Also, we were really pleased to get a positive regulatory judgement for Governance, Services and Financial Viability from the Welsh Government.

Diverse Boards

We have also looked at renewing the diversity of our Board. A succession plan was prepared and the first stage has been implemented. We launched a highly successful social media campaign for the recruitment of new Non-Executive Directors (NEDs) in April 2016 and as a result we have appointed 13 new NEDs. We have also said goodbye to 17 NEDs who have made a huge contribution over the years. The Pobl Group was awarded the Investor in Diversity accreditation in August 2017 in recognition of the proactive approach we take in valuing diversity. In terms of the Board, the gender balance of Non Executive Directors is 49% female and 51% male and we have also been successful in attracting younger people to our Boards. Following the success of our Steps to Non-Exec programme we have run it again in 2017 and as a result we have recruited a young woman called Umulkhayr Mohamed who will have the opportunity to experience being a Non Executive Director in Pobl.

Simplified Structures

Pobl currently has 12 legal entities in the Group structure. The Board has a plan in place to simplify the Group and reduce the number of entities. The Care and Support Board have agreed to merge all the activity from 3 legal entities into 1 and the timetable has been accelerated for the formation of the Homes and Communities Board by over 6 months. Ensuring this simple structure allows us to focus on delivering the services as ‘One Pobl’.

Absolute Focus on Customers

Understanding what matters to our customers is what drives our purpose. The Vice Chair of Pobl is leading a task and finish group to agree a strategy for ensuring our approaches remain relevant to our customers and deliver real insight. We have made very positive progress in delivering on the targets in our Pobl Plan and we delivered our first update of this plan to our Board in May 2017. Notably, in terms of the new homes, almost 2000 of the 3000 home target in our plan are at various stages in the development cycle.

A message from Amanda Davies, Group Chief Executive

Great to see the Pobl values which were created following lots of listening to our staff and customers come to life in our business. These values are Considerate, Connected and Positive.

Financially Viable and Resilient

The Group continues to demonstrate strong financial performance and the capacity to absorb shocks to the business. Net assets remain strong and we are fully covenant compliant. Our business plan continues to demonstrate capacity to deliver our development ambitions and even though our operating margins are healthy, we want to continue to drive them up so that we can create capacity to deliver more homes.

Income has grown steadily year on year due to rent increases and growth in contracts. This has been offset in part due to additional costs resulting from legislative changes as a result of increases in the costs of the national minimum wage.

The Statement of Financial Position provides a strong platform to the Group for future growth and demonstrates capacity to deliver the plans and ambitions included in the Pobl Plan.

Value for Money

Pobl’s Approach to Value for Money was developed and approved by the Group Board in July 2017.

Value for Money is at the heart of all the things we do. Whether it’s purchasing goods, delivering services or making investment decisions, we know the added value in the services we provide helps to contribute to Pobl Group’s success.

Some of Our Value for Money achievements:

90% customer satisfaction that rent provides Value for Money;

Created over £600,000 savings in 3 months for our tenants through money advice services;

Helping people stay out of hospital through our rapid response adaptation programme which provides an average saving of £7.50 to public sector services for every £1 we invest.

Supporting people into employment and volunteering saving public sector services over £100,000 in 3 months.

Creating 16 apprenticeships through our commercial development programmes.

Smarter procurement practices making savings of £900,000 in just 6 months.

Keeping our losses from empty properties to a minimum with around £600k loss from our total expected rental income of £50m.

Below sector benchmark levels of rent arrears where less than 2% of our income is outstanding.

VFM Scorecards

The scorecards are reported internally on a quarterly basis. Our performance will be shared with our Boards, customers and stakeholders on an annual basis.

We bring together our Value for Money measures across the Group into scorecards. The measures within each scorecard reflect what is important to our customers and our stakeholders. Including:

Outcomes

What matters to customers/stakeholder;

Working efficiently

Making the best use of our resources

Business health

Ensuring our security to deliver;

Economic, social and environmental benefits

Making positive impacts outside of Pobl;

Reinvesting

Using savings made to deliver more value.

Risk Management

Ensuring that we are good at managing risk is key to the Group achieving its objectives. It’s vital that we stay aware of the emerging opportunities and threats relevant to the services our diverse Group operates. This year we’ve made changes in order to maintain our financial resilience. We have focused our care provision, deciding to withdraw from services that others were better placed to provide and renegotiating a major care home contract to the benefit of all parties. Working in partnership with universities, we have improved occupancy levels in our student accommodation, enhancing a key area of Group revenue.

