Estate services working group terms of reference

Agreed: 16 January 2020
Due for review: January 2021

1. Aims and Objectives

1.1 To operate on behalf of tenants and leaseholders, to ensure that Estate Services provides caretaking, cleaning and grounds maintenance services that meet residents’ needs and are of the highest standard.
1.2 To monitor the performance of caretaking, cleaning, grounds maintenance and communal repairs identified on estate inspections.
1.3 To work with housing management, the Direct Labour Organisation and Estate Services to improve the Estate Inspection process.
1.4 To promote cross service working between the council and contractors to ensure that residents see improved housing management and estate services in their neighbourhood.
1.5 To work with officers and contractors to cascade the flow of information relating to caretaking, cleaning, grounds maintenance, housing management, communal repairs, and estate inspections to TRA’s and residents.
1.6 To provide an opportunity for tenants and leaseholders to challenge and question Council officers and contractors to enable continuous improvement to housing management and estate services.

2. The Role of the Estates Services Working Group

2.1 Monitor and review performance targets for caretaking, cleaning, grounds maintenance, housing management, and communal repairs identified on estate inspections.
2.2 Examine the evidence of good and bad practice and make recommendations for service improvements.
2.3 To monitor the estate inspection programme.
2.4 To monitor and feedback any concerns regarding waste management to the Council’s contract manager.
2.5 Monitor caretaking and grounds maintenance and estate inspection programme updates.
2.6 Work with Repairs Working Group (RWG) to address concerns regarding communal repairs.
2.7 In conjunction with Council officers, to inform other tenants and leaseholders what the Estate Services Working Group is doing and encourages them to get involved.
2.8 Determine the need to establish sub groups for pieces of work as and when required

3. Membership

3.1 Membership of the Estate Services Working Group is open to all residents living in a property managed or leased from the council.
3.2 There should be no less than 6 members in the Group. The maximum number of resident members is 12. There can be a maximum of five leaseholders on the group and one of the tenants can be a sheltered housing tenant.
3.3 Membership is subject to four conditions:
3.3.1 To work co-operatively and constructively as part of a team
3.3.2 A willingness/commitment to undertake training for the role
3.3.3 A willingness/commitment to set aside the time necessary to attend meetings and training
3.3.4 A commitment to abide by the agreed Code of Conduct
3.4 Membership of the group will be reviewed annually. If membership fall below 50% (i.e. 6 residents), the viability of the group will be considered Membership will be publicised on the resident involvement webpage and provided to all Housing Representatives Forum members after the AGM.
3.5 Members of the Estate Services Working Group are not permitted to be a part of  any future Scrutiny Panel. This clause is intended to avoid any potential conflict of interest in the work of both groups.
3.6 Members of the Estate Services Working Group can also be members of one other service improvement group.

4 Equalities and Diversity 

4.1 The council believes in a fair society that gives everyone an equal chance to learn, work and live free from discrimination, harassment, and prejudice and recognises that the diversity of our community is an asset to our borough.
4.2 The council will ensure  no-one is discriminated against based on their age, class, disability, employment status, ethnic or national origins, race or colour, HIV status, marital status, religious or political beliefs, responsibilities for children or dependants, sex, sexuality, trade union activities and unrelated criminal convictions.
4.3 The Estate Services Working Group will recognise the existence and importance of the different lifestyles within our communities. The Group will work to ensure that no Group or individual will be directly or indirectly discriminated against.
4.4 The council will ensure relevant support is provided so that the membership of the Group is accessible to all. Members must abide by the Code of Conduct which undertakes to deal firmly and promptly with any cases of discrimination, harassment, or prejudice.
4.5 All members are required to undertake relevant training. 

5. Frequency of Meetings

5.1 The Group will hold a minimum of 8 meetings per year. There will not be a meeting in August or December. Dates will be agreed at the Annual General Meeting.

6. Quorum

6.1 A quorum will be more than 50% of members e.g. if membership is 12, a quorum will be 7. Inquorate meetings should be noted and decisions ratified at the next quorate meeting.
6.2 If a meeting is inquorate:
6.2.1 Absent members will be entitled to present their vote in advance (up to 48 hours before the meeting) in writing
6.2.2 If required, officers can join the voting panel

7. Officer Support

7.1 The Estate Services Working Group will be provided with officer support to co-ordinate activities and aid and improve communications.
7.2 Meeting papers will be sent to all group members 7 calendar days before the date of the meeting.

8. Chairing of meetings

8.1 The Estate Services Working Group will elect a Chair and Vice Chair.
8.2 The term of the appointment to Chair and Vice Chair roles will be for one year. Following this, the Chair and Vice Chair will stand down and an election will take place. Residents can only be Chair of one service improvement group, or resident-led forum. Residents can only be Vice Chair of one service improvement group, or resident-led forum.
8.3 The Chair will be provided with updates in terms of group member attendance and will be responsible for discussing any areas of concern in terms of attendance, contribution to the group, or breaches of the agreed code of conduct.
8.4 The Vice Chair will deputise for the Chair in their absence. This includes dealing with any issues in terms of breaches of the agreed code of conduct. 

9. Area of Business

9.1 The remit of the Estate Services Working Group will be to look at the provision and delivery of the Estate Services and Housing Management across the Housing stock.

10. Programme of Work

10.1    The Estate Services Working Group will identify and develop an initial programme of work for the year ahead and review this at each meeting. The priority areas for review will be decided using feedback from all available information, including:

  • Performance reports
  • Reports from officers and other parts of the involvement structure
  • Contract reviews
  • Resident surveys
  • Site visits
  • Complaints data
  • Estate Services Working Group web pages 

11.  Accountability 

11.1 The Estate Services Working Group is formally accountable to the Housing Representatives Forum and the Cabinet member for Housing. The Estate Services Working Group will present quarterly updates to the Housing Representatives Forum and invite residents to submit statements & questions to the group. At the end of each year the group will produce a report on the results of its work.
11.2 The minutes and all reports of Group will be made available on the council’s web site and to any resident on request.
11.3 When required, the Estate Services Working Group may request that the Cabinet Member for Housing, Executive Director, or Assistant Director to attend their meeting.
11.4 In the event of the council having concerns about Estate Services Working Group compliance with these Terms of Reference, representatives from the council will meet with the Group at their next scheduled meeting. A joint agreement will be put in place to remedy this.

12. Budget and expenses

12.1 The council will consult with the Estate Services Working Group and link to the resident involvement budget to support the Group to operate effectively. An overall annual budget for resident involvement is agreed and can be made available to the Estate Services Working Group.
12.2 Expenses will be paid in line with the Resident Expenses Policy (pdf 225KB).

13. Training

13.1 All new members will undertake an induction programme and training.  A training programme will be developed and delivered with resident input. This will be regularly reviewed.

14. Evaluation of Estate Services Working Group Activities

14.1 The work of the Estate Services Working Group will be subject to an annual impact assessment and its findings will be reported to the Housing Representatives Forum.

15. Recruitment and Succession

15.1 Estate Services Working Group members will be recruited via an advertisement to residents. Training will be provided and there will be a code of conduct that members of the Group are expected to adhere to.
15.2 Members will be asked about any support they may need if they cannot attend meetings and other activities. If a member has not attended three consecutive meetings, a meeting/phone call will be organised to discuss if any additional support can be offered and to identify a plan to support attendance or by mutual agreement, temporary or permanent stepping down from the Group.

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