Efficiency North’s newly appointed Independent Chair Jackie Axelby welcomed social housing landlord members and representatives of their tenant communities from across Yorkshire and Humber to the procurement consortium’s second annual conference at the KCOM stadium in Hull on Tuesday 13 June to explore together how the next 3 years in housing will look in the region.
Keynote speaker Amanda Mackenzie OBE, Chief Executive of Business in the Community, HRH The Prince of Wales’ Responsible Business Network, a charity committed to supporting businesses invigorate communities. It was a nostalgic visit to the city for Amanda, who also shared her personal memories of her upbringing in Pontefract, her visits to the Hull Fair, and her father’s stories of his early life in Hull, to the delight of the assembled local housing, procurement and construction professionals and community group leaders. She inspired the audience with the message that communities should be at the heart of everything and recalled the late MP Jo Cox’s words that ‘we have much more in common than that which divides us.’
Robert Grundy, Head of Housing at Savills and member of the Chartered Institute of Housing Governing Board, gave a thorough overview of the current state of the housing landscape in the region in light of government policy, the impact of the past 10 years of market conditions, Brexit, and the challenges faced by the younger generation who are struggling to afford to house themselves.
Chief Executive Lee Parkinson set out EN’s vision for the next 3 years and the new Efficiency North Holdings Ltd company recently established in response to the changing needs of EN’s social housing landlord membership. EN Holdings will incorporate not only Efficiency North Ltd but also two new ventures: EN:Able Futures will deliver an innovative training offer to fill skills gaps in both the housing and construction sectors and EN:Able Build will unlock land for local SMEs to develop much needed affordable new housing. Surplus from the new ventures will be gifted to EN’s charitable arm, the EN:Able CIO, to increase its capacity to channel funding into local communities and boost employment and training opportunities for those furthest from the labour market.
Building contractors appointed to the consortium’s Re:allies New Build Framework contributed to a small exhibition of housing schemes currently in design stage and on site in the region. Charlie Dunn, Managing Director of United Living, also joined Sharon Brookes, Property Services Director at Pickering & Ferens Homes and Kevin Knott, EN New Build Manager, to bring to life the Newbridge Village scheme and illustrate the benefits of early contractor involvement in an innovative 2-stage mini-competition procurement process. The 82-home scheme started on site on Friday 16 June.
A panel of 4 current apprentices from contractors engaged in works through EN’s housing frameworks had the opportunity to tell the audience about their experiences of earning and learning and the difference their chosen career path had made to their lives.
In her first public engagement on behalf of EN, Jackie Axelby was also very pleased and proud to present EN’s Social Value Awards. Trainee of the Year 2017 was Ashley O’Brien working with Keepmoat and Yorkshire Housing. The Community Initiative of the Year 2017 award was presented to Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson MBE and Steve Bentham-Bates, patron and CEO respectively of Help 4 Homeless Veterans who received a prize cheque for £7,500 to support the charity further in their range of assistance for ex armed forces personnel who have hit a difficult time in their lives. Also highly commended for Community Initiative were Dearne Community Housing who received a cheque for £2,500.
Amanda Mackenzie commented, “Business needs resilient and prosperous communities to succeed and grow; and communities need to thrive and prosper. One cannot succeed without the other. Communities should be at the heart of everything we all do. Place based initiatives can support employment, educational achievement, better health and improved social mobility. This is where organisations such as Efficiency North come in. The relationship of locality to prosperity is significant. Creating an enabling environment for communities through sustainable social housing is central to tackling social inequality. The role of housing, and those that support housing, is central to working towards improved social outcomes. I hope we can forge many more partnerships like the one we have and you have with Efficiency North to make the changes we all want to see.”
Jackie Axelby commented, “Efficiency North exists to serve its membership and always acts in response to what its social housing landlord members need and want for their tenants and wider communities. It’s evident from the day’s proceedings that there are opportunities for us all to provide much needed housing over the next 3 years if we work together as a strong partnership and focus on sound workforce planning.”
Robert Grundy commented, “The housing crisis is now less about affordability but the wide variation in supply v demand balance. If ever there was a time when businesses need to be well run it’s now. Better run businesses house more people.”
Claire Warren, Chief Executive of Pickering & Ferens Homes commented, “I was really impressed, the conference demonstrated to me the inherent financial and social value of partnering with Efficiency North.”