From: Dan Thorley, Systems accountant, Places for People
Sir – The subject of services charges, how to get them right and how to do it efficiently is a subject that is becoming increasingly important across the housing sector. The recent case of a large organisation having to give back over a million pounds, increased tenant and homeowner awareness of access to redress, pressure for VFM, the increase in mixed tenure schemes and from personal experienced of a lengthy LVT mean the need to produce transparent evidence of costs of services to residents and to produce them as efficiently as possible has never been more pressing.
I have been lucky enough to visit a number of organisations to look at how they produce service charges and they are roughly in two camps: one that produces them reasonably efficiently but take a very simplistic approach; and those who try for more detailed and accurate apportionments but tend to do it on large volumes of spreadsheets and the cost of production being in excess of the amounts recovered.
The need is for a purchase invoice to service charge accounts to property charge solution where items are only coded once and all the relevant information is held in a central repository. Some small and niche providers are now starting to take this seriously as they can see an opportunity; it would be good if some of the more mainstream providers followed their lead.