• Every Penny Counts - The Short Story

    Every Penny Counts - The Short Story

    To find out more, check out our 2015 Value for Money Statement

    Read more

  • Our Annual Accounts 2015

    Our Annual Accounts 2015

    Read all about how we manage our finances at PCH

    Read more

  • Looking ahead 2013-18 Business Plan

    Looking ahead 2013-18 Business Plan

    Read all about our 2013-18 Business Plan

    Read more

 Our Environment

We will make our homes and our business environmentally sustainable

We have a big impact on the environment, both directly through our business activities and indirectly through our residents’ homes. To achieve better environmental outcomes, we work with residents and staff to put practical solutions in place to make us a greener organisation and reduce costs wherever possible.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement we said that we wanted to move to at least medium cost with good service quality for 2014/15. We believe we have exceeded that goal and are delivering our plans with a fair cost and excellent quality. This is through a range of activities such as introducing new ways of working, developing external partnerships, increasing external funding and investing to save.

What does this mean? 


We own land the size of 100 football pitches and want our residents to enjoy the green spaces near their homes. This means that we’re working on a range of projects across Plymouth to create spaces where people want to spend time outdoors.

Here, you can watch video about a tree planting project at Wingfield Road near the city centre, which was part of a wider initiative to improve the neighbourhood more generally.

we’re not just interested in our organisation – we want to reduce the environmental impact and running costs of our residents’ homes.

Plymouth Community Homes housing officer standing in garden with resident
Plumer House exterior

We take our environmental responsibilities seriously. That’s why, in 2014/15, we put procedures in place to ensure we comply with environmental law and also to help our staff in reducing PCH’s environmental impact. In late 2014, these procedures were externally verified and certified to the internationally recognised ISO14001 standard.

PCH has a large carbon footprint and we want to reduce this as much as possible whilst still delivering great services for residents. We saved over 1,700 tonnes of carbon just by moving most of our staff into one building.

House with solar panels on roof
Shower head fixed to a beige tiled wall

We said we wanted to increase recycling rates to 70% by March 2015. This hasn’t been achieved but will be addressed in Summer 2015 when we open our Reuse Centre. This is a new depot to be used by Environmental Services for sorting the items they collect into reusable and recyclable materials. By weight, this accounts for half of PCH’s waste.

But we’re not just interested in our organisation – we want to reduce the environmental impact and running costs of our residents’ homes. Since 2013, we have installed solar panels on more than 1,700 homes to generate free electricity for the resident which also benefits PCH through a “feed-in-tariff”. This means that we get paid by energy companies for every unit of electricity generated by the panels.

Through partnership working with British Gas, 3,000 of our most inefficient homes now have external wall insulation. This has been paid for by British Gas as part of the Energy Company Obligation and has wiped a staggering £30million off our ongoing home investment plan.

Through our 5-year home improvement programme, we installed electric showers in over 12,000 homes. On average, an electric shower uses 18 litres less water than a bath – and over 12 months could shave £61,000 off water bills overall.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Reduce, reuse or recycle 70% of the waste we produce through the day to day running of the business. On top of this, we aim to pay less for waste disposal.

  • Start building 72 homes to the Passivhaus standard which represents the highest levels of energy efficiency.

  • Begin a programme of installing energy efficient LED lighting in the communal areas within our blocks of flats. This should save around £40 per home in service charges, as well a carbon saving of 589 tonnes once the programme is complete.

  • Identify how climate change could impact on our homes in the future, for example by working out potential areas for flooding or overheating.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Environment Infographic

 Our Homes

We will develop more homes and improve our existing stock

PCH owns and manages 14,275 homes within Plymouth and we house over 30,000 people or almost 12% of the city’s population. It is vital that our homes are in a good condition in an area where people want to live.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement, we said that we were medium cost and fair quality on our regeneration and development. In 2014/15 we believe that whilst the costs have remained broadly the same, the quality is now good. All of our homes now meet the Decent Homes Standard and the quality of our new-build homes is of the highest standard.

What does this mean? 

When we transferred our homes from Plymouth City Council only 41% of them met the required Decent Homes Standard. Through investment of £376million, all of our homes have a high-quality kitchen, bathroom, central heating system, double-glazed windows, and PVCu front and back doors. Because of this high level of investment, our homes well exceed the minimum standard and have been improved to the “Plymouth Community Homes Standard”.

It is vital that our homes are in a good condition and in an area where people want to live.

