Raglan Housing Association
Value for Money Strategy
“Achieving more for less, so we
can meet the increasing
expectations of customers and
Raglan HA VFM Strategy
1. INTRODUCTION ................................................................................................................................... 3
2. WHY HAVE A STRATEGY? ................................................................................................................. 3
3. AIMS OF THE STRATEGY ................................................................................................................... 4
4. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘VALUE FOR MONEY’?............................................................................. 4
5. BACKGROUND .................................................................................................................................... 5
6. BENCHMARKING AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE ....................................................................... 13
7. PERFORMANCE MONITORING & FINANCIAL CONTROL ............................................................. 14
8. PROCUREMENT ................................................................................................................................ 15
9. ESTABLISHING A VFM CULTURE ................................................................................................... 17
10. REINVESTMENT OF EFFICIENCY GAINS ....................................................................................... 21
11. DELIVERING THE STRATEGY .......................................................................................................... 21
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Raglan HA VFM Strategy
Raglan Housing Association‟s Business Plan sets out our key purpose as “to
meet the needs of people by providing quality, affordable homes, high
standard services and by promoting and encouraging sustainable
communities”. Our values include putting our customers first and delivering
what we promise. Our aims within the business plan include being financially
viable, effectively governed and managed, and reviewing evaluating and
improving our work and our operational systems on a regular basis.
We receive significant public funding, operating within a regulatory framework.
We aim to achieve and demonstrate good practice in our approach to VFM,
comparable with the best performers in the sector, as well as contributing to
To deliver these objectives, we must in turn achieve and demonstrate value
for money in all our activities, addressing cost and quality together. This
strategy sets out the framework of our approach to Value for Money and the
corporate Service Improvement Plan – developing as we progress on the
improvement journey – shows how we will achieve our aims.
2. WHY HAVE A STRATEGY?
It is essential that Raglan HA has a strategy to ensure that the organisation,
and therefore our customers, obtain the maximum benefit for the goods and
services that we acquires and that we operate in the most efficient way
possible. Value for Money is one of the key drivers (along with customer
involvement and equality and diversity) at the heart of how we deliver services
to our customers.
We have up to now achieved a number of successes in delivering Value for
Money. This strategy will build on this by providing a clear framework within
which we can:
Set out our key aims and values;
Identify key work streams through which VFM will be delivered;
Ensure that we are focusing on the right things, that matter to our
customers, and which will lead to improvements in the way the
business is run;
Ensure that we embed VFM within every area of Raglan‟s activities;
Demonstrate our commitment to VFM to our residents, staff, regulators
and other stakeholders;
Deliver the aims of the strategy through a SMART action plan – the
Service Improvement Plan;
Measure our progress systematically.
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Raglan HA VFM Strategy
3. AIMS OF THE STRATEGY
The aims of the strategy are to:
Achieve high quality services for our customers at the best possible price,
where appropriate redirecting resources to services delivering an impact on
Ensure that VFM activity supports Raglan‟s values and the delivery of key
Integrate VFM principles within Raglan‟s business planning and service
Embed a culture of VFM within the organisation, so that it becomes „part
of the day job‟ for all;
Involve residents in achieving the aims of this strategy;
Secure informed and active commitment from Board Members in
achievement of VFM;
Provide a framework for the Association to contribute to the Government‟s
We believe that these aims can be summed up in the overarching objective of:
“Achieving more for less, so we can meet the increasing expectations of
customers and stakeholders”
4. WHAT DO WE MEAN BY ‘VALUE FOR MONEY’?
Value for Money (VFM) is a long-standing concept, which develops the
relationship between cost („economy‟), efficiency and effectiveness – the 3
Cost means acquiring goods and services at the most competitive rates, e.g.
the annual cost of a member of staff – “paying the best price”.
Efficiency means making sure we maximise productivity by using the least
resources (e.g. staff time) to deliver the required result of an activity – “doing
things the best way”.
Effectiveness means making sure that the result of an activity is helping
achieve the outcome we want – “doing the right things”. Measurement is both
quantitative and qualitative.
This relationship can be shown as a diagram.
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Value for Money
Economy Efficiency Effectiveness
Costs (£) Inputs Outputs Outcomes
Procurement of goods and services is a key element of VFM. In deciding whether
something is value for money, we look at whether or not we are obtaining the
maximum benefit for the goods and services that we acquire or provide, within our
resources. There is certainly no assumption that the cheapest price is best –
decisions are taken on the basis of a balance of cost and quality, taking „whole life‟
costs into account. Measurement of progress towards achieving VFM is therefore
a combination of cost, performance and satisfaction indicators.
