Gas Procurement: Five Associations, one process

Working in partnership, Arhag, Odu Dua, Shian,Tamil and Westway Housing Associations have appointed MCP Property Services Limited to provide a 24/7 three star gas servicing, safety certification, repairs & maintenance and boiler replacement service to residents. A total of 1,800 units will benefit from this comprehensive service.

The project commenced eighteen months ago, with Arhag hosting a gas safety summit for ten BME housing associations, to share knowledge, experience and best practice. The representatives of the associations agreed a memorandum of understanding, aimed at working together in partnership, to provide a higher quality of service to residents and achieve value for money benefits.

Of the ten associations, five were able to commit to the project timescale and resource it accordingly. A consultant (GAS) was appointed to assist and advise in drawing up the specification and the tender process and also to provide advice on OJEU. The specification focused on quality, efficiency, compliance and value for money.

Since five associations had agreed to enter the partnership arrangement, and they operated differing processes and practices regarding gas servicing, the group engaged in early discussions with Devonshires Solicitors regarding the production of a multi-party contract. There followed detailed inter-party discussions as to how the contract will work and be managed in practice. When all of the parties were satisfied that the partnership arrangement was definitely the way forward, the tender process was engaged.

All five associations were represented in the tender evaluation process. The Chair of Odu Dua, being herself a resident, sat on the interview panel representing the interests of the associations’ residents. The Chair of Odu Dua will also attend the associations’ Scrutiny Panels, to feedback on the outcome of the tender, and explain the roles and responsibilities of the Scrutiny Panel members.

Five contractors were interviewed, with MCP Property Services Limited being the successful company. The contract commenced on 1st June 2015.

It is anticipated that the following benefits will accrue to the five participating associations and their residents;

  • A saving of over £50,000 across all five associations over three years
  • A standardised approach, using common processes and practices, for gas servicing and safety, resulting in an improved quality of service for residents.
  • The offer of an apprenticeship scheme by the contractor, ring-fenced to the associations’ residents and their households, in the first instance.
  • Enhanced gas safety awareness training for the associations’ front line staff (up-skilling).
  • Freeing up of staff time and consequent improvements in productivity.
  • Potential for further collaborative working in the future, including more effective and efficient benchmarking of services and costs.

The MCP offer to residents includes;

  • The offer of a 2 hour appointment slot for a boiler break-down.
  • The offer of a 2 hour appointment slot for the annual gas safety check.
  • MCP to take calls directly from residents (free phone number). The service being available 24 hours, 7 days a week.
  • A first-time fix approach.
  • The use of texting to confirm appointments.
  • MCP to carry out residents’ satisfaction surveying, in addition to that conducted by the associations. This will allow a random sample approach in validating the contractor’s data.

Mr Ade Oke, Head of Asset Management for Arhag, and the lead for this initiative stated; “It is understood that this is the first, significant, collaborative working arrangement between BME housing associations in the procurement of an important, and safety critical, service to residents. It is anticipated that the success of this initiative will result in closer partnership working between the original five associations, and others, as further opportunities for improving service quality and value for money arise.”