Front of a Cornish unit home
Ringmore way flats

Over 1,700 homes have solar panels. This means the residents benefit from free electricity during the day and PCH receives a payment from energy companies called a “feed-in-tariff”. This money will be used to maintain the existing panels and pay for new ones.

Some of our homes are difficult to insulate because of the way they are built. Thanks to British Gas, these homes are having external wall insulation fitted without any charge to PCH. The value of this work is around £30million and because we aren't paying for it, we can spend the money on other projects.

Both the solar panel and insulation projects support our aims to reduce the running costs of our homes and help residents avoid “fuel poverty” which usually means having to make a choice between heating the home or paying other essential bills.

Another major part of maintaining the homes is delivering a high quality response repair service when something breaks or wears out. We delivered almost 40,000 repairs during 2014/15 and our STAR satisfaction survey told us that 87% of residents are satisfied with the service they receive. This puts is in the top 25% of housing associations nationally.

Front of North Prospect home

As well as improving our existing homes, we’re busy building new ones in North Prospect and Ham. So far we have built 203 affordable homes as part of our large-scale regeneration programme in North Prospect which includes a new community building called The Beacon. Here you can find facilities such as a library, a nursery, office spaces, a café and a convenience store.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Continue investing in our homes by fitting solar panels to around 1,500 more homes and external wall insulation to another 1,400 homes.

  • Implement a new IT system to help us with making investment decisions and ensure residents’ homes stay in a good condition.

  • Start our project to build 750 new homes outside of North Prospect. This includes 72 Passivhaus homes in Whitleigh and almost 70 homes in Southway.

  • Complete the refurbishment of 281 homes in North Prospect, bringing them up to a standard exceeding the minimum Decent Homes Standard.

  • Start phase 3 of our regeneration programme in North Prospect, which is expected to deliver 112 new affordable homes and 50 for open market sale.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Homes Infographic

 Our Neighbourhoods

We will improve the safety and appearance of our neighbourhoods

We are committed to creating spaces where people want to live and feel safe. In our Business Plan we said we value and would invest in the green spaces and shared areas of our communities, in agreement with residents to improve the quality of our neighbourhoods.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement, we said that we were medium cost and good quality. In 2014/15 we reduced the cost of delivering this objective whilst retaining good quality delivery.

What does this mean? 

We’re working hard to ensure that residents can enjoy the areas surrounding their homes. In this video, you can see a fantastic roof garden that we have built on top of Morley Court, which is a high-rise block of flats in the city centre.

We are committed to creating spaces where people want to live and feel safe.

Innes House Money Tree Fund garden
Ernesettle school children holding artwork panels

In 2014/15, we delivered 64 projects to improve our neighbourhoods. A large project is underway in Ernesettle, where we aim to radically improve the neighbourhood for the whole community. This has been led by extensive resident consultation to ensure we are doing the right thing.

Our manufacturing teams also worked with the local school to deliver the “Ernemetal” project which resulted in children’s artwork being turned into panels and railings as part of refurbishing the shopping parade.

Side of a Cornish unit home
Panel from Ernesettle

We also asked for views on a new Anti-Social Behaviour Policy following introduction of new laws on this subject. This was approved in September 2014. Our new homes are built to a “secure by design” standard which means that the way our new neighbourhoods are laid out minimises the opportunity for criminal activity.

Resident safety is extremely important to PCH. We issued 99.98% of our homes with a new gas safety certificate. Over 14,000 of our homes have a gas supply so this means only two did not allow us to check their appliances, and we are enforcing the terms of our tenancy to gain access.

The appearance of many homes has improved significantly following the programme of external wall insulation. This project not only increases the energy efficiency of the building but vastly improves the look and feel of the neighbourhood.

We continue to carry out our community walkabouts, with high scores being achieved when staff and residents jointly assess our neighbourhoods. Where scores are low, areas for improvement are noted and included within our neighbourhood plans.

So what's next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Reduce the cost and improve the quality of delivering anti-social behaviour prevention, tenancy management and neighbourhood improvements.

  • Continue with the “Money Tree Fund” and deliver a further 19 projects. In 2009 we identified a pot of £10million to use in 10 years, we have £5.3million remaining for future years.

  • Agree a programme to refurbish the communal areas within our blocks of flats and maisonettes.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Neighbourhoods Infographic

 Our Customers

We will transform our customer experience

We value the choice people make to become one of our residents and we firmly believe they deserve excellent customer service in return. We know things are not as good as they should be which is why we are committed to transforming our customer experience.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement, we said that we were fair cost and fair quality. This is the same for 2014/15 although we have made good progress with our plans to make it easier for customers to talk to us.

What does this mean? 

