Business Plan 2008 - 2013

Business Plan 2008 - 2013
This is the 2008 - 2013 business plan. If you would like this document translated,
please tick the language you want and return the form to the address below.
Brent Housing Partnership, Chancel House, Neasden Lane, Neasden, London NW10 2UF
If you would like this document in large print
please call 020 8937 2363
Introduction to the business plan
What we have achieved since the last business plan
Vision, mission, values and our business plan
National, strategic and housing context
Governance and management 26
Service excellence and resident participation
Asset management
Expanding our business: regeneration and sustainability
Expanding our business: new services
10 A sustainable and viable financial future for BHP
Governance action plan
Five year business objectives
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
In March 2007, we became one of the
first ALMOs in the country to complete
the decent homes programme and achieve
100% decency in the stock we manage.
1 Introduction to the Business Plan
Welcome to Brent Housing Partnership’s
Business Plan from 2008 to 2013. Brent
Housing Partnership (BHP) is an Arms
Length Management Organisation or
ALMO, a not-for-profit company wholly
owned by the London Borough of Brent
(or Brent Council), which was established
in 2002 to manage, maintain and improve
the council housing stock in the borough
of Brent.
BHP was set up following a detailed review of
the options available to the Council to address a
large and growing backlog in the need for urgent
improvements to council housing in order to bring
it all up to the Government’s Decent Homes
Standard which was introduced in 2001. The option
to establish an ALMO and apply for extra resources
from the Government dependent upon the
achievement of a good star rating from the Audit
Commission’s Housing Inspectorate was taken
up for the majority of the stock in the borough.
Specific and targeted investment via other options
locally continued to be developed by the council.
In March 2007, we became one of the first ALMOs
in the country to complete the decent homes
programme and achieve 100% decency in the stock
we manage.
BHP and the Council have a Management
Agreement which defines the services we as a
company provide on behalf of the Council to
residents, defines how the relationship between
us works and sets out the requirements for BHP
to provide services and continually improve
performance. The Management Agreement is
subject to regular review and update and the first
review period of 5 years means that in partnership
with the Council, we have taken stock of progress
in all areas of our business and our relationship with
the council.
Every year, BHP produces a Delivery Plan which
is agreed with the Council. And though not a
requirement of the Management Agreement, BHP
developed its own business plan in 2003 to give the
priorities within successive Delivery Plans a 5 year
In the spring of 2008 there are therefore three
strands coming together: the achievement of
the decent homes standard, the review of the
management agreement and the approaching
completion of the original business planning
period; and this makes it the right time to review
our planning progress, to reassess our priorities
within the context of the overall priorities of Brent
Council and the changing needs of residents and to
set out ambitious plans for the next 5 years to take
us to 2013.
This plan has a completely different feel to the
previous plan:
• W
e have achieved the key priority from our
previous plan, the decent homes standard,
but face a more challenging financial future
with regard to the resources available to us to
manage the stock from the Government via the
council to improve services and to maintain and
improve the stock; stock numbers are reducing
and resources for the council housing service are
likely to reduce further; government subsidy for
council housing management and maintenance
has reduced sharply in real terms since 2004.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
• T
he focus of national, regional and local housing
strategy is changing, with a national move away
from a narrow property-based decent homes
approach to one which addresses the need
for mixed and sustainable communities, wider
investment in regeneration and increasing the
supply of affordable housing.
• N
ational changes in the way housing
organisations are regulated means that we may
never be inspected by the Audit Commission
again making it critical that we maintain our
focus on maintaining and improving services in
partnership with our residents and the council
underpinned by a clear strategy to improve Value
for Money in the way we provide our services.
• T
he national agenda for ALMOs has moved on
considerably; when we were set up, we were the
ninth ALMO to ‘go live’, there are now nearly
70 ALMOs managing council stock in England.
ALMOs have been successful and are pressing
hard for increased freedom and flexibility to
provide not only a greater range of services to
a larger number of people but also to relax some
of the more stringent controls over funding and
financing for the highest performers.
• W
e have been one of the most successful
ALMOs in providing services and support to
organisations additional to the management
agreement with the council and want to build on
that success by expanding our business further.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
• N
ew opportunities, real and potential, will
become available for the best performing
ALMOs, and with three stars, BHP can and
will take advantage of these, including bidding
for grant from the Housing Corporation to
build new homes and to look closely at other
freedoms which might arise for the council’s
housing finances in the future.
This plan also includes a summary of what we
have achieved against what we set out to achieve
back in 2003 and this sets the scene for the plan
moving forward.
The plan draws upon evidence collected by
an internal and external review of our planning
processes during 2006 and 2007, including a high
level SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities,
Threats) analysis undertaken with senior managers
and directors, and other review mechanisms.
Details of these are included within the appendices
to the plan along with more detailed performance
planning schedules identifying 5 year performance
objectives and referred to as appropriate
throughout the plan.
The Plan was approved by Board Members on
the 21st of February 2008. Copies of this plan are
widely available in a variety of media and languages
and details of how to access material is set out on
the inside of the front cover of this document.
Section 2 summarises how we have done
against the 5 year priorities and objectives
we set ourselves last time.
Section 3 sets out our vision, mission and
values and identifies the key themes for this
business plan, drawing upon the very latest
advice and guidance on best practice available
within the ALMO movement. Our business plan
is in two dimensions:
1 managing and improving housing
in Brent and
2expanding our business; the former has four
distinct themes: service excellence, asset
management, community sustainability and
people-focused and the plan as a whole is
underpinned by the twin values of value for
money and the management of performance;
this framework is founded on the need to
set out a sustainable and viable financial
future for BHP.
We operate in Brent and the core of our
business is in Brent so section 4 sets out
the strategic context in which we operate,
the overall strategies that the council and its
partners have and how these influence our
plans and priorities.
Managing Housing in Brent represents the
core of our business. Section 5 covers the
key priorities we have for improving the
Governance and Management of BHP.
Section 6 sets out how we plan to continue
to build on our 3 star rating achieving and
maintaining service excellence through our
five year business objectives and annual
Service Excellence Team Plans
Section 7 on Asset Management sets out
the plans we have for the maintenance and
improvement of Brent’s housing stock,
the priorities, resources and longer term
challenges we face.
Expanding our Business is critical to securing
a longer term viable future for the company.
Section 8 sets our priorities for involvement
in regeneration and how we plan to increase
the supply of affordable housing in the borough
through being successful in gaining additional
resources, developing new housing and
acquiring housing of our own.
Section 9 covers our plans to expand the
business to new markets and new customers.
