When I reflect on 2020-21, the most satisfying aspect of our response to the pandemic was the adaptability demonstrated by so many teams and individuals. We adopted new ways of working, found creative solutions and provided essential services in the most challenging of circumstances.
There are some really notable achievements of which we can be incredibly proud.
Beginning the financial year in full lockdown had a very significant impact on our planned maintenance work – the installation of new kitchens, bathrooms and boilers. While these projects were paused, we successfully maintained an emergency repair service for customers and continued to meet our compliance obligations, keeping people and families safe in their homes.
Quickly redeploying people and resources into new areas of work, we were able to resume routine repairs safely, as soon as restrictions eased.
As a result, we saw just a 9.2 per cent reduction in the volume of repairs carried out over the full year. We delivered 99 per cent of our electrical safety checks and 100 per cent of our gas, asbestos and lift compliance work. Our programme to inspect, repair and replace fire doors ended the year on schedule, while the facilities management team completed all their planned works despite taking on significantly more complex cleaning and sanitising processes in our offices and communal spaces.
Behind those outcomes were new COVID-safe processes, together with clear communication with colleagues and customers, about how we were working to keep them safe.
While we met the unanticipated challenges of a pandemic, we were harmonising following merger and extending our provision across 6,000 additional homes. By the end of the year our service model, training, ways of working and audit controls had all been successfully aligned.
We also undertook a major project to register 8,000 fire doors with the Fire Tag app – a safety innovation we helped to develop with leading property management software company, Plentific.
Underlying so much of our work in 2020-21 was our commitment to keeping people safe during the pandemic and in the future. That safety-first focus led us to complete an extensive review of fire safety for residents in our retirement living communities and occupants of our high-rise building.
The last word for 2020-21 goes to Tom Reynolds, who joined us just weeks before lockdown and has now trained to become part of the team fitting new fire doors in apartment blocks and retirement living communities.