We know that for our residents quality and “getting it right at the first opportunity”
are two essential elements of VFM.
5.1 Development of VFM within the social housing sector
Obtaining VFM has been a priority of central government, the Audit
Commission, the Housing Corporation and now the Tenant Services Authority
for some time. Some of the key drivers behind this include:
Introduced in 1999, the Best Value regime aimed to ensure delivery of quality
services, not the lowest price tendered. To do this, Raglan needs the capacity
to make intelligent choices between different service delivery models and to
implement change projects successfully.
The Gershon Report
Published in 2004, this report was commissioned by government to drive the
procurement and efficiency agenda. By implementing sound procurement
practices, public sector bodies can redirect resources to front line services.
The Gershon Report led to the CLG introducing efficiency targets across the
public sector, and the requirement to prepare Annual Efficiency Statements
(now incorporated into the annual Self Assessed Compliance Statement).
The Gershon Review identified a number of key areas or “work streams”
where these efficiencies could be found:
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Back office (Corporate Support Services e.g. Finance, Human
Resources, Payroll, IT, Legal, Procurement, Security and
Transactional services (rents, void efficiencies)
Productive time (actions that increase productivity e.g.
It defined four ways to improve efficiency:
Reduce inputs for the same outputs – put in fewer resources to get the
same result, i.e. “the same for less”;
Reduce prices for the same outputs – pay less for inputs to get the
same result, also “the same for less”;
Achieve more outputs or improved quality for the same inputs – get
better results from the same resources, i.e. “more for the same”;
Achieve proportionally more outputs or improved quality compared with
the extra resources that are used, i.e. “spend more but get even more
Housing Corporation Operating Cost Index
Introduced in 2005, this sought to show the relative costs of housing
associations, taking into account their operating environment. Although the
methodology was flawed, it served a purpose in raising the profile of relative
costs and performance within the sector.
Audit Commission Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs)
As well as incorporating a VFM element within each landlord service KLOE,
there is a specific VFM KLOE. This has two overarching considerations:
1. How do the organisation‟s costs compare to others, allowing for local
context, performance and policy choices?
2. How is value for money managed, including through partnership and
procurement, and taking the long term view?
Audit Commission ‘Better Buys’ HA procurement report
Published in 2008, this provided evidence that there remained considerable
scope for many associations to achieve further efficiency through better
procurement, and set out the elements of good practice.
5.2 Regulation and inspection
The Tenant Services Authority is developing its approach to regulation of the
sector to apply from 2010. As part of this new regulatory framework there will
be a national standard for VFM. This is unlikely to be a departure from the
current regulatory approach. The draft objective for the Standard is:
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Landlords provide value for money in the delivery of services, and manage
their financial resources effectively to provide quality services and homes to
meet the needs of current and future tenants.
Within this, the TSA explicitly recognises that VFM stems from a balance
between economy, efficiency and effectiveness, and that the approach to
achieving VFM for different services will look different for different landlords.
There is also a recognition of the relationship between the approach to VFM
and other strategies – so for instance service delivery can become more
effective with improved resident engagement. Put another way, with better
understanding of what is important to our customers we can get better at
„doing the right things‟.
The TSA vision of future regulation is of „co-regulation‟ between the landlord,
tenants, and the TSA, and that regulation of VFM fits with this approach. At
the time of development of this strategy this has yet to be fully developed.
The Audit Commission has also developed their expectations in respect of
demonstrating VFM as part of their inspection process. VFM is an essential
element of each of the Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOEs) that have been
developed to direct the inspection process and against which the performance
of housing organisations is being measured. VFM is one element of the KLOE
covering the quality of delivery for each activity. In addition, there is a
crosscutting KLOE specifically considering VFM that also contributes to the
assessment of Prospects for Improvement.
This strategy addresses all Raglan‟s operations, while recognising that
achieving VFM within many specific areas of our business are covered by
other strategies and policies. Some areas have well developed approaches to
achieving VFM and are not addressed in detail in this strategy – for example
Supporting People contracts and Treasury Management.
5.4 Context & operating environment
Raglan HA owns and manages over 11,000 homes, across 103 local authority
areas. Our area of operation is the south of England and the Midlands. Our
stock is concentrated in the urban areas of Southampton, Bedford, Reading,
Eastbourne, Bournemouth and Poole. We employ over 400 staff, based in
seven main locations. We operate a structure of three regions, comprising:
South & South East
West & Thames
Midlands & East
Our stock profile is primarily general needs housing, with a significant focus on
housing for older people, including 1,600 rented sheltered properties and LSE
schemes. We also have a long standing commitment to provision of housing
for those with disabilities.
