In the fourth of our spotlight series, we spoke to Simon Hatchman, Executive Director of Finance at PA Housing to discuss sector challenges and how the PI Club benefits him.

What was the main driver for you joining Performance Improvement Club?

We found the established sector approach to benchmarking to be fairly labour intensive. The PI Club offers a more strategic model which is flexible and responsive to the views and requirements of its members. The PI Club truly puts its members in charge of the agenda and has a more organic feel to it. The members are collectively responsible for the rolling agenda and can respond quickly to hot topic items and member questions. We also get real insight into relevant business issues from people who have been involved at the sharp end of major business change projects. This moves the debate on from the theoretical to the practical, and we can all learn from each other.

What has been your biggest learning or light bulb moment since joining the PI Club?

The work the PI Club has done on planned maintenance costs was a real eye opener. It revealed the wide disparity on unit costs across the sector. This in turn demonstrated just how much opportunity there is to make significant savings if we can all get our procurement right.

What would your advice be to someone thinking of joining the PI Club?

It is a strategic group, which directly investigates some of the major concerns and issues Housing Associations are facing. My best advice would be to give it a try and see how you find it.

What do you think are the key challenges for the sector?

There are several real challenges for the sector going forward:

  • Although our relationship with Government has been strengthened, there is pressure to deliver an increased volume of new homes.
  • Following the Grenfell tragedy, there is, quite rightly, a renewed focus on our existing residents. We need to ensure that their voices are heard, that they feel safe in their homes and that they have reliable customer service. This is very important for the whole sector going forward. However, it does place additional pressure on our financial resources, and potentially some tension with growth aspirations.
  • Universal Credit and its impact on cash flow will be a challenge for all RPs.
  • Ineffective procurement methods and contract management continue to threaten long term sustainability. To serve our tenants effectively and manage our resources efficiently we must hold our own service providers to account.
  • Anyone walking around our major towns and cities will notice an increase in homelessness. Over the coming years, this may reach crisis levels unless proactive measures are taken. The issue gets to the heart of our roots as a sector. I still passionately believe in the value that social housing, at genuine social rent, gives to society and we must not lose sight of our purpose as a movement.

To find out more about the Performance Improvement Club and how you may be able to benefit, register your interest here or give us a call on 0151 342 5989