Total Asset Management for Social Housing – The Time Has Come

A piecemeal approach is rarely the best way to run anything. With property services for social housing it makes less sense than ever. Pressures on social housing providers are mounting and coming from several directions: the Social Housing White Paper, zero carbon objectives, residents’ increasing expectations and the need to manage budgets and cut voids.

In this climate of stretched budgets and resources, does it make sense to maintain separate business streams for compliance, voids, repairs and upgrades? Effective planning and budget control start with having an accurate and unified picture of the condition of the housing stock. With fragmented services this picture is hard to maintain and difficult to share consistently using real time data.

‘Right first time’ depends on operatives knowing what they are going to be faced with so that the right materials, equipment and skills are allocated. With a patchy understanding of the asset condition it’s hard to plan accurately.

Residents Only Care About Outcomes and Experiences

From a resident’s perspective, they want all work to be carried out successfully in a single visit if possible. At the point of an individual property, what might seem like separate business streams often converge. For example, repairing a boiler that is scheduled for upgrade or replacement in the next twelve months makes little sense. It’s also more disruptive for the resident.

The holistic view makes it possible to rationalise how repairs and resources are planned. Accurate asset condition data supports better diagnosis of faults, more effective operative scheduling, more efficient route planning and, ultimately, a higher first time fix rate.

And we have to remember that first time fixes are more than just a statistic. Behind every instance where this doesn’t happen is a story that involves wasted operative time, extra journeys and avoidable disruption for the resident. Social housing doesn’t have the time, budget or extra capacity to allow this to continue. While we’re wasting resources on repeat repairs or avoidable visits we aren’t tackling issues such as minimising voids, improving energy efficiency and achieving net zero carbon.

Osborne adopts a Total Asset Management approach on several large scale property services contracts. The evidence shows that it allows us to deliver over and above our target outputs while still saving money that can be reinvested into the housing stock. Surely this is the approach that the entire sector needs to adopt.