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Our operating environment presents particular opportunities and challenges in
achieving value for money in all our activities, especially:
Our relatively dispersed geographic spread;
Our devolved regional structure;
The diversity of our operations;
The number of local authority areas in which we operate;
Increasing expectations from our customers and other stakeholders.
Our corporate values underpin how we work and this strategy will complement
other measures that reflect these values:
Putting our customers first;
Delivering what we promise;
Being open and accountable;
Promoting equality & diversity;
Being a good employer which includes a staff appraisal and training
process to ensure all staff have the appropriate skills and knowledge to
carry out their jobs effectively.
Listening and learning to improve what we do.
We understand that our residents want well-informed, customer-focussed staff
who follow up issues and keep residents informed.
5.5 Links to Business Plan, other strategies, etc
This Strategy forms an integral part of our strategic approach to operating the
business. It therefore complements other key documents including:
The Business Plan
Single Equality Scheme and Action Plan
The Customer Service Initiative
Resident Involvement Strategy
Treasury Management Strategy
Supported Housing [confirm terminology – documentation on bidding
for/costing & managing SP contracts, the QAF assessment process, stated
strategy in relation to QAF target ratings, etc]
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Risk Management policy
The Development Strategy
The Asset Management Strategy
This strategy will directly assist us to achieve the objectives of our Business
Plan, in particular the aims to:
Provide an efficient, good quality housing service
To review, evaluate and improve our work and our operational systems on
a regular basis, and
To be financially viable, effectively governed and managed.
5.6 Where are we now?
We use a range of information to assess our starting point for this strategy.
Most relevant is that derived from the HouseMark benchmarking model. The
most recent available data is for 2007-8. The information is shown in
comparison to a peer group comprised of „traditional‟ housing associations
(i.e. excluding local authorities, ALMOs, and stock transfer associations)
based in the South East, South West, or the Midlands, with stock between
5,000 and 20,000 properties. The data is shown as quartiles.
Overview for Raglan Housing Association
Cost KPI Quality KPI
Business Activity Quality KPI
Raglan Housing Raglan Housing
Overall Tenant Satisfaction
Total Pay Cost per property
Core Overhead Cost per N/A
% of residents satisfied with repairs service
Responsive & Void Repairs Spend
Percentage of repairs completed on time
Major & Cyclical Repairs Spend per % of dwellings failing to meet the Decent
Property Homes Standard
Current tenant rent arrears as % of rent due
Tenancy Related Activities
% tenants satisfied with participation in decision
Housing Management Pay Cost per making
Number of weeks taken to re-let empty
Upper Middle Middle Lower
Median N/A No Data
Quartile Upper Lower Quartile
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It is also important to measure the value for money our customers perceive
they are receiving for the rent and service charges they are paying. The data
is drawn from survey returns. Some headline findings are:
Perceptions of good Value for Money
New tenants (new properties) – rent 93%
New tenants (all new lettings) – rent 92%
General needs tenants – rent 75%
General needs tenants – service charge 57%
Sheltered tenants – rent 87%
Sheltered tenants – service charge 78%
New Shared Owners – rent 47%
New Shared Owners – service charge 28%
Homeowners – satisfied with VFM of cleaning 72%
Homeowners – satisfied with VFM of rent & service charge info 58%
Homeowners – satisfied with VFM of repairs & maintenance 47%
Homeowners – willing to pay higher charge for extra services 8%
In summary, this data shows:
Top quartile performance for overall tenant satisfaction, satisfaction with
the repairs service, and achievement of the Decent Homes Standard;
Better than (i.e. below) average (second quartile) housing management
pay and overhead cost per property;
Relatively high cost (3rd quartile) for responsive and void repairs spend,
while achieving low performance on getting repairs completed on time –
albeit delivering high satisfaction;
Low expenditure (top quartile) on major and cyclical repairs;
Poor performance on void relet periods;
Mixed perception of levels of satisfaction with value for money with rent
and service charges between different resident groups;
Little appetite among home owners for enhanced services if this leads to
This data does of course only tell part of the story and in some respects is at
odds with the findings of the 2009 Short Notice Inspection report by the Audit
Commission into Raglan‟s gas safety, responsive repairs and void works
service, which among other findings concluded that while costs were low,
quality was also low. Our starting point is that there is scope to enhance our
approach to VFM, and we aim to be a top quartile performer in relation to our
peers in all key areas.