Finally, section 10 plots the financial future for
BHP with our overall plans for resourcing this
plan and highlights the Financial Strategy that
will ensure a secure and viable financial future
for the company.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
2What we have achieved since
the last Business Plan
2.1 Introduction
Brent Housing Partnership’s Business Plan was
published in 2003 and in covering the period
from 2003 to 2008 was one of the first business
plans produced by an ALMO. At that time, we
had just achieved our ‘three star’ rating from the
Audit Commission and were beginning to draw
down the start of the initial additional £54m
capital funding provided the Government to bring
Brent’s council housing stock up to the Decent
Homes Standard. A further bid for resources was
successful in gaining an additional £14m in ALMO
round 4 (2004).
At the time, therefore, the key priorities for
our organisation were organised around the
procurement and implementation of the most
ambitious programme for investment in the
stock Brent had ever seen and the need to
build upon the initial success to achieve
service excellence.
At the same time, we also set out a perspective
for our delivery plan and performance targets
to be achieved ‘within 5 years’ and in producing
this current business plan and our priorities for
next 5 years, we have taken stock of how well we
have performed against the previous plan. A short
summary of progress is set out below.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
2.2 Headline priorities
In the last plan, our performance objectives were
in detail and read as a form of 5 year delivery
plan. We have consistently utilised this plan as the
basis for update of the delivery plan performance
targets each year. On balance, we have been hugely
successful in delivering the business plan objectives
we set ourselves last time.
Tenant Satisfaction and Customer
In 2003, the overall satisfaction of tenants with and
satisfaction with the opportunities to participate
was 53% and 47% respectively. Satisfaction among
BME tenants was lower. We set ourselves the
target to achieve top quartile performance for
satisfaction and deliver incremental year on year
improvements throughout the 5 years and to even
up satisfaction levels between BME and non-BME
tenants. We have been very successful in raising
levels, to 74% overall in 2006/07 and for the last
2 years, overall satisfaction levels among BME
tenants have been higher though remain lower on
opportunities to participate. In 2005/06 we were
ranked between 3rd and 6th out of our peer group
of 14 authorities/ALMOs on the key measures of
tenant satisfaction and 1st overall on opportunities
to participate.
We have continued to develop and expand the
ways in which tenants and residents are able to
participate, residents and community associations
have increased annually and continue to do so in
Of the twelve key objectives we set ourselves,
we have yet to fully implement two and will ensure
these remain priorities in the forthcoming plan.
• Introduce the use and publish the results of
regular customer-led mystery shopping to inform
service improvements.
• W
e need to focus on collecting and analysing
performance by other splits than ethnicity,
including by disability and age.
Customer Care
We set ourselves objectives to develop a strategy
for, and to implement schemes to provide for,
improving access for all people who have difficulty
attending offices and have achieved all of these.
We set ourselves the ambitious target of achieving
a 95% response rate to telephone calls within 15
seconds but currently this is 76% and has fallen
in 2006/07. Data is measured by the Council
and we need to ensure that our performance
is appropriately distinguishable from that of the
council’s services.
Major Works
We achieved the decent homes standard for
all properties and set ourselves the target of
achieving 90% satisfaction with the works carried
out. We have consistently run ahead of this target
and achieved 95% in 2006/07. Almost 90% of
the programme is delivered through partnering
contracts compared to the 70% objective we set.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
We set ourselves the ambitious target of collecting
or collating information many other ALMOs do not,
• A
chieving zero defects on contract handover but
now feel this to be unrealistic given experiences.
• R
educing waste generated during major works
where we have collected data intermittently
• D
evelop a 30 year Asset Management plan which
is in the process of being developed following the
completion of the decent homes programme.
Rent Collection
Collection of rent and reduction of rent arrears
has been a major success story for BHP with our
performance on collection ranked first in our
London peer group for 2005/06. 2006/07 has seen
a slight increase in arrears but with continued top
25% performance across all the main indicators.
We continued to increase the ways in which we
recover arrears, for example with the introduction
of text messaging in 2006.
Repairs and Maintenance
We launched a new borough wide responsive
repairs contract in April 2006 which incorporated
extending the availability of appointment times
and the introduction of a handyperson service.
The new contract should see enhanced
performance across the board over the next
5 years. Operating an effective responsive repairs
service is a challenge in Brent given the diversity
of the communities we serve but we have taken
great steps to meet the ambitious targets we
set and are very close to achieving the 100%
compliance for gas safety certificates.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
We have reviewed the objectives we set
where we have been unable to fully introduce
the means to measure performance (e.g. reduction
in repairs related complaints annually) and revised
our approach in the light of the new contract
We turned round vacant properties in just over
30 days during 2006/07 which though not in the
top quartile for the peer group, is at a historical
low for Brent. We have achieved all of the other
objectives we set in the last plan and now formally
monitor the number of days taken to carry out
different parts of the voids process.
Unauthorised occupancy
We set ourselves five key objectives to help reduce
unauthorised occupancy of council housing by for
example the provision of a hotline and the better
use of computer systems and have successfully
implemented each of these.
Services to leaseholders
Although we have achieved year on year
improvement in income collection and satisfaction,
we are unable to measure whether this is top
quartile given the uncertainty around data from
other organisations. We have reviewed our target
setting policy and have set out our plans to achieve
continual improvements. We have yet to fully
develop our approach to sub-letting of empty homes.
Estate Management
We set ourselves a series of ambitious performance
and improvement objectives around the delivery
of estate services including grounds maintenance,
recycling, garden maintenance with a target for
90% satisfaction overall. Although satisfaction
improved to over 90% in 2006-07 we have recently
introduced new survey methodology to gauge
residents’ satisfaction with estate cleaning and
grounds maintenance on a per block/estate basis
which we believe will provide more reliable results.
The current levels of satisfaction per block/estate
are in the range of 61% to 85% and we are
working closely with the contractors to improve
these figures up to our target of 90% for each
Meeting the needs of a diverse community
We continue to promote a wide range of
innovative approaches to ensuring all the needs
of our customers are met. And whilst we do not
yet have 100% knowledge of our customer base,
this is now over 93% and increasing year on year.
We developed an Equalities Action Plan which ran
over three years to 2007 and provided us with
valuable learning and information on the different
performance and payment rates between ethnic
groups and have recently updated the plan for the
next three years taking into account the views
of residents.
We still need to focus on assisting tenants to
maintain their gardens and to collect data on the
ownership and responsibility for all public open
spaces around the estates we manage.
