Housing associations are skewing satisfaction rates


Tommy Lusk, housing campaigner, says tenant satisfaction surveys published by housing associations hide more than they reveal 

3rd April 2018 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

I'm sure many eyebrows were raised when they read in TFN how Wishaw and District Housing Association (WDHA) managed to get a 94% tenant satisfaction rating at a time when the regulator is saying they are not up to scratch. However, this will not seem so unusual to tenants of housing associations everywhere.

Social housing landlords (SHL) are obliged to provide the Scottish Housing Regulator (SHR) with statistics on their performance annually. A summary of these stats are presented to tenants as an indicator of their landlord’s performance. The Scottish Housing Regulator publishes a National Report based on accumulated statistics.

As all this information is available online it is possible to figure out how WDHA calculated their 94% success rate. Looking up WDHA on the regulator’s website, you will discover that in Feb 397 tenants were asked to rate Wishaw's overall performance. Of those surveyed 254 were very satisfied, while 120 were fairly satisfied.

For an organisation of 975 tenants, 94% is a very narrow measure of these statistics and misrepresents the true picture.

Unfortunately, Wishaw's optimistic way of interpreting stats is the industry standard. Ferguslie Park HA, for example, scored 90% satisfaction last year, at a time when the regulator had identified serious weaknesses in that association's governance and financial management.

What was never made clear was that only 55 of the 330 tenants surveyed were "very satisfied". Most of the 90% came from 247 tenants, who were "fairly satisfied". FPHA has 798 tenants.

A browse through the satisfaction levels of all social housing landlords (you can download all the stats from all the landlords on one spreadsheet) demonstrates that Wishaw and Ferguslie Park are simply doing the same as every other social landlord. Almost every housing association is reporting tenant satisfaction percentages from the high eighties upwards. Percentages that are then given authority by the regulator.

SHR publishes a national report each year based on landlord surveys. Last year their report said that 90% of tenants in Scotland were satisfied with their landlords overall performance.

Wishaw's optimistic way of interpreting stats is the industry standard

My particular interest in understanding this began in 2013 when my landlord, Bellsmyre Housing Association had a similar experience to what is happening in Wishaw. Problems were identified, SHR appointees were adopted onto the committee and the director were replaced.

However, instead of restoring BHA's credibility with tenants, The SHR approved appointees (which included Brenda Higgins as Interim director) used the same cherry picked statistics deployed at WDHA, in order to hide the problems from the membership as well as from tenants.

While it is important to press for senior officers at individual associations to be held accountable, it is also necessary to highlight the systematic practice in the social housing sector for feeding tenants misleading information.

4th April 2018 by Observer

Very disappointed with the misleading title of this article.If "254 were very satisfied, while 120 were fairly satisfied" then 374 (out of 397 surveyed) expressed satisfaction? This should be celebrated. Well done WDHA smileFurthermore, the statement "For an organisation of 975 tenants, 94% is a very narrow measure..." does not make sense. Over 40% of tenants were surveyed, you can hardly call that a "narrow measure".It may also help to clarify that tenants are being asked to rate the service they receive. They are not being asked to audit the accounts. Whilst obviously linked, this is a poor attempt to make a point (poor governance) using customer satisfaction scores.Rating on this article? Dissatisfied.

4th April 2018 by Tommy Lusk

I stand corrected. I should have said narrow interpretation.

6th April 2018 by Intrigued

It's time housing associations were more honest with tenants about the proportion of their rents that contribute to very large salaries for senior staff. Are those stats reported by the Scottish Housing Regulator and are they highlighted to tenants?

7th April 2018 by Tommy Lusk

That kind of info is in HA accounts that should be available to download from their website.