A 24-month journey with a focus on trust, safety and data has seen Livv Housing Group’s governance rating upgraded to G2 compliant by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) today (28 October 2020).
With a new leader at the helm in Group Chief Executive Léann Hearne, a new chair and a new common purpose board with over 150 years’ combined experience, Livv Housing Group has undergone root-and-branch change over the last two years to ready the organisation for the next two decades ahead.
Governance, fire safety and compliance led to the downgrade by the RSH from G1 compliant to G3 non-compliant in August 2018. Livv’s focus on the first stage of its upgrade journey has gone beyond these aspects – it has been both fundamental and forensic in its approach to getting to G2.
The upgrade, achieved at pace, with passion and with a full rebrand during the pandemic, is testimony to Livv’s positive partnership working and commitment to relationship building. This has created a renewed energy and one team culture – taking the organisation positively forward.
One common purpose board
Markers of Livv’s seismic change have included simplifying the structure and governance of the organisation to strengthen operational management and strategic objectives. Six boards of the then First Ark Group have been collapsed into one common purpose, 12-strong skills-based board. This has created a unified approach and a line of sight across all assets and every penny spent to ensure value for money and efficiency of process. The Audit Committee has been strengthened for additional scrutiny and a Customer Services Committee added to further test the organisation.
A regulated parent
In a marked step-change, the organisation dissolved the structure of the First Ark Group, which included social housing provider Knowsley Housing Trust as the regulated entity. The 360 degree move puts the parent Livv Housing Group as the entity regulated by the RSH. This bold change was a reflection of the commitment to simplify governance arrangements and strengthen the purpose to get back to the core context – being a successful social housing provider.
The board and structural changes to the business were complemented by a full rebrand, positioning Livv Housing Group as an organisation underlined by its passion to make a positive impact and flourishing communities.
In 2019, Livv brought forward a programme of Fire Risk Assessments for all communal properties, completing 100% of re-assessments in May of that year. This approach has ensured that Livv has taken into account the latest fire safety recommendations from its assessors, and as a result this has led the organisation to invest more than £5.5 million in improving fire safety in communal properties since then.
Throughout that time, Livv has continued to work closely with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service to ensure a joint approach to fire safety and any mitigations that may be required in its properties. Livv has sought to build a strong and open relationship with them and the proactive work the organisation has undertaken over the last two years has been recognised.
Compliance and data
Livv has conducted its most detailed stock condition survey to date to understand the baseline health of its homes. It has used this data to create a fully integrated property function underpinned by a new data system, C365 to enable evidence-led management of all compliance data, creating ‘one truth’ accuracy in turn. This is teamed with a proactive approach to compliance and fire safety assessment checks, which are scheduled earlier than the 12 month cycles to ensure nothing goes out of timeline.
All processes and procedures around compliance have been renewed including gas safety, electrical safety, asbestos safety, water safety and lift safety, made up of 83 statutory and non-statutory compliance modules.
Léann Hearne, Group Chief Executive, said: “Trust. Safety. Data. These three words are hugely powerful and have underpinned two years of change to get to G2 and to define a Livv that’s both for, and of, the future. We’ve left no stone unturned to get to the strongest data and processes possible and with a change to a regulated parent, we’ve put our purpose back at the core of the business, a housing provider that focuses on positive impact and flourishing communities.”
Philip Raw, Chair of the Board, added: “The speed with which Léann and her team have delivered such positive change, built relationships and instilled trust across the organisation and beyond is phenomenal. Charting the direction, not veering from it, having determination and staying focussed on clear objectives has achieved the G2 upgrade at pace. The new skills-based board, with over 150 years of combined experience, acknowledged the past and with cohesion and collaboration we moved swiftly into working with the new executive team to make changes, with an intense focus on creating an organisation fit for the exciting future ahead.”