Welcome to the 2020-21 Annual Report for Customers

2020/21 was a challenging year for everyone. When we all had to spend much more time at home, safety continued to be our top priority.

On behalf of the whole Thrive team, thank you for working with us through such difficult times.

COVID caused various issues but we strived to maintain our services, while respecting the concerns you may have had about people visiting your home.

We continued to deliver our repairs, planned and safety works in a COVID secure way by ensuring our teams had personal protective equipment (PPE) and observed social distancing. We appreciate your support meeting these important requirements.

Some work could not be carried out safely so had to be delayed. We have since worked hard to complete these jobs and appreciate your understanding.

Thrive usually spends around £4 million each year on major works such as new kitchens, windows and roofs. Due to the pandemic, some of our internal projects had to be pushed back to 2021/22 and we instead focused on external works on our homes.

We continue to be living in uncertain times, and whilst we will always do our best to keep delivering our services, there may sometimes be delays and we appreciate your understanding should this occur.

Your feedback helps us improve. Over the last year customers worked with us to make the myThrive hub easy to use and, through our Service Shapers Group, reviewed complaints and looked at how we can do things better.

Our residents also shared their views on cleaning and grounds maintenance via our Question Time sessions, while our Customer Experience Panel continued helping us develop our services and
future plans.

The Customer Experience panel said they want us to prioritise a review of options to enhance our letting standard, which included improving your homes’ heating efficiency and sprucing up our communal areas. So, we are now spending an extra £1 million each year to bring all homes, where possible, up to a ‘C’ energy efficiency rating by 2030.

It is important to us that we hear the voice of all our customers and listen to what you have to say – whether you are a Thrive tenant, leaseholder or shared owner. So please do get in touch and share your views with us.

Elspeth Mackenzie - Chief Executive, Thrive Homes

Did we hit the mark? We want to share the things you want to hear about. Let us know here

Your home

Our annual Home Plan visits, which we introduced in 2018, allow us to see many more customers than we could before.

This helps us get to know each other better which benefits both customers and Thrive Homes, and your feedback has been overwhelmingly positive.

We carried out 752 visits during 2020/21, including 454 virtually by phone or video call when the pandemic prevented us visiting in person.

Many customers appreciated us contacting them to talk through any issues they were having, especially some of our older and more isolated residents whose social networks disappeared during lockdown.

Adrian Anstee - Customer Relations Team Leader

Benefits of Home Plan

  • Identifying any repairs that need doing in your home.
  • Ensuring we have up-to-date information about you and your household.
  • Giving advice if you are thinking about downsizing or moving to a larger home.
  • Helping you get any extra support you may need. We have previously referred customers for support with mental health issues and hoarding problems, and to charities offering befriending services.
  • Checking that previous repairs have been carried out.
  • Spotting and resolving any health and safety issues.
  • Helping us deal with repairs quicker, thanks to photos of fixtures and fittings taken during these visits.
  • Seeing the condition of your home, so we can plan when improvement work needs to be carried out (such as a new bathroom or kitchen).

“Home Plan is a good way of Thrive getting to know you, you getting to know Thrive. It just gives me the security that Thrive cares about me and cares about the home.” Mark, Thrive customer

“The benefits of Home Plan are you actually get to sit with a human being and tell them what your needs are. It was through that conversation that they actually supported me a great deal. So I’m now able to have a better quality of life.” Martin, Thrive Customer

Find out more about Home Plan here.

Safety first

Thrive’s aim – to provide secure, well-maintained homes – became even more important during the coronavirus crisis.

Colleagues and contractors worked hard throughout the pandemic to keep you safe in your home while continuing to deliver vital services.

  • No one at Thrive was furloughed and our teams adapted rapidly, with some colleagues temporarily taking on different roles to maintain essential services – especially where contractors had to furlough, such as our grounds maintenance service.
  • We worked with customers to resolve repairs remotely where possible, with the help of photos and video calls.
  • When our engineers needed to visit, with your support they followed safe working practices.
  • We kept you informed of any service changes on our website and with regular emails or letters, as you asked us to.
  • You could check the latest updates on demand, using the new ‘option 4’ on our phone system.

