• Rob Deacon

A COVID-19 Crisitunity for Social Housing

It’s an understatement to say that the social housing sector is facing a multifaceted challenge in responding to the current COVID-19 Pandemic.  Not only must organisations ensure continuity of support for tenants such as responding to the huge influx of queries relating to welfare but also continuing to ensure business as usual for compliance and critical safety testing.

Given the current travel and social distancing restrictions put in place by the government earlier this week, most social housing providers have taken the sensible decision to suspend all non-essential building, electrical and gas works for the foreseeable future.

Those able to do so are taking a range of measures in consultation with their outsourcing partners to scale back the demand for contracted maintenance but what about those who directly employ a maintenance workforce?

The unprecedented financial support announced by Rishi Sunak offers much needed assistance to the entire professional community, with the ability to furlough staff being of key importance.  This may meet the needs of organisations who can fully furlough employees but not those who continue to provide essential maintenance and compliance testing whilst no longer intending to carry out non-essential works.

How to maximise the crisitunity presented by the current pandemic.

Whilst the regulators are actively looking at whether a relaxation or temporary extension could be granted to tasks such as annual gas safety checks and emergency light and fire alarm testing.  The regulations remain in place.

From a health and safety perspective, it is entirely reasonable that staff should continue to carry out essential maintenance and compliance checks throughout communal property areas along with internal property gas safety checks and now, given the upturn in planned maintenance staff resource availability, a unique opportunity has presented itself.

Compliance automation and remote monitoring is of key interest to the majority of social housing organisations.  The benefits and efficiencies are clear, as are the pound for pound savings achievable, however with the traditional pressures of improvement and new build works being a high priority, many struggle to create the capacity and time to deploy remote management and automation technologies.  Knowing that the investment in time and resource now would ultimately save a significant amount of time and money in the long term is incredibly frustrating.

Automated emergency lighting can be installed cost effectively and easily, removing the need to visit properties month after month for compliance checks.  Remote monitoring and management of boiler stock creates huge benefit by improving first time fixes, reducing callouts and all but eliminating future access issues.

The bottom line.

Deploying technology now whilst the resource pool has capacity will build capability for the future and ultimately save time and money.

Vericon are prepared and ready to assist organisations make the absolute most of opportunities to improve during these strange and challenging times we all find ourselves in.  Inevitably, this is the “new normal” for a time to come so why not talk to us remotely to see how we can help.

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