On September 20, the NHG Residents Involvement staff presented their proposals for residents involvement within the new NHG structure.
This is a brief report from that meeting and also includes information that has been sent to Genesis Residents and ListenNHH from internal e mails within NHG.
Two main parts of the model – Central and Local (see the diagrams above).
In the Proposed NHG Resident Involvement Model you can see two parts of the model.
1. The main ‘Resident Services Committee’ with its five sub committees (diagram one above) directly under the Board.
2. And the ‘Local’ part of the Model with six sources of information flowing up to the Resident Services Committee (diagram two above)
Volunteers or elections? Selected volunteers only.
We have been told that all the meetings or groups at a local level are going to be created with volunteers.
We asked at the Resident Involvement people at the meeting if there was going to be elections and we were told ‘No.’ So volunteers from Resident Associations, Local Forums and the other local meeting including ‘individual conversations’ will raise issues of concern upwards to NHG.
As we understand it, all concerns and issues which cannot be resolved locally will go up to the Residents Services Committee which is already up and running.
The Residents Services Committee is composed of members of the (now disbanded) Customer Services Committee of Genesis and the (disbanded) Residents Services Committee of Notting Hill. They have all been selected by NHG already. In addition the two – already selected by NHG – resident members of the Board of NHG are also members of the new Residents Services Committee.
The Residents Services Committee also has its own ‘sub groups’ (it is not clear who is going to be on them) which will take up individual issues from the Local level and from the Residents Services Committee.
Although we have not been given the terms of reference of any of these groups, we understand that none will have governance power. In other works the groups will only be consultative. So:
Real residents’ access to Governance? No.
It was argued a the meeting because of ‘separation of powers’ they feel that residents cannot be part of the governance structure of NHG. In other words this entire structure is ‘consultative.’
Elections of residents to any committees? No.
They also say that none of the residents on any of these groups/committees/discussions will be elected. They will all be chosen from volunteers. You can see the comments of the Residents Involvement staff below where they say: “The proposals hope to make our model more inclusive and flexible, responding to what residents have told us that they want. I do not believe that having elections achieves this.”
Will NHG suffer any consequences if this new model is a failure? No.
At the meeting residents involvement staff were asked about whether NHG would promise to, for example, cut service charges and rents across the board by 5% if they failed. The answer was no. There is no comeback if this Residents Involvement Model fails completely.
Independent funding for research into the Residents Involvement Model?
We have not asked this – but it seem obvious. Resident’s group like LIstenNHH and Genesis Residents should be given funding to obtain expert advice on measuring success or failure of this plan.
Other information from exchanges of correspondence within NHG:
Explanation of the structure from the NHG Resident Involvement staff:
“The Resident Services committee is already in place and is made up only of residents ( from each legacy organisation). Two members of the committee sit on the NHG Board. In the model we have tried to show the clear link between the resident voice and the governance community, that is the committee and the Board, whilst ensuring that there is sufficient separation of scrutiny and governance roles.
We will be inviting all residents to express interest in becoming a member of the oversight and scrutiny group. All other groups are open to anyone to join or for some (e.g. Local Forums) they can attend one meeting if that is their preference. The proposals hope to make our model more inclusive and flexible, responding to what residents have told us that they want. I do not believe that having elections achieves this.
The model as proposed has now been agreed and we will be taking this forward. We will be undertaking a period of formal review once it has been in place for a little while and at that point we will again canvas opinion about what we should change if something does not work. We would be happy to meet with any groups to discuss this then.”
How long will implementation take?
NHG: The discussion about the structure started back in March when we met with involved residents across both organisations and we discussed what they would like to see in the new involvement model across the new organisation.
A resident’s reply:The new entity is more than twice as big as Notting Hill trust, If you are to develop new ways to communicate and involve residents in area’s of the business where there have been none before you will need a much bigger team than the one I am seeing right now. Plus you will need the support of existing voluntary client residents to help you guide and mentor these new groups. How are you going about this?
Reply from NHG: We will be taking this one step at a time and reviewing resources as we go. We are not going for a big bang approach, but an incremental approach to introducing the changes, hence a trial in two areas first, and developing this further as the new operational model develops.
Scrutiny of NHG?
NHG: I firmly believe that scrutiny of the organisation will be strengthened by the proposals outlined rather than diminished. But I fully recognise that the proof of the pudding will be in the eating – so to speak. We have come a long way over the last 8 years, largely due to the commitment of our involved residents, especially LSP members. However, I do think we need to challenge ourselves to take this to the next level.
A resident’s reply: Scrutiny will only be strengthened if the LSP mandate is enhanced and client residents who are involved are committed and trained to provide this far greater level of oversight. Monitoring the levels of performance of management and the contractors, and holding these to account. This I believe is taking involvement to another level.
Reply from NHG: None of this approach will be lost. The task and finish groups (which can operate at both local and organisation wide level) will give more scope for deeper scrutiny of specific service areas.
NHG: The term ‘Local Forums‘ is really an umbrella term to reflect the fact that we are proposing to create something new that everyone can feel that they are part of an equal basis. I would like to stress that the way this develops in each area, will really be up to all local residents in an area to discuss and decide, as a one size fits all approach won’t work and we are not proposing this.
A resident’s reply: These local forums are places where management can be asked questions and problems solved for those client residents who want to come along to a meeting or join it on Skype, but not commit to regular meetings during the year. This type of involvement is not the same as scrutiny and you should not confuse or merge the two. They involve quite different approaches and volunteering time. I don’t think they easily mix well.
Reply from NHG: See my answer above re supplementing this with more detailed task and finish projects.