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Customer Annual Report 2022

Welcome to this 2022’s annual report. We are focussing this report on customer commitments, set out by the government as the 7 key areas that customers prioritise for landlord performance. The report lets you know how we performed in these areas throughout 2022. To make sure the information is as accessible as possible, you can view it via video, or see the text version beneath each section.

For the current Customer Annual Report, please use the link:

White Paper Points

  • To be safe in your home
  • To know how your landlord is performing
  • To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly
  • To be treated with respect
  • To have your voice heard by your landlord
  • To live in a good quality house and neighbourhood
  • To be supported to become an owner


Customer Annual Report (Text version)

Introduction – Customer Annual Report 2022

Hello everyone and welcome to this year’s Customer Annual Report.

We thought we’d try something different and bring our year’s highlights to you via video.

I want to recognise it has been a very difficult and challenging year for social housing and our customers.

Damp and mould within social housing homes has come under the spotlight recently with the devastating passing of Awaab Ishak in Rochdale. It was reported by the Coroner that Awaab’s death was due to exposure to mould in his home. This is something the sector needs to reflect on.

Great Places Housing Group has been taking action on levels of damp and mould for some time. This report includes information around what we have done and what we intend to do around damp and mould. We  continue to provide regular updates on this in our eNews and Customer Newsletter.

The UK is facing a cost of living crisis which has had a profound effect on all of our customers and our business and we are working to help customers, and to minimise the impact of this crisis on our services. Again we have lots of information on this in our newsletters throughout the year and on our website. Alternatively you can speak to our colleagues in the neighbourhood teams who can help you.

This report covers everything that is important to our customers and is split into into seven topics. Those topics have been chosen directly from a government report called the ‘White Paper’.

The Social Housing White Paper was published by the Government in 2020. It focuses on resident voice and influence, and greater accountability from Landlords toward residents. So the topics we cover here are those presented by the government, as the seven key commitments that social housing residents should expect from their landlord.

We hope that you find it useful and if you have any questions or want further details, use our website to contact us or find the information you’re looking for.

Please note: All figures provided within this report are from the start of April 2021 to end of March 2022, unless otherwise stated.

Point 1 - To be safe in your home

Our customers’ safety is of paramount importance. In our corporate plan, we commit to providing safe homes and we deliver our services and support with this in mind.

The figures show some of the key statistics achieved this year around making sure our customers’ homes are safe and secure.

  • Over 40,000 responsive repairs completed. (Jan – Nov 2022)
  • Over 11,000 were Emergencies.
  • First time fix figure – 84%  (figure includes no access)
  • Repairs Satisfaction – 8.16/10
  • Completed 99.9% of accredited gas safety checks
  • Completed 99.9% of compliant fire risk assessments
  • 100% of our homes meet the Decent Homes Standard.
  • Around £500,000 spent on building safety work

This is great to see and though we’re really pleased with those figures, we’re still working to complete 100% of gas safety checks and fire risk assessments by the end of the year.

Through 2021-22 we identified properties that are considered “higher risk”. We carried out in-depth surveys of twelve buildings so far that we consider to be higher risk and set up programmes to deliver improvements where recommended, from fire door replacements, to upgrading alarm systems and that we will continue to focus on this area.

We are shortly starting a fire door inspection regime, to inspect all apartment entrance doors and fire doors to high-rise blocks on a three-month cycle.

Damp and mould is another huge factor in maintaining a feeling of health and safety at home. We ran a large campaign throughout 2021-22, offering free inspections, assessments, and any works required to reduce and remove damp or mould.

We completed over 700 inspections in 2022.

As well as our inspections we have a “priority properties” list from data insight that tells us our most at-risk properties for damp. We have been proactively working through this list all year even if no contact has been made from our customer, with an asset surveyor continuing to inspect all properties of the list as priority. We will continue to keep damp and mould a top priority for tackling with our customers, throughout 2023.

For more information about damp and mould, how to reduce it and how we can help, please see the Damp and Mould section of our website.

As well as these, initiatives we have run various campaigns through the year around keeping our customers safe including ASB, Hate Crimes, Domestic Abuse, Covid and Fire Safety. You can read all about these in our Customer magazines.

