Onward Scrutiny Board Report August 2022

Who’s on it and could I join?

The ‘Onward Scrutiny Board’ (OSB) is made up of a diverse range of Onward customers from across the three regions we cover. The group can include up to 6 customers from each region. Applicants are selected through an informal interview with customers from the OSB and Onward staff. Places are available and we will be advertising them in September. If you have already expressed an interest we will contact you then, if you are interested or want to have a chat and find out more, please get in touch.

To be an OSB member you need to

  • have a keen interest in the services provided to Onward customers
  • be able to see the bigger picture – thinking about all customers not just the ones in your own block, street, or neighbourhood.
  • have an eye for detail and to be able to look at the numbers behind the performance.

The customer engagement team provide support and can help you to learn the skills you need to be an effective member of the group

How to apply –

What members have said about the Scrutiny Board

“It is an important role and is respected and trusted.  We need to make the most of it and contribute in a positive way.”

“When we met the Board, we saw that they are genuinely customer oriented and willing to listen.

“It’s a challenge, I enjoy it. I have a better understanding of how housing works and the frustrations on both sides.

 What does the OSB do?

The role of the OSB is to review Onward’s performance in key customer facing services tenancy management, allocations, repairs, income management, safer neighbourhoods, customer services and customer engagement.

The Scrutiny Board raises questions with the leaders of a service where performance is not meeting expected standards and highlights good performance where targets are being met.

Where there are concerns the OSB can carry out its own study and talk to customers, Onward colleagues and contractors as well as looking at good practice in the sector. They then make recommendations for change to the current service.

What have the scrutiny board been up to so far this year?

It’s been a busy time! In January six new members joined the group, they met each other informally on teams before meeting the existing members and getting involved in the meetings.

In spring the Scrutiny Board worked with Onward Executive Directors and the Board to assess performance against the Regulator for Social Housing’s standards. Regulatory standards – GOV.UK (www.gov.uk) They have also contributed to a review of the Governance of Onward.

The group meet every three months to review Onward’s performance.  In May they

  • Praised the income team and gas servicing teams for their performance.

Asked about

  • The time taken to relet empty homes – and found that a few properties taking a long time to let were increasing the average time
  • How Onward would reduce the time taken to answer the phone – and were reassured about contingency plans for high demand times and the move to having a specialist team in the contact centre to deal with repairs enquiries.
  • Repairs performance – OSB members were pleased to hear that satisfaction is improving but concerned about targets not being met. The group were updated about how performance has been affected by the knock on from Covid and supply chain issues as well as the volume of repairs being reported that have been classed as emergency or urgent rather than routine. The scrutiny board are also concerned about the cost of disrepair cases. The group were pleased to hear that a project has been started to review the repairs service.

Progress with the scrutiny recommendations made about the Neighbourhoods Service

The OSB met with representatives from Onward’s Neighbourhoods service to review their progress in implementing the Scrutiny Boards recommendations.

The group received updates on

  • The review of neighbourhood plans and a changed approach
  • The idea of local newsletters used in some neighbourhoods in Lancashire, the OSB supported this idea and asked for it to be rolled out to other regions
  • The Neighbourhood Specialist Working Group – a group of neighbourhoods specialists from across the regions who meet and problem solve to improv the service across Onward
  • The Onward Fly Tipping Strategy – this gives a range of actions that can be used to reach solutions in areas that suffer fly tipping issues


Before starting another review, the OSB are reviewing the progress of all the recommendations they have made over the last few years. They are meeting with Directors from the Neighbourhoods service in August and Directors from the Property service in September.

Adverts for the recruitment of new OSB members will be out in the September customer newsletter and on the website.