Friday, June 13, 2008

Comparing performance: tenant satisfaction in council housing

The polling and research firm IPSOS-MORI have published an interesting analysis of tenant satisfaction data. The Housing Futures study (pdf available) aimed to offer “a more useful insight into tenant satisfaction levels than is possible from a simple league table approach”.

The study modelled the effect of largely external factors on tenant satisfaction – “the nature of place and the challenges it brings”. The model predicts tenant satisfaction on the basis of four factors:

1) Deprivation - the more deprived an area the lower the level of satisfaction.

2) Ethnic fractionalisation – “a measure not only of the proportion of people from ethnic minority communities, but the extent to which there are a wide range of different ethnic minority communities in an area” – with it being more challenging to meet the needs and expectations of more diverse populations

3) The proportion of elderly social tenants (aged 60+) - older tenants that are more likely to be positive about the services they receive.

4) The proportion of housing stock which is council owned – “As the percentage of total stock owned by the council increases, satisfaction levels decrease”

The study went on to identify where local authorities out- (or under-) performed the tenant satisfaction levels predicted by the model. Carrick, Ealing, Blyth Valley and Welwyn Hatfield were the joint top performers. (Three of the four have Arms Length Management Organisations.)

The fastest improving local authorities were identified as Ealing, Leeds, Redditch, Gloucester, Bury, Hounslow, Stevenage and Islington. (Again with ALMOs well represented.)

The study does usefully disentangle organisational performance from external factors. Perhaps similar studies should be performed and published for other public services. (If they have been, I don’t think they have been publicised enough)

My only criticism is the lack of any analysis of how relative performance maps across to different models – in particular, comparison of housing department performance with that of ALMOs. The study does contrast various types of local authority but ignores the ALMO debate.

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