Risk Management Themes

We’ve put plans in place to mitigate against risk in the following key areas;

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Welfare reform changes

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Labour costs and shortages in skilled labour in the construction sector

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National minimum wage changes

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Brexit implications for labour and financing

A message from Lisa Pinney, Executive Director of Resources

We’ve gone out, we’ve talked to customers, we’ve talked to stakeholders and we’ve spent some time really understanding what value for money means across different parts of the business.

A Strong and Ambitious People Agenda

We have a team of 2500 difference makers, committed to making a difference for our customers, working together as one Pobl Group.

We have established a new Pobl culture, collaborating with staff, customers and stakeholders to create new values and organisational plans.

We want to attract talented people who share our values, so we developed a recruitment campaign video that brought together Pobl people to celebrate what makes us individual and what we share. It’s had an amazing response from staff and the public alike.

New Ways of Communicating and Collaborating

Our self-developed interactive social intranet Pobl Point is connecting staff, as part of our determination to give our people the tools to do their job with flexibility. We’ve also created a new self service system that allows staff to manage their working life from their phones or laptops.

‘Pobl Forum,’ is our lively new staff consultation forum launched in 2016 – 17 staff representatives from across the Group, meet bi-monthly to give staff a voice on issues including Group plans, policies and a range of business issues. Watch our video update of what our members value about being part of the forum.

Pobl – A Great, Diverse Place to Work

Undertaking a ‘Great Place to Work Survey’ across the Group immediately post merger was a bold move. 1,400 staff completed the survey, telling us how they felt and what is important to them.  

84% of our people are extremely proud of what they do and this shows in the difference they make every day.  The results have played a positive part in Pobl’s plans and way of working.

We’re particularly proud about:

  • Achieving our Investors in Diversity Accreditation;
  • Signing our Time to Change Pledge to improve mental health;
  • Attending our first Cardiff Pride event;
  • Launching our new social intranet.

A message from Gaynor Morris, Executive Director Organisational Development

We must keep investing in our people, so they can be their best and enjoy their work

Our Services

High Quality and Improving Landlord Services

We understand our customer’s priorities. These priorities have shaped our divisional plan. This plan will focus on delivering the services that matter to our customers including:

  • Using modern, digital solutions to support change, including transforming the repairs and maintenance service to deliver an efficient, customer focused service; investing in our communities to help create attractive, successful places where people enjoy living and are able to thrive;
  • Delivering significant investment in both new and existing homes;
  • Delivering a new deal with customers, based on understanding who they are and what matters to them;
  • Deliver initiatives that invest in health and wellbeing, social participation and community safety.
Forest School children

Enabling Communities to Thrive

As part of our goal to increase the availability of mixed tenure housing, we’ve created 426 new homes this year.  Included in these numbers are cooperatives which give tenants the ability to maintain and manage their own homes.  Our Old Oak Carmarthen and Loftus Garden Village cooperatives are a great success and close knit communities are now thriving there.

The wellbeing and viability of our communities is vital. We are acting to help reduce the impact of welfare reform, by creating more affordable housing options for younger people, investing more in digital literacy ensuring the easy availability of money saving and advice services.  We’ve also helped over 40 customers into employment with a further 625 gaining learning and skills to help them into the workplace.

Following a greater awareness of the numbers of vulnerable people living in our homes, we initiated a project called ‘Cause for Concern’, that helps our teams highlight customer issues. This won the 2016 Welsh Chartered Institute of Housing Award for promoting equality, support and inclusion, highlighting our dedication to enriching people’s lives.

Partnering and Living Well Later in Life

Our partnerships with local universities and the Centre for Ageing and Dementia Research gave us the opportunity to promote an ‘active ageing’ future. We want to be more intelligent about how we develop expertise to support an ageing population. Such partnerships are helping us to promote healthy lifestyles and good mental health as a pathway to overall wellbeing and living well with dementia.

At Bryn Gaer, our flagship independent living scheme for older people, we’ve added a vibrant community hub to promote and enable active ageing for residents. It’s a place for residents to socialise which can also offer health and social care organisations the opportunity to provide services both to residents and the wider community.

We’re actively looking to work with more partners in the future to help us push forward our active ageing agenda using the benefits of their expertise. We’re investigating further funding opportunities to develop new projects with the Mental Health Foundation.

