The BCT is a Housing Association which was established in July 2012 following the successful ballot of Byker residents, proposing the transfer of the estate from Newcastle City Council to an independent body in order to:
- Secure much needed investment to upgrade and modernise the estate;
- Involve residents in greater direction of services provided on the estate;
- Ensure that service reviews lead to improvements in the delivery to residents.
How BCT is run
BCT is established as a ‘Community Benefit Society’ under model rules promoted by the ‘National Housing Federation’ (NHF), who are the trade body for independent providers of social and affordable housing. BCT’s Board has 12 members:
- Five tenants elected by tenant shareholders/members of the BCT;
- Five independent members appointed by the BCT Board;
- Two Council nominees appointed by Newcastle City Council.
The Board meets eight times a year and has open sessions where anyone is able to observe. Commercially sensitive and other confidential business is conducted in a private session. Papers for the public part of the meeting are published on this website.
The key areas for the Board to determine are:
The organisation’s strategy, currently expressed in the Corporate plan 2015-2020, and other individual detailed policies supporting the strategy;
- The structure of the organisation in terms of how services are delivered, the appointment of the Chief Executive who has delegated authority over the operational work of BCT, and any support required for the organisation to operate efficiently, for example the appointment of our Finance and Audit Committee which oversees the financial performance;
- The financial resilience and performance of the organisation to ensure we are robust, solvent and able to deliver services to residents as well as ensuring value for money;
- Risk assessment and mitigation policies so we operate successfully and guard against difficulties in the operating environment;
- Governance policies to ensure that we act with transparency and propriety with strategic oversight of the organisation’s performance. We have a set of Governance Principles, observe the Code of Governance of the NHF and publish corporate policies which govern our operations, for example our Code of Conduct, Standing Orders and Financial Regulations among others.
- Our major funding comes from a current 10 year facility to 2025 of £26M agreed with Yorkshire Building Society to deal with the majority of the estate regeneration and investment programme (we have also received £755,200 grant assistance from various sources to contribute towards regeneration projects).
- As a ‘registered provider’ (RP), BCT comes under the regulatory umbrella of the ‘Homes and Communities Agency’ (HCA) which publishes a Regulatory Framework which details consumer and economic standards.
- The HCA actively engages with RPs over the economic standards and actions complaints over failure to meet consumer standards which breach its ‘serious detriment’ rules. The principal economic standards relate to governance and viability (including delivering value for money) and are assessed annually by the HCA. BCT has ‘G1’ the top rating for governance and ‘V2’ for viability recognising that it is compliant but has financial exposures which require careful management (V2 is common to young stock transfer organisations).
What work have we completed since the stock transfer in July 2012:
- We are well on the way to completing investment promises: the improvements to the former sheltered housing scheme Avondale House have been completed and it is now home to Armed Services Veterans; the refurbishment of the Byker Wall and the upgrade of the communications and concierge systems are nearing completion; the District Heating Upgrade is proceeding and a new biomass boiler has been installed, stabilising heating charges on the estate (now frozen for five years); Chirton House has been converted to house older residents including 2 adapted properties for people with disabilities; 96 of unimproved homes have now been modernised internally, under the Decent Homes ‘Omits’ programme; we have planned the conversion of 10 ‘hobby rooms’ into a much needed new apartments and disabled housing. To date we have committed over £27M in investment. The next stages of the investment programme involve consultation on the extensive environmental upgrade of the estate; we are also undertaking a comprehensive stock condition survey to help plan future investment programmes;
- Communication and engagement on the estate has changed in consultation with residents since stock transfer this has been a priority area for BCT. Shortly after transfer we recruited external specialist consultants to work with our tenants and to undertake an intensive consultation exercise with tenants to develop a Byker specific Community Engagement and Empowerment Strategy and Equality and Diversity Strategy.We have continued to work with established residents associations and groups as well as establishing a new Tenant Communications Group which approves the quarterly newsletter and the Annual Report to tenants; a Scrutiny Panel to examine BCT’s performance from a tenant’s perspective; a reference group, as well as a Community Budget which has supported local efforts to improve health, diversity, training and employment and anti- crime measures. We commit to continue and create new opportunities to listen to our tenants and improve the services they receive.
- Undertaken a comprehensive review of service delivery and agreed a programme of change “The Byker Approach” so that from July 2016 we have new delivery arrangements for grounds maintenance and Environmental Response Services.
As part of our new ‘Byker Approach’, the second phase of services were launched on Monday 3rd October, which includes Tenancy and Estate Management and Repairs and Maintenance.
As part of our new service delivery, we have employed a team of new Housing Officers and Customer Service Advisors. Residents will start noticing improvements on the Estate as well as some new faces.
We have also formed a partnership with Isos Housing to deliver services such as Repairs and Maintenance, Sheltered Housing and Income Management. These will be delivered through Isos Complete Support.