Customer engagement is at the heart of all that we do, and ‘Get involved, have a voice’ is the framework to make this happen.
‘Get involved, have a voice’ details how our customers can influence, shape and scrutinise the delivery of the services they receive from us - Chesterfield Borough Council’s housing service. It also sets out our customer engagement standards and what you can expect from us.
The aim of the agreement is to ensure that customers can work with the housing service to improve its efficiency, transparency and accountability and deliver service improvements to its customers.
The customer involvement agreement ensures that customers can:
- choose from a menu of engagement options
- have an informed view of housing services
- be involved in designing, developing and delivering housing services
- collaborate with councillors, housing services officers and other customers to improve housing services
- monitor and review how the housing service is performing
- inform and influence decision making
- get involved with relevant support, training and resources
Where appropriate we will consult you on:
- any decision we make that will affect homes or neighbourhoods
- how we monitor services and improvement plans
- how our services can be improved
- estate improvement projects
- new housing policies and making changes to our existing policies
We offer a range of ways for you to get involved at a level that works for you. The customer involvement agreement describes the ways that customers can influence, shape and scrutinise housing services and how we can support you to get involved.
Our customer involvement agreement is below.
If you would like to find out more you can ask for a full copy of the agreement by contacting the council’s tenant engagement team on 01246 345147.
For further information contact:
Tenant Engagement Team
Old Brickworks Lane
Phone: 01246 345147
‘Get involved, have a voice’ - customer involvement agreement
Customer engagement is at the heart of all that we do.
‘Get involved, have a voice’ is the framework to make this happen.
Chesterfield Borough Council’s housing service is responsible for the management and repair of approximately 9,000 houses, flats, maisonettes and bungalows across 24 estates.
It is a requirement of social housing regulation that the views expressed by customers during the engagement process are truly representative and where applicable, the wider communities they are required to represent.
‘Get involved, have a voice’ details how our customers can influence and shape the delivery of the services they receive from us - Chesterfield Borough Council’s housing service.
‘Get involved, have a voice’ is a customer engagement agreement between:
- council’s housing services officers
- customers (tenants, applicants for housing, leaseholders and any users of the services provided by housing services)
We appreciate customers have diverse needs and aspirations and may want to engage with the council in a number of different ways. The engagement agreement will ensure everyone can participate at a level that is both comfortable and convenient for them.
This agreement sets out our customer engagement standards and how to be involved in influencing and shaping the decisions taken by the housing service.
Aims of customer engagement agreement
The aims of this agreement are to ensure that customers can work with the Housing service to improve its efficiency, transparency and accountability and deliver service improvements to its customers.
Statement of intent
It is the intention of all parties of this agreement to:
- work together to ensure that the views, concerns and housing needs of our customers are recognised and addressed
- to work collaboratively to ensure that the needs of our customers are placed at the centre of housing services especially in terms of design, delivering, monitoring and review
- place an emphasis on providing an opportunity to collaborate to inform and influence decision making, promote learning and best practice across our housing services and ensure the housing service is accountable to our customers
- recognise the invaluable role of customers in designing, developing, delivering, monitoring and reviewing the housing service to ensure that it meets customer needs and continually seeks improvement
- be open, honest and respectful with each other to ensure that Councillors, staff and customers can exchange views and opinions on housing issuese
Ensure the council’s customers can choose their level of engagement in shaping the policies and practices that affect the landlord services that they receive
- offer a menu of engagement options for customers ranging from simply being kept informed to being closely involved in developing policy and strategic decision-making
Tenant engagement service standards
Our approach to consultation:
- we will ensure that the objectives of any consultation are clear
- only use community engagement and consultation processes when there is a real opportunity for people to influence and change decisions and services and be honest where decisions are non-negotiable
- ensure that we always consult when there is a statutory requirement to do so, and where it is good practice to do so
- ensure that community engagement activities are realistic and that expectations are not raised unnecessarily or unrealistically
- provide leadership from the Senior Leadership Team to ensure that community engagement influences services and plans
- ensure that all partners / project sponsors uphold the principles of these standards
When we will consult we will:
- coordinate community engagement activities at the council and with partners, to avoid duplication and 'consultation fatigue'
- begin engagement early in policy development when the policy is still under consideration and views can genuinely be taken into account
- make sure that timeframes for consultation are appropriate to the nature and impact of the proposal (e.g. the range of interested parties or complexity of the issue); timescales may vary between two week and ongoing)
