Customer Expenses Policy

Policy reference number:
Version number: 3
Date applies from: 17.07.15


1) Aim of policy

1.1. City West Housing Trust recognises the importance of working in partnership with our customers, to provide efficient and caring services of the highest possible quality.

1.2. The purpose of this policy is to outline our commitment to supporting customers to become involved by setting out the financial and practical support that we will offer to customers to encourage effective involvement and engagement in order to ensure that customers undertake a meaningful role in assisting us to shape and deliver excellent services that meet customer need.

2) Policy

2.1 City West is committed to ensuring that all customers have fair and equal opportunities to get involved. We use a variety of different engagement methods through ACORN, some of which can result in costs being incurred for the customer. To encourage involvement therefore, City West have agreed that the following customer expenses will be paid.

2.2 Travel Expenses
2.2.1 One of the most common methods of engagement is attendance at meetings. City West encourages customers to car share or to use public transport wherever possible to reduce costs and the impact on the environment. City West will refund travel expenses including bus, train fares and mileage for customers attending City West events and training sessions on production of receipts.

2.2.2 Travel expenses will normally be reimbursed by payment into a customer’s bank account, by cheque or via petty cash on production of the relevant receipts or on completion and submission of the appropriate expenses claim form.

2.3 Provision of Transport by City West
2.3.1 City West will arrange taxis for customers attending events by prior arrangement with the staff member responsible for arranging the meeting or event. This will be where the sharing of taxis for example is more cost effective than customers claiming their separate travel costs or where customers may experience particular difficulties in attending the meeting due to for example mobility issues.

2.3.2 A City West staff member would normally book the taxi through the City West account however receipts for all taxi journeys that have been paid for by customers should be produced to the member of staff responsible for arranging the meeting or event.

2.3.3 City West will also arrange for coaches and minibuses when customers are attending large corporate events and will when publicising these events encourage customers to contact us to arrange transport.

2.4 Telephone Calls
2.4.1 A number of activities undertaken by customers involve the use of personal telephones for example whilst undertaking mystery shopping activities as a Customer Inspector. City West will reimburse costs incurred for these activities in line with the Terms of Reference of the individual groups.

2.5 Internet

2.5.1 A number of activities undertaken by customers involve the use of the Internet for example the Customer Scrutiny Inspectorate may be required to undertake research on best practice from other organisations. City West will reimburse costs incurred for these activities such as payment for a telephone land line rental in line with the Terms of Reference of the individual groups.

2.6 Subsistence Allowance

2.6.1 Customers attending conferences or other events will be reimbursed for food that they have had to purchase subject to prior agreement with the staff member arranging the event in terms of level of expenditure. This payment will not be made where meals are already being provided at the event. In certain circumstances the Customer Relations Head of Service or the Customer Service and Involvement Manager may approve the payment of an allowance from petty cash, in advance of attendance at training events or seminars, receipts for expenditure must still however be provided by the customer on return.

2.7 Overnight Accommodation

2.7.1 Where overnight accommodation is required for attendance at events and conferences City West will book and pay for this in advance which would usually include meal arrangements.

2.8 Child Care and Other Carers Costs

2.8.1 City West will arrange crèche facilities for children at our main conferences and large events, where we have identified a need for it. Childcare costs will be paid to customers attending other events subject to prior approval.

2.8.2 In addition other carer’s costs will be paid subject to prior approval for customers attending meetings or events.

2.9 Tenant and Residents Associations

2.9.1 City West is committed to supporting Tenants and Residents Associations. Our Grant Allocation Policy ensures that all TARA’s have access to funds which meets their needs and are allocated in a clear and transparent manner.

2.10 Other Costs
2.10.1 Any other additional expenses that customers incur as a result of involvement or engagement activities will be assessed on an individual basis and payment agreed by the staff member responsible for inviting the customer to the meeting or event.

3) How the policy will be delivered

3.1 This policy will be delivered by the Officers listed below
• Head of Customer Relations
• Customer Service and Involvement Manager
• Customer Involvement Officers
• Customer Service Involvement Team Leader
• Customer Scrutiny Advisor

4) Legislation, related policies & procedures

1.1 Legislation and Regulatory Standards
• Housing Corporation (2004) “Regulatory Code” Section 2.5
• People First – Delivering Change Through Involvement (Housing Corporation May 2007)
• HCA Consumer Standards

1.2 Related Strategies and Policies
• Customer Involvement Strategy
• Customer Empowerment Charter
• Grant Allocation Policy for Tenant and Resident Groups.

1.3 Related Procedures
• Customer Transport Procedure
• Customer Taxi Booking Procedure.