Service and budget pressures on repairs
Published: 21 March 2023
Our day-to-day repairs service is under significant pressure. Whilst satisfaction with repair work remains high, Derby Homes, like many housing providers have a backlog of non-emergency repair jobs. For us, this is around 7,000 jobs (over two months of work).
Understandably, we concentrate on emergency and urgent repairs to ensure these are dealt with first. Emergency jobs continue to be completed on time, in virtually all cases. Because of this, our response times on non-emergency works is not as quick as we would like. For example, we now only complete two out every three jobs on time for repairs with a target of 60 working-days. Previously, this performance was four out of every five jobs.
What are we doing?
To address the backlog of repairs we are putting additional resources into tackling the backlog, by:
- recruiting additional agency and contractors to supplement the core workforce
- carrying out a review of productivity across the workforce
- exploring the reasons for higher levels of sickness in our repairs team
- carrying out a review of our repair appointment procedures and job scheduling software, to see how we can improve efficiency on where and when we allocate our workforce on jobs
- understanding and tackling the causes of the high number of no-access repair jobs.
High levels of no-access for repair appointments
We are finding that up to 30% of jobs with agreed appointment times must be re-arranged due to no-access. This is simply where no one is at the property when we visit to deal with the repair at the agreed time. We then need to re-arrange a date with the tenant. No-access jobs not only waste money in Derby Homes, but it also causes delays in us carrying out repairs for others.
In the short term, we are cancelling non-urgent repairs, where the tenant is not home for their first agreed appointment.
Why is there so much outstanding work?
From April 2021 to March 2022, we saw an increase of 3,000 repair jobs being reported (a rise of 8%). This followed a period that saw a greatly reduced number of reported repairs (in the previous year that was impacted by Covid). We have seen levels of reported repairs rising to normal levels again from April 2022, which is around 36,000 repairs a year.
There is also rising demand for damp, mould, and condensation related jobs. These types of jobs are often more complex and require more resource than traditional routine repair jobs.
Like the rest of the social housing sector, we are still tackling the backlog. Works are taking longer to complete for the reasons listed above, which adds to the increasing number of jobs on the backlog.
What’s the financial consequence of this?
In the 2022/23 financial year we are facing cost pressures on the repairs budget of more than £1m above the original budget. The main reasons for this extra cost are detailed in the table below.
|Area of service||February 2023 budget variance £|
|Increase in the estimated future cost of those jobs still to be completed at our year end. We’re estimating 7,000 jobs outstanding at March 2023; compared to 4,125 at March 2022||371,000|
|Materials inflation pressure – costs around 20% higher than last year||246,000|
|Damp and disrepair contractor and survey costs||150,000|
|Additional agency resource bought in to tackle backlog of repairs and cover staff sickness||132,000|
|Virtually all staff posts filled, resulting in anticipated savings from staff post vacancies not arising||100,000|
|Scaffold hire costs above budgeted levels||70,000|
|Electrical contractor bought in to help tackle backlog of works/staff sickness||30,000|
|Net of other reasons||-15,000|
|2022/23 Projected Budget Variance||1,084,000|
How can you work with us to improve the situation?
We ask that you recognise the current workload pressure on this area. We know that our response times on non-emergency work needs to improve. Please bear with us and give us time to allow for the remedial actions to be put in place and our performance to improve.
We want to reduce the number of appointments we have to rearrange (due to prioritising emergency jobs), as we appreciate how frustrating this can be for you.
Incredibly, our staff find that no one is home for around 900 of the 3,000 repair appointments they visit each month. Please work with us to reduce this wasted time. If you need to re-arrange a repair appointment, contact us to agree a new time. This will significantly improve our efficiency and enable more jobs to be completed within target times, which benefits us all.
How to rearrange or cancel a repair appointment
You can change or cancel a non-urgent appointment up to 24 hours before, by simply replying to your SMS appointment reminder or by calling us on 01332 888777.
You cannot cancel gas or electrical safety appointments but should let us know if you need them rearranging. Faulty gas and electrics can be extremely dangerous. It’s very important you keep your appointment for you and your household’s safety.