A consortium of Scottish housing associations has appointed the first 40 contractors to its new facility for responsive repairs.
This is the first dynamic purchasing system (DPS) that i-Flair has created, and it was developed in partnership with PfH Scotland.
Currently, i-Flair has eight members: Barrhead, Bridgewater, Cloch, Ferguslie Park, Linstone, Oak Tree, Paisley and Williamsburgh housing associations, which operate across Inverclyde, East Renfrewshire, and Renfrewshire.
The DPS was created with a focus on SMEs. To name but a few, among the local firms appointed are: Kilbarchan Maintenance Services, GD Chalmers, Alwurk Electric, and Timetra; selected to provide general repairs and specialist works to i-Flair’s members.
Worth £5m over four years, the DPS has been set up in response to the challenges i-Flair says its members have faced recently when procuring contractors. Many of them have struggled to find firms to reliably deliver high quality, reactive repairs.
Ivor McCauley, head of operations at Ferguslie Park Housing Association, said: “Every month housing associations have tough repairs targets to meet and to do that you need agile, reliable contractors – something we just haven’t had for a number of years.
“I’m really pleased with the bespoke DPS that i-Flair has developed with PfH Scotland. We’ve already had an excellent response from contractors who are joining up and we’re now investigating a similar DPS but for planned maintenance.”
In previous years, repairs services were procured through fixed frameworks and larger companies generally won the work. But since 2021, the number of national firms in the market has reduced.
With fewer contractors bidding for work, i-Flair members say they have seen a dip in service quality, and when companies do tender, they don’t always have capacity to deliver.
PfH Scotland and i-Flair set up a DPS, rather than a framework, so contractors can join at any point and housing associations have a larger pool of approved companies to choose from.
Contractors on the i-Flair DPS provide core services including general repairs, joinery, plumbing, heating and electrical, as well as specialist works such as pest control, glazing, drainage and roofing.
i-Flair members were also keen to encourage smaller, local contractors into the supply chain by streamlining the tender process. Once suppliers have passed the DPS selection procedure, they can quickly bid for any opportunities, with less paperwork involved.
Ross Barty, account manager at PfH Scotland, said: “Local, SME businesses are well suited to delivering responsive repairs. They have good local knowledge and care about the communities they work in and they’re flexible, fitting with the way housing associations want to work.
“We took the decision to create a DPS because it allows social landlords to select, for example, three electrical contractors for one project. This makes the volume of work more manageable for smaller businesses and it also gives housing associations reassurance in terms of resource and capacity.”
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