Industry news

The new normal in social housing procurement

Increased regulatory and financial constraints on local authorities, such as social rent cuts of 1 per cent each year from 2016-2020, and welfare reforms mean that social housing providers need to find ways of stretching their budgets to meet the need to build new affordable housing and maintain existing stock. Finding opportunities to make savings on construction, refurbishment, repair and maintenance is therefore a priority.

PREVENTION BETTER THAN THE CURE Taking a more preventative planned approach to maintenance as opposed to the much more costly one of waiting for a problem to arise before fixing it is therefore the way to go. As part of such an approach, social housing providers could, at the same time, consider making earlier adaptations to meet the housing needs of an ageing population. According to the Institute for Public Policy

Research, by 2030 there will be 50 per cent more over-65s – and more than double the number of over-85s – alive in England than in 2010. And because 80 per cent of the homes we will be living in by 2050 are already built, efforts to extend the lifetime value of refurbishments by making them sufficiently flexible and practical to appeal to and meet the needs of all age groups should be front of mind for social housing providers.

HOMES THAT ANYONE COULD LIVE IN It makes a lot of sense for housing associations to find ways of futureproofing the investment they are

making today in their refurbishment and building programmes. One way this can be achieved is by choosing contemporary interior products which just happen to be suitable for inclusive living. Floor level showers, essential for many with limited mobility wouldn’t look out of place in any home. Similarly, installation of slip-resistant waterproof flooring, which provides extra traction and stability; and easy-clean surfaces illustrate how unobtrusive adaptations can be introduced even before they are needed on the grounds of age-related mobility or frailty. From a whole host of perspectives, making small

adaptations at the same time as repairs and maintenance or locking them into building specifications, has real benefits, not least being the improvement of the quality of life of residents over their lifetimes. We can benefit economically as well from

introducing adaptations at an early stage. Analysis from the Building Research Establishment shows that, making minor practical home adaptations

along with other home improvements can lead to annual savings for the NHS and social care services of at least £500m through a 26 per cent reduction in falls. These currently account for over 4m hospital bed days each year in England alone.

LONG-TERM BENEFITS FOR HOUSING PROVIDERS Whilst some of the adaptations considered will benefit residents through the various stages of their lives, they can also be of immediate and long-term value to housing providers. Many practical adaptations are very easy, quick and economic to install. Waterproof wall panels and flooring in bathrooms and wet rooms, for instance, provide durable watertight spaces that reduce the risk of water ingress from one unit damaging properties in the floors below. And because these sorts of products are extremely robust, requiring very little maintenance, ongoing repair and maintenance bills can be considerably reduced. | HMM September 2018 | 23

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