Value for Money

Our vision of creating places where people are proud to live and work is the basis for all we do. Value for money (VfM) is about being effective in how we plan, manage and operate our business against an increasingly difficult economic and financial environment to ensure we make the best use of our resources to provide quality homes.

To us, value for money means using our resources efficiently to deliver quality services to customers, at an affordable cost. We aim to maximise the potential of our Group structure with shared and efficient services that provide value for money and support our aims of making the best use of our income, reduce our costs and improve our services.

In March 2016 our board agreed to adopt a value for money framework rather than specific strategy to enable us to embed value for money across all our day to day activities both strategic and operational.

Value for money is an integral part of our culture.  It is driven by the Group board who reviews the efficiency of our work and ensures that we comply with regulatory requirements.  Value for money is embraced by all staff and we encourage them to be innovative and find more efficient ways of providing a better service.

Value for money outcomes and achievements are reported within the annual Value for Money self assessment report in accordance with our regulator the Homes and Communities Agency’s (HCA) requirements.

View our 2015/16 value for money page here

Value for money contributes directly to our four key aims:

  • Providing excellent service – delivering excellence to our customers
  • Integrity – being honest in our dealings and keeping our promises
  • Valuing people – respectful, understanding, right first time and involving customers
  • Delivering creative solutions – innovation, meeting needs and maximising our impact in local communities.

For more details, please see our business strategy

Supplier Payments Terms – 2016/17

  • Proportion of valid & undisputed invoices paid within 30 days in accordance with regulation 113 – 75%
  • The amount of interest paid to suppliers due to a breach of the requirement in regulation 113 – Nil

The Government have recently issued guidance under Regulation 113 of the Public Contracts regulations, that asks Housing Associations to publish performance regarding payment of suppliers. The information above complies with this request and shows how many invoices we have paid within 30 days and how much interest WM Housing has paid due to late payment.

Key to our business effectiveness is understanding the business case of what we should get for our money before we spend it, what we got when evaluating and determining success to enable us to fully understand on assessing our VfM when comparing money spent on stock and operations (inputs)with value (outputs and outcomes.) Inputs are primarily measured in cash. Outputs and outcomes (social value) can be measured using:

  • social and economic benefits to individuals and communities
  • the quality of service and the consumer benefits to customers
  • environmental benefits
  • financial benefits – a return (surplus) for reinvestment; knock on benefits to other local services and taxpayer

WM Housing’s approach is to maximise the potential of our Group structure, with shared and efficient services that provide value for money and support our aims. Our federal structure continues to focus on our local associations that are in touch with local communities, supported by governance structures that deliver control, accountability and direct engagement with customers.

Value for money is central to the Group’s work. The further we make our money go, the more we can invest in improving customer’s, building new homes and developing services.

We have an asset base of more than 30,000 homes and 3,000 garages costing just under £1.4bn. We also have a substantial land portfolio of common areas and wider land holdings. Our turnover in 2016/17 was £150m. In 2016/17, our operating expenditure on social housing lettings was £99m.  Annually, across the Group, we  invest approximately £65m in stock maintenance, repair and improvement.

Every £1 spent analysis2016/172015/16 2014/15
Management0.100.110.13
Services0.100.080.08
Day-to-day maintenance0.230.210.19
Purchase and improvement of housing properties0.350.410.39
Interest costs0.190.170.19
Other costs0.030.020.02
TOTAL1.001.00 1.00

We intend to continue to grow as a housing group by building new homes, offering new services and encouraging other registered housing providers to join us. We believe that our federal structure is ideal for other registered housing providers. Our structure means our members can benefit from efficiency through economies of scale whilst maintaining local accountability to their customers.

During 2016/17, we built 211 new homes.

Expenditure on Social Housing Lettings

The table below shows the Group’s performance, as shown in the global accounts, compared peer group averages and best quartile data. All figures are cost per unit.

Headline
social
housing
Management Service
Charge
Maintenance Major
Repairs
Other social
housing costs
WM Housing Group3.480.630.441.141.140.14
Average for Peer Group3.861.000.411.060.830.56
Best quartile for Peer Group3.200.730.320.780.660.14

All surpluses are re-invested in the improvement of our homes and to subsidise the development of new affordable homes.