Tenancy Support
We set ourselves fifteen key objectives including
the establishment of Supporting People contracts,
wide ranging service improvements in visiting
services and improvements in access and have
achieved all of these.
Neighbour Relations
Our Neighbourhood Wardens Service attends
an average of 550 call-outs and 2,000 referral
patrols each quarter. This service enables residents
to call for assistance and report problems during
times when our offices are closed which helps
to reduce the fear of crime and provides
reassurance within the community.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
3Vision, Mission, Values
and our Business Plan
Building on Excellence
Brent Housing Partnership’s Vision has changed
from that when we were set up in October 2002.
We now have a new Mission Statement to take
us through the next five years and which will sit
at the head of all of our corporate and strategic
planning documentation.
The mission statement is founded upon a
commitment to providing continually improving
services, to improve value for money, seek new
ways to develop our services and to improve
the satisfaction of residents
Our strengths lie in our deep roots within local
communities and the breadth of experience we
have in delivering excellent local services and
harnessing the views of residents in delivering
service improvements.
The vision and mission is supported by a series
of Service Standards which are widely advertised
in all BHP material. These standards, set out in
our Customer Service Charter, state the behaviour
we expect from our staff and contractors, are
reviewed annually and aim to be accessible
and easy to use.
3.1 Landlord Objectives
Our strategic landlord objectives for this
business plan take a lead from the housing and
neighbourhood context in Brent and the strategic
corporate and housing priorities of the council.
BHP has adopted six strategic objectives for
landlord services for this business plan as follows.
1Provide an Excellent Service which meets
the requirements of customers and the
2Provide an effective and efficient service
which contributes to the investment in
the housing stock and maintains quality.
3Generate surpluses to reinvest in the
business and services year on year.
4Achieve efficiency savings on operational
budgets year on year.
5Provide a service planned around the
needs of Brent’s diverse community
which promotes community cohesion.
6Support the council in building a safer,
cleaner and livelier place.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The detailed sections within this business plan
set out in more detail how these objectives are
translated into priorities for action and detailed
targets for improvement over the next 5 years.
But whilst the core of our business will remain just
that… a core-service and stock-investment success
story upon which we can build for the future, there
is more to Brent Housing Partnership than the
management agreement with Brent Council.
We have already become the most innovative
and proactive ALMO in seeking work outside
of our management agreement and were the first
ALMO, along with Kensington and Chelsea TMO,
to establish significant shared service initiatives in
the form of a joint venture company to provide
housing management services to landlords. This
has been a successful venture providing services to
several housing organisations resulting in significant
additional income for BHP. All surpluses made from
trading in this way are re-invested in services to our
tenants and leaseholders.
Over the last twelve months we have partnered
with Kensington and Chelsea TMO to combine
some of our services in order to improve efficiency
and make financial savings. We now share some
back office services e.g. Human Resources,
Communications management, Procurement, Health
and Safety management, recruitment/staff supply
and more recently the position of Chief Executive
which have all resulted in further significant savings
for both organisations.
And the government’s approach to council
and local authority housing is changing with
the prospect of local authorities being able
to take a more active approach to facilitating
the development of new housing and taking
advantage of the opportunities which arise
through the increased value and user-use of local
authority assets (principally land). BHP is already
playing a leading role in developing and facilitating
innovative designs for the financing of regeneration
and investment and we are in a uniquely positive
and central role to take this further and to actively
develop our own housing.
3.2 Picturing our Business Plan
These developments are entirely consistent
with where the ALMO movement has reached
in terms of the guidance and best practice being
progressed nationally. Recently, the National
Federation of ALMOs published a guide to
business planning which set out the possibilities
for expansion and development for all ALMOs
– towards the prospect of a dynamic, viable
and long term future. We have drawn upon this
guidance and characterised our business plan
from 2008-2013 as a two-part strategy:
1To maintain and improve upon our core
service of managing council housing in
2To expand our business, both in terms
of more services provided for the
people of Brent and beyond, directly or
via the council, and in terms of taking
a more active role in regeneration and
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Diagram 3.1 BHP Business Plan 2008-2013 – Overview
Services to other organisations,
landlords and ALMOs
In Brent
New services
to Brent
new housing
Expanding our role as regeneration and development agent
Managing Housing
Expanding our Business
Governance and
Resident Participation
New services,
new organisations
Managing assets
Shared services
Value for
A sustainable and viable financial future
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The maintenance and improvement of our
services within the management agreement rests
upon securing continual improvement within our
organisation and how we empower our residents.
The four key themes are:
The expansion of our services is in three
1People focused: the internal governance
and management of BHP.
• To
provide more of what we currently do
to both the council (outside of a narrowly
defined management and maintenance
function) and to other landlords and
housing organisations.
2Service Excellence, including Resident
• T
o engage proactively in the regeneration
of communities in Brent
3 Services for Community Sustainability
• T
o begin a journey towards developing and
owning our own stock to assist housing
supply in Brent and to build financial
strength for our company.
4 Asset Management
And these are addressed in the sections of this
plan below on:
• Governance and Management
• S ervice Excellence and Resident
• Asset Management.
And these are addressed in the sections of this
plan below on:
• E xpanding our business –
regeneration and sustainability
• E xpanding our business –
new services.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Underpinning all aspects of the business plan
are the twin principles of Value for Money (VfM)
and Performance Management:
Achieving greater value for money is a key
objective for us in securing a viable financial
future, in expanding our business and protecting
the investment we have already made in our
services and the stock:
• S ecuring our future rests upon finding cost
efficiencies to ensure that we stay within a
management fee increasingly constrained by
pressures on Brent’s Housing Revenue Account.
• P
rotecting investment rests upon continuing
to find value in procurement and programmes
to maximise the benefit scarce resources have
for the stock.
• O
ffering excellent VfM is the key to securing
new business, the key to securing participation
in regeneration and development; without it,
other organisations and agencies with grant
funding will go elsewhere.
Similarly, effective performance management is
a principle without which we cannot continually
improve services; the financial challenges and need
for efficiencies make it even more essential that
we manage performance to improve services whilst
at the same time reducing resources. Value does
not just mean ‘cheaper’, the value imperative
is for ‘reducing resources improving services’.
We have made great strides in the way we manage
performance since 2003 but we have identified that
compliance with the management framework is not
always what it might be and we need to strengthen
the golden thread of performance management
and continual improvement throughout everything
we do.
