As you may have heard, new Service Family Accommodation (SFA) management, and repair and maintenance service contracts will be introduced across the UK next year to replace the current National Housing Prime contract with Amey.
From 1 April 2022, there will be one National Accommodation Management Services (NAMS) contract, which will operate the National Service Centre managing your requests, such as housing allocations and scheduling appointments for repairs and move-in and outs. This has been awarded to Pinnacle.
This will be supported by four Regional Accommodation Maintenance Services (RAMS) contracts, which will provide improvement, repair and maintenance services and statutory and mandatory checks to ensure the SFA estate is maintained to a high standard.
Amey has been awarded the North and Central regions while Vivo will be responsible for the South East and South West regions.
While not all the suppliers will be new to you, the contracts will be very different. By collaborating closely with the individual services, AFF and the other families federations, the new contracts have been designed to better reflect your views and concerns and to meet your specific needs.
These views and concerns were captured by families federation surveys in 2019 to help inform the setting of the contract specifications. In those surveys, around 5,000 of you said you wanted:
- Easier access to accommodation services to log requests and tasks – A ‘HomeHub’ website will allow you to make repair requests, and arrange appointments. You will also be able to contact the National Service Centre through established channels.
- Comprehensive property details – estate-agent style information such as floorplans, internal and external photographs of individual homes will be available. This won’t happen immediately as homes will need to become vacant in order to capture this information but, over time, this will be available for all homes.
- More flexible appointments – Four-hour appointment windows (reduced to one hour on the day), plus evening and weekend appointments, will be introduced along with online tracking to allow you to know, in real time, when operatives will arrive at your home.
- Preventing and handling missed appointments – New scheduling and tracking processes will be introduced and suppliers, not DIO as it is now, will be responsible for funding compensation payments. These changes are designed to minimise supplier-missed appointments.
- First-time fix – To avoid disruption, suppliers will be required to fix at least 85% of repairs first time through improved fault diagnosis, carrying more spares in vehicles and ensuring the right trade is allocated to the repair.
The new contracts will introduce other service improvements including shorter repair times and pre-approved low-value works aimed at meeting your wishes for greater responsiveness.
In addition, and throughout the contracts, there will be consequences for the suppliers if they do not meet the minimum contractual acceptable levels of performance, and financial incentives to exceed those standards to provide more benefits to you.
These will work very differently from today. For instance, although routine repairs must be completed within an average of 12 working days (which is an improvement on the existing 15 working days), suppliers will be incentivised to reduce that average to eight working days so that you get an even quicker repair but without any compromise on quality. Similar targets and incentives will also extend into improving customer satisfaction levels.
“While these enhancements are designed to ensure the contracts improve the service, it will also be important to do the basics well,” says James Savage, Head of DIO Accommodation. “We will therefore also focus on ensuring homes are allocated in good time, they are prepared to the move-in standard, and that repairs are completed quickly and to a good standard. These are all areas where we want to drive significant improvements in customer satisfaction. We will continue to work with the families federations to build on their invaluable contributions to date, and to ensure the key customer-facing activities benefit from their insights,” he adds.
AFF’s Housing Specialist, Cat Calder, will be keeping a close eye on the transition: “Throughout the design of the new contract, AFF helped to ensure that the needs of families were considered. You may remember that we carried out a survey in 2019 asking which elements you felt would be the most important to you; we are pleased that so many of your wishes have been included. We will continue to work closely with DIO and the new suppliers to ensure your perspective is fully captured in the new contracts. While we hope the demobilisation of the NHP contract will go smoothly, please let us know how things are going – good and bad.”
Look out for full details of the changes in the lead-up to the 1 April in-service date via aff.org.uk or our social media. Or, search ‘Service Family Accommodation’ at gov.uk