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5.7 Developing the strategy
We have involved a range of key stakeholders in the development of this
strategy. Consultation is including:
Feedback from residents in various ways, including:
o Responses to the special edition of our newsletter Round Up
following the Audit Commission‟s inspection in March 2009;
o Responses to a „Where‟s the waste?‟ message in a special edition
of Round Up in July 2009;
Discussions with key directors, managers and staff to identify existing
initiatives and potential further actions to promote VFM;
Presentation to and discussion with Board members;
Involvement of residents through the creation of a VFM Resident Panel, in
particular obtaining feedback on the aims and the priorities within the
Involvement of staff through the creation of a VFM working group;
Feedback from staff through our newsletter Inside Out,
Feedback from the Regional Committees in July 2009.
We have also considered best practice within the social housing sector.
The process through which Raglan HA buys goods and services is key to
demonstrating VFM within the organisation and our current position and
proposed way forward is outlined in section 8 - Procurement.
It is also essential that a culture exists throughout Raglan that considers VFM
at every stage and at all levels and takes the appropriate actions in an
unconscious way rather than because there is a box to “tick”. Our aim is for
VFM to become „part of the day job‟ for all. This will be achieved in stages and
section 9 - Establishing a VFM Culture sets out some of the ways in which we
will work towards the development of this culture.
The VFM elements of the Service Improvement Plan draws on key areas
already identified though information gathering, previous inspections, best
practice, resident consultation and internal discussion. It aims to ensure that
Raglan has a clear framework of information and monitoring to guide resource
allocation, improvement plans and decision making over the life of the
In developing the Action Plan, Raglan develops expectations and therefore
targets of the changes that it wishes to see in a number of areas. These cover
a wide range from targets around a broad allocation of available resources,
though to detailed targets for specific service areas. As well as delivering an
efficient, value for money service, Raglan has an overriding objective of
maximising the share of available resources that are directed towards the
needs of our residents, whilst managing within our overall financial constraints.
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5.8 Achievements to date
Although Raglan has not previously had a VFM strategy in place, there are
many examples of VFM achievements, and the concepts are not new to many
areas of our operations. Key achievements to date have been achieved in the
Partnering maintenance contracts.
Our supported housing operations consistently achieve high quality
service, externally accredited, within a competitive cost environment, and
with no internal subsidy. Two of our projects so far have received 6
Grade „A‟ Quality Assurance Framework assessments under the
Supporting People funding system – an extra care project in Bromley and
an Asian Women‟s Refuse in Bedford. The Quay Foyer was the first in
the country to be awarded the „Excellence‟ level for the national Matrix
Standards, and has attracted over £100,000 in inward investment for
refurbishment. The West Dorset Women‟s Refuge was shortlisted for the
National Housing Federation‟s Annual Awards „Best Front Line Service‟
in 2007, and has a strong track record of inward investment through both
volunteer led fundraising, partnership with the local authority, and an
innovative partnership with the local university.
Our Development operation delivers good VFM as measured by a
balance of costs (grant per unit and per person, and taking unit sizes into
account) and quality as measured by HCA impact assessments and
resident satisfaction. In particular, through our development strategy we
have focused on the long term cost implications of alternative
procurement models and this has led to development via a combination
of sites we have purchased ourselves and Section 106 partnerships.
Restructuring housing management regions, achieving a saving of £53K.
A range of efficiency measures in Human Resources, including extensive
use of benchmarking of costs and processes, a £70K saving in
recruitment costs derived from a move to competency based
assessment, and improved assessment of the impact of learning and
development through monitoring both immediately after the completion of
training and 2-4 months later.
LHC membership, providing a rebate in 08-9 of £10,737.
Our Annual Efficiency Statements for 2006-7 and 2007-8 show a total of over
£2M gains, spread across the areas of capital works, management &
maintenance, and commodities. In 2008-9, our targeted efficiency savings
were £560K . The gain actually achieved in the year was £202,000. For
2009/10, in addition to the measures set out in this strategy, the Association is
developing a stock rationalisation strategy with the primary aim of improving its
service deliveries. The expected efficiencies will be quantified as the strategy
develops but it is not possible to do so at this stage.
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6. BENCHMARKING AND BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE
Benchmarking is an essential tool in measuring, monitoring and reviewing
both internal and external costs and a key driver in assisting us achieve our
aims. Rather than answering questions about costs, it prompts us to ask
questions about where we are spending our money, as one tool to establish
robust business intelligence about our operations.
