A Christmas Message from NHC Chief Executive Jo Boaden

jo-boadenAs 2016 draws to a close there will be many things we will reflect upon – significant political developments both nationally and internationally, a recognition that housing should be seen as part of the nation’s infrastructure needs, the planned creation of a separate regulator for the social housing sector, changes to the Housing & Planning Act and many many more.

One of the highlights of the year for me has been the work of the Commission for Housing in the North and I’d like to thank those members who have supported the Commission. You have all given your time and expertise to help shape what I hope is a powerful voice for the North and the springboard for us to secure the right framework to deliver the right homes in the right places. I was pleased that the residential offer element of the Northern Powerhouse Strategy echoed the work of the Commission in so many ways.

It was not just the outputs of the Commission that I valued so much but also the way in which it represented how the NHC can and will be working. At its heart was the NHC acting to connect members which each other and with new partners or stakeholders. The Commission has also demonstrated the value that we can drive by ensuring we are close to our members, engaged with you across all aspects of your businesses.

I am looking forward to continuing this approach in 2017 and we have reshaped the way in which we work to ensure we can be in the best place to support you in achieving your aspirations.

On behalf of everyone at the NHC I wish you a Happy Christmas and best wishes for 2017.

North East Asbestos Group Welcomes Housing Associations

The North East Area Asbestos Management Group was formed in 2009 as a forum for council representatives to discuss common problems and share best practice.

As asbestos management is as diverse as it is similar, a decision has been made to open this group to now include housing associations from across the region.

If you have responsibility for asbestos management within your association and this is something you would be interested in attending, please contact Alison Harvey, County Durham Housing Group Compliance Manager  at alison.harvey@cdhg.co.uk or call 0191 349 7594.

Landlords come Together to Develop Gas Safety across the North East

Managing gas safety in a social housing environment can be complex and challenging, so a group of North East Landlords have come together to share best practice within their organisations with the aim of improving gas safety and driving up gas safety awareness across North East homes and communities.

Gas, Asset and Compliance Managers representing 15 social landlords with more than 200,000 homes, employing over 400 gas engineers attend quarterly meetings to discuss and share best practice and lessons learnt, develop a collaborative approach to developing key processes and procedures, and benchmark gas related performance and management.

The North East Gas Group have set up the North East Auditor Group with the objective of developing a standard and collaborative approach to quality and compliance audits which aims to share resources to demonstrate an independent assessment of work carried out within their organisations, assist with Independent Incident investigations which all provides excellent value for money for customers.

If you would like to understand more about the North East Gas Group or the North East Auditor Group, please contact Rob Wilcox, North East Gas Group Chair on 01642 836029 or drop him an email at robert_wilcox@cchousing.org.uk

The NHC is the new Chair of the North East Maintenance Forum

We are pleased to announce that the Northern Housing Consortium (NHC), the organisation to which Consortium Procurement belongs, is the new chair of the North East Maintenance Forum. This quarterly forum allows its members to discuss a number of topics, all focussed on the practical elements of maintenance delivery across their housing stocks. The forum provides members with the fantastic opportunity to exchange information as well as contact details and to discuss any pressing maintenance related topics that may be of concern within their organisation.

The forum is currently made up of 15 housing associations and councils across the North East area, however is open to anyone wishing to better understand and share housing maintenance best practice.

The next meeting is scheduled for 25th January at the NHC offices (Sunderland) and will focus on ISOS housing sharing their experience of multiskilling of in-house maintenance operatives.

If you would be interested in attending this group please contact nicola.benson@consortiumprocurement.org.uk by 10th January 2017.

Highlights of 2016 – Consortium Procurement

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What a difference a year makes! This time last year we were still based at our old home at the Ropery building in Sunderland. This time last year we were working hard to be able to say that we have managed to save our members a grand total of £11m through fair, open and transparent procurement exercises. And this time last year we didn’t know that 45 more new members would join us in 2016 allowing us to give them peace of mind while saving them money.

One year on, we have continued to build on our successes and adapt our services and frameworks so that they are fully responsive the needs of our members. Despite a rapidly changing business environment we have maintained our headline mission, namely to act as a first point of call to our members whenever they needed us.

