Introducing.. the Merseyside Regional Scrutiny Board

Onward is proud to be taking part in National #ScrutinyWeek 2020, between Monday 27th July and Friday 31st July.

#ScrutinyWeek offers us a chance to celebrate the impact of our scrutiny work and share stories, information, and updates from our Regional Scrutiny Boards (RSBs).

Onward has three RSBs which comprise a diverse range of tenants from all of our three regions, namely: Lancashire; Merseyside; and Greater Manchester & Cheshire. They meet with Onward colleagues every three months to review how our services are performing and identify where improvements can be made.

In the first of a series of blogs throughout the week, we introduce the Merseyside RSB and some of its members. We also take a look at how their recent work has made an impact on the organisation.

Meet a member..

Stephen Hannan, Ainsdale
Stephen has been a member of the Merseyside RSB for 17 months and an Onward customer for 5 years. Stephen and his wife Helen play a key role in their community and are involved in running a successful Residents Association which hosts many well-attended events. Stephen also volunteers for the Sefton Rangers Service which helps to protect and maintain local beauty spots, including the Sefton coastline. Stephen was a member of the armed forces and has also worked as a joiner.

Here’s what he said when we asked him about scrutiny.

Why did you want to get involved in scrutiny?
I wanted to do something to help customers. I was also interested to see how everything works and to try shape a better service. My initial goal was to get involved in my local community as I was new to the area and there was no community group established. I am also really interested in building a better community.

What difference do you think scrutiny makes at Onward?
It’s good that Onward actually listens to all of the scrutiny boards. They do this to help get a better understanding of customers points of view. Staff can get wrapped up in policy but they need their roots on the ground and using customer knowledge is really good.

What do you enjoy about being involved in Merseyside RSB?
I enjoy everything: the social side, meeting people and becoming friends. It’s a really nice thing – it helps me. When I became disabled I struggled with boredom and when you have time on your hands, you can end up thinking too much about what has happened. You need to occupy yourself with other things. It’s really positive to be able to use my brain. It’s nice to see change and know you are involved in it! That makes me feel good.

How would you encourage other customers to get involved in scrutiny?
Scrutiny is the best idea, it’s a great thing. If you want to make a difference, then do something about it, don’t just sit and complain. You have a chance to make services better. Its rewarding and you get so much out of it. You find out what’s going on, develop your computer skills, develop an interest in learning and keep your brain sharp.

Michael Johnson, Canning
Michael has been a member of the Merseyside RSB for 14 months and an Onward customer for 30 years. He has worked as a lecturer in Further Education and as a mental health support worker and trainer. Michael has also worked for the Citizen’s Advice Bureau and an independent advice service in Liverpool. His interests include: cooking, gardening, reading, political activism and social justice.

Here’s what he told us about being involved in scrutiny.

Why did you want to get involved in scrutiny?
I wanted to put my amazing skillset at the disposal of Onward and ensure there was an effective tenant voice.

What difference do you think scrutiny makes at Onward?
Scrutiny holds Onward accountable to their tenants.

What do you enjoy about being involved in Merseyside RSB?
The challenges and the insight into what’s going on at Onward, plus making a positive contribution.

How would you encourage other customers to get involved in scrutiny?
The Customer Engagement team make it very easy and you have useful attributes to bring to the scrutiny board: your experiences and those of people you know.

What has the Merseyside RSB been up to?

Between October 2019 and April 2020, the Merseyside RSB investigated how Onward could improve its communication with customers about planned maintenance, including the renewal of kitchens and bathrooms.

The board made several recommendations which the organisation will adopt moving forward. They included:

• Consult customers on Onward’s investment strategy and investment priorities
• Be clear as to why homes are included or excluded from planned investment programmes
• Involve customers in decision making about planned maintenance programmes
• Provide more information about investment programmes on the Onward website and in print
• Improve communication with customers about maintenance works being carried out to their home, e.g kitchen replacements, particularly if plans change

For more information on the RSBs recommendations, take a look at our latest scrutiny update available here.

If you would like to be considered for a role on one of our RSBs please contact the Customer Engagement team at

Alternatively, become a member of the Customer Engagement Community. As a member, you will be invited to give feedback and help shape the future of Onward. You will also be able to influence the priorities in your neighbourhood and access a range of training opportunities to help you develop new skills. And if that wasn’t enough, all members are entered into a monthly prize draw.

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