And the whole business plan is founded on the
need to secure a sustainable and viable financial
future, one that meets the financial challenges head
on and does not make unrealistic claims in terms of
what we are able to achieve in terms of additional
business. Our financial strategy will continue to be
to protect a position of strength by seeking cost
efficiencies on the basis that there is no growth in
income and opportunity so that we when we are
successful at achieving development and expansion,
we have a) not relied upon it and b) resources are
available for reinvestment in services for our tenants
and leaseholders.
Our business plan priorities with a 5 year horizon
are separately scheduled in appendices 2 and 3.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
4National, strategic and
housing context
4.1 ALMOs progress
When BHP was established as an ALMO in
the autumn of 2002, there had been only one
previous round of (eight) ALMOs and the fledgling
movement was only just beginning to find its feet.
As at April 2007, there are now 69 ALMOs across
six rounds managing stock in 67 council areas and
nearly 1 million council homes.
The ALMO movement has been as a resounding
success. Many thousands of homes have been
brought to the decent homes standard, a number
including BHP have completed their programmes
well in advance of 2010 and services have been
improved across the board. Over two thirds of
housing inspections for ALMOs have resulted in
two stars or higher and there are now 14 three
star ALMOs, including BHP.
This success has seen ALMOs become a beacon
for high performance throughout the country and
ALMOs have led the development and innovation
of good practice in service delivery as well as the
active engagement of tenants and residents in
governance and participation.
This success has also seen ALMOs recognised by
Government as a positive force for change with
a desire not to see the arrangements under which
individual ALMOs manage and maintain stock
for their councils changed without clear support
from tenants and residents. Similarly, ALMOs have
developed a growing confidence in saying to
government that their role should naturally move
from a relatively defined housing management
and decent homes delivery function to one which
embraces wider neighbourhood and service
management and which allows investment beyond
decent homes to wider community sustainability.
To this end, the Government began a wide ranging
review of the long term viability of ALMOs in
September 2004 and which addressed:
• S ome of the unforeseen operational issues that
had arisen between councils and their ALMOs
in the first 3 years of management agreements
• T
he scope to provide ALMOs with greater
operational and financial freedom to promote
community sustainability
• G
uidance to be adopted when the first renewal
period of a management agreement was due
and the expectations of Government on councils
towards their ALMOs.
The review included a project sponsored by the
National Federation of ALMOs which sought to
identify the potential for freedoms and flexibilities
to apply to ALMOs operating within council
finances and to set out a series of options for
consideration by the review. These options were
captured in the NFA report: ALMOs a new future
for council housing published during 2005 and
which set out a strong case for greater freedom
to be given to those high performing ALMOs which
had completed the decent homes programme.
BHP participated in this review work.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
4.2 National policy context
• Greater tenant empowerment.
The growing role for ALMOs and the consideration
of the scope for greater freedom and flexibility
is almost exactly mirrored in the shifting priorities
within national government towards housing and
neighbourhoods. BHP has completed its decent
homes programme and we are seeking to expand
business into development and management
markets at the very point at which the Government
has refocused its priorities towards longer term
sustainability, mixed communities and the supply of
affordable housing.
The announcements also included the outcome
of the ALMO Review in which government made
it clear that ALMOs should continue to manage if
tenants supported this and set out the processes
by which the issues identified in the review would
be taken forward. In addition, the review took the
‘financial freedoms’ work forward by inviting a
number of local authority and ALMO case studies
to investigate in detail the national and local
implications of greater HRA financial freedom.
The incoming Secretary of State announced in June
2006 her blueprint for moving from decent homes
to sustainable communities in which she set out the
following key principles and objectives:
• M
oving from Decent Homes to Sustainable
• D
elivering greater sustainability on estates and
• M
ore freedoms for local authorities to meet local
needs for sustainability and investment
Clearly, all of the above objectives are closely
related to the work BHP carried out but of
particular concern and opportunity to us are:
• T
he widespread resident support for BHP
in the borough with very large increases
in satisfaction levels since 2003 makes us the
natural partner for the council to take forward
the sustainability agenda.
• T
he move to wider investment in sustainability
fits with the recent completion of the decent
homes standard for Brent’s housing stock
and our experience of recent large scale
procurement and capital programmes.
• Local Area Agreements
• Local authorities building new homes
• T
he more effective use of assets, particularly local
authority assets
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
• T
he call for greater freedom and flexibility for
local authorities to meet local needs which allows
BHP to consider expanding its role as an agent
of the council in encouraging and facilitating
• T
he focus on the ‘better use’ of local authority
assets, better use of land, dealing proactively
with under-developed areas and areas where
stock may not have a long term economic life,
this could be really critical in the Brent and BHP
context as our three star status will allow us
(with the council) to consider taking advantage of
whatever real funding and financing opportunities
might become available.
• O
ur three star status allows us to participate
actively in the Housing Corporation bidding
round for 2008-2010 giving rise to the potential
to receive grant for new build BHP properties
as a result;
• T
hree star status also puts us in a potential
position (with the council) to examine in detail
the financial freedoms case studies or ‘self
financing pilots’ (as they have become known)
should a programme be invited following the
forthcoming government spending review.
BHP has already been very proactive in expanding
its business operations outside of the management
agreement and the national and ALMO policy
context can be seen as principally one of further
opportunity; this business plan sets out our
response to seeking those opportunities and adopts
an ambitious set of objectives and priorities to take
advantage of these.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
4.3 B
rent Housing Partnership
and how we fit into Brent
As a company set up and owned by Brent Council
and which manages Brent’s council housing stock,
we have a key role to play in the delivery of the
overall strategy for the council and the community.
BHP is a key partner to the council and its other
stakeholders in helping to implement and sustain
the vision for Brent in the communities we manage
and across the borough. The strategic framework in
which we operate is set out below.
The local elections saw a change in political control
in May 2006 resulting in council control being
assumed by a Liberal Democrat / Conservative
coalition. Apart from the immediate impact on the
council nominees put forward for membership of
our board of management, the strategic direction
of council policies has remained consistent. The
Council’s Corporate Strategy was completed in the
autumn of 2006 and runs to 2010 and this provides
the overall framework in which BHP will continue
to operate.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
iagram 4.1 Where BHP fits
into the council’s overall strategy
Brent’s Community Strategy
Council Corporate Strategy
Brent’s Housing Strategy
HRA Business Plan
BHP Business Plan
BHP Delivery (and other) plans
The Community Strategy is developed and
approved by the Brent Local Strategic Partnership
which comprises the council, police, health
authorities and community representatives.
The council’s Corporate Strategy sets out
the strategy for the council from 2006 to 2010
following the elections in May 2006. Brent Council’s
vision is for Brent to be:
1A great place: with a focus on reducing crime,
disorder and drug misuse, improving cleanliness
and environmental sustainability and giving local
people a greater say in shaping the services that
affect their lives.
