Launch of National Housing Maintenance Forum

The NHF Schedule of Rates Steering Committee is being re-launched as the National Housing Maintenance Forum at the NHF Asset Management and Maintenance conference on 17th July 2002.

Launch of National Housing Maintenance Forum

From 2001 Bulletin

The NHF Schedule of Rates Steering Committee is being re-launched as the National Housing Maintenance Forum at the NHF Asset Management and Maintenance conference on 17th July 2002.

The Steering Committee was original set up to manage development of the NHF Schedule of Rates, and controls the money collected in annual licence fees. It is elected each year by the 250 RSLs and local authorities that subscribe to the schedule, and has been very creative over the last eight years in developing new products to meet the changing demands on the procurement and provision of repairs services.

The new name reflects the evolution of its role. It is a forum at which senior maintenance practioners (both commissioners and contractors) discuss the tools they need to manage their maintenance services effectively, responding to innovations in best practice, and regulatory and legislative changes. More recently they have seen the need to feedback concerns on these issues via the National Housing Federation.

But we are not just a talking shop. We have the resources to back our ideas with new developments from a fund that has grown considerably in recent years with the success of the NHF Schedule of Rates. We began by establishing best practice in managing measured term contracts and keep this constantly under review. Each new release refines the contract conditions to reflect improved practice and legislative or regulatory changes.

Over the last year, the Forum has run seminars on partnering repairs, to learn from initiatives across all housing sectors. We are currently developing a “Partnering Kit” to assist maintenance managers in negotiating partnering agreements with their contractors. This covers a range of partnering models, with a checklist of client-side activities that might be covered by the agreement, and a variety of approaches to payment. The aim is to establish a series of “partnering packages” to suit different circumstances, so that each organisation approaching the issue can pick a sensible starting point, and build on the experience of others.

For some years we have collected information on tender returns around the country as a check on prices in the NHF Schedule of Rates, and reported on these at the AGM. More recently we supported the development of Checkmate to provide the most in-depth benchmarking service available on the delivery of repairs services. The NHF Schedule of Rates provides a natural basis for comparing contract prices because it’s use is so widely established across the country.

Locator and a range of other aids to accurate repair diagnosis were developed to improve the accuracy of repairs ordering and control the level of variations. Last year we launched Housecall: the first system in the country that allowed tenants to report their repairs via the Internet.

We are not changing the name of the NHF Schedule of Rates or any of the other products.

The National Housing Maintenance Forum will continue to meet abou t four times a year, with regional representatives elected from all parts of England and Wales and across all housing sectors. The Forum will work closely with HAMMAR groups representing maintenance managers particularly in RSLs, to support the work of the National Housing Federation in representing their interests, and to raise the profile of maintenance issues in dealing with regulatory bodies, and to liase and have dialogue with other interest groups in the field of social housing maintenance. (eg DWF, ASCSO Housing Forum, Local Government Task Force).

NHMF funding for Asset Management Post at the Federation

For a long time there has been a feeling amongst maintenance managers that maintenance issues never get the attention they deserve. Repairs and maintenance account for a large portion of spending by local authority housing departments and RSLs. Stock condition is a crucial factor in business planning for RSLs, and the need for stock re-investment is the major issue driving transfers.

The Forum decided to do something about it. The Federation was keen to create a senior policy post dealing with maintenance, and had obtained some funding towards it. Early this year we got together with the chairs of HAMMAR groups to provide long term funding so that the post could be offered at a much higher salary level to attract someone capable of dealing with maintenance issues at the highest level.

We aim to support them with more than funding. The Forum and HAMMAR groups will feed back concerns on policy developments to assist the Federation in consultation with regulatory bodies on maintenance issues. We will also work together to develop best practice in maintenance, and back up the advice provided by the Federation to its members.

Dave Treanor
Secretary to NHMF

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