Here is a look back at what we have helped to make possible and what we have achieved in 2016:

  • We launched our re-freshed frameworks for Asbestos Management Services andHeating Systems in April
  • We launched our product catalogue to complement our existing framework for Property Adaptations and Stairlifts on 1st December
  • We are currently re-developing two of our existing frameworks. The re-freshed Tenants’ Contents Insurance framework and re-freshed framework for Property Safety and Security will be added to our portfolio in 2017.
  • In conjunction with HACT, we produced the Social Value Toolkit in a bid to help our members measure the impact of implementing social value in their procurement strategies. Louise Chase, Procurement Manager at Consortium Procurement said: “Ensuring our members’ social value priorities are supported through our procurement activity has been a long standing priority for the Consortium. We understand that delivering social value in contracts is important to our members however we know it can be difficult to balance compliance with the procurement regulations and add social value.”
  • Following its introduction, we have undertaken a review of the requirements under The Modern Slavery Act 2015 and we are committed to ensuring the suppliers on our frameworks are fully compliant with them. We now include a compliance check within the selection stage of our new frameworks. We have organised a training event on The Modern Slavery Act 2015 for our members to make sure they understand all requirements for themselves and their supply chains.
  • Consortium Procurement continued to facilitate the Procurement Reference Panel meetings on a quarterly basis. This informal network provides a perfect forum for procurement professionals from our membership to meet, share best practice, discuss current and emerging procurement issues, and explore opportunities for collaboration. We will be looking to organise a panel meeting with our Midlands members in March 2017.
  • In 2016 our procurement team completed a bespoke procurement exercise(procurement of Occupational Health) on behalf of Incommunities Group Ltd and has commenced work on another exercise on behalf of County Durham Housing Group. Penny Gilyard, Assistant HR Director at Incommunities Group Ltd said: “The bespoke service received from Consortium Procurement was to a very high standard and the procurement team provided invaluable advice and support all the way through the process which was extremely reassuring.”
  • We hosted Consortium Procurement’s Village at the Chartered Institute of Housing’s Annual Conference and Exhibition in Manchester for a sixth consecutive year. It enabled us to convey the full range of solutions offered by Consortium Procurement. We also exhibited at some of the biggest procurement events and exhibitions including Procurex North, South and Wales, the North West Telecare event as well as the TSA Connected Care, Homes and Communities event.
  • We have grown our twitter network gaining around 200 more followers since this time last year. Thank you twitter peeps!.

The Consortium Procurement team would like to thank our membership for your continued support and loyalty. May 2017 bring us all success and prosperity!

Consortium Procurement Reference Panel Meeting in the Midlands

The Consortium has facilitated a series of Procurement Reference Panel meetings over the last six years. This informal network provides a quarterly forum for procurement professionals from our membership to meet, help shape our framework development plan; share best practice, discuss current and emerging procurement issues, and explore opportunities for collaboration.

Following the success of the Northern Procurement Reference Panel, we are planning to expand this to our Midlands members. We would like to encourage our membership based in/around the Midlands area which would like to participate in our next meeting to let us know as soon as possible.

There is no obligation to attend regularly and we contact the group in advance for agenda items to ensure the sessions are focused and topical each time.

The last meeting’s agenda covering a range of topics including

  • Impact of the EU Referendum
  • Social value in procurement
  • Open Book Contract Management

There are only 20 spaces available for the session which is being held on Tuesday, 14th March 2017 at the The Wrekin Housing Trust offices (Old Park Offices, Colliers Way, Telford, TF3 4AW).

Please forward this information on to any colleagues within your organisation who may be interested in attending.

For more information please contact Nicola Benson on 0191 566 1000 or by email at Nicola.benson@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Did you know you have a dedicated Account Executive for all your procurement needs?

Here at Consortium Procurement we have a team of three Account Executives, whose role is to assist you with anything you may need from us. Whether it is further information on a framework, a question on procurement processes or to come along and meet with you to discuss how we can help, they are always available.

Every one of our Account Executives covers a specific geographic area of the United Kingdom and looks after organisations in the following areas.

