Heart of England Housing Group
Group Deputy Chief Executive
Number of properties and location:
The Group comprises an RSL, South Warwickshire Housing Association and a company providing residential care for older persons, Heart of England Housing & Care Ltd. The housing stock of 5,800 is predominantly in South Warwickshire with some properties in Redditch, Solihull and Daventry. The 9 care homes are in Worcestershire and these provide 449 rooms of accommodation. The Group has an in-house maintenance contractor, Heart of England Property Services, and they are increasing the range of works they can do for SWHA and HOE Care and they offer their services externally to RSLs and other clients.
Why did you join PfH?
We have a procurement strategy that requires achievement of value for money and the use of purchasing consortia is seen as a key element in this. PfH is focused on the housing sector and they have plans to expand their range to cover goods and services that we use in the care company.
What benefits has PfH created for your organisation?
PfH has delivered savings on office supplies, utilities, telecoms and building supplies. We expect to expand this into other areas such as food.
We asked the PfH building materials' suppliers to help us improve our stores purchases for HOE Property Services. The outcome from this is an arrangement with Buildbase whereby they provide and staff a stores facility at our depot in Stratford upon Avon. This commenced on 1 October 2006 and is already proving a success. It has improved control over the purchase of building materials, standardisation of quality, information and coding of purchases and our cash flows.
How has central billing helped to streamline your purchasing?
Central billing has resulted in a reduction in the quantity of invoices received, and a reduction in the time needed for invoice processing. The benefits from this will increase as the level of expenditure through PfH increases.
Was central billing difficult to set up?
No more than setting up a single supplier. There is time to check bills before direct debits are taken so there is no loss of control.
What savings do you expect to make annually?
On building materials alone we expect to save over £100,000 a year. It is always difficult to quantify savings in other areas because of the wide range of items and the price offers that prevail in office supplies, telecoms and utilities. However, I estimate that we could easily be saving a further £100,000 a year.
How will your residents and their neighbourhoods benefit from this reinvestment?
Cashable savings are utilised in improving our services to tenants and residents. This can be seen particularly in the acceleration of our major works and improvements programmes on properties and estates.
What do you expect PfH to achieve for the sector in the longer term?
As membership increases, PfH's purchasing power will increase and we expect to benefit from keener pricing. We are also aware of PfH's plans to expand the range of items they procure and we will take advantage of this.
What would you say to other housing organisations that are considering becoming a PfH member?
As an existing member I would say "please join" as we will benefit as well as you. I am happy to recommend PfH because they have made a positive impact on our business.