Tenancy sustainment

Feeling safe at home also means you should feel secure in your tenancy. So we have a Tenancy Coach Service which supports our most complex general-needs customers living in our communities. The service builds upon a customer’s strengths and interests, creating confidence, independence, well-being and motivation.

We also have a House to Home Fund aimed at customers considered to be especially vulnerable or at risk of tenancy failure. It provides home furnishings and white goods to support the sustainment of tenancies.

Skills and employment also play a key role in helping people to maintain a safe and secure tenancy. We have extensive core employment and skills support offered to customers, designed to help them in to work, training and volunteering opportunities.

  • In 2021-22, we helped over 800 customers to gain employment or training
  • 321 people were provided with advice, guidance and signposting

We also invest in nine community centres across our neighbourhoods to offer key services for our customers.  These services aim to support customers with their health, well-being and financial hardships, for example through food pantries, encouraging social inclusion and enabling our customers to access a range of courses to gain new skills.

Great Places’ Independence and Well-being services help people to achieve greater independence and improve their overall well-being. They have a range of services including specialist-supported accommodation for people experiencing homelessness, people in recovery and young people. Community-based support includes Housing First, Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme, Achieve and Tenancy Coaches.

Our Housing First scheme won the award for best initiative for tackling homelessness at the Northern Housing Awards and Housing Team of the Year at CIH Northern Awards. Great Places Housing Group is the lead partner alongside 11 other organisations across Great Manchester.

Housing First has supported 444 people and helped 330 people with complex issues into homes of their own so far (21/22.) We have a tenancy sustainment rate of 82%.

Our Rough Sleeper Accommodation Programme has also supported 26 people, helping 15 into accommodation. Working in partnership we have also sourced 44 homes for rough sleepers in the Greater Manchester region and after a successful bid, we are now delivering a similar project in Sheffield.

If you want to find out more about any of the topics detailed, please see our latest newsletters and more detail in the Corporate Annual Report.

Point 2 - To know how your landlord is performing

It’s important that you, our customers know how we are performing so you can challenge us if you feel things aren’t working as they should. It’s really important to us to build strong connections with our customers to ensure transparency and accountability.

We have changed our communications to make sure we report back to you on our performance in all key areas. Our Customer Annual Report, Newsletter and eNews, as well as our website, include regular updates on things such as your involvement, repairs and complaints

From next year we will need to report against defined tenant satisfaction measures. This is a requirement from the regulator of social housing and Great Places, alongside other landlords will need to report performance against these measures at least once a year.

Over the last few months our customer scrutiny group has worked with customers to look at how we report this performance to you in a way that is meaningful. The review focussed on information content, presentation and accessibility to information. Responses from customers highlighted that it’s very important to regularly share details to know how we are performing including spend of housing funds. Our customers wish to see consistent and comprehensive information and said they’d like to see visual snap shots, with trends, to explain challenges faced by Great Places and how we plan to address them.

Customers also said they’d like to be able to feedback and comment on published information and told us it was important to tell a continuous story and encourage customers to engage to support and drive improvement. We’ll be working on this in 2023 to make sure we are providing the information in a way that customers want.

At Great Places, customer satisfaction is really important to us:

In 2021/22 we achieved 7 out of 10 customer satisfaction.

We’ve been working hard this year to address where customers are less satisfied and make sure we do something about that. The key areas customers are unhappy about is how we communicate and keep you informed as well as delays to repairs. We are working with colleagues across the organisation on improving how we communicate, and exploring what is getting in the way of delivering great customer service and communication so we can clear any barriers and ensure our customers receive timely information.

Regarding repairs we invested in our repairs team and systems to ensure we continue to improve on how we respond to repairs requests. We aren’t fully there and know that sometimes we don’t always get our response right but we will keep focussing on this.

Further highlights regarding all of our performance are below.