2A borough of opportunity: with a focus
on increasing choice, improving health and
3One community: a focus on physical regeneration,
improvement to housing and improving chances
for young people, providing care and support to
the vulnerable and supporting independent living.
The vision is set around a series of values which
seek to provide excellent services, improve the
quality of life for all communities, promote diversity
and community cohesion and invest in capacity
and leadership.
These vision and values are supported by specific
objectives set for 2010 which say a lot about
housing and the work of BHP. Specifically, the
strategy sets out priorities to:
• R
eview the agreement with and operation of
BHP in the context of the HRA Business Plan
during 2007/08
• Improve services which build wealth for residents
(through a rent plus scheme), reduce the number
of empty homes, improve the quality of decent
housing in the private sector and continue
to commit to widespread consultation using
borough wide and local Forums, including the
Housing Forum.
4.4 Housing Context
The London Borough of Brent Housing Strategy
2002-2007 has yet to be fully updated owing to
the need to bring it into overall conformity with the
regional strategy produced by the Mayor of London,
which is still in the early stages of consultation.
A fully revised strategy will be produced during
2008. In the interim, the latest update statement
produced in 2005 continues to provide the
strategic context for housing services and priorities
in the borough. Brent’s Housing Strategy has the
following Vision:
Work to develop
a service that by 2010
ensures that all residents
have the opportunity
to live in a decent home
of their choice, in a
tenure of their choice
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The update statement of 2005 sets out the key
areas of action for the eleven priorities within
the 2002 Housing Strategy opposite.
The fundamental objectives of the 2002-2007
strategy will be carried forward into the revised
and updated version. At the national and regional
levels, there is now a strong emphasis on new
supply, across all tenures but with a particular
requirement for new affordable housing, both
intermediate and rented, as well as a strong drive
to improve the quality, design and environmental
and social sustainability of new developments. Brent
has a strong record in delivering new supply and
significant opportunities through strategic sites such
as Wembley. New supply will be a key theme of
the revised strategy and BHP will be an important
partner in this, as it is in the delivery of other
housing priorities.
1Delivery of Affordable Housing
• M
aximise resources through targeting
investment and developing new
partnerships including with housing
associations and boroughs within the
West London sub-region.
2 Making Best use of Existing stock • Including: effective action to bring empty
property into use, across tenures,
sustaining improved performance,
developing cross-borough solutions to
increasing supply and choice, for example
the development of Locata.
7 Supporting People
8 Crime and anti social behaviour
• Improve decency across all tenures and
implement the Fuel Poverty Strategy, with
a particular focus on the private sector.
4 Regeneration
• E quality in service delivery and
employment and providing housing
solutions that address Brent’s diversity.
6 Homelessness
• U
sing the private sector more to meet
housing need and improve standards
and accessibility.
10 Delivery of Housing
and Customer Services
• E ncourage the creation and retention
of sustainable communities.
5 Meeting Diverse needs
• H
ousing playing a key role in reducing
crime and the fear of crime, with
coordination through the Housing
Crime Steering Group.
9 Private Sector Housing
3 Decent Homes • T
o develop housing and housing-related
support in partnership with statutory,
private and voluntary sector providers
to meet identified priorities.
• D
eliver quality customer service in
all customer contact with tenants and
residents empowered to participate fully
in decision-making.
11 Partnership and Cross
Boundary working
• E ffective working with West London
partners and strengthened links between
housing and other services and agencies.
• T
ackle homelessness through effective
assessment and reduce the numbers
in temporary accommodation through
a comprehensive Homelessness Strategy.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
4.5 The council housing context
BHP manages all Brent Council owned stock,
currently just under 9,600 tenanted properties
and over 2,000 leasehold properties. Over many
years, Brent has taken a proactive and innovative
approach to seeking additional resources for
investment and regeneration of council housing
neighbourhoods. This has included major
refurbishment and regeneration schemes in the
Single Regeneration and Neighbourhood renewal
programmes and bringing in private sector
resources via transfers to housing associations.
Many thousands of properties have been replaced
or redeveloped and many more additional homes
provided as a result. Since 2003, BHP’s role has
been pivotal in securing the transition of properties
from council ownership to alternative providers.
When the appraisal of options was carried out
in 2002 which resulted in the establishment of
BHP, the South Kilburn area was identified as one
area where properties were in greater need of
investment than simply ‘decent homes’ and where
there was a need for significant redevelopment of
high cost existing stock. Whilst BHP continues to
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
manage the South Kilburn estate, the proposed
transfer of the estate to a housing association
would result in BHP handing over management
to the new owners. Whilst this has significant
implications for the way we are organised and
managed (see below), the process has also been
characterised by some issues of financing where
government gap funding support is required and
at the time of writing, the exact nature of the
proposed transfer that will be put to tenant ballot
has yet to be finalised. Within this plan, we have
assumed that the transfer of 1,500 properties takes
place in April 2009 which gives us both time and
scope to prepare and organise for the transition
although the outcomes and timescales remain
somewhat uncertain.
South Kilburn is by no means the only
neighbourhood where decent homes investment
is not enough and there continue to be pockets
of defective and high cost stock in need of a longer
term solution. These include Barham Park where
there are ongoing discussions with the community
about the possibility of transfer to a local housing
association and where BHP has recently developed
outline plans of our own.
Since 2003, BHP’s role has been pivotal in securing
the transition of properties from council ownership
to alternative providers
In addition, the council’s stock continues to reduce
annually through tenants exercising the Right to Buy
and whilst the volumes are nowhere near the levels
seen in the latter part of the 1990s, a steady and
continuing reduction in the stock managed
is forecast.
The longer term viability of the existing council
housing stock is not dependent on changes in
demand or need and Brent’s housing register stands
at 20,731 on 21/01/08 (including 2029 outstanding
requests for transfer). The critical factor will be the
ongoing maintenance of the decent homes standard
now that it has been completed for all stock and
the additional investment needed in the community,
facilities and the environment in order to protect
and enhance the sustainability of communities and
the neighbourhoods in which they live.
4.6 Summary for BHP
The future for BHP is therefore represented
by challenge:
• T
he challenge of managing business transition
and downsizing with ongoing estate transfer
• T
he challenge of a council housing stock which
is continually reducing
• T
he challenge of needing to maintain what we
have achieved given a reducing resource base
for renewal and investment.
