Social housing’s ability to adapt is one of its most impressive qualities.
This has been especially true when it comes to development and a prime example of this can be seen in JV North’s frameworks.
JV North is a consortium of 11 housing associations spanning Greater Manchester, Merseyside, Nottingham and Preston and on three separate occasions has changed its procurement to ensure members can build as many homes as possible.
We have just launched our new framework – contractors and consultants have until 3 April to apply – and have implemented the lessons learned from two previous frameworks.
Crucially, we found having one framework that is open to all contractors and consultants is not specific enough.
In the 2011-15 and 2015-18 HCA Affordable Homes Programmes, we had schemes of varying values. While the frameworks attracted some of the biggest contractors and consultancies in the UK and their work was very good (we want them to apply again), there were drawbacks too.
At times we struggled to receive tenders for some of the smaller schemes, with a potential impact on value for money due to a lack of competition on prices. To overcome this, we’ve split the 2017-21 framework into a two-tier system based on the value of the works.
“Having one framework that is open to all contractors and consultants is not specific enough”
While larger contractors felt some of our smaller schemes were not big enough, equally, SME contractors did not apply for our framework as they perceived the work and application process beyond them.
We have acknowledged smaller building companies that would be ideally suited to smaller projects do not have an easy route to work with framework members, so a separate procurement for projects below £1m has been introduced.
We believe this will provide the opportunities they are looking for and, in turn, make the tendering process more competitive. Experience also tells us this new way of operating will see more benefits in members’ local communities.
Another change relates to selling homes. Traditionally we have built then seen them rented immediately due to large waiting lists.
After receiving a grant of £87.3m from the HCA for the 2017-21 Shared Ownership Affordable Homes Programme, members committed £248.2m of their own funds to take the overall total to £335.5m.
The money will see members build nearly 3,000 new homes for shared ownership and rent, with approximately 2,000 of these being delivered through the new framework starting in July.
We aspire to be clients that companies want to work with so we attract the best to the sector.
To do so, we have to continually monitor ourselves and be flexible to make sure we deliver social housing’s remit.
Nigel Wilson is chairman of JV North and chief executive of Wythenshawe Community Housing Group