Raglan HA is committed to using benchmark data to compare itself against
other similar organisations. Raglan shares its costs and key performance
indicators (KPIs) with other similar organisations to ensure that the services
provided are delivered in an efficient and effective way whilst delivering a high
quality standard of service. We will also introduce an element of competition
by trying to perform better than other housing associations.
Raglan along with many other social landlords is a member of the HouseMark
benchmarking club. The club works on the principle that members share
information regarding their financial and operational performance to enable
comparisons to be made. Bringing comparable cost, performance and
satisfaction data together is a key element of our self assessment of how we
are achieving progress towards achieving and demonstrating VFM. Initially we
will focus on the comparative costs of the responsive repairs, voids and gas
safety services, to establish a clear understanding of the variances against our
We will develop our approach further, to drill down to establish comparative
costs at the level of individual transactions – e.g. responsive repairs, rent
payments, ASB case handling, and legal actions.
In looking at costs, we analyse the cost drivers within our overall service costs.
We especially focus on our overheads, looking to build our knowledge of
where these can be reduced and thereby redirecting resources to direct
service delivery. As part of this approach, we already benchmark many of our
human resources costs and processes against our peers as members of the
Winmark RSL Network. These have included benchmarking of:
Temporary staff costs
Costs of the HR department in relation to staff numbers
Pay and job evaluation
HR processes and terms & conditions in relation to top performing
Associations as defined by their ranking in the Sunday Times top 100
We will also develop our approach to comparing costs internally, for instance
between regions and between our partner contractors.
In addition to benchmarking, we will take other measures to achieve better
business intelligence about where we are spending money. Initially we will
focus on property services. This will include for example:
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Greater knowledge about the patterns of demand for the responsive
repairs service, initially through a programme of visits to those properties
with a history of high demand (and therefore high cost) defined as a large
number of reported repairs. This will tell us more about why the repairs
were needed and enable a more pro-active approach.
Analysis of variances in the cost of void and responsive repairs by property
type, location, age etc, to understand more about underlying cost drivers.
We will ensure that business intelligence data including benchmarking is
integral to our approach to service review and improvement.
7. PERFORMANCE MONITORING & FINANCIAL CONTROL
7.1 Budget setting and control
As part of our new approach to achieving VFM, we are revising our approach
to budget setting, moving towards a zero based approach across the
organisation. This will establish stronger links between allocation of financial
resources and business priorities.
This revised approach will provide significantly more clarity in establishing the
costs of delivery for each service. Armed with this information it is possible to
make a clearer link between the cost of delivery and the performance
achieved. High cost/low output service areas can be clearly identified to better
focus process and service reviews. This also enables more detailed
comparison with other high performing housing organisations looking at the
cost effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery.
This will be the start of a process of developing more effective joint working
between the Finance team and individual budget holders.
7.2 Performance monitoring
Performance both financially and against KPIs is monitored throughout the
organisation. Managers are expected to discuss performance regularly with
staff at team meetings and the Board receive and discuss performance reports
on a regular basis. The monitoring of financial performance against budget
and KPIs is an integral part of monthly management information to the
management team and individual reports to budget holders.
The financial reporting package as well as other performance reports
continues to evolve to meet the needs of managers in managing performance
as well as for scrutiny purposes. This ensures that managers have the
necessary tools to enable them to assess structures, processes, proposals
and changes in terms of VFM. We will revise our performance monitoring
„dashboard‟ to capture cost data alongside performance measures.
In working with our maintenance partners, we will incorporate KPIs measuring
VFM into our approach to contract management.
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7.3 Building an evidence log
We will establish an effective system of capturing evidence via a log of
ongoing efficiency gains, both reduced costs and added value. This will act as
a means of monitoring our overall progress towards achieving efficiency, to
track the relative contributions of different departments and teams, and to help
identify future work streams. It will also assist us to monitor the impact of the
staff suggestion scheme.
7.4 Gathering resident feedback
We already gather feedback from residents in a range of ways to measure the
impact of actions we take, but recognise that there is scope to enhance our
approach. We will use the pilot exercise in relation to the VFM of service
charges (Section 9.2 below), to establish a robust method of gathering this
information, and will incorporate VFM assessments within all survey feedback
where this is meaningful.
We will also involve residents more in performance monitoring by, for
example, inviting them to inspect and/or comment on work and services
8.1 Procurement Strategy
We have had a procurement policy since 2007. This sets out some key
procurement principles, but we recognise that it could be improved to meet our
future requirements. We are therefore committed to developing a revised
procurement strategy and action plan during 2009. This will draw on a range
of good practice, including the Audit Commission‟s 2008 „Better Buys‟
Central to the achievement of VFM is achieving the best balance of cost and
8.2 Procurement Processes
The procurement processes we use are set out in our Procurement Policy.
