As safe as houses

, , ,

A Which? report published last month (15th February 2018) has highlighted the safety risk that faulty domestic household appliances can pose to residents. The investigation reveals that appliances such as fridges, freezers and ovens are responsible for over 60 per cent of household fires, with washing machines and dryers highlighted as the biggest culprits, causing over a third.

The number of household fires has stayed at a similar level for five years, causing close to 16,000 life threatening blazes since 2012 and demonstrating that little improvement is being made year-on-year to this worrying statistic. As a result, Which? is calling for government action via the new Office for Product Safety and Standards, which launched last month, to ensure unsafe goods are kept out of homes.

Ensuring tenants’ safety in their own homes is always a number one priority for landlords and choosing the right appliances and white goods is a critical consideration given the latest findings.  Without updated guidance from the government this can be a difficult responsibility and JLA believes that suppliers need to support housing organisations in finding alternative solutions when domestic options are currently failing them.

When it comes to communal laundries and kitchens or even within the home itself, JLA stresses that it’s important for landlords to remember that domestic equipment isn’t the only option available. Commercial appliances that have been designed specifically for social housing can significantly reduce the safety risk, providing all the robustness and longevity of an industrial machine, while still retaining the key benefits of a domestic appliance including the size and ease-of-use which is so important in promoting independence amongst residents.

From compact washers and tumble dryers to under-counter dishwashers and fridges, there is a range of commercial products to suit all social housing needs. In addition, JLA has been at the forefront of developing unique innovations in the fight against appliance fires such as its Sensor-Activated Fire Extinguishing (S.A.F.E) technology which automatically dispenses water vapour into the dryer drum if higher than normal temperatures are detected, preventing a fire starting.

As the market-leader for commercial laundry and catering equipment, JLA is committed to supporting social housing landlords meet and exceed standards for their tenants and prompted by the latest Which? report,  JLA is offering free consultations to all social housing organisations to ensure the equipment they are providing is fit for purpose and provide guidance and advice on improvements or upgrades.

The full Which? report can be viewed here:

Housing Division at JLA

Established over 40 years ago, JLA is the market-leader in the supply and maintenance of commercial laundry, catering and heating equipment and works closely with Housing partners to provide all-inclusive solutions that meet every need.                     @jla_Ltd

Tel: 0800 591 903

Whitefriars frees up 85% of staff time with PfH framework

, ,

When Rehman Akhtar began working for Whitefriars Housing as a building surveyor, one
of his first roles was to review asset management procurement.

Procurement v asset management: The road to reconciliation


As a procurement professional in the housing sector I have heard those rasping statements on many an occasion from long serving asset managers – ‘we are more than capable of defining our requirements and negotiating with our suppliers, therefore there is no need for procurements involvement.  Procurement participation proves to be time consuming, costly and, due to a lack of understanding of asset management, does not always generate the correct solution.’

In this highly stressful environment we are often seen as an unnecessary bureaucracy, adding little value and creating barriers or slowing the process down.

To a sensitive soul this may be disheartening, but to a world class procurement professional it is merely the fact that they have not experienced your collaborative, value focussed tenacity yet!

So how can that enthusiastic, tough skinned, value ninja hurl down the gauntlet and convince the asset team to let them in.

Walk in their shoes

The asset management world is a decidedly complex, results driven, high risk, customer challenging environment.  Often there is daily fires to put out, reputational risk to manage, supply chain challenges all of which mean asset managers are extremely sensitive towards any potential disruption or change.  With this as a setting it is understandable that asset managers can lose sight of the overall commercial impact of the current supplier set-up.

Immersing yourself in their work is crucial to understand their critical requirements, the daily challenges they face and the performance of existing suppliers.  Speak the same language and listen to their experience and detailed technical knowledge.  Pick up on the key measures and targets they have and address these in any solutions proposed.  Learn from their past experiences, the impact of lead times, the impact of stock issues, the impact the contractor has on tenant satisfaction, the resource constraints they have, the total cost of ownership or the challenge of training a workforce in new product installation.

Only from this level of understanding can you create the opportunity to bring together a bottom up strategic commercial analysis.

Become an adopted team member

Make sure you take every opportunity to collaborate, work as one team and align goals.  Continuously and evangelically reassert that you want to help them achieve their objectives and goals and show that, not only through words but actions.  Add value in their eyes as well as the wider organisation and never stop challenging yourself about this.  Show your commercial and analytical capability to enable them to understand and challenge the existing status quo and recognise the need for change.

