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Following the decision to disestablish the joint venture Kier-Stoke and establish a wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) to undertake repairs and maintenance activity for housing, Stoke-on-Trent Council approached Pennington Choices to outline the options for procurement in respect of planned works, responsive repairs, compliance activity and associated works.

The Challenge

Stoke-on-Trent Council wanted Pennington Choices to provide them with a series of options for the procurement of the new repairs and maintenance service. In doing so, we were required to outline what they needed to procure, what was required in preparation to procurement and process considerations for the procurement process. We also needed to allocate the individual responsibilities for each stage of procurement and the timescales for which these tasks would need to be completed. It was essential that all of the procurement options were promoted to Stoke based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and that the local supply chain was engaged.

What We Did

Initially we worked with Stoke-on-Trent team to develop a specification to outline the procurement activities and considerations required by the Council. This piece of work began by initially outlining exactly what they needed to procure and why, including how major works would be delivered and how subcontracted supply chains would be established. We then outlined what the expected work requirements and volumes were for the coming 5 years in order to develop a suitable delivery programme.

Following this, we highlighted a number of factors which needed to be considered in the new WOS, and produced a set of procedure recommendations for each of the 5 areas (materials and stores, major works, specialist compliance works and subcontract supply chain). We provided Stoke with a clear set of timescales for each of the required stages and allocated tasks to the responsible individuals. We then issued the Council with a procurement strategy and plan to identify the procurement recommendations for the new planned works and responsive repairs. We considered the requirements of the newly established wholly owned subsidiary (WOS) of the Council to undertake repairs and maintenance activity and separated our recommendations into 5 separate strands that all maximised, encouraged and ensured participation of the local SME market and supply chain.

The final decisions were decided in a review meeting and these were outlined in a final summary report. This document outlined the decisions made in regards to procurement including valuations for estimated annual spends across each area of repairs and the evaluation criteria used to assess tenders. It was decided that there would be a 60% quality and 40% price split in the decision making process. Finally, we helped Stoke-on-Trent Council to develop a set of procurement policy principles. The policy document outlined the roles of Board members and management staff and the policy requirements to maximise operational efficiency.

We recommended the production of a policy document that outlined a clear approach to the following; procurement; quotation; tendering; OJEU; approvals and certifying payment. We also recommended that the financial thresholds and approvals were decided upon promptly.

Our Achievements

The principle aim of this piece of work was to provide Stoke-on-Trent Council with an idea of how to best manage their new repairs system based on all of the considered options. We were able to help Stoke implement a procurement procedure for their new repairs company that duly considered how the proposed procurement might improve the economic, social and environmental well-being within the contract area and how in conducting this procurement, this improvement could be secured. Since its inception, Unitas has received a lot of positive coverage in the media and we are proud of the role we played in making this happen. S

teve Wilson, the Operations Director of Unitas, recently stated in The Guardian that staff productivity had risen by 15% since the creation of the WOS. Whilst Carl Brazier, the Director of Housing and Customer Services, reported to Inside Housing that the cost of repairs per property had dropped from £1171 to £870 within the first since months of Unitas being launched, which represents a saving of 26%.