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.

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!

Have you inspected your properties for water diseases? We offer the best solution

Consortium Procurement is delighted to announce that after a detailed and comprehensive procurement process, we have added one more fully EU compliant framework to our portfolio of frameworks.

Our framework for Legionella and Water Treatment Services provides a flexible route to procuring services from suitably qualified and experienced companies, that can assist duty holders fulfil their legal duties in line with the Health and Safety Executive Guidance, HSG274.

The following eight organisations were successfully appointed to the Framework Agreement:

  • BIOCHEMICA UK Ltd.
  • CLEARWATER TECHNOLOGY Ltd.
  • GRAHAM ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES
  • HARTLEPOOL BOROUGH COUNCIL
  • HBE RISK MANAGEMENT
  • HERTEL SOLUTIONS Ltd.
  • MSM ENVIRONMENTAL SERVICES Ltd.
  • NWG ENVIRONMENTAL SOLUTIONS

This new framework has been developed into four separate lots in order to recognise the importance of social values and of encouraging small and medium enterprises (SME’s) to be involved in the tendering process:

  • Lot 1 – Consultancy for Legionella and other waterborne pathogens
  • Lot 2 – Consultancy for Legionella and other waterborne pathogens (including cooling towers, evaporators, swimming pools, hydro spas)
  • Lot 3 – Water quality system maintenance for Legionella and other waterborne pathogens
  • Lot 4 – Water quality system maintenance for Legionella and other waterborne pathogens (including cooling towers, evaporators, swimming pools, hydro spas)

All Consortium Procurement frameworks are let under the European Union Procurement Directive and are fully compliant with its rules and regulations and we know from previous experience that this saves our members a lot of time and hassle.

What is more, our procurement professionals strive to deliver best service to our members by also taking the risk off their shoulders and ensuring legal requirements are fully met.

If you would like to receive further information on the framework, please give us a ring on 0191 566 1000 or email us at solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Procurement Reference Panel meeting briefing – September 2016

Our quarterly procurement reference panel took place on the 22nd September, with this meeting’s agenda covering a range of topics including the Impact of the EU Referendum, Social Value Toolkit and Open Book Contract Management.

The panel meetings are great opportunities for procurement professionals from our membership to meet, share best practice, discuss current and emerging procurement issues, and explore opportunities for collaboration. An overview of what was discussed at this panel is below.

  • Impact of the EU Referendum

The panel held a discussion around how organisations are feeling after the results of the EU Referendum with regards to their procurement practices. The general consensus was there has been no immediate impact on procurement processes or regulations. It was felt however that there will be more of an impact on costs increasing (labour costs appear to be more concerning than material costs) due to the instability of the exchange rate.

  • Social Value Toolkit

With the recent launch of the Social Value Toolkit, we were keen to hear how it is helping organisations with their responsibilities under the social value act. There appear to be differing opinions with regards to Social Value, where some organisations are focusing more closely on it; other organisations are stripping it out of their procurement processes altogether.

  • Open Book Contract Management

The panel discussed Open Book Contract Management as there has been a recent PPN regarding this, and how other organisations are dealing with it. The general consensus is that this only works if you have the resources to carry it out properly.

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

If you would be interested in finding out more about the Procurement Reference Panel, or reading minutes of previous meetings, please contact Louise Chase – Procurement and Contracts Manager louise.chase@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Social Value Toolkit – everything you need to know about social value in procurement

Given the shifting housing landscape in recent years and considering its significant impact on budgets and resources, HACT, together with like-minded supporters and peers felt the need to implement an informative and useful toolkit to support housing organisations keep themselves up-to-date with new practices. The implementation of new ways of working and innovative approaches has brought the delivery of social value in procurement into the spotlight.

HACT commenced working on the development of the Social Value Toolkit almost a year ago and not long after Consortium Procurement jumped on board to provide support and guidance.

The financial landscape for Housing Providers has shifted dramatically in recent times. As a result of policy and legislative changes, Housing Providers are expect­ed to deliver more to their residents than ever before, but with less resource. Given these complications, we believe the toolkit will act as a one-stop-shop for Housing Providers who intend to implement social value within their strategies and working processes. More so, the project intends to bridge the gap between the requirements of the social housing sector, public bodies and other housing organisations by drawing on in depth research practices and precise social impact measurement.