  • Alistair Merchant – County Durham, Northumberland, North Yorkshire, Merseyside, Cheshire, West Midlands, Wiltshire, Worcestershire, Gloucestershire, Staffordshire, Berkshire, Somerset, Herefordshire, Oxfordshire, Surrey, West Sussex, Hampshire, Dorset, Devon, Cornwall, Wales
  • Sam Walton – Tyne and Wear, Cumbria, West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, Lincolnshire, Greater Manchester, Norfolk, Suffolk, South East, Cambridgeshire, Essex, Kent, East Sussex
  • Tony Robinson covers – Teesside, Lancashire, East Yorkshire, North Lincolnshire, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire, Leicestershire, Northamptonshire, Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire, London, Bedfordshire

Please don’t hesitate to contact them, should you require any information or would you like to arrange a meeting to see how Consortium Procurement can help you.

You can get in touch with them via telephone or email:

  • Alistair Merchant

0191 566 1039 / 07568106238 / alistair.merchant@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

  • Sam Walton

0191 566 1036 / 07568106239 / sam.walton@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

  • Tony Robinson

0191 566 1025 / 07568109486 / tony.robinson@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Please circulate this information to colleagues within you organisation who may find it useful, however we will be sending a further email in due course with more details on how we can help you.

Your Account Executive will be in touch directly over the next few weeks to introduce himself.

NHC supports DCLG announcement – Government will not proceed with compulsory income based rents (”pay to stay”)

Since the Housing and Planning Bill came into being the NHC has sought to work constructively with the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) to ensure it fully understood the issues that could arise from the “pay to stay” policy. The civil servants we engaged with were always keen to hear the views of NHC members and we thank them for the time they gave us.

We are pleased that CLG officials and Ministers have taken the views of our members on board in reaching this decision not to proceed with the policy as originally intended. The NHC remains committed to working with our members and relevant government departments to provide constructive feedback on policy impacts and have secured policy change on the back of this engagement. Our members value these opportunities with civil servants and we will continue to work collaboratively across our membership to ensure the concerns and ambitions of housing in the North are recognised and supported.

To read the full announcement from DCLG, please click here.

The NHC Releases Second Universal Credit Impact Report

The Northern Housing Consortium has today released its ‘Impact of Universal Credit, Round 2’ report. The second in a series of four (read here), this report builds on the results of the first report published in July (read here). The research investigates how the implementation and continuing rollout of Universal Credit is affecting housing organisations in the north.

This new update collects trend data and draws comparisons between the full survey results with the returned data from North West housing provider respondents to ascertain whether working with the Universal Credit (UC) system for a longer time affects respondents’ experiences of the system. Some of the key findings from the Round 2 report are:

  • More than a third of the respondents said that tenants had terminated their own tenancy as a direct result of UC
  • Almost all organisations that debit tenants’ rent account in advance found UC payment in arrears caused them difficulties
  • 5% of organisations have introduced credit reference checks to prospective tenants as a result of UC implementation
  • 9% of respondents have experienced delays in processing UC claims

The NHC will continue to use its findings to engage with the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) officials through the NHC’s roundtable programme to raise members’ concerns and experiences. The NHC will work with DWP to make the new system as smooth as possible for tenants, housing providers and DWP alike.

Future rounds of the survey will be announced in the NHC eZine but there is also a dedicated contact list for anyone interested in taking part in the project. To ensure you are able to participate in future rounds, please contact Barry Turnbull, Policy Services Officer at barry.turnbull@northern-consortium.org.uk.

Procurement of TECS – a look ahead tweet chat

Join us on Friday, 18th November between 12:30pm – 1:30pm

Following a successful first tweet chat we hosted in June prior to the biggest housing event of the year – the CIH Housing Conference, we have our second one planned for Friday, 18th November at 12:30pm.

We are excited to invite assisted living providers, digital health providers, procurement and housing professionals and influencers in the market as well as others interested in the rapid advance of technology in health to join the conversation.

We have titled this second tweet chat: Procurement of TECS – a look ahead as we will be discussing how TECS is currently being procured as well as ways the industry could improve its approaches. We have prepared three questions to form the basis of our tweet chat:

Q1: Many believe public sector TECS purchasing to be unconnected, uncompetitive and often non-compliant. What are your thoughts?

Q2: How can the industry improve how TECS is commissioned and procured?

Q3: What do you anticipate your future needs being in terms of assisted living/TECS?

You can join or follow the tweet chat using #CPTECs.

Looking forward to tweeting with you! Join the conversation at lunchtime on Friday 18 November 2016!