There are also Standing Orders setting out the procedures and authority levels
that all staff should follow in purchasing both goods and services from external
suppliers. By following the procedures set out, staff ensure that any new
contract that they enter into has been properly assessed against a wide range
of operating and financial criteria and should therefore be value for money.
We use a number of different procurement methods, including:
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We choose the most appropriate method, following authorisation under our
Standing Orders. We comply with OJEU tendering procedures where required.
8.3 Procurement Consortia
The use of procurement consortia is recognised as a good way to ensure
value for money contracts without having to always break new ground.
Consortium members can draw on bulk contracts that have already been
tendered and assessed for value for money, without having to carry out every
stage of the procurement process internally. A particular benefit of such
arrangements is the potential for significant savings arising from the power of
bulk purchasing and negotiating.
Alongside membership of national consortia such as Procurement for Housing
and the London Housing Consortium, Raglan also uses the services of the
Office for Government Commerce (OGC). We will use the consortium
procurement approach in a way to deliver the optimum value for money. This
can be both purchasing through a consortium, and using prices offered
through a consortium as a benchmark for measuring alternative procurement
8.4 Whole life costing
A key principle within our approach to procurement is to select goods on the
basis of „whole life‟ costs. This will apply to all purchasing, but initially the
focus will be on components for our maintenance service and the
improvement programme. We will develop our approach using comparative
cost and performance data, in particular analysing purchase costs, failure
rates and repair/ renewal costs. We will promote effective joint working
between staff within our Operations, Development and Finance departments
to achieve this. We recognise that provision of new housing via Section 106
agreements where the developer specifies the detailed design, limits our
control of component selection but we apply a „whole life costing‟ approach in
developing new homes wherever possible.
We will during the life of this strategy, use the learning developed above to
apply whole life costing more widely across all our procurement activities, and
involving all Departments.
8.5 Working with suppliers and contractors
We believe that to achieve the best outcomes for Raglan, we need to actively
manage the relationship with our key suppliers of goods and services. Our
partners themselves have supply chain partners on place. Our Procurement
Strategy will set out more information on how this operates in practice.
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9. ESTABLISHING A VFM CULTURE
We will not achieve our Value for Money objectives purely through changes to
systems, structures and procedures. We must also develop and support a
„Value for Money culture‟ within the three key groups of people within our
organisation – residents, the Board, and staff. Our starting point on the journey
towards becoming an organisation with a strongly embedded VFM culture is
that while there are pockets of good practice within Raglan, we need to make
significant progress overall, over the life of this strategy, to enhance this
aspect of our organisation.
We aim to achieve a greater level of awareness of VFM amongst our
customers. This includes:
Communicating to residents Raglan‟s commitment to achieving better
Awareness of the opportunities for residents to get involved further;
Confidence and opportunity to make suggestions; together with
Reporting back to residents progress with VFM initiatives, including
savings made and improved service quality;
Opportunities to indicate priority areas for reinvestment of savings
Knowing whether our residents think that our current services are value for
money is a key part of ensuring that these services do actually deliver value.
We know that residents do take value for money very seriously and many of
the comments made on consultation questionnaires and satisfaction surveys
refer to it. As the end users, it is important that residents believe that they are
receiving the best quality and the most efficient service with the funds that are
available to Raglan. We want to encourage all residents to be confident in
expressing their views and ideas relating to value for money.
One example of this is understanding more about our residents‟ perception of
the VFM of service charges. We already carry out an annual survey of all
residents who receive services paid for through a service charge, asking for
feedback on service quality. We will, initially on a pilot basis, expand this to
gather feedback on their perception of the value for money of the service
An emphasis for residents will be the issue of shared responsibility for
achieving value for money. Raglan staff will review processes and structures
and make resourcing and procurement decisions that seek to achieve this.
Tenants and leaseholders will however be reminded that they also have a part
to play through:
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keeping the terms of their tenancy or lease agreement;
meeting their own repair responsibilities;
ensuring that they (and their families) maintain the external
reporting acts of vandalism and waste that they see.
Our Resident Participation Strategy incorporates a number of resident panels.
