Terms of reference for the Residents Panel
As part of their adherence to the Social Housing Charter, Welwyn Hatfield Council (WHC) is committed to greater involvement of tenants and leaseholders in the decision making and scrutiny of service delivery that will lead to greater customer satisfaction.
The Role of the Residents Panel
The Welwyn Hatfield Residents Panel (RP) provides an independent, customer focused, advisory and consultative role to WHC, and will at times robustly challenge policy, practice and performance as a 'critical friend', by ensuring that services are delivered to the highest standards.
The RP will be a tenant and leaseholder led, self-regulation group, and will carry out its scrutiny role by having access to Staff, Members of WHC and external support as agreed, to request information and challenge performance where appropriate.
Its aims will be:
- To build a partnership and improve communication between WHC and its tenants and leaseholders and assist in the improvement of housing services within the Borough.
- To ensure that the views and priorities of tenants and leaseholders are at the heart of WHC's performance and service improvement framework.
- To scrutinise and monitor the work of the WHC housing service and provide independent assurance on the quality of service delivery against agreed Key Performance Indicators (KPI's).
- To provide constructive feedback on specific areas or information as requested by WHC.
- To signpost tenants and leaseholders to the right path of enquiry with WHC and its contractors and ensure that matters are dealt with quickly and efficiently through to completion.
- To ensure that tenants and leaseholders are kept informed at all times and are fully satisfied with the way they are dealt with and any actions undertaken.
Responsibilities and Functions
In order to achieve these aims the Panel will:
- Compare and challenge the performance of WHC Housing Service.
- Work together with residents and officers to scrutinise and hold the Housing Service to account.
- Trigger and oversee 'in depth or light touch' scrutiny reviews, based on tenant or leaseholder feedback received from a variety of sources, analysis of various data such as KPI's, complaints data and reports from the Housing Service.
- Commission and receive reports from the Housing Service and other council departments as required.
- Oversee the implementation of action plans and recommendations arising from scrutiny reviews and monitor whether positive outcomes are being achieved.
- Report the results of reviews to WHC senior management.
- Membership of the Residents Panel shall be open to all tenants and leaseholders of WHC. There shall be no more than one representative from the same household.
- Panel members must be willing to undertake training provided by WHC or their representatives.
- Panel members must sign their acceptance and adhere to WHC Residents Panel Code of Conduct.
- There shall be a maximum of twelve Panel members. The quorum will be 50% of the registered Panel members at that time.
- A Chair and Vice-Chair (from within the membership of the Panel) will be appointed to reside over all meetings on an annual basis, following which they must seek re-election.
- The length of term for membership is three years. After this members must step down but can re-apply up to a maximum of three consecutive terms (9 years).
- Membership shall end when a representative ceases to be a council tenant or leaseholder, or if they resign. Any Resident Panel member wanting to resign can do so in writing to the Chair/Vice-Chair or WHC Community Engagement Officer.
- Where a Resident Panel member fails to attend a meeting without giving their apologies for absence then the Chair or WHC Community Engagement Officer will contact that member to check that they will be attending the next meeting. Failure to attend meetings on a regular basis without a valid reason may mean suspension or termination from the Panel.
- In the event of a breach of a Panel member's tenancy, or lease, or any other unacceptable behaviour or activity, membership can be suspended or terminated after investigation.
There are no set skills criteria for becoming a Resident Panel member. Selection will be at the discretion of the Chair, Vice-Chair and Community Engagement Officer and may involve telephone and/or face to face discussions with potential members.
Following these discussions, interested parties will be invited to attend a Panel meeting as an observer prior to joining as a full RP member.
An annual programme will be agreed between the RP and WHC at the beginning of each fiscal year although this may be subject to change during the year.
The RP will meet on a monthly basis. During scrutiny project reviews, some members may be invited to join a Task & Finish Group who will need to attend more frequent meetings during the review. Meetings will be agreed with the majority of the Panel and/or Task & Finish Group taking account of work, family and other commitments.
The role of Welwyn Hatfield Council
A WHC Community Engagement Officer shall notify members of impending meetings, record minutes of all the Resident Panel related meetings and be responsible for the general administration of the Panel.
Other designated WHC officers shall attend meetings from time to time as requested by the Residents Panel.
WHC will provide Training programmes for Resident Panel members so that they can maximise their contribution and benefit from personal and professional development.
Membership of the Residents panel is on a voluntary basis, however reasonable out of pocket expenses (e.g. mileage/train fare) may be reimbursed via the Community Engagement Officer.
WHC will keep the RP informed and consulted on housing policy and performance, priorities for improvement and future plans, and will ensure that the RP is an integral part of the consultation process between the Council as landlord and its tenants and leaseholders.
Updated July 2021