The development of the toolkit and the positive feedback we have received so far foreshows the need of further steps towards ensuring social value is understood and implemented by more organisations.

As a membership organisation, Consortium Procurement strives to deliver best service and on-going support at the highest level to its members. We have embarked on this project together with HACT because we listen to our members. We have been receiving numerous queries in regards to the implementation of social value in their procurement processes. We believe that by working on the development of the Social Value Toolkit, we can support our members with access to relevant information and advice.

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. We have a longstanding relationship with HACT and were delighted to participate in such an innovative, clear and focussed toolkit to really help our members understand how they can compliantly include social value in their contracts.”

HACT do nothing but their best to spread the word about the Social Value Toolkit as much as possible so that more Housing Associations get the chance to benefit from it. They have recently implemented a new referral programme it already gives excellent outcomes. As a part of the programme dedicated Housing Associations send representatives of their supply chain organisations to HACT to learn more about the approach. If those supply chain organisation decide to take up a licence to use the Social Value Bank, HACT will provide half a day of training back to the referring organisation at no cost.

Mary-Kathryn Rallings Adams, Director of Research at HACT said: “The idea behind this process is to continue curating a network of like-minded organisations committed to truly delivering social value through procurement.”

“Throughout the development of this toolkit, we have very much enjoyed working with delivery partners Trowers & Hamlins and echelon Consultancy Ltd, alongside our project partners Consortium Procurement, Affinity Sutton, North Hertfordshire Homes, Riverside, Thrive Homes, Wandle, AkzoNobel, Mulalley, United Living, and Wates. The aim in this piece of work was to focus specifically on how both commissioners and contractors could generate maximum social value and how they could evidence the value created clearly, consistently and robustly. We look forward to working with Consortium Procurement and our other project partners and supporters in the coming months to embed the toolkit,” she added.

The toolkit is freely available for download here. If you would like to understand more about this project, please do not hesitate to get in touch with Louise Chase, Procurement Manager at Consortium Procurement at louise.chase@consortiumprocurement.org.uk

Compliance in procurement and its pivotal role in the sector

Consortium Procurement has been offering procurement services to the public sector for more than 20 years. Our experience tells us that this process can be daunting and fraught with uncertainties.

As leaders in the public sector for procurement services, compliance is a key priority for us and we ensure that our framework agreements are fully compliant with EU and UK procurement regulations.

Our wide ranging portfolio of frameworks offers solutions – from Housing and Asset Management to Independent Living and to Tenancy Sustainability. Our procurement team has paid special attention when developing our frameworks to ensure the specifications are compliant with procurement regulations and relevant industry standards.

Those frameworks are:

  • Heating Services (Domestic & Commercial) – we have secured our members with a compliant route to procure their gas requirements under our Heating Services framework. Members are required to comply with the Gas Safety Regulations 1998 which has been covered in this framework.
  • Passenger Lifts – this framework has been designed to provide our members with a flexible and cost-effective route to procuring Installation, Maintenance or Consultancy services for the Passenger Lifts, Stair lifts and Escalators. The framework has been developed in line with the Lifting Operations and Lifting Equipment Regulations (LOLER).
  • Asbestos Management Services – The Control of Asbestos Regulations 2012 (CAR) cover work with all types of asbestos containing material. Our members have specific duties placed upon them under these regulations as “duty holders” or employers, and as landlords. For local authorities and social housing providers, this can have a substantial effect on the management of their buildings, premises and properties.
  • Legionella and Water Treatment Services – this framework is fully compliant with the HSE Guidance HSG274 and The Legionella Control Association (LCA) Codes of Conduct enabling anybody with responsibility for hot and cold water systems to endure they are serviced and maintained properly.

Louise Chase, Procurement Manager at Consortium Procurement said: “In the increasingly litigious market we find ourselves in, it is vital that organisations comply with the relevant procurement and industry requirements for any activity they undertake. We do nothing but our best to ensure our frameworks fully comply with the 2015 public contract regulations and relevant industry standards.”

If you would like to understand more about our portfolio of frameworks or if you have any questions, you can give us a call on 0191 566 1000 or drop us an email on solutions@consortiumprocurement.org.uk