Keeping you safe in your home

In 2020/21:

  • 99.97% of homes had a valid gas safety certificate* 
  • 99.19% of electrical tests were carried out 
  • 100% of emergency repairs were completed on time 
  • 323 fire doors were replaced (bringing the total to 531 since our programme began in 2019/20)

*At the end of March 2021, one property did not have a valid gas safety certificate. If customers will not let us into their homes for gas and electrical checks, we take legal action to gain access.

Going the extra mile

Our colleagues regularly look for ways to support our customers.

“A landlord inspection today presented another aspect of my job. The customer had very recently lost his wife and was understandably down. It was really touching when he was so appreciative his boiler had been serviced and repaired, which was one less thing for him to worry about before winter. People often think we’re just here to fix the boilers, but we’re so much more than that.”

Ian Lewis, Thrive Homes Gas Engineer

Read more about a typical week for Ian

Your services

We constantly strive to provide quality services which achieve good value for money.

As such, we appointed MCP Property Services to support our repairs and maintenance service in November 2020. Whilst the contract initially experienced issues, we’ve worked hard to put these right with MCP.

“More communication and when people come out to do work to make sure they know what they are coming for and have the parts.” – Thrive customer

We’re pleased to have since received more positive feedback from our customers. We’re continuing to monitor the performance of the contract and always encourage customers to give feedback.

“His attitude was fantastic, as was the quality of work he carried out. He was polite, clean and tidy and engaged in a way that made me feel valued and understood as an elderly person with dementia. He was simply marvellous.” Thrive customer

 “I had to call the emergency out-of-hours service after the lock on my front door broke. Telephone support was very good and the man who came to help absolutely brilliant. He fixed the door and made it safe quickly and efficiently. He also wore a mask. Excellent service all the way round.” Thrive customer

We’re listening, learning and improving

To improve our grounds maintenance service, we consulted with customers about what aspect of this work was most important to them.

“I can't see what I am paying for and I don't see that they're doing it (grounds/internal maintenance etc).” – Thrive customer

Your feedback helped us choose a new contractor, which resulted in Chequers taking over in April 2021. There have been some issues early on in the new contract, and we will continue to monitor their performance and keep you informed of any changes as the contract progresses.

You said: you weren't sure what to expect from the service.

We have: created a quick link to this information on our website, so you don’t have to search through lots of documents at: www.thrivehomes.org.uk/communalstandards

You said: you want to know when visits are due.

We have: started pulling together this information and looking into ways of making it available to customers online.

You can rate a Thrive service in less than 60 seconds at www.thrivehomes.org.uk/rateaservice

Improving homes

During last year’s pandemic, we continued our ongoing improvement programme to ensure Thrive’s homes remained well maintained and up to date.

To keep everyone as safe as possible we suspended some internal work, such as kitchen and bathroom replacements, but stepped up external projects which included fitting new roofs, windows and doors.

We also installed more fire doors as part of our replacement programme.

We spent £3.5 million replacing 1,496 parts of our homes in 2020/21 compared to £3.7 million in the previous year.

This spend was in line with our annual planned budget for improvements, which fluctuates each year depending on the forecasted needs of our properties.

Below is a breakdown of the number of components we replaced:






Boilers and heating systems















Fire doors



Electrical works 



Fire safety works



Door entry works






Environmental works



Major aids and adaptations



We seek to ensure such work delivers long-term improvements along with the best value for money – such as boosting energy efficiency with insulation and from 2021, we’ve been installing shower screens rather than curtains.

It is expected that the different parts of our homes will last at least this long:

  • Roofs – 60 years
  • Bathrooms – 30 years
  • Central heating systems – 30 years 
  • Central heating boilers – 15 years 
  • Windows – 30 years 
  • Kitchens – 20 years
  • Electrical works – 30 years 
  • External structure – 80+ years

Every five years, as part of our annual Home Plan visits, we carry out an in-depth survey of each property to assess its condition and decide when we should carry out its next upgrade – such as a new kitchen or bathroom.

