P49 Social Paul Hackett2 1
Paul Hackett CBE Chief Executive at Southern Housing

I want to start by saying that I understand we don’t always get things right – and I understand residents’ frustrations when we get things wrong. Southern Housing completes around one million resident interactions each year and the vast majority go well. But a small percentage go wrong – sometimes quite badly, resulting in service failure. I know how frustrating and disruptive it is when a repair is wrongly cancelled, a contractor doesn’t turn up, or a colleague doesn’t return a phone call. So I wanted to share what we’re doing to improve services.

Our journey to improvement

To understand our improvement journey it’s necessary to understand where we are with the integration of the two legacy businesses. In December 2022, Southern Housing Group and Optivo amalgamated. Many other large housing association mergers have been completed in two stages, with one housing association becoming a subsidiary of the other for a year or more before merging. We were determined to amalgamate in a single step – enabling us to integrate more quickly and therefore unlock the benefits of merger earlier. In order to do this, it’s necessary to combine systems and data from both organisations. We hold literally tens of millions of pieces of data and manage multiple systems that are used for everything from logging a repair, arranging a gas service, to giving consent for a mutual exchange. Data has increased exponentially since these systems were first introduced, so it’s a complex and painstaking task to cleanse the data and integrate computer systems.

Whilst we’ve progressed well with the integration of staff teams, it will take until Spring 2025 to complete systems integration. Another important point to be aware of, is that completion of this process will just get us back to the level of functionality that we had before the merger. Enhancing systems will then commence in earnest, with a programme of systems improvements to be introduced from April 2025.

Integration is complex, and in the meantime, our teams have to work with parallel legacy systems. This adds complexity, risk and cost. This complexity is one of the reasons why we sometimes struggle to deliver services to the standards that residents expect. I absolutely understand how frustrating this can be for residents and I want to apologise if we’ve let you down. I can assure you that we take resident satisfaction extremely seriously and it pains me when I hear about service failures. But what I can say, is that once all systems are integrated in April 2025 it will be much easier to deliver to a consistently higher standard. This will herald an exciting new phase of service improvement, with residents involved in shaping these improvements. If you’d like to get involved in these projects, please let us know. If you have a general service enquiry, please contact us. 


Service improvements to date

In the meantime, we’ve completed 20 projects to address local estate issues and improve processes. Most importantly we’ve introduced the biggest increase in investment in existing homes ever seen by either legacy organisation. In the year to 31 March 2024, we spent £266 million improving residents’ homes. This represents a whopping 45% increased on the previous year. We’ve increased the repairs budget by a further £13 million. We’ve recently established a new damp and mould team to give residents a more responsive service, with case handlers appointed to keep residents informed, and we’ve invested a further £1 million to improve complaint handling. We’ve increased investment despite unprecedented pressure on housing association finances as we navigate the twin pressures of inflation and reduced income from successive years of rent cuts and caps.

Since merger we’ve established strong governance and resident oversight. This includes having four resident places on the board and the introduction of a robust assurance framework and a new internal audit function. This gives involved residents assurance that homes are managed in line with regulations and legislation.

Finally, residents tell us that repairs is the service that they care about the most. We know from complaints, resident satisfaction data, and resident feedback that we need to improve the repairs service. We’re working on an end-to-end review of the repairs process – from a repair being requested through to completion to understand where and why things go wrong. This will enable us to improve the repairs journey. We’re also replacing the Wates and United Living repairs contracts in London and bringing repairs call handling in-house from June. These changes will make a massive difference, but they will take time to bed in. We have a lot of work to do over the next few years to improve services for residents. Please bear with us as we work through the integration process.

Paul Hackett CBE
Chief Executive Officer
Southern Housing


Our news

All Articles
P49 Social Tina Edwards2
  • 19 April 2024

Blog: Navigating cultural integration - Building a unified identity at Southern Housing

P49 Social Amy Singh2
  • 11 April 2024

Blog: Using data to improve customer services

P49 Social Jane Campbell2
  • 21 March 2024

Blog: Diversity in the Legal Services team

P49 Social Troy Francis2
  • 12 March 2024

Blog: A Simple Approach for Better Services

P49 Social William Miller2
  • 07 March 2024

Blog: Social Impact - a financial ally for our residents

P49 Social Vanessa Biddiss2
  • 04 March 2024

Blog: Helping residents to sustain their tenancies

1708966909647 7D18188f Db2a 48E4 8957 C386dbe81160 1
  • 29 February 2024

Blog: Investing in our homes

P49 Social Paul Day2
  • 26 February 2024

Blog: Mapping out the future

Douglas Silverstone
  • 16 February 2024

Technology: the engine of a merger

Puneet Rajput
  • 08 February 2024

Blog: Delivering effective resident governance

Helena Ingham
  • 06 February 2024

Blog: A merging opinion -  they work best when residents are at their heart

Jenny Poore
  • 28 January 2024

Blog: Reflecting on the successes and challenges of the merger journey

Brea Attrill
  • 26 January 2024

Blog: Hoping to achieve a balance in the relationship of equals

Colin Lydon (1)
  • 23 January 2024

Blog: Delivering an effective ASB handling service

Mij Rahman
  • 16 January 2024

Blog: Improving our data input

Dave Burton
  • 09 January 2024
  • Resident Involvement

Blog: The Resident Scrutiny Panel – our year one journey

Naomi Keyte
  • 09 January 2024

Blog: Listening to and acting upon residents’ feedback to shape our care services

Yvette Carter
  • 21 December 2023

Blog: Repairing trust

Image00009 Flipped
  • 18 December 2023
  • Sustainability

Our new Environmental Sustainability Strategy

P49 Social Paul Hackett2 1
  • 18 December 2023

Blog: The first 12 months of a merger

IMG 1168 (1)
  • 30 November 2023

Our annual review 2022-23

Featured in the photo (from left to right): Bunmi Atta (Director of Construction at Southern Housing), Mike Link (Chair of the ABE CLT), Cllr Michael Warden (Chair of Aldingbourne Parish Council) and Steve Underwood (Development Manager at Southern Housing).
  • 25 October 2023

New homes delivered at Wings Wood development in Chichester

  • 19 September 2023
  • New developments

Final brick laid at New Kent Road development

Milestone At Southwark Development
  • 15 September 2023
  • New developments

Milestone at our Southwark development

Rosemary House
  • 18 July 2023
  • Sustainability

Topping out at The Green Quarter

The Mannings
  • 11 July 2023
  • Sustainability

Topping out at new low carbon housing project