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SHARING INNOVATION HELPS SOCIAL HOUSING ORGANISATIONS MEET THE CHALLENGE OF EFFICIENCIES

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The first of four innovation and efficiencies tool kits have been launched to help social housing organisations mee...
The first of four innovation and efficiencies tool kits have been launched to help social housing organisations meet the government-wide drive to make savings of£835m to feed back into housing services.

The Audit Commission's Housing Efficiency Innovations Project - Management and Maintenance was set up to raise awareness of the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's response to the Gershon review, where money saved on procurement can be used to provide more social housing and ensure higher standards.

The Audit Commission has worked with the ODPM, Housing Corporation and other partners to identify value for money within the management and maintenance practices of local authorities, arm's length management organisations and housing associations.

Alison Brown, project co-ordinator at the Audit Commission, said: 'This project has been influential in raising awareness in the sector about what housing organisations are already doing to deliver value for money and how they can contribute to the government's£835 million efficiency target.

'We found some real innovation that is already saving millions of pounds of rent payers' money, but there were some excellent pockets of smaller scale savings which prove that everyone has a contribution to make. This project will ensure these ideas are shared widely and even more money is saved and fed back into improving services for tenants.'

The project has:

evaluated existing innovation and shared positive practice

identified new ideas

considered how efficiency measures will lead to better services

built knowledge in the social housing sector so that efficiencies can be implemented

developed four web-based efficiency packs that will be made available across the housing sector

Innovative projects have been showcased on dedicated web pages on the Audit Commission's website (www.audit-commission.gov.uk/housingefficiency) and a series of four tool kits have been developed to help organisations implement efficiency gains.

Examples range from the millions down to a few thousand pounds and they have come from all kinds of housing organisations. Sheffield City Council is expected to save millions of pounds through a partnership arrangement with the Kier Group to deliver responsive repairs to all council buildings, while south Manchester-based housing association Willow Park has more than halved its legal disrepair bill by introducing an annual programme of inspection. Staff at Bournemouth BC have saved nearly£15,000 in hire costs simply by buying the equipment instead.

These contributions and many others from across the country helped develop the four web-based tool kits which cover:

partnering in responsive and planned repairs

performance management

reward and incentive schemes

rent collection methods

The Audit Commission has launched the first of the tool kits, partnering in responsive and planned repairs, on its website and at a showcase event in London on 22 February. The other three will follow later this year.

The Audit Commission's Housing Efficiency Innovations Project - Management and Maintenance was funded by ODPM.

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