To help us to understand our costs such as planned and routine maintenance, empty properties, housing and estate management in more detail we compare them against other similar organisations within the Midlands (the M6 Group).  This analysis also includes cost comparisons for overheads, employees and premises. The outcomes are reported to boards and scrutiny panels and we use the information to improve efficiency.

To help us to understand how successful we are, what we should get for our money before we spend it and what we actually got when we review it, we compare the money we spend on our stock and operations (cash) with the value (outcomes.) We calculate outcomes by using:

  • Social and economic benefits to individuals and communities;
  • The quality of service and the benefits to customers;
  • Financial benefits – such as a return on reinvestment and the knock-on benefits to local services and taxpayers.

We want to achieve value for money in all that we do; therefore we have integrated our approach across the Group –

  • Assets – we are continually improving our understanding of the performance of our assets to ensure they are appropriately maintained and deliver good value for money whilst mitigating the risks.
  • Customers – we want to ensure that our customers are continually receiving value for money for their rent and service charges. We involve our customers in our decision making on service improvements.
  • Decision making – all decisions that commit to significant growth in expenditure are approved by the relevant board and are supported, as appropriate, by cost benefit appraisal.
  • Financial – Our budgets and business plans include efficiency targets and service improvements.
  • Governance – The parent board takes overall responsibility for agreeing budgets and establishing financial limits for the Group and its members and review the efficiency and effectiveness of our work.
  • Performance – we continuously review our performance and customer satisfaction with service delivery and benchmark our performance including achieving value for money with our peers.
  • Staff – we continue to invest in our staff and have recently completed a major change programme in our approach to service delivery which has seen our customer services centralised in a new service centre and a changed emphasis to encourage greater online transactions and increased local presence for front-line staff.

 Scrutiny

Effective performance management and scrutiny arrangements help to drive VfM. Our scrutiny panels’ scrutinise our services and work with our Boards and staff to further improve services. The panels are independent and will review areas of service and then report their findings directly to the local Boards, who will consider their recommendations and, where appropriate, agree an action plan to improve services and the VfM that they represent.

Procurement

Our Procurement Strategy sets out how we buy goods and services and manage contracts with our suppliers. We have a small group-wide procurement team whose role is to improve procurement processes,share best practice and support the organisation to deliver savings and efficiencies.

Measuring VfM

VfM is often defined as the relationship between economy, efficiency and effectiveness (known as the 3 E’s) and is illustrated below.

  • Economy relates to keeping down the cost of inputs, however cutting costs does not necessarily mean that positive VfM will be achieved.
  • Efficiency relates to the transformation of inputs to outputs during a production process; outputs may be expressed in terms of quantity or quality.
  • Effectiveness relates to achieving desired outcomes and this can be measured by customer satisfaction.

VfM is achieved when there is an optimum balance between all three – relatively low costs, high productivity and successful outcomes.

The guidelines published by the Department of Communities and Local Government (CLG) define four ways of achieving efficiency which are called the four E’s:

  • E1 – Reduce inputs for the same outputs = fewer resources for the same result;
  • E2 – Reduce prices for same outputs = pay less for inputs to get same result;
  • E3 – Achieve more outputs or improved quality for the same inputs = get better results from the same resources;
  • E4 – Achieve proportionally more outputs or improved quality compared with extra resources that are used.

Social value

Social value is about using physical and human assets (inputs) to provide homes and services (outputs) that produce social value (outcomes.)  We measure social value by:

  • Service quality;
  • Social and economic benefits;
  • Environmental benefits;
  • Financial returns.