- establish the timing and length of consultations on a case-by-case basis and make sure they are realistic to allow stakeholders sufficient time to provide a considered response
- avoid consulting during holiday periods, where possible, and if not, make allowances within the timeframe
- avoid consultation exercises during the six-week period before local or national election periods
How we will consult:
- consider the most appropriate type of engagement for each circumstance The type and scale of consultation will be appropriate to the potential impacts of the proposal
- ensure that the consultation captures the full range of stakeholders affected
- provide information in an easily understandable format, using plain language and clarifying the key issues
- ensure that we take into account particular needs and work together to overcome where possible any difficulties participants may have to enable them to fully participate in the activity
- make sufficient information available to stakeholders to enable them to make informed comments
- ensure that, where appropriate, equalities monitoring takes place, and that survey data is broken down into ‘protected groups’ (e.g. age, disability, gender) - this will enable us to ensure that our services are fair and accessible to all groups (the policy and partnership team will give guidance on when equality monitoring is appropriate)
- ensure that participation is voluntary, and that reasonable expenses will be reimbursed to ensure no one is excluded for financial reasons and that participants can withdraw at any time
- ensure that the rights and dignity of all participants are always respected, and give careful consideration to activities, information and questions to ensure that they do not offend, cause distress or embarrassment
- liaise with the appropriate elected councillors (e.g. portfolio holder, ward member) to ensure that information is communicated to the public and employees consistently
- treat information confidentially, with particular regard to the Data Protection, GDPR and Freedom of Information acts.
- ensure adherence to health and safety regulations
How we will feed back and be transparent:
- be open and transparent about the aims of community engagement activity and what stage of development the policy or proposal has reached
- be clear about what aspects of the policy or proposal being consulted on are open to change and what decisions have already been taken
- ensure participants know what they are agreeing to take part in and how the information will be used
- ensure that information obtained from community engagement activities is honestly interpreted and enable participants to be part of the analysis process if they wish to
- wherever possible and practicable, publish consultation responses including number of responses and how they have been used, on the Chesterfield Borough Councl website within 12 weeks of the end of the consultation
- have clear processes to feedback on community engagement activity and outcomes and give reasons if unable to deliver on expectations in a timely manner and appropriate manner
We are committed to protecting the privacy of anyone involved in the engagement process. For more information please view the Data Protection pages on our website.
Standards for information
The housing service will ensure that all customers will regularly receive high quality information, in an appropriate format that:
- uses clear, jargon free, plain language
- is of good quality
- can be provided in alternative formats as required e.g. translation, audio, Braille, Easy Read
- be tailored to customer needs
- be provided in good time
Standards for meetings and consultation
The housing services will ensure that all meetings and consultations will:
- be advertised, giving as much notice as possible but no less than two weeks
- give a clear explanation of what the meeting or consultation is about
- make use of the council's website, social media channels and local press to promote events
- arrange meetings and consultations in venues that are accessible e.g. with disabled access
- cover reasonable customer expenses such as travel, in line with the expenses policy
- provide practical support such as translators or interpreters and materials in a format to meet the needs of our customers
- if a meeting or consultation needs to be cancelled, every effort will be made to notify attendees and an explanation and apology will be given
The council will ensure that meetings and consultations will:
- Have a clear terms of reference and agenda
- Be chaired in a fair and democratic way to ensure that everyone gets a chance to have their say and is kept informed
- Have an accurate record of what was discussed and agreed - minutes for meetings will be taken and distributed to those present or who have sent apologies
- Publicise outcomes and provide feedback
Resources and support for customer engagement
The housing service is committed to providing adequate resources for customer engagement to ensure that customers can engage in a meaningful way and will also explore where resources can be used to reduce and remove barriers for customer engagement. This includes:
- providing a specific budget for customer engagement
- providing dedicated tenant engagement officers
- support to enable customers to engage at a level of their choice
- offering training opportunities to develop skills, knowledge and expertise of customers
- payment of reasonable out-of-pocket expenses for attendance at meetings
- events, conferences and training courses
- payment of membership fees for appropriate organisations where applicable
- a mobile office to allow us to consult and engage with customers in their local area
Ways of getting involved
There are different ways you can register as an engaged tenant with the council’s housing service:
Once someone has expressed their interest we will add their details to our database and register their areas of preferred engagement methods.
As our menu of engagement opportunities can change, the tenant engagement pages on the website show an up-to-date list of engagement opportunities.