We are establishing a VFM resident panel that will:
Comprise residents with a particular interest in VFM issues;
Meet regularly to identify issues and opportunities for improving VFM;
Make suggestions for improving VFM;
Examine how to raise the profile of VFM issues among all Raglan
Work together with the staff led VFM group on VFM issues;
Be part of the resident group addressing service improvement
We will also seek new ideas in as many ways as possible:
Simple view-finding – questions in the resident magazine Round Up with a
Suggestion scheme seeking ideas for more effective ways to deliver
services – either in response to articles in the newsletter or through an
option on the Raglan website;
Competitions in the newsletter – with prizes for the best suggestions;
We aim to embed rigorously the VFM skills and a VFM culture needed within
the Raglan staff team. This means that VFM becomes „part of the day job‟ for
everyone in Raglan. So all staff – in a way that is appropriate to their post –
Be able to define in general terms what VFM is, why it is important to
Raglan, and what Raglan‟s approach is;
Recognise that they have both a personal and a collective responsibility
through their team to promote and achieve VFM within Raglan – to treat
every penny as their own.
Identify specific contributions they can make to this process;
Record efficiency gains and savings, so progress can be measured;
Be encouraged to constructively challenge colleagues and managers
where opportunities to deliver VFM are not being maximised;
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Be recognised for their contribution.
We will ensure we provide staff with the means of achieving this. We have
already established a VFM Working Group as a key area of expertise within
Raglan. Further measures will include:
Launching the strategy, in ways that are meaningful to our staff group;
Incorporating discussion of VFM issues within team meetings;
Including VFM within the induction training for all new staff;
Re-launch the staff suggestion scheme, with appropriate rewards and
where possible the involvement of the staff member in implementing
Specific training in VFM issues within our management development
Further measures to enhance staff skills in achieving VFM through
procurement will be included within our revised Procurement Strategy;
Assessing VFM contributions within supervision and performance
Reviewing processes to ensure that they are not encumbered by
unnecessary official procedures.
As managers continue to develop their role, their understanding of the
interaction between financial performance and operational targets will
increase. This will ensure that over time they play an increasing role in
improving VFM across Raglan.
Good communication is key to ensuring that all staff understand the Raglan
approach to VFM. We are developing a Communications Plan for the VFM
strategy to achieve this in different ways, including:
Feedback to all staff from key external reviews such as QAF
assessments of our supported housing services, internal audit reviews,
external service reviews and inspections;
Regular Team briefing sessions cascading information down to all staff;
Development of team plans outlining objectives for the coming year,
which also demonstrate how they contribute to cross-cutting issues
In addition, we will continue to explore ways to improve awareness of VFM
across Raglan, especially with more junior members of staff. This may include
recognition award schemes for individuals and teams, based on staff
nominating colleagues for their contribution.
9.4 Partnership working
We are committed to working in partnership where this will deliver enhanced
VFM. In particular we aim to maximise the value of inward investment we
secure for the benefit of our customers. In our partnership work we look to
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develop the efficiency of the working relationship, in order to derive the
greatest benefit. Partnerships that we operate include:
Partnering contracts for responsive maintenance – as well as enabling
efficiency gains partnering contractors have also added value by putting
time & resource back into the environment via estate „cleanup‟ days;
Partnership working in our supported housing operations, for example
with Dorset CC Children‟s Services to fund a Child Support Worker at
our West Dorset Women‟s Refuge, fundraising through voluntary effort,
and partnership working with local universities;
We have worked in partnership with numerous LAs to procure and
deliver hundreds of units of good quality housing schemes at VFM
We are currently working in partnership with Southampton PCT on
Phase 2 of a scheme to deliver Locally Based Hospital Units to the
profoundly challenged. Phase one housed 27 people with special
needs but without the benefit of Social Housing Grant, thus the
emphasis was on VFM.
We have worked in partnership on a large number of schemes with
other RSLs; Harbour Reach in Poole is one such example where with
the Swathling Housing Trust 105 new homes were acquired at VFM
rates on a 340 unit development through joint working;
Again Raglan‟s procurement methods include a successful VFM
partnership approach to site assembly and to construction through a
Design & Build.
Some service level agreements are in place;
Joint initiative with debt advice line;
We aim to maximise the VFM derived from these partnerships, through
collaborative working that produces efficiency gains for both parties.
We aim to establish new partnerships with organisations or to seek external
funding in order to generate maximum benefits from the funds that are
available to Raglan. Where feasible we aim to access external funding
sources to maximise inward investment. Some of the key opportunities for
partnership working are expected to arise from a more systematic approach
to procurement, through delivery of the procurement strategy when in place.
9.5 Board Members
One of the key roles of the Board is to develop and approve overall strategies
for the organisation, from business objectives in the long term through to
strategies for service delivery. The Board also has the role of scrutinising the
delivery of the strategy.
