There is no specific requirement to tell your residents how much you spent on their first annual report but the more we thought about it the more we felt it to be an absolute must.
So how much did it cost? Perhaps more importantly, did you tell your residents how much it cost? Was it worth it?
In advising and supporting housing providers with their annual reports, we have emphasised a number of things:
- The need to be honest and frank about performance, and the need to hold your hands up to things that have not gone so well or could be done better.
- The potential to use the annual reporting process as a way of encouraging greater involvement (particularly in developing resident scrutiny and local offers).
- The value of resident feedback on reports, particularly as to whether they are interesting, useful and easy to read.
- The need to develop resident ownership of both the content of the report and the process of putting it together.
Telling your residents how much the report cost clearly pushes the openness and transparency button. A published cost is also likely to provoke reaction, from which you might hope to get engagement. A published cost sets a benchmark for next year and potentially a budget for those residents who get involved in next year’s report. Will they want to spend less or more? What will you do if they regard the whole process as a waste of money?
We have been surprised at the cost of reports per resident, particularly for smaller housing providers, once the costs of external help and staff time as well as design, printing and distribution costs are included.
Coincidentally, value for money stands out as the area providers most need to tackle before their next annual report.
Sharing your annual report
Did you produce a really good report? Do you think others might learn something from what you have produced? We are inviting organisations to share their annual reports with us as part of our commitment to developing a good practice resource for smaller housing providers. The reports and other good practice will be available through our SPBM website and we will be talking to HouseMark about potential links with their own good practice resources.