With soaring inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates never far from the headlines, it feels like we might never see a return to normality. Procure Plus looks at how the social housing sector can navigate the supply chain market, as it recovers from one of the most volatile periods we have ever experienced
It is understandable that there is still uncertainty amongst social landlords about how the supply chain market is recovering from one of the most volatile periods we have ever experienced.
With soaring inflation, a cost-of-living crisis and rising interest rates never far from the headlines, it feels like we might never see a return to normality.
But according to in-depth market monitoring and analysis by our team at Procure Plus, what we are actually beginning to see is a steady return to stability and a levelling off in prices.
It is therefore disheartening to hear of high-pressure sales tactics being used to encourage social landlords to make quick decisions, accept inflated prices and rush through large-scale retrofitting, repairs and development plans.
Our latest Value for Money report provides reassurance and accuracy on what we’re seeing in the marketplace. It shows that over the past 12 months, fuel and container prices have indeed been returning to pre-COVID levels.
In March 2023, container units were back down to $1,790 (not far off the Jan 2020 price $1,500) after a huge surge to $11,000 in November 2021.
This means the availability and price pressures on items such as boilers have eased compared to the challenging conditions experienced in 2021/22.
Navigating the new supply chain market
Across the board, we had to move into reactive mode during the pandemic. Fleet of foot decisions were necessary. But, we’re now in a place where we can shift our mindsets again to be more long-term, strategic and forward-looking.
Over the past year, we have once again worked with housing associations across England on countless building safety and retrofit projects.
We have established a number of frameworks to provide easy access to a comprehensive range of services for our clients.
What we hear time and again is the value of a strategic partner that helps not just to secure the fairest price, but also to support with planning and timings based on up-to-date market insights.
“As we recover from the supply chain chaos, work through backlogs and look to the future, social housing procurement requires careful navigation”
For example, this could include delaying bathroom renovations and prioritising other work when our analysis shows that a short-term shortage of suites is imminent.
When it comes to ‘value’, we are never just talking about the financials. As a fellow social purpose organisation, we are also driven by helping to find the best solutions for people and communities.
We’ll continue to be that honest broker that brings contractors, suppliers and social landlords together in achievable and fair project partnerships. Social value and fair pricing should never need to be an either/or situation.
The delivery of social value is at the heart of Procure Plus’ mission.
Our VFM report details that in the past year our work supported 881 people in priority groups to access skills and work opportunities.
91 employers were involved and have created employment opportunities for people including those who have experienced homelessness and care leavers.
We, along with the social landlords we work with, are committed to building on this social value impact. This includes getting the fairest, most ethical and best-value procurement of goods and services.
As we recover from the supply chain chaos, work through backlogs and look to the future, social housing procurement requires careful navigation.
I do not want to see high-pressure tactics influencing future housing investments when the market is settling down.
With a strategic mindset and support from the right partners, we know that social landlords can secure the fairest prices, plan effectively and ultimately improve people’s lives.
Procure Plus is a Housing Digital Stakeholder and a social housing regeneration consortium that generates efficiencies by leveraging the procurement of construction materials and contractors.
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