Working Smarter and Investing

By listening to what our customers tell us, we’ve made huge improvements in providing affordable, well maintained homes which meet the need for an energy efficient future as part of our continued commitment to meeting the Welsh Housing Quality Standard in 2020 and beyond. Using customer insight and feedback, we’ve:

  • Invested £8.6M on maintaining homes and £7.5m on home improvements;
  • Achieved 87% customer satisfaction rating on the quality of homes;
  • Increased our reported average energy ratings to now over SAP 75;
  • Re-procured our kitchen supply chain to bring annual savings of £75,000;
  • Piloted a new window replacement supply chain which is on course to generate savings of over £500,000 in 5 years;
  • Started work on a comprehensive 3-year modernisation programme for our whole Group’s repairs and maintenance framework, which will bring improvements in service, quality and value for money.

Performance in Homes & Communities

Since our first evaluation we have developed the way we monitor performance in the Homes & Communities Division both through the development of a Group KPI report and a more detailed divisional report which is monitored by the Homes & Communities Board.

Customer satisfaction

We’re pleased to see that our customer satisfaction is performing above industry benchmark. We also acknowledge that there is still more to do. We understand that our customers want us to improve our speed of repairs, communication and ‘fix it first time’.  The launch of a project this year will see a push to transform and modernise the repairs and maintenance to service using technology and feedback to redesign and transform the customer experience.

88%
Quality of homes

Benchmark - 84%

90%
Rent provides VFM

Benchmark - 83%

74%
Service charges provide VFM

Benchmark - 68%

82%
Repairs satisfaction

Benchmark - 83%

We manage over 13,000 homes with 316 new homes handed over in 16/17

We know continued investment in home improvements is a key customer priority and that satisfaction varies across our homes and communities. Our plans take this into account with home investment plans in place and the development of a framework for long term investment into the most deprived Pobl communities to bring about lasting change.

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New homes

Maximising our income

In a challenging environment for customers, tenancy sustainability and rent collection remain at very strong levels. Rent arrears are outperforming industry benchmarks with just 1.8% rental arrears against an expected annual rental income of £50m. This is an area that we have invested in and will continue to by focusing on early preventative services including money and debt advice services. There has been a consistent improvement in the performance of our rent loss due to void properties and there is still more to do. We will continue to work on reducing our void properties through improved maintenance turnaround times.

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Net rent arrears

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Voids

A message from Kathryn Edwards, Executive Director for Homes and Communities

When we understand that someone is vulnerable, we can step in and offer the right guidance or key people in to the right services to help them manage.

Person Centred Care and Support Services

A priority last year was to bring together the three companies within the Care and Support division into a single identity, harmonising our cultures, systems, processes and ways of working.

Due to our scale and diversity it was important to make sure we had robust arrangements in place to assure our Board, Staff and Customers that we are delivering services in a way which makes a difference to people’s lives. The Pobl Care and Support assurance framework is consistent with our values, best practice, and encourages a culture of openness, constructive challenge and empowerment of staff and customers at a local and governance level.

Involving our Customers 

Our customers are involved in the recruitment of new staff, reviewing policies and procedures to attending tender interviews and presentations. ‘Care Conversations’ involves customers, their loved ones and front-line staff working together at grassroots local level to create positive change in their services. Its been rolled out to 20% of our services to date and will continue to do so.

Helping Staff Work Smarter

Improving the way we work to drive efficiency is another area of focus and we have spent time reviewing ways of working to provide staff with the most efficient and effective systems to allow them to complete their work with ease. This includes a phased roll out of mobile devices and tools for staff, customer-centric applications and implementation of digital administration of medication across our residential care services. A Safeguarding Group has been established which sets out our commitment to safeguarding the wide range of people we provide services to.

Performing in Partnership

Working with other agencies and delivering in partnership is a huge part of our work. Over the last year we have received positive regulatory reports and visits from CSSIW & CQC, with overall compliance performing very well in our Care services. We have also continued to strengthen our partnerships with commissioners such as Aneurin Bevan University Health Board, Local Authorities and many local providers and third sector organisations.

Investing and Growing

Future growth is an important part of our focus. Over the last year we have;

Increased our offer of Care and Support models including; specialist step down Mental Health services, with self contained housing such as Ty Eirlys and Renoir service and support in the community models such as Dyfrig House;

Seen further growth in support services with a floating support contract agreed with Cardiff City Council for a value of £1M per year, and we have secured new care contracts to the value of £1.7M per year.

