Void management and security continues to be a challenge for many registered providers, and understandably so.
Keeping homes secure while vacant has notoriously added additional cost – and at a time when the housing sector remains under pressure to justify spending and save money, this area has become a target for where efficiencies can be made.
However, investing less in void security does not necessarily provide value for money – for example, securing only half a property with steel screens can leave neighbourhoods vulnerable, with accessible empty homes being an easy target for vandalism or theft.
So what is the solution? Well, did you know market costs of steel screens have decreased significantly?
Competitions run through Fusion 21’s Voids and Associated Works framework (established in May 2015) have resulted in prices reducing by up to 40% across England. We have seen a shift in customers’ purchasing decisions – with a stronger focus placed on the direct cost of void security.
There are huge savings to be made (directly and indirectly) – and so I’ve outlined five steps operational teams can take to help improve the management of void security:
Step one: Review your organisation’s void management process, including how handovers are conducted between internal teams. It is imperative that all staff involved in the process work collaboratively and are accountable for their contributions – this will help to reduce average void times and rent loss, in addition to alleviating risks of vandalism or property theft taking place.
Step two: Revisit your voids management policy to review the void security measures that are in place – and also consider how long-term voids are secured. Switching to non-demountable screens could prove value for money, as charges will only be made for the initial installation.
Step three: To minimise loss of rental revenue, make sure you have a streamlined appraisal process for properties that are empty for long periods of time.
Step four: Look at your indirect costs to see where further savings can be made. You may want to consider: do the keys to your void properties regularly go missing? Are your employees and contractors wasting time driving to housing offices to collect keys – or waiting outside properties to gain access? And finally, do you have a record of who has gained entry into your void properties and when? Non-productive time can now be significantly reduced thanks to electronic key management.
Step five: Test the market to see if you could benefit from a cheaper rate. It pays to do your homework, identifying if increased efficiency savings can be made.
Fusion 21’s Voids and Associated Works framework offers a ‘void security’ lot; in addition to ‘clearance ground maintenance’ and ‘minor repairs, refurbishment, and decoration vouchers’.
We have the sector’s leading contractors on our framework including: Orbis Protect; Secure Empty Property; SPS Doorguard; and VPS – in addition to a number of regional SMEs.
Our offer provides Fusion 21 members with the flexibility to call off works through OJEU-compliant frameworks. These frameworks have been subjected to a rigorous cost and quality process.
Lastly, as a result of greater economies of scale achieved through the framework – our members are taking advantage of some of the most competitive rates in the current market.
To find out how Fusion2 1’s Voids and Associated Works framework can deliver cost efficiency savings for your organisation, email Phil Woodhead: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 0845 308 2321.
Working for a social enterprise has opened my eyes to the benefits of social value programmes – including how vital they are to supporting the growth, stabilisation and development of communities.
On a daily basis my employer, Fusion21, supports organisations from across the UK, to tackle worklessness and social exclusion in disadvantaged areas; in addition to running projects that seek to improve digital inclusion; reduce offending, create apprenticeships and support barriers to learning.
All of these initiatives are responsible for helping to change lives for the better, by increasing available opportunities and bringing communities together.
In 2014 - 2015 alone Fusion21 generated £13,901,647 of Social Return of Investment for member organisations and created 619 jobs. To me, social value just adds up – why wouldn’t you do it?
As an Accountant I’m not involved with the delivery of social value programmes – but Fusion21’s approach to generating social value on behalf of our members (amongst other sources of inspiration), gave me the confidence to take the plunge and set up ‘Elev8 Ghana’ with my former high school friends.
Established in August 2015 this project aims to give something back to my home country, Ghana – and has my attention outside of my day job.
Not dissimilar to vulnerable residents living in the UK – Ghanaian communities need to feel empowered, supported and motivated to make and create positive change.
You won’t be surprised to hear the country is in need of greater financial investment, an improved infrastructure and increased resources – but at present Elev8 Ghana can’t offer those things.
What we can provide is our time and manpower to transform communities; encourage sustainable growth; and support community development to improve quality of life.
These goals can be achieved through activities such as: digging wells to source clean drinking water; cleaning out blocked drains; renovating beaches and helping older generations on their farms – in addition to also refurbishing orphanages and schools.