These challenges are mirrored in those faced by
the Housing Revenue Account, a more detailed
discussion of which is set out in section 10.
At the same time, demand and need for housing
is growing along with the opportunities for BHP
to play a more flexible role in providing new
housing in partnership with the council. We have
developed a number of initiatives which are
discussed in more detail below.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
5Governance and Management
5.1 Governance
5.1.1 Introduction
Since BHP’s inception in 2002 it has had
a non-executive board of 18 split between
six council nominees, six residents and six
independent directors recruited for their skills,
expertise and knowledge. During 2008 the
board will reduce to 15 with a split of four
council nominees, seven residents and four
independents directors.
The Board has maintained a strong degree of
continuity since the company was established
with 8 of the original directors appointed in
2002 still on the Board. The skills and expertise
available via the independent members is
considerable including professional, managerial
and executive experiences at senior levels
in the housing sector.
5.1.2 Open Governance
Guidance on effective governance is published
by the Housing Corporation and Audit
Commission and BHP will continue to ensure
that we conform to the highest standards of
governance, probity and effective strategic
management in the housing sector.
At BHP, we are committed to an open style
of management and governance; all of our
board meetings are therefore open to the
public and the minutes and reports from all
board meetings are available on our website for
scrutiny by residents, other stakeholders and the
general public.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
5.1.3 Governance Review
The eighteen member main board has hitherto
been supported by six sub-committees charged
with dealing with key decisions in each of the main
operational areas of BHP and to monitor financial
performance and performance in the delivery of
services and investment. The size and range of the
board and sub-committees are however unusual
for ALMOs and following an audit of governance
in 2006, we established a Governance Review in
January 2007. The Review was carried out by senior
officers and board members and addressed the
following four key areas:
• H
ow to make the Board more effective in setting
the strategic direction of the company
• H
ow to improve the board’s capacity to engage
and influence key partners (in the council and
the community)
• R
eview board and sub-committee structures
to ensure effective servicing and management
• R
eview the support to board members available
for them to effectively carry out their duties.
The outcome of the Review has been approved
by the Board and the Council and the main
changes, with the exception of the reduction
in the size of the board which will take place
following council committee appointments
have been implemented below.
• Reduce the size of the board to fifteen members,
with a greater representation from residents and
• reduced representation from council and
independent nominees so that the balance of
membership will be seven residents, four council
nominees and four independent members.
• Reduce the number of sub-committees to three:
Service Delivery, Finance and Audit and Human
Resources which will be in line with established
best practice in the governance of ALMOs and
Housing Associations.
• Introduce a robust and rolling appraisal process
for board members to ensure skills and
competencies are maintained and improved.
This refreshed and rationalised structure will be
more efficient and allow us to provide more
focused support for members from within our
existing resources.
5.1.4 Continuing to improve Governance
In line with best practice, we have a governance
action plan which is refreshed and approved
by the Board on an annual basis. As the new
arrangements are implemented in 2007/08 and
bed down, we will continually monitor progress,
ensure that our governance standards reflect the
very best practice in the housing sector and carry
out a further review in 2011.
5.2 Management
5.2.1 Current position
Elsewhere within this plan, we identify the financial
pressures facing BHP and the need to generate
ongoing efficiencies into our future financial
planning. In addition, the completion of the decent
home programme and the impending transfer
out of management of the South Kilburn estate
(subject to a positive stock transfer ballot during
2008/2009), has allowed us to take a step back and
consider the way in which we need to resource
service delivery in the future.
We have adopted a series of strategic objectives
towards management and human resources which
form a part of a strategy to reduce costs, become
more efficient and to improve Value for Money and
these have been incorporated within an approach
to reorganise the senior and managerial structure
of the company. Our key principles are:
• T
o reduce the cost of overheads on our business
through a reduction in ‘back office’ costs and/or
the securing of greater economies of scale in
the provision of corporate and support services;
• T
o ensure that BHP has a secure and
fundable organisational establishment following
the forthcoming transfer out of the South Kilburn
• T
o increase the empowerment of staff in the
taking of decisions and to reduce reliance on the
number of middle managers who currently work
for BHP.
At the same time, the SWOT analysis completed
in advance of this plan identified that there were
some weaknesses in our some of managers,
particularly those in the middle tiers, where
performance management and the need for
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
continual improvement are not always reaching
the standard the board and residents were
entitled to expect.
The Audit Commission’s Housing Inspectorate
have identified what they call the ‘Golden Thread’
which unites all performance and organisational
review and management into one overarching
framework, and make this a clear benchmark
against which they judge organisations during
their inspections. A clear requirement for BHP
going forward is to ensure that all staff, including
middle and junior managers plays an active role
in promoting the principles and practices of
continual improvement.
5.2.2 Improving organisational management
Pulling all of this together therefore, we have
begun a process to reduce both the number
of staff but particularly the number of managers
in BHP by asking for voluntary redundancies
and those willing to take early retirement.
The current establishment of a Managing Director
and three Strategic Directors looks increasingly
and comparatively large for an organisation
managing less than 14,000 units although we
will need to balance corporate management
resources with the needs and demands
of a more diverse business.
5.2.3 Investors in People
Although we need to take account of the likelihood
of reductions in stock over the next few years and
ensure we are not over resourced, we are firmly
committed to investing in our staff. We believe that
staff are our most valuable resource and we have
demonstrated our commitment to staff by achieving
the Investors in People award.
We have a comprehensive Appraisal Scheme in
operation and we provide opportunity for staff
development through training programmes, one to
one guidance, secondment opportunities and day
release courses.
Over the next five years we will focus on
developing junior and middle managers to improve
their leadership skills so that they become less
reliant on senior management and gain the
confidence they need to make effective decisions
which will improve service delivery at the front line.
5.3 Summary
The governance action plan comprises a series
of Strategic and Governance Standards which the
board will utilise to oversee the strategic direction of the company and ensure that we continue to meet the very highest standards in organisation development, governance and management. These are set out at appendix
2 and will be subject to annual review by the board.
6Service Excellence and
Resident Participation
6.1 Introduction
We were last inspected by the Audit Commission’s
Housing Inspectorate in August 2003 and had
expected to receive a reinspection towards the
end of the of the decent homes programme
during late 2006 or early 2007.
National changes to the way in which the regulation
of housing organisations takes place as well as
the adoption of a more targeted and risk based
approach to inspection has led to BHP being told
by the Audit Commission that there is no longer
any planned reinspection of our services.
Whilst this is positive in one sense in that we
do not need to go to the considerable time and
expense of preparing for another inspection,
it does highlight the importance of maintaining
a clear focus on service improvements and
performance management to maintain our
excellent reputation and status.