What our Customers tell us

Performance in Care & Support

Our customer satisfaction levels indicate our customers value our services with overall quality in both Care and Support services performing well.

Customer satisfaction

88%
Quality of care overall
93%
Quality of support overall

Our Cre8 services offer a range of advice, support and opportunities for people who are vulnerable, homeless or at risk of homelessness.

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People gain employment
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People gain a qualification
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People volunteer through Cr8
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People engage in frequent mild exercise

Occupancy of our Care Homes

Increasing the occupancy of our residential care homes continues to be a priority. At the end of the financial year occupancy rates were 77%. We have adopted a proactive approach and engaged with local commissioners to create a healthy pipeline of referrals and as a result current levels of occupancy are at 92% against our target of 89%.

Maximising our Income

We support and work closely with our customers to wherever possible, ensure that their finances are managed carefully and they don’t have unmanageable levels of debt. We continue to monitor areas that drive losses and are focused on improving these moving forward. Slow receipt of housing benefit payments has pushed the arrears balance above target, although we do expect to receive these payments in full. We will also work in partnership with authorities to maximise occupancy in hard to let properties.

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Rent arrears - Q4

Target – 4.6%
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Void loss - Q4

Target – 4.86%

Safeguarding

DBS Check

We are fully compliant for all staff that provide Care and Support services to our customers.

Compliance

We are fully compliant with CSSIW & CQC on all areas of our care services.

Resourcing care services

We’ve analysed in detail how staff are deployed to find solutions to reduce our reliance on agency workers. For our Neath Port Talbot contract, re- thinking the way people are rostered has enabled us to provide a more consistent and cost-effective service. We will continue to address the risks facing our sector as a whole. Finding creative solutions to the challenge of recruitment and retention of staff will be a priority. We will also continue to review the performance of our services in light of financial constraints and risks to continued funding.

A message from Richard Davies, Executive Director for Care and Support

There’s an opportunity for us to develop more specialist services to people with more complex needs, which we’re doing right across our care and support services.

Value Added Commercial Services

Our commercial activity plays an important role in the Group’s overall purpose, generating surplus that enhances our financial resilience and enables investment in new homes. It has been a significant first year of trading as Pobl across a large and ambitious commercial agenda. With a squeeze on public funding we’re not complacent – we need to constantly improve, grow and deliver products and services with real local relevance, often in partnership.

Delivering the Homes Wales needs

Specialism and Innovation

We are well on the way to achieving our target of delivering 3000 new “mixed tenure” homes by 2021. We have;

  • Secured a pipeline in excess of 2000 homes to help us deliver this;
  • Sold 110 out of the 426 new homes in different ways including shared ownership;
  • Enabled Pobl Living to make a gift aid payment to the business totalling £776,000;
  • Accessed over £19 million of capital grants compared to an original plan of £12 million;
  • Secured in excess of £5 million from the Vibrant & Viable Places (V&VP) funding pot which reinforced our position as the leading RSL in delivering this 3 year programme. In fact, we are delivering more homes under this regeneration programme than the combined total of all the other RSL’s in Wales.

Together with our partners we have changed the way homes are traditionally provided, some successes for us include;

  • Specialist housing for people with learning disabilities with our life transforming facility ‘Ty Eirlys’; a landmark project of 13 self contained apartments, giving the residents greater independence and reductions in costs for Social Services;
  • Embracing the drive for innovative and creative approaches to construction. We are participating in schemes such as “homes as power stations” in Neath Port Talbot; developing 16 homes that will combine innovative technologies to all properties, enabling them to generate, store and release their own energy;
  • Consistently demonstrating added value from our investment in our new homes development programme, a recent success has been our cutting edge development at Loftus Garden Village, which has been shortlisted for a variety of awards.

 One Maintenance Team

The priority with our In-House Maintenance Organisations has been to bring them together as one business operating under one leadership team. This has been achieved and has resulted in significant operating and efficiency savings of £250,000. There are clearer priorities for the business and we are seeing improvements across many areas of the business including reductions in both waste and down time.

Accommodation in Partnership

There has been a particular focus on our student accommodation which has historically performed well.  In order to meet the expected challenges in student numbers post Brexit, an independent review of student homes portfolio has been completed and our ongoing investment plans are clear. We have achieved our aim of sustaining occupancy levels in a challenging climate and have worked hard to ensure that our university partners are supportive of our aims. We are also in the process of reviewing our plans for our medical staff accommodation situated at 2 major hospitals in Cardiff but again the business is performing well and our relationship with the Health Boards is positive.

