Value for money statement
The 2015-16 strategy remained in place for the financial year 2016-17 and some targets were revised or added.
Against these, and the existing VFM targets, some notable successes have been achieved during the year including:
- Closure of Your Ability Services Reading and Bournemouth as delivery of these services could not be sustained in an economically viable way, which also led to a reduction of Service Manager posts saving circa £40K on an annualised basis
- Fee Increase agreed with Reading Borough Council and Your Ability Havant which facilitated the continued delivery of these services
- Implementation of e-learning across care and support, (launched 1st October 2017), providing enhanced levels of training, easier to access for staff at reduced cost and savings to travel budget. Saving circa £5K per annum
- Cessation of staff claiming meals when escorting customers and correctly recovering travel expenses when escorting customers Saving circa £7K per annum
- Cessation of meeting lunches for staff saving circa £5K per annum
- Re-negotiation of Barclays loan facilities reducing the interest rate by up to 0.6% (depending on the element of the loan), along with adjusting the nature of the facilities to increase the ‘revolving credit’ element and thereby enhance flexibility
- More effective deployment of cash resources in the reduction of loan balances to yield interest savings of £44k in 2016-17.
In the last months of the 2016-17 financial year a consultation document on a revised approach to Value for Money was issued by the housing regulator.
This document proposes building on the current value for money standard in order to continue to drive value for money in the sector, to ensure that a strategic approach to delivering value for money is embedded in the business, to encourage investment in new homes and new housing supply, and to enhance to consistency, comparability and transparency.
In order to achieve these objectives, and to improve on the consistency and comparability of reporting, the revised standard proposes to shift the emphasis from a narrative basis of VFM reporting to a series of objective metrics based on standard definitions driven by the audited financial statements as reported to the regulator through the annual FVA (regulatory submission of financial statements) submission.
Looking forward to 2017-18
Looking forward, the setting of demanding margin improvement targets for 2017/18 along with a stronger balance sheet position by year-end, mean that VFM improvement remains a core element of Ability’s delivery strategy, with these financial measures supporting qualitative improvements within tightly controlled cost boundaries.
The strategic impact of ongoing investment in Ability’s delivery, and specifically on Value for Money, is anticipated as:
- The strengthening of Strategic and Operational management capacity and expertise across our operational and central service functions. This investment will deliver tangible improvements in the quality and enhanced customer services to our tenants, whilst also delivering efficiencies and increased financial performance over the next two financial years. The full benefit of this investment will realised by the end of financial year 2019/2020.
- Ability are investing strongly in the quality of it’s offering, in the physical environment of the accommodation particularly through Landlord Health and Safety expenditure, and in both the location based and floating care and support services provided.
- Investment in people continues to be challenging given the pricing pressures on services commissioned from Ability, but this continued investment provides enhanced VFM through improved staff retention and a larger talent pool for recruitment.
- Recent highly effective procurement of on-line training services and continuation of the policy of ensuring that starting salaries exceed the National Living Wage ensure access to that talent pool.
- We have procured locally based maintenance and repairs service to maintain our housing stock. This will provide a better more personalised service to tenants and provide a more efficient service, better designed to maintain properties over a dispersed geography.
The final version of the revised VFM standard was issued by the regulator in early 2018, and this will inform a review and update of the Ability Housing Association Value for Money, reflecting the revised business plan and the investment made in service delivery both at the front-line and in the management team level.