  • In 2021/22, we completed 40,000 responsive repairs
  • Over 11,000 were emergencies
  • First-time-fix rate: 84%
  • Nearly 900 empty property refurbishments
  • Customer satisfaction was at 8.16 out of 10 for repairs

New Homes 

  • 557 new affordable homes delivered with 1500 more on site as at 31/3/22

Investment in improving existing Homes

  • Total spend on major repairs was more than £19.5 million
  • Over 1000 new kitchens and bathrooms were installed
  • More than 700 boilers and heating systems were fitted
  • 100% of our homes met the Decent Homes Standard as at end of March 2022


  • During 2021/22 we received 434 complaints.
  • Average resolution time was 10.8 days
  • 20 cases were logged with the Housing Ombudsman
  • During 2021/22 we received 280 compliments

Customer Contact into our Hub

  • Between April 21 and March 22 – we received 130,746 calls into the Hub


Customer Support – Social value

(activity that help people foster healthier, safer and more resilient communities)

  • 845 households supported into work, training and volunteering
  • £150,034 of Social Value (Projects that help people foster healthier, safer and more resilient communities) delivered by contractors in our neighbourhoods.
  • £109,469 of Social Value funding supported 48 projects attributed to 16 contractors
  • 20 contractors involved in 26 Social Value projects, creating £40,565 of social impact.

Examples of social value funding:

  • Emanuel Whittaker –  Emmanuel Centre Manager £30,000
    Supporting the funding of a Centre Manager at a community centre in Langworthy. Strengthening Great Places involvement with the community
  • Engie – REEL £10,000
    Knife crime prevention project in Salford offering support to young people and raising awareness of local issues.
  • Connolly – Docherty House I+W Scheme £6,000
    Supporting the employment of a combined Dual Diagnosis Psychologist and delivering mental health ans substance abuse support to all customers at Docherty House.
  • Trowers and Hamlins – Crossley Food Pantry £8,000
    Supported the establishment of a sustainable food offer to low income customers. Providing food at an accessible price to at least 50 people per week
  • John Southworths – Jubilee Project £9,600
    A mini grant scheme for Great Places customers / organisations to celebrate the Jubilee by bringing together the local community. Estimated to support 24 events.

How we spent our money

  • Surplus: 6%
  • Planned repairs and investments in your homes: 31%
  • Services: 12%
  • Our people, offices and housing management activities: 22%
  • Responsive day-to-day repairs: 12%
  • Interest / loan repayments: 17%

*Surplus made by the organisation goes back into services for you in following years.

To stay with the finance theme, as profit for purpose company, our main source of income is rent, which gets put back into delivering our services. Our average rents remain significantly below the Local Housing Allowance and private market rents and on average, we charge rents at 81% of the Local Housing Allowance and only 68% of private rents.

We understand that affordable rents alone might not improve the quality of life for our tenants and therefore we have schemes in place that help address fuel poverty and food poverty.


Cost of living

In October 2021, Great Places’ Financial Resilience service was relaunched to equip and empower customers struggling with fuel poverty and to combat the cost of living crisis.

2022 has been a particularly difficult year financially, so as part of this, we created a Money MOT service that customers can contact if they need confidential, professional help and advice. We also created a large resource on our website for information to help customers with the cost of living, and our monthly eNews and bi-annual newsletters have a wealth of help, support and signposting for the cost of living crisis and supporting customers through these difficult times as much as we can.

We partnered with National Energy Action, a fuel poverty charity that supports customers with emergency fuel payments. Last year its advice and access to grants created savings of £24k, supporting a total of 212 customers.

We’ll be further investing around £50,00 into our Household Assistance Fund and National Energy Action partnership in 22/23 to assist customers experiencing financial hardship.

At the same time, Great Places’ fabric-first approach within our new build developments will improve the efficiency of our stock and will play an important role in reducing our customers’ energy demand.

For this information but in greater detail, you can view our corporate annual report on the website:

Across the coming year we know that cost of living will affect us all, so please check out the help we can provide on this page:


Point 3 - To have your complaints dealt with promptly and fairly

In May 2021 we introduced a new Customer Feedback Policy, following customer and colleague consultation.

We are committed to learning and improving our services when we aren’t getting it right.

Great Places dealt with 434 customer complaints during the year (April, 2021 – March, 2022) with common themes including not getting back to customers in a timely manner, missed appointments and delays to repairs.

Some of the things we have changed based on customer feedback includes improving our messaging when confirming repair appointments and reviewing our processes to reduce the number of missed appointments.