Housing inspections now take place against
Key Lines of Enquiry (or KLOEs) which have
been established for all housing services and for
cross cutting themes like Value for Money and
Continuous Improvement. We have completed
an initial self assessment against the KLOEs and
will continue to do keep this updated as a key
strategic priority over the next 5 years. We will also
ensure that this self assessment is regularly checked
and challenged by external organisations and by
residents. It is essential that we continue to ensure
that we continue to learn from latest developments
and best practice incentivised by the participation
of our tenants and residents.
In addition, our three star status confers upon us
the ability to bid for Social Housing Grant from the
Housing Corporation and will be the foundation
upon which any future financial freedoms and
flexibilities are made available to ALMOs. We have
therefore adopted a Three Star Plus Plan the key
elements of which are summarised below.
6.2 Five year performance objectives
Performance targets are essential for achieving
continuous improvement and we have detailed
Service Excellence Plans in place for all
departments within our organisation. These plans
are working documents and are updated annually
in line with our longer term business objectives.
There are four themes which run through
the annual Service Excellence Plans and five
year objectives. BHP aims to achieve top 25%
performance when compared to our peer group
of 14 London authorities/ALMOs (11 of which
are ALMOs and 3 of which are managed directly
by the council); we will continue to increase
resident satisfaction across the board for our
services year on year; we will demonstrate
efficiency and value for money to our customers
and we will seek ways to encourage more of our
tenants and leaseholders to become involved in
decision making and performance monitoring.
The five year performance objectives for each
department within BHP are detailed at Appendix 3.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
6.3 Value for Money
6.4 Performance Management
We have already achieved efficiency savings
above the objectives set for Brent Council
as a whole and have reduced accommodation
costs through the recent move of our head
office to Chancel House in Neasden. We were
a founding member of LAPN (the London ALMO
Procurement Network) set up to share learning,
expertise and resources.
Whilst performance improvement has been a
strength of BHP over the years, as set out above,
the approach to the management of performance
can sometimes be less than fully robust and we
are keen to adopt a more rigorous approach to the
Audit Commission’s Golden Thread as shown in the
diagram below.
We will improve Value for Money through
continually reviewing what we do and through
the adoption of a Value for Money Strategy
which will be founded upon the following
key principles:
• S eeking ongoing efficiencies in costs, both
revenue and in procurement of the capital
• C
arrying out rigorous VfM review of individual
services on a rolling basis so that all expenditure
is covered in a 5 year period
• S eeking shared services and resources where
appropriate though LAPN and other routes
• C
ontinually improving services through more
effective performance management.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
iagram 6.1 The Audit
Commission Golden Thread
Targets for
For BHP, the approach tailored for our needs to
the adoption of such a framework is set out below.
Diagram 6.2 Golden Thread for BHP
Delivery Plan
Residents’ input
e.g. Focus groups
Status surveys
Mystery shopping
Youth forum
Performance Management
Service Plan:
Service Plan:
Service Plan:
Service Plan:
Service Plan:
Standards and
plans and
plans and
plans and
plans and
plans and
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The key priorities are therefore to:
• E nsure consistency between and within all
planning and target setting and that all targets and
objectives set can be seen within the business
plan and delivery plan frameworks and that these
themselves follow the corporate and strategic
objectives of Brent Council and the community
strategy for Brent.
• E nsure feedback between different plans so
that changes to performance objectives at the
high level are necessarily translated into detailed
performance targets for individual employees and
that the experience of service delivery at the
front line by individual staff members is able to
inform future service planning and the setting of
future performance objectives.
We are in the process of adopting a revised format
for section and departmental plans so that we can
place performance management at the heart of our
achievement of the strategic and priority objectives
we and our residents set.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
7 Asset Management
7.1 Introduction
Our last business plan in 2003 focused on the
forthcoming decent homes programme and how
we would invest the resources we had towards
an effective programme of investment in the stock
over the following 5 years. The plan set out our
approach to procurement and commissioning
and our detailed plans to achieve both the
decent homes standard by 2007 and to go to a
decent-homes-plus standard of investment where
appropriate and resources permitted.
BHP was very pleased to complete the final
property in the decent homes programme in
March 2006 bringing the 2006/07 annual total of
properties brought up to standard to 1,184 making
a total of 5,200 properties improved within the
programme since autumn 2003. The achievement
of the standard for all properties was rewarded
with a one off grant from the Government for
In the last business plan, we said we would
begin consulting on a new 5 year programme
from 2007 and the detail of the outcomes
of this programme is set out below.
The completion of the programme has brought
major new challenges to the programme over
the next few years where the focus will be on
maintenance and renewal to maintain the stock
at the decent homes standard and a significant
programme of additional and environmental
and sustainable investments.
The achievement of the standard for all properties
was rewarded with a one off grant from the
Government for £448,000
8 - 2013
7.2 Brent’s stock and stock condition
We manage just over 9,600 tenanted properties
owned by Brent Council. The breakdown of the
properties on 1st April 2006 was as follows and
the total had reduced to just less than 9,600 on
1st April 2007.
Tables 7.1a and 7.1b
Summary Analysis of Brent Council housing stock
Excluding shared ownership
Houses – trad built
Non-traditional houses
Total properties
Including shared ownership
1 bed
2 bed
3 bed
4+ bed
Total properties
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
A stock condition survey was undertaken in
2002 to inform the appraisal of options which
eventually set up BHP. At that time, there were
significant backlogs of investment needed and
a high cost over 30 years for the stock. The in house
procurement and standards team has maintained
and updated the stock condition database in detail
to take account of information from every property
visited during the programme and every element
of repairs work undertaken. We now know more
about the stock than at any previous time.
We have recently carried out an exercise to
update the 30 year projections for the stock and
the council will be setting these out in the HRA
business plan due to be developed later in 2008.
At this stage, we have set out a 5 year profile
of stock investment needs to inform our
investment plans in partnership with the council
and developed the 5 year programme from this
information base. We will continue to develop the
database to produce a 30 year asset management
planning profile which will help inform the HRA
business plan.
7.3 Value in procurement
When we procured and commissioned the
original decent homes programme, the size and
scale as well as the need for diversity in provision
resulted in a variety of consultants and contractors
being appointed to carry out the programme.
Three sets of consultants and three groups
of partner contractors have effectively delivered
the decent homes programme.
With a change programme and the need to secure
both efficiencies and greater value in the delivery
of programmes, we have begun a long term plan
to gradually increase the amount of work delivered
though the BHP in house procurement team and
reduced reliance on expensive external consultants.
