Chester and District Housing Trust has brought its gas servicing and inspection services back in-house with help from Civica. CDHT had previously outsourced its gas servicing to property services company PH Jones but the 2011 rise in VAT to 20 per cent made the costs unmanageable.
Paul Finch, assistant director for property investment, Chester & District Housing Trust, said, “Housing providers are always looking for new ways of enhancing services without compromising on quality, including the possibilities of outsourcing services to gain efficiencies. However, a neglected option has been gaining efficiency savings and service improvements by bringing outsourced services back in-house.
“In-house services immediately eliminate the service charges and extraneous costs of using external contractors. However, the longer term benefits are that the systems and processes on which a service is based are properly constructed, service delivery costs themselves can be reduced, customer satisfaction improved and in-house expertise enhanced.”
Civica and CDHT developed a real-time servicing and inspection process based around Civica’s Servitor housing repairs management system, connected to a Servitor Mobile system on handheld devices and Xmbrace’s Opti-Time dynamic scheduling system.
CDHT workers in the field now have direct access to CDHT’s central database and can consequently get live updates, input to the database and complete CP12 certificates on-site through their handheld devices. Opti-Time allows appointment scheduling to be automated and synchronised with time sheets, increasing the productivity of workers.
Finch said, “Since we took gas servicing and inspection in-house in January last year, we have benefitted from the instant savings of avoiding the VAT rise and putting an end to service charges. The efficiency of fieldworkers has increased, the already excellent levels of tenant satisfaction have risen and we have increased the number of staff available to carry out servicing.”