Successes in 2016/17

  1. Continued development of our housing management system and roll-out of mobile working technology to revolutionise the way that we interact with our customers.
  2. Accreditation of our Customer Service Centre by the Customer Contact Association (CCA) within 9 months of its launch in September 2015.
  3. Launch of our 2016-2018 Digital Strategy in October 2016.
  4. Continued roll-out of our Electronic Document Management system.
  5. Expansion of HomeWorks, our in-house maintenance function, to include dedicated teams for grounds maintenance (GreenWorks) and cleaning of communal areas and offices (CleanWorks.)
  6. Significant progress made to redevelop our old sheltered schemes that had shared bathing facilities.
  7. Conversion of Optima Community Association from a Registered Charity to a society registered under the Co-Operative and Community Benefit Societies Act 2014, in common with the other members of the group.
  8. A founding member of the West Midlands Housing Association Partnership (WMHAP.)
  9. Reductions in asset investment plans. Savills’s commissioned to fully review the 30 year investment plan moving away from a programmed replacement to a “just in time” programme.
  10. Service efficiencies – cost reductions in Corporate services, increase in income from service area’s (advertising, donations) reduction in service delivery costs (management, HomeWorks pay and terms) and the expansion of Signature New Homes to achieve £2m gift aid by 2019/20.
  11. Programmed review of service delivery in 2017/18 to realise further savings from adopting consistent, efficient and effective processes across the Group
  12. A number of adjustments made to ‘prudent’ assumptions in budgets to ensure closer reflection of actual performance (capitalisation of development costs, assuming greater proportion of asset investment capitalised, changes to accounting arrangements for SHPS pension deficit)
  13. 211 homes have been built against our business plan target of 200.
  14. We achieved £1,979,500 of shared ownership sales against our business plan target of £1,434,500.
  15. We have successfully achieved savings of £714,527k and £1,148,356 reduction in borrowing required on our development schemes.

Plans for Improvement 2017/18

  1. Continue our programme of identifying efficiency savings within services
  2. Undertake the projects identified in our Housing Operations Strategy which seek to mitigate the effects of welfare changes and improve the sustainability of tenancies.
  3. Commence further work to align and unify our process approach to reduce costs.
  4. Revise our executive management team to provide greater clarity of roles and reduce management costs.
  5. Develop a treasury vehicle.
  6. Continue to support customers with opportunities to move into work.

The Big Sleep Out

On Friday the 6th October 2017 the Supported Housing for Young People Project (SHYPP), are holding a Big Sleep Out to help raise funds for homeless young people across Herefordshire.

The Big Sleep Out will involve a number of staff sleeping rough for the night to raise funds for the floating support service whilst also raising awareness of rural homelessness amongst 16-25 year olds. The event follows the success of our very first SHYPP sleep out held last year which raised nearly £6,000. This year we hope it will be bigger and better with more volunteer sleepers and we are aiming to raise at least £10,000.

Switch and Save offer with Coventry City Council

Switch and Save helps Coventry residents see if they can get a better deal for their energy. The scheme offers a simple way for people to spend less on gas and electricity by switching to cheaper tariffs.

iChoosr manage the scheme with Coventry City Council and taking part is free.

Switch and Save is open to most energy customers and pre-pay meter users also qualify. Even if you have up to £500 energy debt, you can still switch.

There are 4 simple steps to switching to a cheaper tariff with Switch and Save:

  • Step 1Register your interest online by providing some basic details. To do this you’ll need to have available your most recent energy bills, or preferably your annual statement. You can register online until 9 October 2017.
  • Step 2 – From 20 October 2017, you’ll receive a personal offer from the energy supplier that has given the best deal in the competition run by iChoosr.
  • Step 3 – You decide whether you want to switch to the supplier making the offer. There’s no obligation to switch if you don’t want to. If you do want to switch, you’ll need to let iChoosr know by 27 November 2017.
  • Step 4 – iChoosr and the energy supplier will make all of the arrangements for you to switch, and then that’s it, you can start paying less for your gas and electricity.

Double apprentice success for young Coventry residents

Two young men from Coventry are celebrating winning full-time apprenticeships thanks to a job opportunity programme run by Whitefriars Housing.

Whitefriars, part of WM Housing Group, has been working with Bouygues – the main contractor on the housing provider’s new £10 million Mulberry Gardens development at Pappenham, in Canley – to provide training and job opportunities for local people.

Jamie, a Whitefriars resident, and Abdul attended a two-week accredited ‘construction bootcamp’ where they gained their Construction Skills Certification cards to allow them to work on building sites.

They both then applied for apprenticeships at Midlands-based Coopers Carpentry and completed a two-week trial, which went so well that they have now been taken on full-time.

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