You can ask when your home is due for an upgrade during your Home Plan visit. Find out more at: www.thrivehomes.org.uk/homeplan

How we spend your rent

Our average rent is around £106 per week:

Property type












This is a breakdown of how we spent our average weekly rent in 2021 and 2020:

Charge 2021 2020
Management costs £28.46 £28.75
Repairs & maintenance £21.83 £19.73
Major works £15.25 £16.64
Interest costs £33.36 £30.87
Other/Development £7.63 £10.56

Safety considerations due to COVID affected how we spent our money on major works in 2020/21. Some jobs had to be re-scheduled for 2021/22, while still ensuring we maintained our properties to the national Decent Homes Standard.

We spent more on repairs and maintenance during the pandemic, due to the extra safety measures needed to carry out the work.

Want more detail? Click here to check out our Annual Financial Accounts.

Building homes for the future

This past year, when staying at home was more important than ever, highlighted the pressing need to provide more families with a safe place to live and thrive.

We are keen to play our part in building high-quality, affordable homes for people struggling to rent or buy on the open market – not just for today’s residents, but to support future generations.

Our aim is to double the number of properties that we own and manage by 2028 to help meet the high demand for such homes in our region, which includes some of the country’s most expensive places to live.

Jack Burnham - Executive Director Growth & Investment, Thrive Homes

Despite construction site closures due to the pandemic, we built 81 new homes across Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire in 2020/21 (compared to 134 in 2019/20):

  • 51 for affordable rent
  • 18 for shared ownership
  • 12 for social rent

We also purchased land that can accommodate 230 plots for future homes.

A good landlord

We pride ourselves on being a fair landlord, offering a variety of types of home – for affordable rent, shared ownership or market rent – to meet the different housing needs of local people.

Our aim is to ensure people have the opportunity to stay in the area where they grew up or where they work, so they and their communities can flourish.

Thrive was especially pleased to be able to offer key workers from our communities (such as NHS staff, police and teachers), who played such a crucial role during the pandemic, an affordable place to call home through shared ownership.

With the help of our Home Plan visits, we are keen to understand the specific needs of each of our customers so we can help you with the right services and support.                    

For instance, by letting us know if you have a disability or mobility issue, we can notify the local fire service so they are aware of your circumstances which will enable them to put in place and record a fast and appropriate management or evacuation plan.

Update your household details today on the myThrive hub.

Who moved into our homes during 2020-21?*



Female – 91 

Male -56 







Under 26 – 35 

26-35 – 43 

36-45 – 16 

46-55 – 17 

56-65 – 20 

Over 65 – 15 



UK National resident in UK - 137 

UK National returning from residence overseas - 1 

Poland - 5 

Slovenia - 1 

Other - 2 





White British - 122 

White Other - 4 

White and Asian - 4 

Indian - 1 

Pakistani - 2 

Caribbean - 1 

Black Other - 1 

African - 6 

Other – 2 

*Data available where customer has opted to provide information.

Your voice

The Customer Experience Panel (CEP) continued to meet online throughout the pandemic. This was challenging but enabled us to achieve various successes.

We hosted a Question Time event about the cleaning and grounds maintenance service, attracting a record number of questions. The resulting feedback influenced the contract and specification to procure our new grounds maintenance contractor.

Every year the CEP assesses Thrive’s compliance against the Regulator of Social Housing’s consumer standards and devises detailed action plans.

This year’s plans targeted areas requiring closer consideration or where we thought alternative approaches might help Thrive do things differently to improve the customer experience, such as lettings and the Decent Homes Standard.      

The CEP also reviewed and updated the Customer Involvement Statement, renewing our commitment to developing a pool of involved customers and introducing an online platform to increase engagement. The Panel is keen for Thrive to engage with as many and varied customer as possible and there are lots of ways to get involved.

