The Scottish Government, as part of the Affordable Housing Supply Programme (AHSP), has committed to delivering at least 50,000 affordable homes by March 2021, backed by over £3 billion of investment.
Public sector organisations which provide affordable housing will be required to undertake considerable procurement activity in relation to AHSP. Over the past ten years, the public sector has benefited from a focus on procurement reform. Until now, the affordable housing sector has not been part of this national transformation.
To assist the procurement challenges ahead, Scotland Excel has secured funding to develop and deliver a two year programme to help housing associations achieve the best possible value from their procurement activities in three key areas.
Housing associations will be able to benchmark their procurement capability through using an established assessment tool – the Procurement and Commercial Improvement Programme (PCIP). Scotland Excel will undertake this assessment to help housing associations to understand their current performance and develop an action plan for improvement.
The results will enable investment in procurement systems, processes and skills to be targeted where it can achieve a measurable return. Assessments can identify opportunities for quick wins, medium term improvements, and longer term transformation. Using a similar model, local authorities have achieved a three-fold increase in their procurement capability through a continuous cycle of assessment and improvement.
Pilot assessments were undertaken with seven housing associations in 2016. Six of those taking part said the experience had improved the quality of their procurement and would recommend the process. The pilot was developed in partnership with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations (SFHA) and the Glasgow and West of Scotland Forum of Housing Associations (GWSF), and they remain key stakeholders in the programme.
Associations with new build programmes will be prioritised for assessment. However, our intention is to offer the assessment to as many housing associations as possible during the two year programme, and we would encourage any organisation that is interested in taking part to get in touch.
Scotland Excel will undertake a review of the affordable housing sector’s current and future procurement activity to identify the potential for savings through the use of national frameworks available from the Scottish Government, Scotland Excel and other procurement organisations.
The review will also look to identify opportunities for additional collaboration between housing associations where a national contract is not yet in place. If required, Scotland Excel can offer procurement support to develop and implement these contracts on behalf of housing association partners.
Access to Scotland Excel’s portfolio of contracts is already available through associate membership. The portfolio covers a range of areas that may be of interest to housing associations including construction, roads materials, vehicles and plant, waste disposal, security services and telecare.
In particular, our new contract for energy efficiency contractors has been designed to help councils and housing associations drive forward energy efficiency measures to tackle fuel poverty, create warmer homes and cut carbon emissions. It provides quick and easy access to contractors for a wide range of services including insulation, heating systems and solar panels.
Scotland Excel is a recognised leader in the delivery of the economic, social and environmental benefits that can be achieved through sustainable procurement.
As part of our programme for housing associations, we will help organisations to secure additional value for their communities through consideration of policy, local economic impact and community benefits embedded in new and existing contracts.
For further information on our services for housing associations, please email our housing procurement team or call 0300 300 1200.