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National House Maintenance Forum (NHMF) announces winners of its annual awards at conference dinner

The National House Maintenance Forum (NHMF), the organisation which aims to set the standard for maintaining assets for social housing, has announced the winners of its annual awards.

Project of the Year went to United Welsh, Mears Group and Celtic Horizons for developing a model that reduces the tenants’ journey, improves service delivery and introduces new concepts including the complete property service, a creative lean working approach to improve efficiency and maximise resources by: performance measurement through KPIs and feedback; innovative price per property/price per void model; targeted recruitment and training; priority classification; flexible appointments and also a dedicated call centre.
The Best Client award went to Golden Gates HT; Best Small Client went to Golden Lane Housing; East Kent Housing won the award for the Best Contract; the award for Most Improved Asset Management Service went to Bournville Village Trust and the award for Best In-House Maintenance Service Provider went to Viridian Housing.
“Each year the standard of entries surpass the previous year,” Liz Circuit, secretary to the NHMF and director, M3. “Before the NHMF existed there was a lack of focus on housing maintenance issues, but by bringing together maintenance managers and building a resource of best practice solutions we have firmly shone the spotlight on this aspect of the industry and helped to deliver improved rental housing maintenance and repair services.
“We can certainly see that a lot of organisations are working very hard to go beyond social and corporate responsibility and really provide a good service for their tenants.”
This year the Forum redefined its award categories. “Previously we included a Best Client, Best Contractor and Most Innovative award, but we found this was a little restrictive as just about every entry included something innovative,” explains Circuit.
“We also changed them to take into account the fact there are a lot of in-house maintenance providers now. Also maintenance services are being asked to do a lot more management duties so their responsibilities are wider than just sorting out repairs on houses.
“We decided to have a Project of the Year awarded to the most outstanding entry regardless of the category to which it was entered. The outstanding project for 2014 demonstrated the success of three organisations working in partnership using their combined skills to deliver their project.”
The biggest trend in entries witnessed by the Forum this year was the spirit of co-operation, says Circuit “What we noticed is that companies are working very hard to co-operate together to find those extra savings in the maintenance department and more broadly, in asset management.”
Looking forward to next year’s Forum awards she suggests there may be an inclusion of a Most Innovative Product category.
“There is a lot of very good technology coming into this sector and all sorts of innovative materials being used, so it might be interesting for the Forum to promote some of those things. I’m thinking in particular of materials that are used to reclad tower blocks for example,” she said.
As the sector reflects on this year’s Forum Conference and looks to the future the challenge is really about improving the whole of the UK’s housing stock,” says Circuit. “It’s about taking on new stock and about maintenance and asset managers informing development and working together realistically so we can use new ideas effectively.
“Some of the new technology developers are installing can be very expensive to maintain and sometimes it doesn’t deliver the performance that was expected. We need to make sure that maintenance informs development of their experience of the products so we can ensure we are building the very best solution and that it will be easy to maintain going forward for the next 100 years.”
If it can happen anywhere, it can happen in social housing, she believes. “There are a number of housing associations that are already doing this, for example Radian Group and Bromford Housing Group. It is something that use to happen back in the 1950s when development and maintenance departments had formal agreements to ensure new properties could be maintained within budget.” 

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