We welcomed the publication of the Social Housing White Paper, ‘The charter for social housing tenants’, in November 2020.

The charter is the Government's long-awaited response to the Grenfell tragedy. In addition, the new focus on consumer regulation will help strengthen the customer voice and make our role easier to perform.

Andy Sage - CEP Chair

Meeting the consumer standards - our key highlights

  • With the CEP, we have created a way to capture lessons learned and improvements made following customer feedback. Find out more here.
  • CEP members assessed how we organise, and quality check our aids and adaptations work, and were happy with how we do this.
  • Having looked at how other landlords promote mutual exchange, we found a good take-up amongst our customers – 10% are registered with Homeswapper, compared to the national average of 5% due to the demand for homes in the area that we operate.
  • Together with the CEP, we have enhanced the standard that new homes are let such as upgrading components that are in need for replacement. For example, mitred worktops and shower screens instead of curtains.

Click here to Learn more about our ambitions to involve residents.

What you told us

Listening to and learning from your feedback is how we improve.

Our Service Shapers Group (made up of colleagues and customers) has been analysing feedback and reviewing complaints over the last year, to see how we can do better.








Cases escalated to stage two of our complaints process



Cases referred to the Housing Ombudsman



Average days to reply



*This complaint, about anti-social behaviour, was not upheld as the Housing Ombudsman decided we handled the case fairly, you can read more about this here. It highlighted the fact that we have separate processes to deal with anti-social behaviour reports and complaints about our services.

Complaint themes

Complaints spiked when we changed our repairs contractor. They were mostly about not keeping customers up to date with what was happening and when, so we have set target times for our colleagues to reply to help improve this.

We also identified a number of complaints where customers felt they were waiting too long for us to resolve issues. This was sometimes due to impacts of the coronavirus pandemic, and we are being clearer when setting timescales.

After assessing us against the Housing Ombudsman’s new Complaint Handling Code, the CEP helped us develop a more efficient and effective way of dealing with complaints. This has speeded up the process and driven service improvements.

For more information and to give your views about our complaints process, check out:









Most compliments were about us doing a good job, being tidy and listening to customers.

“'I called to report my shower was faulty. The lady who dealt with this was professional, friendly and efficient. Thank you to all involved in such prompt and professional service.”

Find out how we are learning from your feedback at www.thrivehomes.org.uk/yourfeedback

How we are doing

Over the last year we have been establishing a vision of the experience we want you to have when you deal with us.

We ran two online workshops to pinpoint what our customers value and how we can better deliver what you want – good quality service.

In 2020/21:

  • 75% of customers were satisfied with their experience of Thrive
    • Satisfaction rose to 85.1% in June 2020, following our extra contact with customers during lockdown 
  • 92.4% were satisfied with our lettings process  
  • 78.5% were satisfied Thrive provides a safe and secure home
  • 89.3% were satisfied with our repairs service

We are looking to improve in these areas:

  • After moving in, only 32% of customers felt outstanding repairs were dealt with well[1]. We are reviewing our aftercare process and will implement changes following the review.
  • 60.5% of customers were satisfied we listen to their views and act upon them. We are capturing customer views and creating action plans – this can be viewed at thrivehomes.org.uk/yourfeedback

Check out our latest performance at www.thrivehomes.org.uk/satisfaction

[1] This is based on 92 responses where customers opted to provide feedback.

Shaping services

We want to make it easy for you to get in touch and deal with us.

Looking at how you choose to contact us and what you tell us, we have seen a growing demand for instant access to our services so we are working hard to achieve this.

As part of this work we launched the myThrive hub in 2020 to better meet our customers’ needs. The Hub enables you to manage your account online and use our services at times most convenient for you.

