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 have completed the majority of investment promises with only a couple remaining which are planned to commence in 2017/18: 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 complete; 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 adaptations for people with disabilities; a number of unimproved homes have now been modernised under the so-called Decent Homes ‘Omits’ programme; the conversion of 10 ‘hobby rooms’ into much needed new apartments and disabled housing begins in February 2017. To date we have committed over £30M in investment up to 2017 with a further £11M planned up to 2025. The next stages of the investment programme involves consultation during 2017 on the environmental upgrade of the estate; we have also completed 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 specialists to work with tenants on an intensive consultation exercise to develop a Byker specific Community Engagement and Empowerment Strategy and Equality and Diversity Strategy. Tenants’ contribution to BCT is invaluable and their support for the organisation is continually helping us to shape and improve services as well as delivering value for money. During 2017, with the help of our tenants, we have implemented a new service delivery model and reinvigorated tenant involvement. This resulted in the introduction of a new Tenant Engagement Framework, which has increased the opportunities for local people to get involved and to resolve local issues. Working in partnership with tenants in this way supports BCT’s Corporate Plan Objectives and Vision for 2020, to maximise access for local people into employment, training, health and educational opportunities.
- Undertaken a comprehensive review of service delivery and agreed a programme of change aimed at achieving higher quality services and satisfaction and improved value for money. The new arrangements are a mixture of ‘in house’ service management and new arrangements with ISOS Complete Support (ICS) through a cost sharing partnership.
- From July 2016 grounds maintenance services have been delivered by ICS;
- From October 2016 ICS has also delivered repairs and maintenance and income management services;
- From October 2016 BCT has been directly responsible for the estate and housing management functions.