- 19 Dec 2019
Procurement support for housing associations
We have funded Scotland Excel to deliver a programme of procurement support for housing associations. That programme ran from April 2017 to March 2019 and we are now consulting with the sector to consider ways that the service can be mainstreamed.
The support was based on the Procurement and Commercial Improvement Programme (PCIP) tool, which is well-established across the public sector. Using this tool, Scotland Excel worked with associations – usually for a few months – before undertaking the PCIP assessment. An improvement plan was then agreed.
The support was well-received by those associations that took part and its benefits included:
significant financial savings
better use of community benefits and supported businesses
improved compliance, and
sharing best practice in areas such as procurement strategies and annual reports.
When considering ways that this service can be mainstreamed, we will discuss with the sector whether efficiency savings from this work (and other aspects of the Achieving Excellence in Housing Development programme) can contribute to the action in the Tackling Child Poverty Delivery Plan 2018-22.
Performance and quality improvement
This project measures performance and quality in housing development and construction and is based around Scotland’s Housing Network’s Value for money tool for new build. This collects data from new build projects relating to cost, time and quality and which, when combined with customer research, gives a rounded view of performance and quality. We are keen to support this tool’s roll-out across the sector so that this, in time, provides the evidence upon which to build a system of continuous improvement. As a first step therefore, we are working with partners to review about 80 new build affordable housing projects which will form the basis of further engagement with the sector during 2020.
More than 80% of new homes in Scotland are already built using offsite construction, typically involving open panel timber frames. But with growing concerns about labour and skills shortages; the need to speed up delivery; control costs; and achieve high standards of sustainability, we are keen to understand whether greater use of offsite manufacturing could help address these challenges.
We therefore commissioned research, alongside the Construction Scotland Innovation Centre and Scottish Enterprise, to provide evidence which can contribute towards any future policy. There are were three parts to the research:
- An academic study to provide global experience on the use of offsite systems and the relevance of that experience to Scotland.
- A study to assess the scale and nature of the current offsite manufacturing sector in Scotland, and how that might change over the next five years.
- A series of co-design workshops involving a range of practitioners to understand how traditional housing development and construction processes could be changed to ensure that the benefits of offsite manufacturing can be realised.
We are working with partners to consider options for future policy following the report’s publication.
Wider economic and social value
Good quality affordable housing is a foundation for wider quality of life. Accessible, affordable housing in sustainable local places can contribute significantly to our wider aims to tackle poverty and health inequalities, and to build confidence and capacity in communities. High quality housing and its surrounding environment also helps to give children the best start in life – for example through play areas where they can develop social skills and improve physical health. However, there is currently little data on that important wider value. We are therefore working with the Scottish Federation of Housing Associations and local government to consider whether it is possible to develop a simple way of measuring this added value. It is expected that a prototype system for measuring and analysing economic and social value will be available later in 2020.