Executive Summary

Cotman is a registered provider of social housing and operates exclusively in the East Anglian region. Cotman has been part of the Places for People group since 2009. The Cotman Board of Management continues to direct local affairs and respond to local priorities.

Our Mission Statement is 'Meeting Needs to Create Strong Communities'.

In 2017-18, stronger links were forged with other parts of the Group's Affordable Housing Management companies and this trend will continue in 2018-21. Cotman is well-positioned to maintain local presence, governance and brand whilst benefiting from the opportunities and scope that come with being part of a large, diverse and dynamic national group.

In 2018-21, Cotman aims to deliver effective, affordable housing products and services to customers throughout East Anglia and thus to make a difference to local communities.

External Influences

The external environment for the social housing sector continues to be challenging.

The 1% rent cut over the four years from 2016 to 2020, universal credit, austerity and welfare reform changes are all known factors which impact on approaches to housing management. It is, however, now confirmed that the rent cap will be lifted in 2020 and that local housing allowance caps will not apply to supported housing, paving the way for new investment.

Lack of access to affordable housing and the resultant need to build homes has gained political and public momentum. Social housing providers have been tasked by the government to develop new affordable housing in response to the 'broken housing market' but grant rates remain stagnant, and interest rates are rising.

The tragic fire at Grenfell Tower in June 2017 has resulted in a new focus on health and safety by organisations, politicians and the general public. Responding effectively and collaboratively to the issues raised by Grenfell is a priority for Cotman and for all other landlords within the Places for People group.

The population in Norfolk and Waveney is much older than the rest of England, a trend which is expected to continue over the three years to March 2021. Almost all of the population increase over the last five years has been in the 65+ category and it is anticipated that the largest increase between now and 2025 will be in those aged 85 and over (source: Norfolk and Waveney STP Submission June 2016). These projections have implications for future customer bases at Cotman and are likely to lead to increased demand for bespoke older person's housing products, accessible housing, aids and adaptations, and support to maintain independence.

Business Growth

Cotman will drive business growth primarily through the provision of new affordable housing to assist those in housing need. This will enable us to meet core objectives around meeting local housing needs. We will be open to all new opportunities that become available, with the aim of increasing stock in Cotman management by a maximum of 100 units per annum to the end of 2021.

We will seek external funding opportunities to enable us to deliver positive outcomes for communities and to use our track record of leading projects that make a difference to local communities.

We will work with Sport England to contribute towards ensuring an Active Nation by helping people to remain active.

We will seek new management opportunities with third parties to build upon our experience of providing management services and staffing solutions to two other organisations, the Josiah and Mary Brewster Trust and Corton House Ltd.

Suite of Commitments

  • We will purchase 35 general needs affordable homes at Fakenham from MedCentres through a purchase contract and JCT contract by June 2018
  • We will deliver 7 new units on our remaining land at Great Yarmouth by December 2018
  • We will continue negotiations with Breckland Council over the remaining parcel of land in our ownership at Old Buckenham with the aim of delivering 11 new units of affordable housing for local people by June 2019
  • We will work with local authorities in our area of operations and the Places for People Development Team throughout the three year period to 2021 in order to bring forward new affordable housing that meets local needs and priorities
  • We will maintain investment in existing stock to protect our assets and to ensure customers live in well-maintained and energy-efficient homes
  • We will enhance our digital services offer so that customers are able to self-service queries and book repairs online, including the ability to make appointments at a time of their choosing
  • We will continue to ensure robust compliance with fire safety measures
  • We will launch our Sport England contract(s) and work with Sport England to deliver successful projects which meet our funders' expectations. We will contribute towards building an Active Nation and test approaches to develop learning about interventions which deliver positive outcomes amongst our target audiences

Efficiencies and Value for Money

Cotman will maximise revenue collection through clear targets and effective delivery of services such as lettings, void loss, and rent collection.

Our systems will become more automated each year through to 2021, so that customers are able to self-service basic queries, report repairs, track records etc. As well as offering customers greater flexibility, this will reduce the cost of call-handling and reduce the travel costs inherent in frontline delivery. It will also reduce printing and posting costs.

We will explore scope for greater centralisation of shared services and joint procurement with Places for People to generate savings.

We will review our central office accommodation to reflect the fact we are working in an increasingly agile environment and to consider a more cost-effective solution.

Customer Satisfaction

Cotman is proud to be accredited with ServiceMark status by the Institute of Customer Service. In 2018, we will seek reaccreditation through reassessment and will develop a 3 year Action Plan in response to the findings.

We will set clear targets for customer satisfaction and publish progress with meeting these.

We will set service standards for maintaining communal areas on our estates. We will publish response times, and offer information about the cost of service so that customers are clear what they are paying for and what standard of service they can expect.

We will offer customers the opportunity to give us feedback through our social media channels, through our website and through our 'One Voice' Customer Group. We will support Residents Associations, arrange focus groups and attend estate meetings to understand customer priorities and to work in partnership to drive improvements.

Social Value

Decent housing is acknowledged to be an important factor in achievement of other life chances and overall individual wellbeing. We will provide affordable, well-maintained homes to our customers, offering stability and security to individuals, and leading to strong local communities.

We will work with third party providers, such as the DWP and Norwich MINT to offer voluntary work placements to unemployed people to equip them with confidence, new skills and work experience.

Through our Sport England funded work with older people, we will increase physical activity and reduce social isolation through to 2020 and look to develop legacy offers.

We will continue host and network a Digital Inclusion Older Customer Group to improve access to services and reduce social isolation.

Our staff will undertake fundraising activities for local charities.

Health and Safety

In the three years to 2021, our target for RIDDORs will be 0. We will seek to increase reporting of Safety Improvement Opportunities as a means of raising awareness and reducing accidents.

We will continue to maintain a culture of compliance with Common Area Inspections, Fire Safety, and to look for continuous improvement in order to ensure safe living environments for our customers and safe workplaces for employees and contractors.

As part of the Places for People Group, Cotman staff will benefit from an open and transparent approach to sharing information, good practice and lessons learned.

The robust reporting structure at strategic level across the group will provide a framework for ensuring performance objectives with regard to common area inspections, staff training, and compliance programmes are achieved.

The Cotman Management Team will continue to demonstrate effective Health and Safety through dedicated (bi-monthly) alternate meetings. All team meetings will continue to have Health and Safety on the agenda and staff will have objectives relating to Health and Safety. Role risk assessments will be reviewed annually through to 2020, and any change in circumstances will prompt a dynamic review.

Effective consultation with the Cotman Staff Health Safety and Wellbeing Group will continue.

Stronger Links with Places for People

Successful registered providers over the forthcoming three years are likely to be those who are most adept at responding to the rapid pace of change. As part of Places for People, Cotman will focus on continuing to work with other landlords within Affordable Housing to reshape approaches to property management and develop shared policies. We will take part in the Group's Project Synergy initiative to draw on expertise from practices utilised in other management companies in the Group.