We’ve reviewed our decant policy – which is when customers need to move out their homes for a variety of reasons. We’ve engaged with customers to understand their experience and learn from this to improve future service.

Our right to acquire policy is now under review following three separate complaints, we have recruited customers to join our Customers Complaint Group, to hold us to account in terms of policy and complaint handling – this will launch in 2023.

We also have a new digital platform which will help us engage with more of our customers flexibly and provide opportunities to work collaboratively on things that matters

Jan 22 – Oct 22

  • Complaints Logged – 538
    • 58% to Repairs
    • 15% to Neighbourhoods
  • Housing Ombudsman Cases Logged – 22
  • Complaints Resolved – 525
  • 52% Service Failure
  • Average resolution time of 11.1 days
  • Housing Ombudsman Determinations – 8
  • Compliments Received – 184
    • 21 related to Contractors
    • 76 related to Repairs
    • 39 related to Neighbourhoods

Out of the eight complaints referred to the Ombudsman received, five identified service failures in relation to repairs and not offering enough compensation for the delays experienced by the customers,. Three were not upheld.

With an organisation as large as we are, we do make mistakes. However, we always want to learn from them and following these judgements we have looked into the following areas:

  • Tighter policies around complaint handling especially in the early stages
  • A stronger communication procedure with customers during complaints
  • Tighter process around complaint timescales and responses
  • Creation of the Complaints Community (our new Customer Complaints Group that hold Great Places to account)
  • Implementation of a new Housing Management system which allows us to accurately record notes and customer transactions

The Customer Feedback team delivered training across all front-line teams in 2021 also to promote the new Customer Feedback policy, processes and the importance of good record keeping.

We have a new Customer Feedback Policy and we are working to create a video guide around the policy to make it even more simple.

Being open and honest

We always want to be accountable and transparent about where we could have done better, so we also look to publish the general results of our complaints in our seasonal magazine “My Great Place”, our monthly eNewsletters, and on our website, so you can see how we respond to your feedback.

For more information on how we make improvements based on feedback or to know all the steps of our complaints process check the complaints and compliments section on our website.



Point 4 - To be treated with respect, backed by a strong consumer regulator

When the Social Housing White Paper was published in 2020 this proposed some significant changes to the way the social housing regulator holds landlords to account on the services they deliver directly to customers. This approach will be set up in new legislation in the new year and in a new set of consumer standards that we’ll be inspected against.

These changes will ensure the needs of customers are embedded into the culture of all landlords, including Great Places. Our board of non-executive Directors have been keen in the past year to hear from colleagues and customers about our service standards and the real life experiences of people who live in our communities. This insight will continue to make sure that we put customers front and centre of our decision making processes. Our focus over the past 12 months has been putting health and safety of our customers at the heart of everything we do, whether it be building safety or ensuring our customers feel support if they are experiencing antisocial behaviour or domestic abuse.

We now have a nominated person for consumer regulation at Great Places, our Executive Director of Customer Services, Guy Creswell. One of his key roles with be to continuously challenge colleagues to ensure we are being open and transparent with customers at all times. The regulator is keen to ensure transparency runs right through the housing sector and they will be launching an access to information standard that will give customers the ability to request information on a range of issues in addition to their own personal data under data protection laws.

Given that Great Places works across a large geographical area with a diverse range of customers, one of our main priorities for 2023 will be around improving the ways we communicate and engage with all our customers to ensure our service offer is fully representative of all our communities.

More information on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion can be found via the following link – scroll down to the section “commitment to Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI)” https://www.greatplaces.org.uk/about-us/our-reports/annual-report-2022/great-people-2022-annual-report/

Point 5 - To have your voice heard by your landlord

Over the past 12 months a range of customer engagement initiatives have captured the voice of our customers and informed service design and change. Some examples of key and in-depth customer feedback includes the following:

  • How we deliver the Grounds Maintenance Service, leading to the service being brought in-house on November 2021. Customers have told us when this service hasn’t met expectations.