We have a range of ways that our customers can make contact with us – whether customers come into our headquarters building in Plumer House, our city centre shop, call us on the telephone. This video shows just how many ways residents can talk to us.

We value the choice people make to become one of our residents and we firmly believe they deserve excellent customer service in return.

Plymouth Community Homes reception staff with resident
Contact centre apprentices

We’re clear from the results of our last resident satisfaction survey that our customers are not happy with the time it takes to get hold of the right person when they want to speak to us. We have a project underway which, once implemented, will mean that customers should be able to speak to one person about their enquiry and have the answer quickly.

All PCH staff have had specific customer service training, so that everyone adopts the same standards when dealing with customers. Managers have also had additional training to help them with making sure their teams are delivering services in the right way.

PCH now has Facebook and Twitter accounts, which is a convenient channel for customers to reach us through social media, and for PCH to communicate messages to residents.

Last year we also reviewed our complaints policy with staff and residents to ensure it is fit for purpose. The new policy is due to be approved in 2015, and will include a recommendation for a Board-level complaints panel for complex and high-level complaints.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Continue with rolling out our project to achieve customer service excellence.

  • Look into online self-service options so that residents can carry out simple transactions through our website.

  • Introduce a new “Customer Relationship Management” IT system so that we can record when residents make contact with us. The staff who need this information would have access to it so that residents don’t have to repeat themselves over and over again.

  • Continue working towards TPAS Landlord Accreditation in Resident Involvement to demonstrate how committed we are to involving residents in shaping the way we do things.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Customers Infographic

 Our Communities

We will work with residents and other agencies to help our communities thrive

We care about our residents and our communities, and want to help ensure they thrive. We do this through our own work out in the communities and by working in partnership with other organisations within Plymouth.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement, we said that we were high cost and good quality. For 2014/15, the score remained the same due to our continued intensive support for residents through the changes to welfare benefits.

What does this mean? 

Welfare reform continues to have an impact on our residents with the “bedroom tax” introduced in 2014 and the roll out of Universal Credit expected in 2015. In this video you can hear about how we have supported two of our residents back into employment and the impact that this has had on their lives.

We care about our residents and our communities, and want to help ensure they thrive.

Plymouth Community Home staff with Mayflower Academy primary school children colouring paper
Tamar Grow Local

In spite of the impact that welfare reform is having on some of our residents, our rent arrears at the end of 2014/15 were the lowest they have ever been at 1.73% or £973,000 out of the £53million of rent we charge.

Our teams of housing and financial inclusion officers have worked with partner organisations to offer residents help with budgeting skills. We have also worked in partnership with the Plymouth Energy Community who have offered advice and support to clear utility meter debts.

Tamar Grow Local Veg

Our Learn for Free programme provides courses in household financial management and cooking on a budget as well as vocational courses to help residents either get into employment or get a better job which requires qualifications.

In West Park, we have invested significantly in community development work alongside a major regeneration project to improve the area. Plymouth City Council’s Youth Service provides a weekly outreach session and Stepping Stones to Nature and Natural Connections have brought £4,000 into the estate for planting fruit trees.

Tamar Grow Local (TGL) is a food growing co-operative operating in the SE Cornwall and Plymouth area. TGL are working with us and other partners to address food poverty across our communities, to improve food knowledge and support food growing projects in our neighbourhoods.

Our community cohesion events and projects, including sponsoring Hope Football Club help promote inclusion in Plymouth.

So what's next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Continue supporting residents affected by Welfare Reform as we see the introduction to Universal Credit for new single claimants.

  • Aim to retain our high-performance on rent collection and arrears management, as well as keeping evictions to a low level.

  • Widen the reach of our digital inclusion work within our communities, and anticipate attracting external funding from Get-IT Together and Citizens Online.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Communities Infographic

 Our City

We will work in partnership with other organisations to reduce worklessness and contribute to the city’s growth agenda

We are a major business in Plymouth and have adopted a social enterprise model meaning that we invest in and support Plymouth wherever possible. The way we buy goods and services ensures we stay local wherever we can so that we support the communities we work in.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In our last Value for Money statement, we said that we were medium cost with good quality. We have maintained this through using our buying power as a major business in Plymouth, spending over half of our money on goods, services and works within the PL postcode area.

What does this mean? 

We invest in and support Plymouth wherever we can. We do this through employment, apprenticeships, buying goods and services locally and supporting residents into work through our Learn for Free training programme. This video will tell you more about how we support Plymouth as part of our business activities.

We invest in and support Plymouth wherever we can.