Know the housing market better than your colleagues

As a procurement professional you should have a unique position that you understand and know the suppliers in the market, their capabilities, emerging innovation, technological developments – anything less and you will have no credibility.  Knowing the daily challenges that the asset team faces from ‘walking in their shoes’ gives you the opportunity to engage with the broader market, probe incumbent suppliers, engage with prospective suppliers or new entrants on how to overcome these challenges.  Identify from your network how other organisations are dealing with these challenges and improving service delivery.  Look at how innovation is driving continuous quality and cost improvements.  Try to encourage the asset team to explore a broader view of the supply chain and facilitate learning opportunities for them that will shift their mind set that ‘only one supplier can deliver their needs.’

Shine a light on your commercial capability

As a procurement professional make sure you do your job properly.  If you only accept invitations to manage an EU procurement process or manage the sourcing and implementation process as an extra pair of hands then you will not be able to influence and change the mind set of the asset management team.  You need to become part of the team, know the market and walk in their shoes but you also need to be relentless in ‘doing your job’.  Complete your bottom up commercial analysis as part of your continuous supplier relationship and contract management process.  Analyse spend, identify opportunities, measure performance, create benchmarks and assess against external information, obtain data and interpret it.  Spend the time educating the asset management team on this so that they can assess the capability, innovation, risk, commercial models of both the incumbent suppliers and prospective suppliers.  Spend time educating and agreeing with the asset team what they require, the negotiation strategy to be deployed, the risk profile they are prepared to adopt, the key measures of performance that will drive quality, value for money and ultimately tenant satisfaction.  Show your commercial prowess and wait for the moment when your true value is recognised!


Procurement and asset management can and must become a complementary pairing if housing organisations are going to deliver on their business plans.  Both have critical roles to play and value to add – it is imperative that you understand the effort required to achieve your organisations goals – now make it happen!


As the dedicated procurement services provider to the housing sector, PfH works with you to assess procurement and asset management effectiveness – enabling us to identify opportunities for short-term as well as sustainable efficiencies and improvements.

Many of our Members achieve step-change improvements through our combined approach of delivering immediate cost savings at the same time as driving insightful long-term benefit through smart and strategic procurement.

If you’d like to discover how you can reconcile procurement with asset management within your organisation, contact our Consultancy team for a no obligation discussion:

01925 282398

Four key factors to consider in an asset management review

Over the past 30 years I’ve worked in property services for seven social housing providers in England and Wales. My early days were spent on-the-ground in quantity surveying and property maintenance. I went on to lead the property services teams for Shrewsbury, South Shropshire Housing Association, Merthyr Valleys Homes and Wrexham Council.


Everywhere I’ve worked, I’ve conducted an asset management review where applicable. It’s something that property services directors often do when they first come into post and should then review annually. It gives you an initial idea of what’s being covered, how your housing association is approaching it, what’s not covered and the risks.


Later down the line, an asset management review can show – to both the board and tenants – the value for money your team is providing. It can clarify why you have revised your strategy; for example, introducing longer life cycles or disposing of (or refurbishing) properties that weren’t returning a profit.


Throughout my career, I’ve honed the asset management review process. There are four main areas that I recommend focusing on when conducting an assessment. I’m keen to share my knowledge with members and hopefully this will help you focus your own evaluation.



If you don’t comply with statutory asset regulations, then you or your colleagues could end up in court. It’s that simple. Do you have systems in place to check and monitor compliance; is gas servicing being done correctly, are records being kept in the right way? What about fire risk assessments? Have the appropriate electrical tests been carried out? What about measures to prevent Legionnaires’ disease? Do property alterations comply with Construction Design Management (CDM) regulations? For example, if you are building an atrium, what methods are being used to lift the glass? How do you repair glass that breaks? What about safe cleaning techniques?


Stock evaluation

Spending money unnecessarily on stock maintenance is an issue for social housing. If a property is hard to rent and costing a lot to maintain then your asset management review should flag this up as one to investigate further.


A resident might not want to live in the property because it is on a hill and is too draughty. Even if you pay for insulation, the resident may still not want to travel up the hill and you’ve wasted money.


Do you have a system in place that helps you evaluate this information? Every time you repair a property, the data should be recorded and analysed. Are you repairing a door regularly because materials don’t stand up to the heavy wear and tear of a family home? Or perhaps the door is being damaged by the tenant and a re-charging process is required. Your review should identify these issues.


Programmes of work

An asset management review should assess why and how work programmes are being carried out. Are you exchanging a kitchen, not because it is no longer functioning, but because your replacement programme happens every 20 years? Could you extend it to 22 years? It might be more cost effective to buy a product with a higher price tag but a longer lifecycle. What about different products to suit different client bases? A family home may need a tougher kitchen than a property for older age groups.


