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Improving how we involve residents in appointing new contractors

30 May 2022

We recently asked for your views on what you'd like us to consider when renewing and beginning contracts to supply services to you*. In our resident survey on this topic (known as procurement), we asked you what you think is essential to include in our contracts and what ‘nice to have’ aspects of services we should look for when considering potential suppliers’.

As a not for profit organisation, all surplus funds from rental income and sales are reinvested back into homes, services and local communities. It’s important to us that residents have a say in how we approach these investments. The 47 responses we received were rich in detail with many extremely valuable suggestions made. Thank you to all residents who completed the survey! 

Key findings were: 

  • 100% of respondents agreed that it's important to them to have a say in how contracts are awarded. 
  • 26% felt it was only necessary to be involved in this process if the service was resident facing.  
  • 42% felt it was not essential to for suppliers to have a strong social housing focus and expertise. 
  • 73% of respondents felt that it was not essential to be able to resolve their interactions with us themselves. For example, being able to book in their own repairs without contacting us directly. 
  • 23% of respondents felt high quality services and communication was ‘nice to have’ or ‘above expectation'. 
  • 80% of respondents felt it was not essentials for suppliers to donate to charity, with 70% feeling the same about suppliers providing employment and training opportunities.

Residents also mentioned that they would like to learn more about the supplier as an employer, to understand how they attract committed, respectful and motivated team members. 

Residents who were previously involved in procurement processes shared some of the barriers involved in taking part. This has helped us to consider different ways to involve residents in future. Some of the challenges mentioned were: 

  • Taking time off work 
  • Travelling to our offices 
  • Varied or specific technical knowledge involved in certain contract areas or procurement processes
  • Significant focus required to compare bids from potential suppliers and this meant that the process was lengthy. 

To reduce the impact of these challenges so we can work with the 25 people who said they were interested in being involved in procurement  in future, we intend to: 

  • Create a bank of possible questions which were suggested in this survey. These can be included on all contracts for services that may not be directly delivered to residents e.g. IT security, cleaning of offices, consultants framework, colleague compliance training. The questions suggested covered communications, equality and diversity, sustainability and giving back to local communities.
  • Invite residents to be involved in specific aspects of the process where there is more scope for you to influence the outcome, rather being involved in the process from start to finish process which may be time consuming.
  • Be clearer on the areas or aspects of the process residents may be able to influence.  
  • Communicate the outcome more clearly with residents directly involved in the process.  

 *The Procurement Team at Network Homes are responsible for managing the process of acquiring of all contracts over a certain value (over £189,000 for services and supplies and over £4.7 million for a works contract). They are also responsible for ensuring all purchases are carried out compliantly and ensure value for money for Network Homes and our residents.  

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