The Direct Works Forum (DWF) welcomed its 100th member in December 2012, confirming that social landlords are increasingly choosing to manage the provision of repairs and maintenance in-house. Both Leeds City Council and Stafford and Rural Homes joined the DWF at the end of last year. DWF members now provide a repairs service to more than 1.5 million of the UK’s 4 million social homes.
The shift to bring repairs and maintenance in-house is due partly to the failure of contracting out these services to large firms. In recent years, a number of major contractors has gone into liquidation and with others withdrawing from the sector, landlords face an increasingly limited choice.
Keith Simpson, chair of the DWF identifies a number of additional factors that has contributed to this shift, including VAT savings on labour, being able to make a greater impact on local communities and more control over delivering effective repairs, a service tenants consistently rate as their number one priority. Simpson said: “With a number of major contractors going out of business in the last few years, social landlords are realising bigger is not always better and that they can often deliver a better and more cost-effective service themselves.”
Formed 14 years ago, the DWF provides an opportunity for maintenance professionals to share innovation and best practice. The organisation has developed an inexpensive and unique benchmarking club, where members are measured against proven best practice rather than against each other.
The organisation is also committed to supporting and rewarding new talent, launching an awards ceremony in June 2013 at which CIH chief executive, Grainia Long, will present prizes to individuals who have made an outstanding contribution in the area of repairs and maintenance.