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Improving performance with a neighbourhood toolkit and dashboard

02 Apr 12 | Case Studies

Organisation:
Synergy Housing (learn more)
Rented stock approx:7,600
Type:Housing Association
Region:South West

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Synergy Housing introduced its 'Neighbourhood Zones' in 2010 when the organisation decided to centralise the services of its subsidiaries (East Dorset Housing Association, Purbeck Housing Trust and Weymouth and Portland Housing) to create operational efficiencies.

Each Zone has its own Neighbourhood Officer and a tenant-led Neighbourhood Panel, responsible for driving service improvements and addressing local issues.

Neighbourhood toolkit and dashboard

The neighbourhood toolkit and dashboard enables Synergy Housing to compare performance data across its ten Neighbourhood Zones, allowing them to accurately allocate financial resources according to different local needs, improve operational performance and enhance customer satisfaction. Synergy Housing gathers information from the Zones on:
  • anti-social behaviour (ASB)
  • housing benefit recipients (under 65 years-old)
  • complaints received
  • rent arrears
  • cost of repairs by priority
  • voids
  • eviction numbers.
This data is collated and statistically weighted to take into account stock sizes for each zone, so that resources can be allocated on the basis of need rather than around stock variations. Neighbourhood Zones are then scored between 1 and 10 (with 1 being the lowest), and ranked in worst to best order.

Once data has been collated it is depicted as a dashboard, providing a graphical representation of performance in each zone. Customer profile information is included with this, alongside neighbourhood deprivation statistics, crime figures and brief details of local offers (which vary depending on the needs of people in different zones). The dashboard is colour coded using 'traffic lights' to show performance for each operational area. Deprivation data are derived from the English Indices of Deprivation, while crime statistics are drawn from Police.uk.

The organisation has developed a procedure enabling them to identify the Neighbourhood Zones most in need of investment. This details their approach to determining the type of investment required, and any external factors which impact on the Zones: for example, social, economic or environmental.

Geographic information system (GIS) data

Data for each Neighbourhood Zone is transferred into a GIS using
ArcGIS 10 software, and Synergy Housing employs a development officer to enable this. GIS data is used to plot residents' different needs on a street by street basis, and Synergy Housing uses this information in a variety of ways: for example, to identify groups of residents who have been less involved in shaping services so that their views can be considered.



Synergy Housing combines its local GIS information with Ordinance Survey and Land Registry data, using this as a powerful stock management tool. It has also purchased ArcGIS for Server software, enabling staff to use a suite of web-based applications across their network. This allows them to:
  • view tenant profiles
  • see if Synergy Housing owns specific properties or land
  • identify different management or repair zones
  • find out who is responsible for land boundaries
  • measure local features or areas.

Resident involvement

The concept of a neighbourhood toolkit was first 'pitched' to local residents during a Neighbourhood Strategy Day in 2011, and following this they completed a SWOT analysis.


Work to establish a ranking system for data outputs was completed by Synergy Housing staff only. However, the resulting dashboards were presented to a Customer Scrutiny Panel and ten Neighbourhood Panels.

Since Synergy Housing's Neighbourhood Zones were identified resident involvement has increased. The organisation visits residents at home and asks them where they think money should be invested in their locality. During visits, residents are given an opportunity to register for further involvement.

Synergy Housing has also forged partnerships with community groups, charities, social landlords and the police, to ensure these are included in delivering and enhancing local resources. The organisation is establishing working groups for Neighbourhood Zones which are receiving investment. Their role is to assess the results of this and to monitor local projects. The working groups include both residents and frontline Synergy Housing staff.

Strategic approach

Synergy Housing uses a well developed strategic approach to allocate resources to Neighbourhood Zones and improve performance in these areas.


Its toolkit and dashboard are reviewed annually to ensure that priorities for funding each Zone are still correct. For example, a Zone may have moved up the list and need funding in year three of the strategic programme rather than year five. Once financial priorities have been identified, the next step is to determine 'areas of focus' for each Zone. These can be defined as pockets of poor performance which should be addressed.

Synergy Housing uses its GIS system to 'drill down' in these areas to see if there are places where performance is especially poor, establish the demographic of its residents and highlight where community groups are already working and which services they are delivering.

The organisation may decide to set up new schemes to tackle particular problems, or invest in community groups which are already working well, and advertise these to its residents. For example, workshops may be set up about returning to work, to decrease the number of residents on housing benefit. Synergy Housing may also invest in schemes to reduce youth ASB, or carry out MOTs on houses with high repair rates.

Outcomes and lessons learned

  • The process of ranking Neighbourhood Zones yielded unexpected but factual performance results. Synergy Housing had assumed from anecdotal evidence that certain Neighbourhood Zones would top the ranking for investment, but they did not.
  • The toolkit provided frontline services with insights into performance within Neighbourhood Zones, and where specific services needed to be improved.

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