Just Housing Group Working With B3 Living

In 2010 B3 Living, a Hertfordshire based Housing Association invited Just Housing to review its Repairs and Maintenance service which had been delivered by private contractors for many years.

B3 wanted to start from the resident’s perspective and engaged Just Housing Systems Thinking consultant Paul McCoy. He began a piece of work which led to revolutionising the understanding of service standards, costs and focus. It provided the opportunity for all members of staff working within the service to understand their particular role in creating a flexible and efficient service to residents. The review also included residents who were embedded within the review team. Once we really knew what we wanted to deliver, Just Housing were there again to help us decide ‘how’.

The result of the strategic service review was to internalise the service by creating a new in-house repairs service. Historically the repairs had always been of good quality with high satisfaction reported from residents. The main issues however were control and cost, which would both be put firmly into the association’s hands via TUPE transferring the operatives working on the contracts and creating our own repairs service.

With a clear mandate, Just Housing consultant Mike Wilson was appointed to manage the transformation.  This involved creating a new structure, purchasing a new depot (conveniently situated next to a trade supplier), procuring the materials supply contract, a fleet of vehicles and agreeing the Terms and Conditions. He worked closely with the B3living Executive Team and other key staff, and the operatives were made to feel valued and appreciated, but also expected to deliver in what was called the ‘two way street’ approach.

The new service was called SAM which stands for ‘send and mend’. This is the philosophy we adopted and was launched in 2012. The savings in year 1 were substantial and far exceeded the VAT saving from contractors as they also included our own efficiencies, the saving of the ‘clienting’ function and the added value of better reporting of vulnerabilities within our resident base.

Even more pleasing has been the year on year savings delivered since, whilst maintaining both quality and satisfaction. This is testament to the sustainable business model delivered. In addition, we have grown this model to take on more of our own capital works and bring  further business efficiencies, whilst meeting our decent homes obligations.

This transformation would not have been possible without the help from Paul and Mike who helped us see our service differently and open up the possibilities that bringing the work in-house provided. For B3, they can’t think of any other way they would rather be delivering their repairs.

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