Plymouth Community Homes staff with resident looking at lavender
Plymouth Community Homes computer club

One of our aims is to reduce worklessness amongst our residents, and we do this through a variety of means. We facilitate job clubs in five of our neighbourhoods. These job clubs are intended to offer unemployed people the opportunity to develop skills in CV writing, improve their interview techniques and help with completing their job search online.

We also run a Learn for Free programme which is aimed at giving residents vital life skills. Almost 70% of the courses we ran in 2014/15 were related to tackling worklessness.

Kier construction worker with Mayflower Academy primary school children

As part of our buying power, we want to ensure we get the best deal we can for residents in our communities. Part of this includes asking our contractors to go that extra mile for our customers and do something above and beyond the works being asked for. Examples include providing construction materials for a local community centre and laying on coffee mornings in blocks having major refurbishment works.

We have also supported social enterprises and small/medium-sized enterprises by offering favourable start-up rent charges on our commercial units. This helps businesses in the early days when trading can be quite slow whilst it becomes established.

So what's next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Continue breaking down barriers for residents facing worklessness by supporting job clubs and offering work-related training opportunities free of charge.

  • Identify opportunities to support young people into work and develop their skills and aspirations through apprenticeships, the Skills Aid Programme and recruitment of a media placement student to give workplace experience.

  • Make our external contracts work harder for us in terms of giving back something to the community.

  • Encourage social enterprises to work within our supply chain so that we continue to support companies with a social heart.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

City Infographic

 Our PCH

We will ensure our business is strong and financially secure, and our governance arrangements provide the highest levels of assurance.

We are a strong and effective organisation that makes a difference to residents. Only a combination of excellent governance from our Board and Executive Team matched with strong financial structures will ensure we deliver high quality services to residents whilst complying with the Regulatory Framework for Social Housing in England.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

We believe that the quality of our governance and financial management are excellent here at PCH, with a fair cost. We have a Board and Executive Team with the correct mix of skills to run a complex housing association. We have access to loans at very low interest rates, and our staff are well skilled at bringing service delivery on-budget year on year.

What does this mean? 

Managing over 14,000 homes, 175 shops and other assets is no mean feat. Every year, we have to consider how much money our homes and office buildings are worth, set the rent on the homes and the commercial units we let and decide how we will maintain our assets to ensure they bring in the money we need to deliver excellent services for residents.

In this video you can hear Nick Jackson, our Director of Business Services and Development tell you more about how we manage our money.

Our rents are the lowest in Plymouth at an average £70.31 per week.

Plymouth Community Homes regeneration workers looking at paperwork

It costs over £36million to run PCH; this includes all of the social housing activity such as repairs, tenancy management and income collection – and much more.

During 2014/15 we spent over £18million on major works, resulting in an overall spend of a massive £376million since we took over the homes in 2009. This work maintains and improves the homes for the long term as well as protecting and increasing their value. This investment ensures that we offer high quality accommodation for our residents at a good price whilst enhancing our ability to borrow money to build more homes.

Plymouth Community Homes lighthouse money box

Our rents are the lowest in Plymouth at an average £70.31 per week. Homes let from other social landlords in Plymouth cost an average of £81.76 per week and markets rents are around £161 per week.

We collected over £56million in rents and service charges with arrears at the lowest ever level at £973,000 which is just 1.75% of what we were owed during the year. This has been in spite of the introduction of the Spare Room Subsidy, which saw a reduction of housing benefit for anyone with one or more spare bedrooms.

In order to protect our income, PCH also needs to re-let its empty homes quickly once a tenant has moved out. There have been big changes to the way we do this and because of these changes we can now re-let a home within 17.3 days of it becoming empty. This is a massive reduction from 2 years ago when it took on average 37.4 days to re-let a home which resulted in an income loss of £900,000 per year. With a 17.5 day turnaround, this sum has now been reduced to £600,000.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Maintain a high performing income collection service with a target of no more than 2% of rent owed to be outstanding at the end of the year.

  • Continue to refine and adjust the work we do to re-let empty homes so that we deliver a speedy turnaround at a high standard.

  • Look into alternative ways to fund development of new homes.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget


 Our Creativity

We will be enterprising and invest surpluses in our communities.

PCH is a social enterprise which means that we invest all of our surpluses directly back into our work transforming homes and communities across Plymouth. As well as managing socially rented and shared-ownership homes, we have a variety of ways to bring additional income into the organisation for investing in services.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

Delivery of our business outside of providing social housing comes at a fair cost with good quality. We have a highly successful portfolio of commercial shop lettings across Plymouth, a manufacturing company and almost 2000 sets of solar panels on some of our homes which provide an income to PCH.