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The delivery of this strategy falls within the remit of Finance & Policy
Committee. It is then the role of the Board as a whole to ensure that any
specific decisions that they take, are made after full consideration of all
relevant factors including Value for Money. To assist with this, we will
incorporate assessment of VFM implications as a standard element within
Board and Committee papers seeking decisions. This will include the long-
term implications of proposals (e.g. future revenue costs of a capital
expenditure decision). It will also include efficiency implications – the impact of
any proposals on working practices and whether changes will result in
efficiency savings as defined by Gershon – i.e. delivering the same or more for
less, more for the same, or proportionally more for increased spend.
10. REINVESTMENT OF EFFICIENCY GAINS
We will develop our approach to reinvesting the gains we derive from our VFM
activities over the life of this strategy. A key element in this approach will be
involving residents in making choices and expressing their priorities. We are
committed to making this a meaningful exercise, and recognise that this will
require investment in capacity building with residents to achieve.
11. DELIVERING THE STRATEGY
11.1 Action Planning
The delivery of this strategy will initially be through the relevant section of
Raglan‟s Service Improvement Plan, itself a development of the association‟s
response to the Audit Commission inspection in 2009. There is therefore –
initially at least – no „standalone‟ delivery plan for VFM. The Service
Improvement Plan will develop further as our approach to improvement
evolves, and as we refine our approach to achieving VFM within Raglan. A
central principle is that we see it as essential to deliver our strategy through a
robust and SMART action plan.
11.2 Links to other strategies and service improvement plans
The VFM strategy and action plan cannot contain everything we are doing to
promote VFM. Our approach to achieving VFM does not sit in isolation from
other areas of our work. Equally important is that there is a strong VFM
element in all service reviews & improvement plans, as part of the continuing
process of embedding a VFM culture across the organisation. Within the
corporate Service Improvement Plan is an action to widen the scope of
Service Reviews to include a VFM element. We aim for VFM to become an
integral part of how we plan our operations and review service delivery.
Our approach will include assessment of:
The whole-life costs of a supply or service;
The materiality of expenditure and the related costs of achieving best
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Raglan HA VFM Strategy
The quality and performance of product/service;
The reliability and service levels of external suppliers;
Risk Management implications: the strategic impact of services/
Legal and regulatory requirements;
Evidence as to whether the current service provides value or
alternatives are worthy of consideration, including survey of external
The forward plan for the Board and relevant committees includes provision for
regular reviews of performance in key areas, picking up especially progress in
the delivery of major projects.
11.3 Working Group and VFM Champions
We have established a Working Group to promote and help deliver VFM within
Raglan. Initially this comprises a small core group of staff drawn from across
the organisation, with an intention to widen the membership to include
residents, Board members, and staff from different levels within the
Some members of the Working Group also have the role of being VFM
Champions. This role involves:
Promoting VFM within their department and workplace, including via the
staff suggestion scheme;
Acting as a source of greater knowledge and expertise on VFM,
advising colleagues regarding VFM;
Acting as a „critical friend‟ in relation to the VFM of the activities of their
department, for instance by constructively challenging existing working
Encouraging their colleagues to constructively challenge others where
they feel there are opportunities to achieve better VFM that have not
been fully taken.
11.4 Value for Money Sponsor
As part of our drive to establish a VFM culture within Raglan, we have
established the role of a VFM Sponsor within the Management Team.
Currently this is the Director of Finance. This role will develop further over
time, and includes:
Overseeing the work of the VFM Working Group;
Reporting progress in delivering the strategy to the Board;
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Proposing to the Board additions and amendments to this strategy and
the Service Improvement Plan.
11.5 Internal communication
It is important that this Strategy and the key actions to deliver it are
communicated across the organisation. As set out in the Service Improvement
Plan, a communications plan comprising a range of actions is in place.
11.6 Monitoring & Review
The Service Improvement Plan is subject to monitoring and review as a key
corporate priority. This includes all VFM actions. Within the life of the Strategy,
we expect to evolve and develop our approach to delivery of VFM. This may
lead to amendment of the Strategy itself. We will carry out a comprehensive
review of the Strategy no later than 2012.
We will monitor delivery of the strategy in a range of ways, reflecting its
importance to different audiences:
Developing and implementing the Association‟s Value for Money
strategy is included in the action plan being monitored by the Working
Group of the Board dealing with the service improvement plan. Ongoing
arrangements will be agreed as the work of this group is completed.
Our Residents‟ Service Improvement Panel is closely monitoring
delivery of the Service Improvement Plan.
We report annually to our resident on performance. We will develop
how we include reporting progress on VFM in this report.
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