Social housing provider Onward Homes has announced the successful contractors for its repairs, gas and voids services in a landmark deal worth £77.7 million.
The contracts, which go live in April 2019, are for an initial five years, with the potential to extend by two years and then a further three years.
Fortem Solutions Ltd will be taking over responsive repairs in Greater Manchester, while Axis Europe Plc will be taking over in Merseyside. Warmer Energy Services will provide gas servicing and repairs in Greater Manchester, while existing contractor PH Jones will launch the new gas and repairs service in Merseyside.
Onward’s in-house subsidiary will expand its remit to cover the entire Lancashire region, a move that will see it deliver services to an additional 2,600 properties.
In order to be successful, contractors had to display both value for money and quality of service delivery as part of their bid.
“We have followed a competitive tendering process,” said Onward regional director for Lancashire Dave Mayner. “All successful bidders impressed us with their values, attitudes and partnership approach.
“We want to deliver a repairs and gas service which is convenient, meets the needs of our customers and keeps their homes safe and in a high quality condition. We will provide a reliable and consistent service across all of our neighbourhoods, with a focus on first time resolution.”
While changes may be afoot behind the scenes, Onward has assured customers it will continue to work hard to ensure minimal disruption and a smooth handover.
“We will do all we can to ensure there is no negative impact on service levels during the handover period to the new contractors,” said deputy chief executive Alastair Cooper.
Updated information will be made available to customers, outlining what Onward will be responsible for and what customers will be responsible for under the new arrangements, and how long different types of repairs will take.
To make it as easy as possible to report repairs, the company has also improved its online capability to allow customers to report and track repairs online via their ‘My Onward’ account.
“We want to hear what our customers think about our repairs service once the new contractors are in place, and we want them to hold us to account for delivering these service standards,” said Cooper.
Fortem managing director Mick Williamson added:
“This contract will be delivered from our new North West branch, from which our dedicated 50-strong team will work to provide members of the community with training and employment opportunities. Over the coming months, we will be introducing Fortem to customers, who can expect to benefit from our customer-centred, flexible approach.”
Warmer Energy Services managing director Charlie Mullan said:
“Our commitment to delivering a strong and compliant service with our partners is at the forefront of all WES business activities and the team and I are looking forward to the future with our new partner.”
PH Jones regional operations manager for North England Ian Rigby said:
“We remain committed to doing everything in our power to accomplish Onward’s organisational goals, keeping customers safe and providing a high class service.”
Axis divisional director Leanne Ball commented:
“The partnership promises improvements in value and service and Axis will bring all of its energy, experience and resource to making this happen. We are working very closely with the Onward management team during this mobilisation period to ensure we have the people, culture and IT in place to deliver this vital service.”
The head of Onward’s in-house subsidiary, Steve Russell said:
“Our business expansion provides us with the opportunity to increase our impact on the local community creating even more local employment opportunities. We intend to work closely with local schools and colleges to enhance and add additional social value across right across the area.”