What does this mean? 

Our manufacturing company offers high quality joinery, metalwork and PVCu products as well as a signwriting service to external customers, and to PCH. In this video you can see the range of products offered and what we do with the money that comes in from our clients.

Our solar panels are on almost 2,000 homes and generate free electricity for the residents living in them.

Solar panel on roof of house
Manufacturing windows

Our solar panels are on almost 2000 homes and generate free electricity for the residents living in them. We bought the panels by joining up with other housing associations to buy in bulk so that we could get a cheaper price. Additionally, the panels generate an income called a feed-in-tariff which is paid to PCH. This money is used to pay back the money for the panels, and we also expect to make a surplus which can be reinvested in other services.

Manufacturing staff talking to member of the public

We have 175 shops in Plymouth city centre and within our neighbourhoods and last year they provided PCH with over £750,000 of income. These units are let on a commercial basis to a wide variety of businesses that provide vital services to the community such as post offices, chemists and corner shops. We run our own business in an ethical and fair way, so we are careful about the nature of the businesses that lease our shops. There is a high demand for them so when one becomes vacant it is let very quickly – we even have a waiting list.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Increase our external commercial activity within our manufacturing unit through marketing and bidding for large work contracts.

  • Complete our £14million investment in 3,335 sets of solar panels which aim to generate a longer term surplus of £4.5million.

  • Continue the good management of our commercial lettings portfolio, keeping vacant units and rent arrears low.

  • Manage the Beacon at North Prospect in a way that makes best use of commercial opportunities and encourage community use.

  • Let the top floor and side-annexe of our Headquarters building to another organisation. This would help towards achieving value for money from our corporate buildings by reducing the overall running costs.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Creativity Infographic

 Our Wellbeing

We will enhance the wellbeing of our residents and staff.

The wellbeing of our residents and staff is important to us. We have a number of initiatives designed to enhance their health and wellbeing, for example we have a gym at our headquarters building, open to residents and staff, an employee assistance programme for staff experiencing difficulty either at work or at home and we have a range of healthy eating initiatives in place for residents.

Our Value for Money Self-Assessment

In 2014/15, work on these initiatives came at a fair cost with good quality. We have experienced a reduction of quality over the past year due to increased sickness levels amongst staff. Our managers are working with staff to improve sickness rates for 2015/16 when we expect to move back towards excellent quality.

What does this mean? 

Part of our programme to support the wellbeing of residents is by promoting the use of computers to enable access to video calling, online shopping and banking and many other web-based facilities. In this video, you will hear the story of Mary and Jean and how things have changed for them since.

We had our health and safety practices externally verified and PCH was awarded a 5-star award.

Plymouth Community Homes environmental worker talking to sheltered housing resident
Fruit and vegetables

Another aspect of our Learn for Free programme is a “Healthy Cooking on a Budget” course. This has been delivered in partnership with Food is Fun and Tamar Grow Local, two social enterprises based in the Plymouth travel to work area. We also have our “Vegucator” van which travels around our neighbourhoods educating residents about the importance of locally grown fresh fruit and vegetables. We have also worked with Plymouth Community Healthcare and Public Health to deliver other health interventions for residents.

In Ernesettle we created a “Tea and Toast” event, which is held every Thursday morning to try and combat isolation experienced by older residents in the area. These events are well attended and have had a positive impact on the wellbeing of residents.

We became accredited “Investors in People” with a silver award, which confirms our commitment to not only investing in training for our staff but also the commitment to being a good place to work and supporting staff during their time with PCH.

We can only deliver high performing services if our staff are well. Unfortunately there was an increase in staff sickness in 2014/15, which we aim to reduce in 2015/16. We have a clear absence management policy, which is designed in a way that supports the employee during their sickness and encourage them to return to work as soon as they are able to.

We encourage our people to enjoy active lives so we have a gym at Plumer House, which is open to staff and residents.

So what’s next?

During 2015/16, we plan to*:

  • Explore the opportunities for developing more formal partnerships with healthcare providers, the Police and the Local Authority with the aim of improving health outcomes for residents.

  • Continue with our own programme of work to support good health and wellbeing of residents, and consider other possibilities such as “pop-up” computer training in our neighbourhoods.

  • Work towards achieving Investors in People Gold award.

  • Further develop our employee recognition scheme to highlight examples of what makes an excellent employee and reward high-achievers.

*Subject to a review of plans following the Government's 2015 Emergency Budget

Wellbeing Infographic
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