Just Housing Group is a niche provider of consultancy, interim support and systems. Our experience and market insight allows us to add value, creativity and clarity to the challenges facing the sector. Our team appreciates how hard it can be to tackle long standing organisational problems, manage value for money pressures and cope with the ever increasing demand on scarce resources. We shape our solutions against that backdrop.
Our team are steeped in social housing and the public sector but with a commercial edge. We know what works and what doesn’t, what can be implemented and what can’t. Working with you we will provide bold, yet pragmatic advice and support. Our networks and relationships mean that we have an intimate understanding of the political and economic environment and as a result will always find imaginative, yet grounded, ways of adapting and responding to the ever changing social housing landscape.
Portfolio Summary – Just Housing – our last 12 months
2019 has seen us work with two London Boroughs to build better structures for engaging with their residents. Both projects have developed new local arrangements that offer easier and more focused access to councillors and allow greater resident influence over the process of engagement.
Modernising engagement to encourage more effective resident involvement in both strategic and operational matters that shape local services and the lives of residents living on council estates seems to us to be an important priority. This is particularly true with so much pressure on housing budgets.
Residents have a wealth of knowledge and experience as ‘customers’ of local services. However, if the working relationship with the council – its landlord – is not right then services are unlikely to meet expectations. Unlocking this potential seems to us to be an important objective.
There is limited external expertise available to social landlords to support major procurement exercises. Over the last 18 months we have worked closely with two London Boroughs developing and delivering their repairs strategy and subsequent procurement of future services. This has included setting up direct labour teams with a particular focus on tackling communal repairs (a constant area of concern for residents) and providing local training and employment opportunities.
We are also working with a London Borough to develop and deliver its procurement solution for major works, cleaning and concierge services. The major works element work has been deeply influenced by residents and the solution has been shaped by their involvement.
Our approach to procurement is built around understanding all stakeholder priorities and how the service needs to improve from its current position. We then create a procurement model that will facilitate that improvement.
Smaller Housing Associations
We have delivered a number of projects for smaller housing associations in 2019 including providing call centre services, undertaking stock condition surveys, building investment models, developing asset management strategies, supporting functions such as repairs and procuring contractors for various services.
The smaller Associations can find it difficult to attract staff and contractors and the potential to join up around procurement, systems, contracting out or setting up joint direct delivery teams is huge.
We have set ourselves the challenge of persuading more organisations of the benefits of this type of approach. The savings, efficiencies and service improvements that could follow are substantial
Over the last 12 months we have undertaken a number of organisational reviews to critique existing services and build new structures and ways of working. This has included projects with landlords in Wales, East Anglia, the South West and London.
An external review of how services work is an important part of landlord governance and we have looked at different service areas including repairs, asset management, systems design, cleaning and grounds maintenance, executive structures and overall operating models.
An important part of this process is benchmarking with other organisations and sector peers. This is key to our offer and something that clients feel is an essential element of the review process.
In 2019 we have also been involved in reviewing the commercial aspects of the termination of existing contracts and the transition from current to future arrangements. We undertake this work in partnership with Grichan Consulting and have been deeply involved in resolving complex commercial arrangements over the last 12 months.
We see this as a growing area of potential support for many local authorities and registered providers. Providing this expertise and assurance in managing the handover from one contractor to another is an important part of the due diligence process and is key to achieving value for money.
The reporting of performance and management of data are increasingly important to delivering better services that are transparent and accountable to residents, communities and other stakeholders. During 2019 we have undertaken a number of projects to set up dynamic and interactive reporting frameworks. This has covered repairs, major works and more general performance indicators.
The days of pages and pages of performance numbers that are difficult to read and analyse, are always out of date and cannot be easily manipulated and drilled into are going. However, getting there needs support and we now have a small expert team providing this service.
We are looking forward to 2020. We believe that our expertise and experience will be more relevant than ever. The pressure on budgets, need to demonstrate value for money, the drive for greater service transparency, the importance of more effective engagement with customers, the challenge of large scale procurement and the trend towards delivery through local direct teams are all areas where we can help you.