This reasoning should be communicated in your asset management strategy, so your tenants, staff and suppliers understand key decisions and can be involved if necessary. Communication between departments around asset management can also drive down costs. For example, if you are putting up scaffolding to repair roofs, it will be financially beneficial to install solar panels or replace soffits at the same time.


Repairs and maintenance

A review should help you understand what repairs are being done, by who, your approach to emergency, urgent and planned maintenance work and how you communicate with tenants. If a tenant phones up about their fallen front fence, when can they expect a repair? If they haven’t got children and the fence doesn’t pose a risk, then the repair might not be planned for weeks or months.


Disrepair claims brought by tenants against housing associations for defective properties are on the rise, but landlords must have compliant systems in place, so they don’t financially cripple themselves by simply sending a team out every time any repair is requested.


And what about your DLO? What percentage of work are they being given? Do they have trading accounts to help you understand if they are profitable in certain areas and not others? Has action been taken to address it or do you get a sub-contractor in to cover those less profitable areas?


Well communicated, well connected approaches to managing housing stock, all driven by data, are crucial to boosting value for money. A thorough asset management review can offer a unique vista across a housing provider, helping to drive down costs and improve quality for years to come.



To help you manage your assets compliantly and effectively, PfH have a range of services and frameworks that have a proven to deliver value for our Members.


Follow the links to discover more:



Spend analysis

Materials Supply Chain Review

Procurement Strategy development







Technical Support Services

Kitchens & Bathrooms

Windows & Doors

Heating Services

A smarter approach to buying kitchens and bathrooms


The way in which landlords approach the purchasing and installation of kitchens and bathrooms will have a major effect on the effectiveness of their asset management strategy.

As well as having significant cost implications, choices made can impact on your organisation’s wider environmental sustainability goals, the quality of life for tenants and customer satisfaction.

Narinder Chahal, head of procurement at East of England based Flagship Group, believes the key to success lies in ensuring this critical area of spend is part of a smarter approach to procurement…

Plan ahead – whether you have the capacity in-house and only require supply or require supply & installation, this is a major area of spend and one where a programme setting out a cycle of replacements should be in place. I’m always surprised at the number of organisations that are fairly reactive and do not have a contract register in place. You need to put contracts onto one document and review it on a monthly basis. That will certainly help you to forward plan your spend activities.

If procurement capacity is an issue, get help – many housing associations do not have dedicated procurement departments but they are very much geared up towards exercising some element of control and can therefore be reluctant to source outside support. But it should not be seen as relinquishing control. A good procurement consultancy will not only save you money, it will give you greater control in the long run, leading to enhanced efficiencies and better use of resources.

Don’t let suppliers take your custom for granted – I spent many years working in procurement and supply chain management in the private sector, including in the United States where I had clients that were multinational corporations such as Boeing, Lockheed and Chrysler. In the private sector, quality of service and delivery are taken as a given – the expectation is that suppliers will demonstrate how they want to work with you and your business to show they are striving for continuous improvement in order to provide better products and service.

The social housing sector is very different and compliance, quality and delivery seem to be the main concerns. I think there are lessons to be learned from the private sector. Don’t simply stick with the same suppliers because that’s what you’ve always done – question whether you are getting value for money and ensure those relationships are mutually beneficial.

There’s strength in numbers – I can’t stress enough the need to aggregate and leverage spend wherever possible, particularly around a high value, low volume category like kitchens and bathrooms. Flagship has a repairs and maintenance arm, RFT Services, which not only serves our own 22,500 homes but also housing associations, local authorities and businesses across the East of England. But even our relatively high volume of spend is a drop in the ocean compared with the leverage PfH can exercise through the combined spend of its members (which is one of the reasons why we’ll be using the new kitchens and bathrooms framework!).

I’ve been involved in developing the framework as a member of the PfH product group. As well as covering kitchens and bathrooms it offers a wider range of options: supply only, supply and install, and install only. I think that more defined scope will appeal to landlords of every shape and size.

Narinder Chahal is head of procurement at Flagship Group.

He is a member of the product group for PfH’s new kitchens and bathrooms framework, which is made up of representatives from the social housing sector. The group has helped to shape the framework to ensure it meets members’ needs.

Flexibility for Hire


Vehicle leasing companies are offering innovative solutions to housing associations keen to include electric vehicles in their fleets, says Lewis Cardwell at PfH

Built to last


Mike Williams at PfH, explains why understanding the lifecycle of components should be part of a comprehensive asset management strategy

Safer, Smarter Services

, ,

For procurement, finance, maintenance and asset management departments Blockchain is a gift – offering secure, automated transactions that cannot be tampered with without leaving electronic fingerprints all over the scene of the crime.