'Time for repairs and maintenance to take centre stage.'
Housing organisations have been forced to rethink the way they provide repairs and maintenance in the light of financial pressures, but it's not just about doing the same with less, says Richard Medley, director of assets and neighbourhoods.
We spoke to Richard ahead of our Repairs and Maintenance Conference and Exhibition in May to find out more.
Do you think repairs and maintenance is overlooked?
I think it has been, but that has changed.
A few years ago we were talking about repairs and maintenance as the ‘Cinderella service’ but it is now rightly getting the attention it deserves. I think that’s because the funding and policy landscape has forced housing organisations to look where they can be more efficient and repairs and maintenance is typically a provider’s biggest cost service – so it’s where the biggest savings can potentially be made.
But I don’t think we need to see this as a negative; it’s a positive because this new focus means providers have a huge encouragement to look at smarter ways to do things.
What are the big challenges facing providers?
I think the biggest has to be cost, delivering what’s needed within the cost envelope available. Policies like the rent reduction and a host of other challenges mean housing organisations have to look at where they can save money, while at the same time making sure that all repairs deliver the maximum benefit to the asset.
But we need to think more broadly than just how do we deliver this crucial service for less money; it’s about how we completely rethink the way we provide repairs and maintenance as part of a wider more effective and efficient way of delivering asset investment.
For repairs and maintenance there’s been a significant emphasis on providing ever-higher quality services judged principally on things like response times and levels of customer satisfaction. While these measures are still important I think there are some big questions providers now need to ask about their overall service offer and how they make it fit for purpose given wider asset management and value for money objectives.
What are providers doing to meet these challenges?
I think there’s a key message about putting repairs at the heart of a wider, more effective approach to asset management; not just seeing the repairs and maintenance service in isolation.
We are seeing some providers take a real lead on this. They’re developing some really impressive ways to deliver repairs and maintenance which are really integrated into their whole asset management approach. These sorts of approaches have been recognised in the shortlisting of organisations for the best approach to repairs and maintenance in the UK Housing Awards.
Successful approaches like this see repairs and maintenance as a central part of sustaining tenancies as well as about maintaining properties. I think that this is a really good example of where thinking is going.
Why should people attend the Repairs and Maintenance Conference and Exhibition?
The CIH Repairs and Maintenance Conference comes at a critical time and is an ideal opportunity to come together to share ideas and best practice - to debate and explore some of the challenges we face in delivering what needed and how as a sector we’re going to tackle them.
It is one thing bouncing ideas around your own organisation and another benefiting from the different perspectives and experience that coming together with others can bring.
The sessions at the conference have been deliberately designed to be as interactive as possible, with panel and discussion sessions so people and people can really join in and shape the debate.
We’ve secured some great speakers from a range of organisations who will give some really valuable insight into the work they’ve been doing and will share their top tips.
Some are bigger organisations who have introduced some impressive innovative new approaches, others are smaller but have excelled in delivering some excellent initiatives, whilst others are mid-way through tackling their challenges and will talk about their journey so far. What we’ve want to do is to provide a programme that people can really learn and take away lessons from.
Our exhibition also offers a great opportunity for delegates to find out more about the latest approaches, products and technology available to assist in providing great repairs and maintenance services.
Richard Medley is director assets and neighbourhood at CIH Consultancy.
Book your place at the Repairs and Maintenance Conference and Exhibition before the end of March to receive a 10% discount.