My latest trip to Ghana in December gave me the chance to roll up my sleeves and get involved in Elev8 Ghana’s second project - refurbishing a school in Accra, Ghana’s capital.
Mallam Atta Home School is a charitable organisation offering free education to homeless children – helping to keep youngsters off the streets, and offering them the opportunity to have a very different future.
Elev8 Ghana gave the school a complete overhaul – painting; cleaning; levelling floors and fixing walls. We paid for some of our resources and were also grateful to receive donations - including paint, thinner and brushes from a local paint manufacturer, Sikkens.
The project also attracted media attention from TV3 Ghana – the most watched television station in the country – and a day before the project I found myself in their studios being interviewed on live TV (!).
The positive impact derived from social value programmes – in the UK or abroad – can never be underestimated. Without it, it would be difficult for many communities to thrive and help pave a new direction for future generations.
We’ve got big ambitions for Elev8 Ghana, and this is just the beginning of our journey. We’re committed to regenerating and investing in communities – and also aspire to help boost job creation, to generate an income for local people.
Whether I’m in the UK – or in Ghana – I’m surrounded by people who strive to make a difference and better our communities. What a privileged position to be in.
To see photos of our latest project and to find out more about Elev8 Ghana, visit us on Facebook.
Click here to find out more about social value programmes delivered by Fusion21’s Community Regeneration Services.
By Senyo Bissabah, Accountant at Fusion21.
You will not be surprised to hear that long-term organisational success is largely attributed to how a business functions internally. Only for so long can a company retain a strong external position, if its internal performance is just not up to scratch.
So what defines success on the inside? Many people – including myself – would argue organisational culture has a lot to do with a company’s shelf life: ranging from employee satisfaction (measuring if employees feel valued – and doing something about it if they don’t), to developing and investing in a workforce that has the ability and willingness to learn and contribute, embrace change, work flexibly and face the next inevitable challenge.
Once it is harnessed, the value of engaged employees is undeniable. These staff members truly believe in their organisation’s vision; they are passionate about the value of services or goods available; and have an irreplaceable understanding of your customer base. So why not involve them in your business growth and development plans?
Employee contributions often seem to be under-estimated, particularly when it comes to focusing on organisational development and defining a new strategic approach. Not involving your workforce is an opportunity missed – our greatest assets can be instrumental in helping to shape future business direction.
At Fusion21 we embrace the above philosophy, and we’re currently working alongside our staff members to help develop our new growth strategy. We believe an individual’s position in our organisation is irrelevant; it’s their ideas that count.
To help start internal conversations, we’ve been running face-to-face staff workshops and focus groups to listen to and reflect upon the views of our employees. Feedback has already been key in helping us to create a new “Internal approach for success” – a model that we’ll use to analyse and improve performance, in addition to helping us to manage risk.
As an organisation we’ve worked hard to achieve this collaborative culture, and now we’re reaping the rewards. I’m still delighted to say that last year we received IIP Gold status – putting us in the top 7% of UK organisations who invest in the potential of their people.
In addition to being praised for our internal approach to people management, the quality of our client relationships and service delivery were also highlighted as areas of excellence. Our staff should be extremely proud of these achievements – we certainly couldn’t do it without them.
However, it’s also important to recognise that employee aspiration cannot solely be satisfied by working for a driven and successful organisation – we all want to learn and develop in our specialisms, so we can develop and ultimately do our jobs better.
That’s why we also encourage our staff to invest in their own personal growth – by tapping into our learning and personal development offer. As markets continually change and techniques and legislation evolve, it’s essential our team of experienced chartered surveyors, procurement and community regeneration specialists are fully armed with the most up-to-date knowledge.
As an organisation we’ve currently got our studying caps on. We’re supporting staff from across the business to undertake a Chartered Institute of Purchasing Level 4 Diploma in Procurement and Supply Chain – whilst some team members are being funded to study Masters Degrees in construction and procurement related fields.
It’s fair to say that a growing organisation will always seek continuous improvement – in my experience, a combination of collective input and a commitment to personal development will keep your company travelling in the right direction.
By Mark Chadwick, Director of Business Services at Fusion21