East Devon District Council has appointed Ian Williams Ltd to maintain its 4,200 council homes during a ten-year contract which will see the leading property services company carry out all aspects of the maintenance and improvements of the council’s properties. This includes providing a day-to-day repairs service for tenants and proactively fixing issues before they become a more expensive problem. The contract also includes bringing empty properties up to standard before being re-let. The new contract will start on Monday 1 July.
East Devon owns a range of properties – houses, flats and bungalows – to provide affordable social housing for local people. Against the backdrop of tighter financial constraints faced by all councils across the country, the council has carried out a root and branch review of how it looks after its properties to ensure that tenants’ homes are safe, affordable, and are of a high quality. Over the last 18 months, the council has developed a new service designed to meet the needs of its tenants and maintain and improve its housing stock.
After an in-depth selection process, Ian Williams Ltd won the contract to deliver the new service. The council is looking to build the partnership with Ian Williams Ltd for the long term, beginning with an initial ten-year period. If the partnership is a success it can be expanded and extended. Resident satisfaction and excellent performance will be key tests to monitor the contract.
Councillor Megan Armstrong, East Devon District Council’s portfolio holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities, has welcomed the new partnership. She said: “Our residents and the council’s Housing Review Board have been fully involved with the tendering process to ensure that this new service is what they want and what we, as landlords, need to have in place so that our housing stock continues to be in an excellent condition.
“This service is unique as it will encompass a complete housing maintenance programme from internal and external repairs to the planned upgrading of bathrooms and kitchens. Ian Williams Ltd has an excellent national reputation for providing first class services such as this and we’re delighted to be working with them.
“A good quality, affordable home and resident safety is a priority for the council, and this new partnership provides the confidence that we can improve what is already a high performing property maintenance service for the benefit of our residents.”
Council tenant, Peter Sullivan, who has been involved in the appointment process, added: “The council has ensured resident involvement throughout. This began with the opportunity for us to tell the council what we thought was good and not so good about the current service we receive. Residents also played a key part of the selection process with opportunities for us to question the contractors directly alongside the officers. I am pleased to have been part of these exciting changes and look forward to watching the new service develop over the coming months.”
Commenting on the appointment, Craig Jones, Ian Williams’ General Manager responsible for the contract mobilisation commencing in July adds: “Ian Williams has long recognised the benefits of strategic, long term partnerships and fully endorses the business philosophy and solid relationships that this approach engenders. This ten-year integrated asset management partnership with EDDC will enable both organisations to focus on the effective delivery of services, by recognising and working towards shared goals and objectives. In any commercial arrangement, the strength of success lies in creating a good team who are happy to work well together, and we look forward to working closely with EDDC to help create excellent customer service, provide quality workmanship and instigate a responsive culture based on innovative technology.
“Although a national company, Ian Williams has a strong presence and heritage in the South West so our teams are perfectly placed to have a true understanding of the challenges of operating across the rural communities in East Devon. To this end, we’ve invested in a new office in Exeter and all our services will be supported by Ian Williams’ proprietary iwsys technology which will provide seamless IT integration and fast access to asset data. This will also help us meet EDDC’s objectives to turn around empty homes efficiently so that new tenants can move in as quickly as possible.”
Mike Turner, Executive Director at Ian Williams adds: “Providing modernisation and maintenance services for social housing providers has been at our core since we were established in 1946. Over recent years, our directly employed teams have provided innovative responsive, planned and void services for high profile housing clients.
“This means we have a lot of experience and understand our unique responsibility to be respectful and understanding when working in people’s homes. Backed up by formal Equality and Diversity training, we’ve developed a unique awareness of what we need to provide to deliver outstanding levels of service for residents and communities, especially when we’re working in homes of more vulnerable or older people. We are proud and delighted to have been awarded this contract with EDDC and look forward to working closely with individuals and communities in East Devon to prove our commitment to second-to-none customer service, resident satisfaction and community engagement.”