South Tyneside Homes
South Tyneside Homes is a non-profit making ALMO responsible for managing 18,000 homes on behalf of South Tyneside Council.
PfH caught up with Dave Cutting, Head of Asset Management and Hannah Hoskins, Policy and Projects Officer at South Tyneside who shared their experience of PfH.
What are the main benefits of working with PfH?
We only started working closely with PfH in January 2010 and are already making considerable savings. The Agreements in place with PfH provide us with the perfect opportunity to deliver real efficiencies in our work.
Our recent procurement of B&Q's Decorating Vouchers through PfH, and the annual rebate this will generate, is a great example of how PfH is helping us to do ‘more for the same' during the Decent Homes programme.
While Decent Homes raises housing standards across South Tyneside, the needs and expectations of our tenants are also changing. We have promised our tenants that we will continually improve our services to meet their needs and expectations. By making efficiency savings through PfH we will be one step closer to delivering our promises.
It's not just the financial reinvestment we can generate through PfH that makes the difference for us. The integration of social and environmental sustainability and equality and diversity criteria in the tender evaluation process compliments our own commitments in these areas.
What volume of business do you put through PfH's Agreements?
Decoration payments made to tenants having work carried out in their home represent about 75% of the business we are currently putting through B&Q using the PfH Decorating Voucher Agreement. The remaining 25% of business is from the decoration payments we give to new tenants when they first move into one of the properties we manage.
In our first full month of issuing the B&Q Decorating Cards to our tenants we issued over 400 cards representing more than £60,000 in payments to help them with the cost of decorating their home after works or after moving in.
How has central billing helped to streamline your purchasing? What challenges did you face when setting up central billing?
As an organisation that does not normally use Direct Debit, we have had to make a number of changes to internal processes in order to comply with central billing. However, this has been made easier for us by PfH's central billing team who liaised with our own team to support us through the changes and provide the necessary time in which to make these changes.
What savings do you expect to make annually? How do you plan to reinvest your procurement cost savings?
With the annual rebate we will make savings of 13.5%. In cash terms this will allow us to reinvest tens of thousands of pounds in improved services for our tenants.
Our tenants will also benefit from B&Q's national ‘discount days' as well as permanent discounts; over 45% of our tenants are over 60 which means they can take advantage of B&Q's Diamond Scheme whereby they can receive a 10% discount every Wednesday.
We are currently trialling the B&Q scheme and our first annual rebate is due in September 2010. The saving, and those in future years, will be reinvested in service improvements that address our tenants' key priorities including:
• Home improvements;
• Tackling anti-social behaviour;
• A well-maintained environment outside the home;
• A good repairs service; and
• Tenant friendly services that put customers first
What do you expect PfH to achieve for the sector in the longer term?
We expect PfH to continue to help us deliver efficiencies in works that form part of the green and renewable energy agenda and of course in social housing new build programmes.
Collaborative procurement enables us to reap significant benefits both in delivering value for money and building sustainable communities for the future. For example, in our heating replacement programme we have already delivered the installation over 1,300 new energy efficient heating systems.
What would you say to other housing organisations that are considering becoming a PfH Member?
PfH provides an effective and efficient procurement option to help us because the tender evaluation process and ongoing contract management saves us valuable time and money which helps us to continue to meet tenant expectations and achieve the timescales for programmes of work.
Looking at our successes so far with the PfH Decorating Voucher Agreement, I would seriously encourage others in the sector to consider membership to PfH.
We are now exploring a number of other Agreements within the PfH portfolio.