What our Performance Information tells us

Our development programme of delivering 3000 new affordable, quality homes by 2021 is on track to exceed our target with us contracting a total of 1216 homes in 16/17 against our original target of 750. This rise benefited from the increasing Welsh government grant/loan availability. To accompany this we also met our build completion rate in 16/17 with a total of 426 new homes released. We have every confidence that we will deliver our 17/18 target of development of a further 375 homes.

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target, new homes by 2021
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new homes contracted in 16/17
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new homes released 16/17

A message from Darrell Bolton, Managing Director for Commercial

Between the management team and the rest of the operatives within the maintenance organisation we’ve been able to achieve savings of over a quarter of a million pounds.

Overall Evaluation

2016/17 was a successful year for Pobl Group and our customers. We have established the foundations on which to develop a great organisation focused on what matters most.

On track

Robust governance arrangements in place.

Our succession plan has been implemented and we have a talented new group of NEDs with a performance system to support ongoing development.

Positive financial performance.

We are financially resilient and increasing our capacity to deliver new homes aided by surpluses from our commercial activity.

Smooth merger.

The transition to Pobl Group has gone very well at a pace quicker than we would have anticipated. We have established a new Pobl culture, collaborating with staff, customers and stakeholders to create new values and organisational plans. We will continue to rationalise our systems and structures.

Investing in existing homes.

We are increasing the level of investment in existing homes and communities and targeting areas such as Blaenymaes and Pill with large scale regeneration investment.

Creating more homes.

We have developed 426 new homes and on track to complete 3000 new homes in 5 years, which is a huge contribution to the Welsh Governments pledge of 20,000 new homes during this term of Government.

Customers value our services.

We are continually improving our services by listening to customers and acting on data insights to deliver more of what matters.

We’ve also faced a number of challenges that we’ve been able to learn from.

Listening to feedback.

Taking on board the findings of the Public Accounts Committee and challenging ourselves to improve the involvement of customers in our business. With our approach to Self-Evaluation being an example of a renewed effort to engage.

Compliance.

An event that has affected the sector as a whole, the Grenfell fire, at once sharpened our focus on fire safety. More broadly it instigated a review of the safety of customers in all types of dwellings. We identified some particularly good practice which we are rolling out across services and have shared within the CHC coordinated sector forum.

Health and Safety.

Following a Health and Safety Executive investigation into a service operating prior to the creation of Pobl Group, we have had to acknowledge historic weakness in some of our processes. We’re confident and the Health and Safety Executive has acknowledged, that our present day practices firmly place the Health, Safety and Wellbeing of our staff at the fore.

Repairs and Maintenance.

The collapse of one of our maintenance contractors presented a challenge in maintaining standards of service that we met by working proactively to partner with a new contractor. Together we maintained a level of service such that customers were unaware of the challenge met.

Resourcing care services.  

We’ve analysed in detail how staff are deployed to find solutions to reduce our reliance on agency workers. For our Neath Port Talbot contract, re- thinking the way people are rostered has enabled us to provide a more consistent and cost-effective service.

Occupancy in Care Homes.

Our risk adverse approach to accepting referrals in Cwmgwilli has meant that our occupancy fill rate has been slower than we’d anticipated. We will be working closely with our partners to develop solutions that allow people to have high quality, safe care.

Looking Ahead to the Next 12 Months

Running our business

  • Continue to invest in the development of Non-Executive Directors and the Boards based on the feedback from appraisals;
  • Implement a risk dashboard to further develop our understanding of the level of risk we are prepared to accept;
  • Create a single finance system.

Homes and Communities

  • Address the challenges of Welfare Reform;
  • Deliver an improved repairs and maintenance service;
  • Modernise our service delivery by investing in technology;
  • Use our customer insight to develop a new relationship with customers;
  • Invest in both existing and new homes and communities.

Care and Support

  • Deliver an ambitious growth strategy across the continuum of care;
  • Progress the implementation of the digital delivery plan to allow out staff to complete their work with ease;
  • Create a single company for our Care and Support service.

Commercial

  • Delivery of 375 new homes;
  • Innovate the delivery of new homes to reduce the cost of construction and running homes;
  • Start works on major regeneration schemes at 123-129 Commercial Street, Newport and Buckley’s Maltings in Llanelli;
  • Maintaining occupancy levels in our student accommodation.