Maintaining our homes

Allan Fisher, Director of Development and Assets, shares his thoughts on asset management:

“Everyone has to deal with property repairs at some point in their life. I'm sure most of you know these days how difficult it is to get good tradespeople round to your house to do some standard repairs. Why is this? Well, a lot is down to the lack of importance consecutive governments have placed on bringing these skills through the system. This under investment in what are decent long term careers is now showing.

“So why is it important that we keep our homes at a good standard? I remember my mid-year student house in Morecambe, one street back from the sea front, being cold, poorly looked after and not a great place to live. Good job we had the chance to spend most of our time out of the house, but some people don't have this option and won't be moving out after a year.

“That’s why it's important that we keep the homes in good condition both for the people living there and for business reasons, including asset quality and valuation. Keeping well maintained, decent, affordable and energy efficient homes has got to be right up there in terms of priorities. We’ve all seen how essential home has become during lockdown.

“It's now more important than ever that we all recognise the work that our Property Services teams do to keep homes well maintained and deliver planned improvement work going forward. Responsive repairs has certainly given me a different outlook on the whole maintenance service, which can be really difficult to predict and control by its very nature, and difficult to attract the right contractors for the reasons outlined above. Amplify that uncertainty with a pandemic and contractors are not banging down the door desperate to deliver relatively small contract values with low margins and tricky work patterns.

"I’m grateful for the work our Property Services team do in providing warm, safe and secure homes for customers. Our key results especially around compliance (gas and electrical safety etc.) have been really good in the circumstances. Going forward we’ll be getting ourselves ready for even greater investment in our homes by meeting the Building Safety Bill’s requirements, EPC upgrades and for long term plans, getting all of our homes to net zero carbon emissions.

“There's a lot to do, but delivering great services remains a key part of our business despite external challenges.”