Anne Bijum - Assistant Director Customer

In the year 2020/21:

  • 30% of customers registered on the myThrive hub (this has increased to 40% as of september 2021)
  • 60% of customer contact was digital (compared to 8% in 2016/17)
  • 87% of queries were resolved straightaway
  • 87% of phone calls were answered

“They take about 20 mins to get through to them on the phone. They could do something about that.” – Thrive customer

Customers shifting to digital contact-free up our phone lines so we can answer more calls from people who do not have online access.

“Digital is the way forward. With the digital portal, you can do a lot online. I always know that Thrive are there to help me, which is cool.” – Richard

Supporting our communities

Our commitment to providing homes where people can thrive extends to supporting projects which make a positive difference to customers and their wider communities.


Thrive’s GIVE Grants scheme offers funding to local charities and community groups so they can provide more services.


In 2020/21 we awarded £40,000 of grant funding to initiatives which provide training or employment, bring people together, improve health and wellbeing or offer money advice.


Our colleagues’ volunteering days had to be suspended due to COVID restrictions, but our contractors continued to support local communities by donating funds to food banks, which were a lifeline to struggling families during the pandemic.


Click here to find out more.


We gave grants to these organisations in 2020/21:

  • Citizens Advice Bureau Three Rivers
  • Three Rivers District Council - Domestic Violence support
  • New Hope
  • Play Skill
  • Watford Workshop
  • Action4Youth
  • Frogmore Papermill 
  • Sunnyside Rural Trust

“Our debt and budgeting advice helps Thrive customers resolve any issues with paying rent at an early stage, so they can successfully maintain their tenancies.” – Peta Mettam, Chief Officer, Citizens Advice Service in Three Rivers 

 Find out more at thrivehomes.org.uk/givingback

Caring for our environment

Throughout the pandemic we provided more of our services remotely, to allow for lockdown and social distancing restrictions while keeping you safe in your home.

These services included introducing virtual repair inspections, Home Plan visits and viewings of homes to let.

We will continue providing some services digitally as this way of working is more convenient for many customers, more efficient for us and kinder to the environment – while still delivering the same results.

Jo Barrett - Executive Director Operations

In the year ending June 2020 we produced 56.5 tonnes of CO2, 15.2% less than the previous year.

As part of our commitment to reducing Thrive’s environmental impact, we plan to:

  • be a certified carbon neutral business by the end of 2022: we cannot achieve this solely by cutting carbon emissions, so we offset them by supporting climate action projects which reduce, remove or avoid greenhouse gas. In the year ending June 2020 we offset 57 tonnes of carbon by supporting Amazon forest conservation projects in Brazil and Peru.
  • promote tree planting, conservation and biodiversity: We have committed to plant a tree for every new home we build. In 2019/20, for example, 35 trees were planted at a Croxley Green development site and 100 trees were planted in association with the One Tree Planted Project.

Greener homes

We strive to reduce our homes’ carbon footprint by making them more energy efficient. This makes them warmer and more comfortable to live in, while enabling customers to better manage their fuel costs.

In 2020/21 we installed:

  • 221 energy efficient (A-rated) boilers
  • energy efficient emergency lighting
  • extra insulation when replacing roofs
  • Where possible, we also fit dual flush toilets and thermostatic mixer valves on taps or showers to save water.

Looking ahead

To meet national environmental targets and new building safety requirements, we plan to spend £46 million on major improvements to our homes.

This will include:

  • upgrades to ensure homes achieve the Energy Performance Certificate C rating
  • improved kitchen and bathroom fittings, such as replacing shower curtains with glass screens
  • enhanced communal areas in and around our buildings.

Due to the way they were built, a small number of our homes will not be able to achieve future environmental standards. Keeping our customers’ comfort and value for money in mind, instead of re-letting these properties when tenants move out, we will look to redevelop or sell them so we can build more homes which meet the standards.

Click here to read more.

Building our relationship

We want to strengthen our relationship with you, our customers, so we are always keen to hear from you.

You can do that in lots of ways, including:

If you can, we prefer you to use our digital services so we can keep phone lines free for essential calls. But, if you aren’t online, we’re always on the end of the phone – just call us on 0800 917 6077.