All of our social housing clients tell us that their worlds have changed radically over the previous ten years. In the past, the role of a Housing Association was perceived simply as being a landlord, however over time, the scope of what is now required has changed drastically. The focus is now on providing good quality homes which act as an enabler that transform customers’ lives and the broader communities in which people live and work.
In that new context, people who would once consider themselves tenants, have now become customers, this change has produced an inevitably greater focus upon delivering good service as measured by the STAR (Survey of Tenants and Residents) Surveys.
Many of our thirty plus customers across the social housing world tell us that the increasing complexity of managing energy and the resultant contracts can both divert resources away from critical front-line services and even impact negatively on the perception, if not the reality, of customer service. What leading Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) say is that they need help to ease the burden of energy management so that resources can remain focused on delivering great customer service whilst still minimising energy costs, the related administration and the impact on the environment.
Our research and insight have identified six key drivers that can help RSLs rise to the challenge:
Avoiding unnecessary increases in energy costs and service charges
Many organisations have seen growing value in looking afresh at their energy procurement processes and often conclude that adopting a longer-term buying strategy offers more opportunities to keep energy costs as low as possible. However, this often needs to be twinned with finding an efficient path through the First Tier Tribunal dispensation process to enable you to enter a Qualifying Long-Term Agreement (QLTA) and then deliver the benefits to RSLs and tenants alike of secure long-term stable prices.
Insight that enable energy cost certainty and optimisation
Most RSL’s are increasingly seeing the value in installing ‘smart’ AMR (Automatic Meter Reading) meters which provides data every half hour of the day. This helps to eliminate the need for housing staff to take data reading and retains a focus on core functions. The AMR also ensures you only pay for what you use; saving costs, administrative time and supporting recharging by providing accurate consumption. The added insight also often maps a route to lower energy consumption and reduces the impact on the environment; an increasing priority for many boards and customers.
Avoiding unnecessary service charge variations
It might sound obvious but effective annual budgeting that accurately predicts the cost of energy to ensure that service charges are calculated correctly and mitigates against an unforeseen impact on often vulnerable customers is key. This combined with a clear procurement strategy that has achieving longer term price stability at its heart, can impact positively on delivering improved STAR rating results for value for money in service charges.
Reducing void properties hassle
Tenancy churn and the resultant challenge of managing costs associated with void properties can be mitigated by adopting a bespoke void contract which reduces the standing charges. Many RSLs say that they are also seeing the good sense of minimising the administrative burden of processing invoices received when properties are void, by adopting an outsourced void invoice management service. It’s also about removing the noise and hassle that allows key in-house teams to focus on the things that really matter to your customers.
Embracing environmental sustainability
The UK is leading the world with its challenging carbon reduction targets with the Government responding to clear and growing public pressure. Many of those concerned citizens are your customers and want their voice and concerns to be heard. The UK Energy supply map now means that there are no real barriers to embracing a 100% green energy procurement strategy with the resultant impact on lower carbon emissions; if that’s a priority for customers. Similarly, ‘smart’ meters can help to identify wasted energy, or you can also go that step further and look towards the installation of renewable energy generation capacity across the estate. None of this needs to be scary if properly resourced and then planned well using the right data and insight.
Achieving compliant best value procurement
Keeping up to date with the best route to OJEU compliance can save you time and money but still deliver best value. The Procurement Hub’s Energy Consultant Framework is a prime example of the benefit that can be gained for both your organisation and customers as a result of a little research.
To find out more about how a different approach to energy management can help deliver service charge certainty and a better perception of customer service please call 08451 46 36 26.