In the current climate, many organisations are looking to control costs where they can, while also making progress towards a more sustainable future. But when energy isn’t your speciality, it can be incredibly difficult to stay on top of it all – that’s where we can help.

We’ve put together an overview of the five main utility challenges likely to be affecting your organisation and the solutions available to combat them.

  1. Portfolio Management

Managing a large, complex, and diverse estate can be hard work and requires a large resource, which is not always readily available. We understand that problems with changes of tenancy and ownership are a common cause of overpayments to suppliers within the sector but outsourcing your energy management can take away this hassle.

At E&CM we’re familiar with all suppliers’ processes for site changes and will manage Changes of Tenancy (CoTs), providing your supplier with the information they need in the correct format and timescales to ensure a smooth transfer of responsibility. We can also take care of void supplies, ensuring that the supply does not fall onto default.

  1. Incorrect billing

75% of bills have incurred overcharges in the last six years so the chances are that you’ve been incorrectly charged for your energy.  It’s easy to miss inaccuracies given the time it takes to check each bill and the in-depth understanding required to get it right.

If you haven’t done so already, you can enlist the services of an energy consultant to identify billing errors and recover lost money – during these uncertain times this could be a welcome cash injection to your business.

  1. Finding the right buying strategy

Often overlooked as it requires in-depth understanding, your buying strategy is critical or you could end up paying additional or undisclosed broker fees, high supplier margins or get limited product functionality.  Do your research, understand your energy usage and speak to an expert to ensure you have the right strategy in place.

As the preferred sub-contractor for the management of energy on the PfH framework, we are fully compliant to deliver the management of utility supplies for gas, NHH and HH electricity and water.

  1. Keeping on track with compliance

We all know that change is coming, with OJEU being phased out in the UK after 31st December 2020. Ensuring your procurement strategy is compliant is crucial, and with E&CM you can choose a framework that is 100% compliant with public procurement rules, giving you piece of mind.

  1. Reaching net zero

Unfortunately, there is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach to this.  Every organisation operates differently and will need to play its part for us to achieve net zero by 2050.  This may feel like a long time away, but most organisations will face a long journey towards carbon neutrality, so it’s best to get started as soon as possible.

 

If you don’t know where to start, E&CM can provide support, help you set targets and look at implementing your carbon reduction strategy.

E&CM currently work with over 30 housing providers. We understand the housing sector and have the utility solutions that will make your life easier and take the burden off your in-house team.  For more information on how we can help, visit www.ecm.co.uk or get in touch: 

T: 0330 166 4444
E: hello@ecm.co.uk

Home working has become the norm across Britain and PfH nominated supplier Daisy Communications discuss the best ways to maximise the opportunities homeworking brings for your organisation.

Managing the maintenance cycle is an important part of overseeing a housing portfolio – and at this time of year, that includes ensuring that mould and damp are kept at bay. Crown Trade explain how the right products and preparation can help prevent or solve this issue.

Our Appliances Framework partner AO Business discusses a highlight of Digital Housing Week: how we can create a ‘new normal’ for communities moving forward.

Piers French, Head of Supported Living at AO Business

 

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced huge changes into all our lives, including the mass migration to online shopping and an increasing reliance on digital communication. Many of these changes move the social housing sector forward and create opportunity within the uncertainty, but now we must plan for a ‘new normal.’

Online has been a lifeline for many people throughout lockdown, with demand for smartphones, tablets and laptops soaring. People now rely on technology to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues. Connectivity will be key to finding and retaining a new job as well as educating our children. To help prevent the most vulnerable becoming more disadvantaged we need to work together to create a new, fairer normal.

At AO, we understand the role our business should play in helping to create a better future for these communities. As a sector, we must put our heads together to search for innovative solutions to the complex challenges and changes raised by Covid-19.

In June, Digital Housing Week brought the social housing sector’s leading names together to debate and discuss the future of the communities we support. AO’s CEO and Founder John Roberts was joined by Jeremy Porteus, CEO of Housing LIN, and Sheron Carter, CEO of Habinteg, for a discussion about how the sector can use the pandemic as an opportunity to innovate. The event tackled tough questions about how organisations can offer the best ‘new normal’ for the sector’s most disadvantaged.

Jenny Osbourne, CEO of TPAS, the tenant engagement experts, began with an overview of the sector’s performance over the past months. The social housing sector was applauded for the way it has quickly mobilised to support vulnerable tenants. New communities – both online and physical – have sprung up to offer essential support and the opportunity to build more meaningful relationships with tenants was recognised. Sheron Carter, from Habinteg who specialise in accessible homes, drew on the rhetoric of Covid-19 as a great leveller, with lockdown forcing everybody in the UK to share the feeling of being trapped in their homes, which their disabled tenants experience daily.

Housing associations movement to online has largely been regarded as a positive step – scrutiny can be thorough online with focused and accountable meetings. However, moving communication to digital platforms can exclude many tenants. Online has proved itself as a huge equaliser – if you have access.

In a poll at the beginning of the Digital Housing Week seminar, 84% of attendees voted that social landlords should help their tenants by providing broadband and other technology. Many housing associations have understandably transitioned from call centres to online communication due to home working, but the sector needs to urgently address digital access before it moves full steam ahead.

The discussion introduced some key challenges which, although thrust into the spotlight by Covid-19, were already inherent in our society. John Roberts emphasised how the pandemic has exposed some particularly unpalatable truths – that those who have taken the highest risks in frontline roles throughout the crisis are ultimately the ones who are paid the least. In terms of education, John noted that while talent is evenly distributed, access and opportunity is not. With its rental business for appliances, AO are trying to build a model to tackle some of these discrepancies.

AO’s Supported Living team already recognise that those who need appliances and electricals the most, often pay the highest price. Households can spend around 47% more on the weekly shop because they can’t afford a fridge to store food. By making products more affordable and providing appliances to charities and housing associations, we hope we can encourage other organisations to work together on tackling the root causes of this inequality.

Across the business, we have found that the constraints of a global pandemic have challenged us to find innovative ways of working. Technology has been used in ways it would never have been used pre-Covid-19. At Digital Housing Week, John issued a call to arms for the housing sector to adopt a true mindset for change, challenging them to work in unison to create better communities for the future – where everyone can access what they need for a good quality of life.

The seminars at Digital Housing Week really reinforced the importance of looking through the lens of those less fortunate and rallying the social housing sector around a genuine mandate for change. AO Business have a role to play in this, which is why we have committed to changing the way people in social housing access appliances and electricals. We recognise that there is always more that we can do and we’re keen to share our expertise and resources throughout the sector.

 

For more information please contact piers.french@ao.com

Procurement for Housing (PfH) is searching for contractors to deliver £490m worth of responsive repairs and voids works to social landlords, for an initial term of five years, through a new dynamic purchasing system (DPS).

In 2017, BT announced that they will be switching off their long-serving analogue telephone network (PSTN) and Integrated Services Digital Network (ISDN) network by 2025, moving to a digital (IP) network ready for the future. But what does this mean for housing providers?

James Kane, national account manager at Bristan, discusses the five things to consider when making a bathroom more dementia-friendly in social housing.

I believe that there are many similarities between HR and procurement. Whilst HR manage and procure people within an organisation, procurement deal with the multifaceted layers of people involved in the supply chain, amongst these layers should be a procured compliant route to market to enable successful recruitment to take place within an organisation.

Understanding spending behaviour can often be the first step in creating a procurement environment which is strategic in nature

As tenants gain greater understanding and involvement, more detailed questions may emerge around the governance of their landlord’s asset management processes.