We’ve been listening, changing and making improvements and we’ll publish customer feedback early next year, as we continue to listen and make changes to improve this service. This service has also been recruiting customers to monitor quality – known as Green Guardians. We’ve recruited a number of Green Guardians and we aim to have customers quality-checking this service from April next year (2023)

  • The major refurbishment of Bowland House in Blackburn: The extensive work on this high-rise building was completed in 2022 and customer engagement was a priority throughout the project. We asked our customers how satisfied they were at the end of the project and customers scored us 8 out of 10 which highlights that listening, working together, and doing what matters most makes for a great customer experience.
  • Changes to policies and incorporating the customer voice: This includes the ASB policy, Aids and Adaptations policy and defect repairs i.e. if contractors are not resolving in a timely manner, we now bring the repairs in-house and recharge the defect contractor.
  • Customer voice is heard by Insight, Great Places’ scrutiny group, who formally hold us to account. Insight is a trained volunteer group of customers who meet regularly to look closely at customer facing services and then make recommendations to shape services and improvements for all of our customers.  This year the group completed three reviews proposing 23 recommendations for improvement in the following service areas:
    • Caretaking of communal spaces in blocks of flats
    • Complaints handling
    • What makes published information meaningful for customers

Some of the improvements agreed as a result of these reviews are:

  • Recommendations will be used to influence a service review, that will prioritise customer engagement and publication of service standards for the caretaking service.
  • Recruitment of a customer group to help monitor the complaints-handling process and feedback on outcomes and learning
  • Complaint response letters amendments to confirm dates when work, offered as part of a complaint resolution, will be carried out and a contact name.
  • Published information will give a visual snapshot, will be easily understood and will continue to highlight how customers comments and views have helped support service improvement.
  • Offer opportunity to comment on information to allow 2-way dialogue and constructive challenge.
  • Regularly feedback how customers comments and views have helped support service improvement.

If you are interested and want to join INSIGHT or any other panel, visit our get involved pages:

In our monthly eNews letters and our bi-annual My Great Places newsletter we demonstrate how we welcome and use customer conversations and feedback to heavily influence our decision making, investment and services right across our business. We provide at least one survey per month on varying topics that are provided to all customers so you can quickly and easily let us know how you feel about our services and decisions.

Our website pages are updated monthly with the latest ways in which customer feedback has been used as well as how you can get involved with our services.

We have also updated our website to make it easier to feedback, and a great way to do this is via MyPlace – our customer portal where you can control your tenancy online and contact us quickly and easily at your convenience.

To make it easier for you we’ve produced series of short videos taking you through it step by step:

In addition to the above we have created new feedback communities from Repairs and Customer Complaints, to a Digital Readers group and a General Feedback community.

During 2022 we have been developing our new Digital Customer Engagement Platform to ensure wider access for our customers to get involved – watch out the launch early in the new year.

All of this provides opportunities for all of our customers to get involved in all of our services. They also provide ways in which customers can quickly feedback or, if they would prefer, be more involved and provide feedback on a larger scale.

Point 6 - To live in a good quality home and neighbourhood to live in

A key focus for Great Places is to make sure our homes are of a decent standard. We also look at what we can do to keep them in good condition and great places to live. That’s why in the past 12 months we’ve invested over £11 million in improving customer homes and building safety.

In 2021/22, we completed over 40,000 responsive repairs and our customer satisfaction was above 8 out 10 for repair jobs completed.

100% of our homes met Decent Homes Standard as rated at end of March 2022.

As well as improving and repairing existing customer homes, we also carry out larger planned works. In the past year, these have included the £4 million renovation of Bowland House, a 14-storey high-rise in Blackburn, the half a million-pound refurbishment of our Windmill House sheltered housing scheme in Blackpool, and a pilot scheme to provide a much-needed makeover to the NHS Key Worker accommodation at the Royal Oldham Hospital.

In addition, your neighbourhood and environment are really important to us, and we work throughout the year to make sure they are pleasant places to live. As part of our environmental commitments, we’re focused on improving the energy performance ratings across all of our homes.  EPC is a measure of energy efficiency within our homes: A is the highest energy efficiency whilst G is the lowest. This chart shows the EPC ratings for Great Places Homes. Alongside our current energy efficiency work, we’re also in the process of applying for £3.7 million funding from Wave 2 of the Social Decarbonisation Fund which will support our programme to get 3,500 homes below EPC C rating and getting to that standard by 2028.

