A blog from Terrie Alafat, the independent Chair of Mears' customer scrutiny board

Terrie Alafat

A recap on Mears’ inaugural Your Voice Scrutiny meeting.

On Wednesday 5th February I was delighted to chair Mears’ inaugural independent customer scrutiny board, Your Voice.

The board forms one part of a new resident engagement model, which has the right to question any part of the Mears business, to scrutinise how they deliver services to the housing sector and make recommendations aimed at improving customer experience. The Your Voice scrutiny board reports directly to the PLC board and has the power to publish independent public reports about Mears. 

A number of key subjects in the sector were discussed at our first meeting. We have a great team of customers on the Board which will work hard to hold Mears to account. Nine resident representatives sit on the board, who have been appointed independently following a recruitment process in partnership with TPAS as tenant engagement experts and the Centre for Public Scrutiny. 

I strongly believe that building better relations between landlords, service providers and residents is key to ensuring we deliver service improvements and I’m delighted to see Mears lead the way from a private sector perspective on this. At our first meeting we all agreed that our focus is on delivering real benefits to all customers and we will do this by identifying priority areas for improvement and focusing our energy on where we can make a real impact. 

We also recognised that there may be some issues which impact on customers’ lives which are outside of Mears direct control and the scrutiny board will consider how it can influence wider improvements working with local councils, housing associations and Government. 

The board will publish an independent and public annual report in January 2021, which will report on the progress made by Mears and include recommendations for continuing service improvements. Our report will inform the Mears PLC board on how they take forward the Group’s customer engagement strategy.

This is an approach I believe will deliver real benefits to all customers across the housing sector.

Your Voice is structured as follows:

Mears Customer Scrutiny Board – An independently chaired panel of customer representatives working alongside the PLC Board and providing oversight, challenge and support to Mears. It will be supported and its independence assured by the Centre for Public Scrutiny.

Mears Customer Champions Forum – Made up Mear’s Branch based customer engagement (or equivalent) leads plus other key stakeholders such as client scrutiny board chairs, resident association leads, community activists. This forum will create a link between the Scrutiny Board and the local involvement groups and scrutiny structures.

Mears Online Customer Network - A virtual network of residents from around the country, who opt into providing feedback on Mears services - provide insight into what’s important and what’s not - offer opinion and suggestions - validate and endorse our thinking/new initiatives.

In the coming months I look forward to working with the scrutiny board members and Mears customer champions and online network, to hear about their experiences and what would help to improve things. You can be sure that we will hold Mears to account and play our part in creating a genuine resident designed and led service.

Published: February 13th 2020