The reaction to Theresa May’s speech on housing in February – in which she criticised property developers for not building enough homes and proposed new housing targets for local authorities – highlighted just how important the government understands the issue to be.
In the same month, Chancellor Philip Hammond announced plans to build 200,000 new homes across the UK. This £866 million investment in local housing projects is part of the government’s pledge to build 300,000 homes per year by the middle of the next decade. Then, in this year’s Spring Budget, the Chancellor revealed further plans to give London £1.67 billion for the construction of 27,000 affordable homes and an extra £220 million to the Housing Growth Partnership, a socio-economic initiative that provides equity capital to residential development projects.
Concerns over housing shortages are real. Every stakeholder in the sector, from housing developers to maintenance providers, is operating within dwindling budgets and this is curbing important areas such as capital investment spending and strategic investment projects.
These maintenance budgetary concerns are compounded by other challenges, too, including a shortage of skilled engineers and pressures on logistics thanks to increasing levels of traffic and congestion on London’s roads and infrastructure.
There are, however, ways for social housing organisations to offset these challenges and even improve their financial performance. Improving efficiencies and delivery structure and controls, for example, can make a huge difference.
With housing providers facing reduced budgets, maintenance providers can also create savings a range of areas. By carrying out electrical inspections and testing, maintenance providers can ensure that housing providers stay compliant to BS7671 (IET Wiring Regulations) and reduce risks and liability. Meanwhile, planned preventative maintenance in areas such as emergency lighting and lightening protection, as well as reliable responsive repairs, can minimise the damage and costs when disasters strike.
Efficiency is the keyword. Despite the logistics difficulties, today’s customers put an emphasis on speed. They require faster completion rates and first-time fixes to reduce attendances and to minimise inconvenience to the customer. And they need to meet these high standards while keeping costs to a minimum. It is imperative then that suppliers understand those customer needs and pressure points while being able to communicate effectively so that they may reduce the impact of any problems the customer might face.
This is where maintenance providers with experience in the commercial sector can help. By being flexible, proactive and sensitive to customers’ needs, suppliers can greatly reduce any issues. Under these circumstances, it is advantageous to have a provider that can self-deliver maintenance services, which relieves the customer of the risk and ensures that any problems are solved as quickly and as painlessly as possible.
With housing high on the agenda and housing organisations under more pressure than ever, an efficient and sophisticated maintenance programme can save vital money and improve customer service.
By Sven Stoyanov