Lambeth Resident Services aims to build on its current improved performance to become a high performing service that can both respond effectively to the ‘new normal’, post COVID-19 and the challenges the pandemic poses for residents. Its focus for change is on connected neighbourhood working, early intervention, social responsibility and impact, with the customer at its heart.
Bayo Dosunmu, strategic director of resident services, said: ‘We have a strong culture of working together, across services and with our diverse communities. We want to make sure that we are utilising all our assets, skills and resources to support our neighbourhoods in order to create vibrant, thriving places and to address and reduce discrimination and inequality.’
Major change is already underway. Last year, resident services announced its intention to radically redesign its repairs and major works services to deliver higher quality, socially responsible and digitally-driven services. With the help of residents, this included the creation of a community and care Direct Labour Organisation (DLO) entirely focused on service quality and customer service, supported by a transparent governance framework and extensive quality auditing process.
Mr Dosunmu added: ‘Further to this commitment, and in line with Lambeth’s political pledge to “deliver services locally” we have now created a DLO through which council employees will be undertaking communal repairs in the community and providing tailored property adaptations for some of the borough’s most vulnerable residents in need of additional support and care.’
Neil Euesden, director of housing, explained: ‘This community and care-focused DLO will be one of the very few to be created from scratch in the last ten years across London and will play a key role in the council’s continued move towards more quality and socially-driven services.’
The local employment and training opportunities, improvements to local neighbourhoods and estates, and equality improvements that will be delivered by the DLO will make a positive contribution to the council’s borough plan and its core priorities around equality, growth and sustainable neighbourhoods. It will also contribute towards the council’s 2030 carbon neutrality commitment and demonstrate to the wider market that core services can be successfully delivered in an environmentally responsible way.
‘Our DLO provides the council with a fantastic opportunity to ensure that social responsibility and social capital is at the heart of our service. It will allow us to create a diverse workforce of council employees and apprentices that will provide much needed employment and training opportunities to local people,’ said Mr Euesden. ‘For the council, this will mean a mixed economy delivery solution of both the DLO and the private sector, which will introduce a data driven, right-first-time culture through an inclusive price per property model.’
Mr Dosunmu added: ‘We are also embracing some of the most dynamic digital and technology solutions that are ordinarily only seen in the commercial world, such as our resource scheduling software which will manage our repair operative work patterns using dynamic algorithms to ensure their travel and output is optimised and managed in the most efficient way – and in real time using handheld/tablet technology. This will enable efficient management of our DLO, guaranteeing its financial viability in the long-term and residents can access and track their services digitally.’
Lambeth is also radically changing its approach to the delivery of its capital and major works within an overall asset strategy of decent homes, compliance and carbon neutral priorities.
Mr Euesden said: ‘Using strategic partners, the council will develop investment strategies that with holistic solutions to manage decent homes, compliance and carbon improvement. It will also establish Lambeth as a leader and innovator in this space.’
In our constant drive to reduce and prevent homelessness, Lambeth Housing Needs services have formed several successful partnerships to support residents in a variety of ways.
Mr Euesden says: ‘We partnered with St Mungo’s to form ‘Workwise’ providing holistic support to tenants. Workwise provides tailored support to equip tenants with the skills, knowledge and confidence to get into work or move closer to employment, thereby helping to manage any shortfall in rent, housing benefit or universal credit payments made to sustain their tenancies.’
‘We have joined forces with BEAM who crowd-fund new career opportunities for homeless men and women helping each person develop a tailored career plan, building on their unique strengths and interests.’
Lambeth council has joined with Safer Renting at Cambridge House, South East London providing specialist private rented sector advice, support for vulnerable tenants and victims of criminal landlords. Safer Renting is a registered charity set up to prevent homelessness, particularly by intervening in illegal evictions and supporting private renters to negotiate better conditions in their homes. In addition to providing advice we have set up a unique trainee scheme, developed and supported by experts in PRS advocacy and tenant’s rights at Safer Renting.
Mr Euesden said: ‘Partnering with organisations such as these means we can offer a more holistic service where residents can obtain support, progress in their lives, work and sustain a home.’
He concluded: ‘We’re currently looking for a new assistant director of housing needs and head of DLO who can help lead this agenda – so if you are interested in joining our dynamic and passionate team please visit our Lambeth Job Page. We’d love to hear from you!’
Images – © Magnus Andersson, supplied by Lambeth Council