Achieving and maintaining 100% compliance with gas safety all the time, is something of a holy grail for housing providers. Many achieve or get very close to it on occasions, but few are able to maintain 100% compliance week in week out. At Harvest Housing Group we work with 3 gas partners covering 18,000 properties, and have been extremely successful in delivering 100% compliance over a sustained period of time. We believe our partnerships with PH Jones, AFM and Holdscroft, the innovation we have implemented and the pro-active approach we have embedded throughout our organisation make our contract for gas servicing and breakdown one of the best managed external contracts in the sector.
In 2009 City West Housing Trust established an in-house maintenance service to deliver a repairs service to its 14,600 properties. In order to deliver the most cost effective and efficient service, innovative developments and the "can do, will do" culture of the organisation has ensured high levels of customer satisfaction have been maintained. The past three years have seen the creation of an in-house service centre and the creation of 150 jobs through the City West Skills Programme. City West has demonstrated how investing in an in-house Responsive Repairs Team can greatly improve service delivery, customer satisfaction and value for money.
Frank Haslam Milan (FHM) was appointed by Gedling Homes in 2008 to deliver an £18 million Decent Homes Programme. Not only has the delivery of the programme been very successful with high levels of customer satisfaction but a significant number of wider community benefits have been delivered including the recruitment of apprentices, working within local schools, supporting local curriculum activity and embedding of various green initiatives within contract delivery. This has put Gedling Homes and FHM at the forefront in delivering successful joined up partnership initiatives within the local community. The project has also provided significant challenges in work content. This has been met head on by the partnering team by ensuring that client and customers are at the heart of the decision making process and this has reaped many benefits by embedding a joined up inclusive partnering approach.
Gedling Homes appointed Morrison to deliver its responsive maintenance service in April 2010. This was following the creation of the Gedling Homes in November 2008. The repairs service suffered significantly during the time of transfer and a survey of satisfaction in January 2009 resulted in only 63% of customers being happy with the service. Through solid partnership working customer satisfaction levels for the service are now hitting between 95% and 97% and Right 1st Time is currently running at 98%. This partnership has shown how organisations with shared goals can work together to transform a poorly performing repairs service in just over 12 months. The partnership forged between Morrison and Gedling Homes has reaped many positives for customers and alongside this is now supporting a number of community initiatives throughout the borough of Gedling.
In a £1.75m pilot solar project, Great Places has fitted solar PV panels to 100 homes in a variety of locations including Salford and Blackpool. The panels generate electricity for householders that saves £100 to £150 off their electricity bill each year. Installation costs Great Places £6,000 per property. This money will be recouped over about 10 years through the Feed-in Tariff scheme.
Gedling Homes appointed Bullock Construction in 2011 to undertake a £9 million 3 year external works programme. The project covered external works, environmental works plus the extensive refurbishment of a number of non traditional properties over a large geographical area and as a result the successful project management of the programme was paramount. As part of the mobilisation process one of the options considered was real time data capture and exchange between the delivery team and the end user. Following an in depth review of the pilot project an on-line cloud storage system (Buzzsaw) was implemented. This involved the delivery team having access to iPad2's that allowed the transfer and use of real time data with staff and customers, including latest surveys & specifications, photographs and the capture of customer satisfaction upon project completion. This enabled progress and performance KPIs to be monitored in real time. Residents could view photos illustrating the work to be done and the options they could choose from.
The debate on delivering your maintenance service in-house or using external partner shas become a particularly important one.. The rise in VAT has prompted many organisations to consider bringing their repairs in-house. In a recent report Mike Jones of HQN stated "that since the increase in VAT, 16 organisations had either brought the service, or were planning to bring the service back in-house by the end of this year, with many more to follow in 2012". There are advantages and disadvantages to both, but why compromise when there is a third way that delivers the best of both. Harvest Housing Group established a joint employment initiative with Cruden and PH Jones in November 2007. The workforce is jointly employed by Harvest and the service provider; customer service benefits have been significant; access to contractor expertise is still there, and the potential savings on VAT are the icing on the cake!
The maintenance partnership between Dartford Borough Council and Breyer Group places residents at the forefront of decision making and has innovation stamped throughout. Here resident's voices were firmly rooted even from the outset as they took part in formulating the initial tender. The views and needs of residents have been sowed into the very fabric of the partnership, ensuring their voices are enshrined for the duration of the contract. In April 2010 the planned maintenance and responsive repairs contract was awarded to Breyer B Line, a division of the Breyer Group. This 7 year £6m contract is to provide maintenance and repairs to Dartford Borough Council's stock of 4,400 homes, 370 leasehold homes and 1,300 garages. Breyer and Dartford were keen to adopt a gradualist approach, giving the relationship time to develop. This stepped way of working is different to many traditional "partnerships".
The evolution of WPH's asset management and maintenance service review can be traced back to customer feedback stemming from research undertaken in 2009. In response Wirral Partnership Homes undertook a fundermental review of its approach to the provision of quality housing and quality services for customers. The review focused on repairs and maintenance, capital investment, development and improving efficiency. The reviews outcome resulted in improved customers satisfaction levels of 95.9%, service delivery savings in excess of £1.5m and the lauch of a 400 unit new build programme.
Norwich City Council has developed some innovative approaches to promoting gas safety for all, and raising awareness for the next generation. Working in partnership with the Gas Safe Register, our contractor, local high schools, tenants and leaseholders to raise awareness of gas safety, we are leading the way forward to ensure that our communities are a safer place to live. With a user friendly website, purely to promote gas safety and contact for gas related issues, and our ongoing work within our local communities including working with high schools and young people, we have not only maintained access to our properties in accordance with the Gas Safety Regulations for a 4 year period, but we have raised the levels of gas safety awareness across a diverse range of people and communities, and continue to promote the safe use of gas to all.