  • EPC Rated A – 1.67%
  • EPC Rated B – 31.36%
  • EPC Rated C – 47.53%
  • EPC Rated D – 18.95%
  • EPC Rated E or worse – 0.49%

We also think creatively about how we can reduce our impact on the planet including where we invest cash deposits. This year, we deposited £10m in a Barclays “Green Deposit” fund which saved 1.9 million tonnes of CO2 last year.

Great Places has also set a target to plant 4,000 trees each year: a tree for every new home that we build and one for every existing home which fails to meet an EPC C rating. Through our partnership with Tree-Nation, a non-profit organisation that allows citizens and companies to plant trees around the world and offset their CO2 emissions, we have planted over 4,000 trees in the past year.

Working with our partners at National Energy Action we’re looking to support customers to use renewable energy in their homes providing them with the most up to date support. Alongside this, we provide support to give a practical understanding of how to decarbonise homes, using simple and affordable techniques that can be implemented straight away. We’re also looking to expand our Carbon Literacy Training to customers, supporting our drive to continue to reduce emissions and ultimately reduce home energy consumption and customers’ costs.

New Homes

You can find out more about our development performance in our Corporate Annual Report here.

Anti-social behaviour

We take our duties around anti-social behaviour very seriously and you can find more on our policy and how to report ASB following this link.


Our policy around allocations also makes sure that we make the best use of Great Places’ homes, ensuring the customers’ needs are matched with appropriate properties. You can view the policy here.


Point 7 - To be supported to become an owner

The government will ensure social housing can support people to take their first step to ownership.

Plumlife Homes specialise in making home ownership easier for those who can’t afford to purchase a home outright on the open market.  Our expert sales team have sold 135 shared ownership homes so far in 2022 (Jan-Dec), plus a further 118 new homes are reserved across a range of exciting new developments in the North West.

It’s important to us to understand and improve on our customer’s buying journey wherever we can and feedback collected on each sale completion informs this. We achieve regular strong customer satisfaction scores and 95% of our shared ownership buyers are currently satisfied or very satisfied with our services.

2022 has seen us launch a strong new Plumlife Homes brand, a new specialist Resales agency called Plumlife Move, and an exciting new website which is delivering an enhanced user experience. It includes a new ‘Shared Ownership info hub‘ with features like an affordability calculator to assist potential buyers to work out if Shared Ownership could be the perfect option for them.

Outro from our Chair of the Board, Tony Davison

Chair of Board - Tony Davidson

Chair of the Board – Tony Davison

Now it’s time to look forward and though we expect there may continue to be tough times ahead, we’ve been putting everything in place to make sure our customers receive the best possible services. In light of that we are looking to build a financially stronger business so that we can meet the increasing demand for improvements in our homes and the need to address the national housing crisis by building new homes. Great Places has begun merger talks with Northern-based registered provider, Mosscare St Vincent’s Housing Group, aimed at creating a new organisation on 1 July 2023. Nothing will change for existing Great Places customers in terms of your tenancy, lease or licence because of the partnership. However, being part of a bigger organisation – which will still be called Great Places,  means we’ll be able to provide better services, build more houses and invest more in our communities.

There will be plenty of information about the merger throughout the early stages of 2024 so keep an eye on the website and in our newsletters for more information.

We will continue our hard work around property condition and damp and mould and through our Living Conditions Project, this will constantly be under review and scrutiny at executive level to make sure we are doing everything possible to combat this problem together.

We know that the cost of living crisis will have a continued impact in 2023 and so we’ll have a keen focus on supporting customers through various means including our in-house Money MOT service to help customers make the most out of their money and make sure they are getting all the money they are entitled to.

We will have various digital innovations through 2023, fully embedding systems implemented this year and making further improvements such as to our customer portal to create more consistency and easier access to services. We’ll also be launching an online engagement tool for customers so it will be easier than ever to interact with us, influence key decisions and feedback on our services.

We look forward to working together to engage customers more than ever and help make 2023 as happy and healthy a year as possible for all of us.