Keeping the ‘frozen north’ warm

Two leading social landlords operating along the length of Hadrian’s Wall and beyond, are joining forces in a new, cooperative company, to provide cost effective heating services to their customers.

Isos Housing, based in Newcastle, and Two Castles Housing, with offices in Carlisle and Newcastle, are working together on the new business venture called Isos Complete Support (ICS) which launches on Wednesday, April 1st.

The provision of a reliable, high quality heating service is a crucial area for any social landlord, to keep residents safe, and to ensure compliance with a tight regulatory regime.

Following a successful experience working together on a previous occasion, the two businesses decided on the united approach after Two Castles suggested the innovative partnership with Isos could lead to an improved service for its customers.

ICS will utilise the skills of Isos’s award winning heating team, already looking after 12,500 Isos homes, and expand that high quality provision to 2,300 Two Castles homes in Cumbria and the North East.

The Isos heating team works predominantly on gas powered heating systems, but Isos

engineers are also fully trained on oil and solid fuel systems, and renewable heating such as air source heat pumps, ground source heat, and solar thermal installations.

Five new members of staff will be required in total, working alongside the existing 18 strong heating team employed by Isos.

ICS has been formed as a ‘cost sharing company’ (also known as a cost sharing vehicle) which allows any tax exempt organisation like housing associations and schools to provide services without paying VAT.

Thanks to the partnership, Two Castles’ customers will benefit from a high-quality service from the Isos team. In addition, Isos can deliver its services to Two Castles at cost, making the service more competitive on price and ensuring good value for money.

Already, other organisations are expressing an interest in joining Isos and Two Castles in this cost sharing vehicle so they can also make savings. In the long term, Isos hopes to extend the scope of Isos Complete Support to include other services across its business.

Cost sharing vehicles are an EU-driven initiative, so there are strict rules to follow, including setting up Isos Complete Support as a separate company. This new business will officially sit within the Isos family, but will have its own name and its own board to oversee it.

Bill Tuddenham, general manager of Isos Property Services, who will oversee the new company’s launch, said:

“We are excited at the opportunity of working with Two Castles Housing through the launch of Isos Complete Support. We have always been proud of the high standard of service provided by our heating team, and now we have the ability to take that service to a much wider audience.

“We are confident this will be the start of a very productive working relationship between our two organisations.

Rob Brittain of Two Castles, said: “We spotted an opportunity to work with Isos on this project and both companies stand to benefit from our innovative partnership. By working together, Two Castles can benefit from a high-quality, reliable service that ensures the safety of our customers whilst also delivering value for money.

“The partnership is a fantastic opportunity for Two Castles and Isos alike to lead the way with this innovative new way of working.”

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group investing in affordable homes

Wythenshawe Community Housing Group is investing in the future of Wythenshawe and supporting the Homes for Britain campaign by building new homes for residents of Wythenshawe. They recently celebrated the completion of three developments and welcomed new tenants at the following locations:

  • 12 two bedroomed bungalows at Glade Brook Gardens, in Brownley Green
  • 12 two bedroomed and two four-bedroomed bungalows on Scout Drive, Newall Green
  • Six two bedroomed apartments on Altrincham Road, Baguley

Part funded by the Homes and Communities Agency, these homes have been built to the very latest standards in quality, design and efficiency to provide tenants with attractive, safe, secure and comfortable homes.

Local MP for Wythenshawe, Mike Kane, Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of WCHG and Eddy Newman, Chair of the Board went along to meet with some of the new tenants and welcome them to their new homes.

Simon Sharpe, who moved into a two bed apartment on Altrincham Road when his former flat was identified for demolition, said:

“I am thrilled with my new apartment – it is perfect for me. I work at the Airport so the location is great – and the trams are really handy too.”

Sylvia and Alex Brennan are also delighted with their new bungalow on Glade Brook Gardens: “We needed to downsize from our family home just down the Road. It doesn’t feel like we have down-sized because the rooms are so spacious. I was struggling with the stairs in the house, and although it was a difficult decision to make at the time, it was the right one and the bungalow is perfect for us now.”

It is a similar story for Mary Erskine and David Dennis, who moved into a two bed bungalow on Scout Drive. Mary said” “We absolutely love it! The community spirit is fantastic as we all moved in together. In fact we are having a street party in June to commemorate D-Day with our neighbours in the nearby Johannesburg Gardens community centre. There is such a lot going on – never a dull moment!”

Nigel Wilson, Group Chief Executive of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group, said: “Building new homes to meet the ever-growing needs of local people is a key priority for us. Since WCHG was formed two years ago, the Group has completed 135 new homes and invested over £13m in the area. We have a new build programme of 496 homes costing £60m between 2015-18, including Village 135 our £20m Extra Care Scheme on Hollyhedge Road/Brownley Road.

“We continue to work with the Homes and Communities Agency to provide a variety of much-needed homes for the people of Wythenshawe.”

Call of the North

This article originally appeared on the Inside Housing website.

It has become fashionable again to talk about regions. This is absolutely right – the northern regions are different to those in the south. They are as distinct as they are diverse. Living here can offer the most fantastic quality of life providing, for example, affordable homes in vibrant cities or the chance to live in incredibly beautiful countryside. There is another side, though, which is still deeply unfashionable to talk about – wrongly in my view – and that is about the challenge we face in tackling housing obsolescence. Read more

Expressions of interest: members network on data protection, security and data sharing (DATAnet)

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) found that social landlords needed to improve their policies in order to better comply with the Data Protection Act (DPA). This can be done by the use of encryption methods to protect personal data and/or have schedules in place for the disposal of data.

Housing providers handle a wide and varied range of personal data, including sensitive personal data about their tenants’ health, disabilities, and other personal information. The Northern Housing Consortium recognises its members’ need to ensure they are protecting this data while at the same time providing appropriate customer service and support.

Breaches around data protection are becoming an increasing concern across the sector, as well as worries about the impact this can have on the reputation of an organisation and how it can impact on the trust tenants have on their landlords and the relationship with other partners and organisations. More services have moved online, and increasingly sensitive data is being shared across departments.

Following the successful Data Protection for Housing Organisations event the NHC hosted in 2014, we have created DATAnet – a network for members around data protection and data sharing.

At the Northern Housing Consortium our members are collectively responsible for two thirds of social housing in the North. DATAnet will bring together peers from a wide range of housing providers to share knowledge, data, good working practices, and to solve problems.

DATAnet will focus on data protection and data sharing, this network will give you practical and sound knowledge and advice from peers and industry experts when you need it. The network is designed to bring together those involved in data protection and security, and provide an opportunity to learn from peers in the housing sector.

What will DATAnet provide?

  • Two meetings a year – hearing the latest updates and hearing from industry professionals.
  • Information and good practice exchange.
  • Forums through our Yammer network to ask questions and share information.
  • The opportunity to shape the content of future seminars and events around relevant topics.
  • Discounted rate for members to attend relevant seminars/events.

Costs:

£110 per meeting or £199 per annum for NHC members
£150 per meeting or £299 per annum for non NHC members

To register your interest please contact satty.rai@northern-consortium.org.uk.