Transfers of staff into the BHP team have
taken place during 2006/07 and of the 2007/08
programme, around 40-50% will be procured
and managed by the in house team.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
7.4 5 year programme of investment
BHP will procure and manage the following capital
programme on behalf of the council. Sources of
finance will be determined by agreement between
BHP and the council on an annual basis and will
be based on core resources of:
• M
ajor Repairs Allowance (MRA) – £7.27m
in 2007/08
• Supported borrowing – £6.5m in 2007/08.
And will be additionally supported by;
• M
RA held in reserve pending completion
of decent homes programme
We have recently carried
out an exercise to update
the 30 year projections
for the stock and the
council will be setting
these out in the
HRA business plan due
to be developed later
in 2008
• Revenue contributions direct from the HRA.
Table 7.2
5 year capital programme forecast 2007 - 2012
Decent homes maintenance
South Kilburn works
M&E programme
Other capital works
Total HRA capital
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
8 E xpanding our business:
regeneration and sustainability
8.1 Introduction
Brent Housing Partnership is at the forefront
of initiatives to increase the supply of affordable
housing and to facilitate the further regeneration
and redevelopment of the most deprived and
highest cost areas in the borough.
BHP is uniquely involved in the establishment of
joint ventures and subsidiary companies to provide
major investment in housing and service delivery.
The following section schedules those initiatives
which will become an integral part of our business
planning over the next 5 years and where we
can look forward to significant expansion of our
business overall.
We are also one of only seven ALMOs to
put in a pre-feasibility bid for funding from the
Housing Corporation’s 2008-2010 National
Affordable Housing Programme and our plans for
development in this area are also set out below.
8.2 C
urrent major projects
and initiatives
Settled Homes Initiative
Earlier in 2007, with the council we were successful
in being awarded £5m from the Settled Homes
Initiative to spend on a pilot project to tackle
homelessness in the borough. This funding was
around 50% of the entire amount made available
across West London as a whole.
The scheme is founded upon moving 1 bedroom
flats in the council’s stock which are unpopular
and have a high void turnround into a subsidiary
company to refurbish them and let them on the
private rented market. These will effectively be
‘swapped’ for larger family housing which will
come into the council’s stock (either acquired
or developed new). The grant funding will be
utilised to acquire and build these new family sized
accommodation to house homeless families. The
overall target will be to house over 1,500 people
into suitable permanent accommodation with 500
properties replacing the 1 bed flats on secure
tenancies owned by the council and 260 units on
assured tenancies owned by a new company. Any
overall net surpluses from the market renting will
become available for pump priming development
elsewhere in the borough.
We will be setting up a subsidiary company
to own and manage these properties and are
currently in discussions with banks about the best
form of structure for the new company.
Overcrowding Initiative
BHP has been successful in bidding for £2.1m
of grant to help overcrowding in the borough
through the provision of extensions and
conversions in suitable council housing stock. The
initiative will amount to the conversion/extension
of 40 properties annually and allow 40 families to
reduce or eliminate overcrowding on their homes.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Barham Park Estate
This estate of some 190 non-traditionally built
properties requires significant levels of investment.
Plans to transfer the housing to a local Housing
Association have stalled. The council is pursuing
options with the nominated housing association and
it is unlikely that BHP will have involvement with
this scheme.
8.3 Housing Corporation Grant
As set out above, we are one of only seven ALMOs
to have submitted a pre-qualification questionnaire
to access grant funding from the 2008-2010
National Affordable Housing Programme.
The scheme we have initially put forward involves
the use of a joint vehicle subsidiary with the LIFT
Company which would provide properties for rent
on a long lease to BHP (over 32 years). At this
stage, we are concerned to secure the support
of the Housing Corporation in passing their tests
of strength and viability which have been an issue
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
for all ALMOs which have bid before to the
The establishment of the Settled Homes Initiative
and the PFI scheme with the LIFT Company should
put us in a stronger position than many ALMOs
to demonstrate experience of development and
financial viability and strength especially given the
considerable addition to our asset base provided
by the actual ownership of properties.
The final bids are due in the summer of 2007
and assuming we pass the initial pre-qualification
tests, we will ensure that we put in a strong and
competitive bid to help increase the affordable
housing and to reduce overcrowding and
homelessness in the borough.
The Housing Corporation have given extremely
positive signals to ALMOs that grant will be
available. Even if we are not as successful as we
hope in the forthcoming round, we will learn the
lessons and continue to apply for grant finding in
future rounds.
8.4 Summary
If we are successful with all of the schemes we have
bid and secured support for, the landscape of our
asset base will be fundamentally changed by 2012.
This addition to our portfolio will be considerable
and will assist us in securing financial viability and
making a significant contribution to the provision
of new, suitable and permanent affordable
accommodation for the borough.
As well as having around 8,000 council owned
HRA properties in management, around 200
of which have been extended or converted,
in management, BHP will own or have a
share of ownership in a total of over 1,200
properties, including 260 let on assured
tenancies through the Settled Homes
Initiative, 500 market rented 1 bed
flats, 200 further affordable units
via the LIFT company venture
and a further 100
market rented.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
9 Expanding our business: new services
9.1 Introduction
BHP has been at the forefront of carrying out
services for other landlords and organisations
and has provided in diversity and number a
greater proportion of additional services to
a larger number of customers than any other
ALMO. In 2007/08, income from the provision
of other services will amount to around 3% of the
management fee (or around £300k) and which is
invested in services for our tenants and residents.
9.2 Major initiatives and work to date
Brent Housing Partnership has been actively
pursuing major initiatives in management and
support services to others since we were set up.
In 2006/07, we provided services to eight other
housing organisations in London.
Recently, we have assisted Fortunegate Housing
Association in preparing for its housing inspection
which resulted in a two star rating and assisted
the London Borough of Harrow in the process
of calculating and setting their rents for 2007/08.
We were involved in the first example of a
joint venture with another ALMO, Kensington
and Chelsea TMO, when we established Grand
Union in 2005. Grand Union, a separate limited
liability partnership for the two companies, bid for
contracts let by Westminster City Council in 2005
but were unsuccessful despite being a very positive
learning experience.
In 2004, BHP were awarded the contract by Brent
Council to manage the private sector properties
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
leased to the council by private landlords, the Brent
Direct Leasing Scheme which generates over £100k
of additional income for BHP annually.
Some of the other work we have carried out for
others is set out below:
• P
rocurement of Asbestos Contractors
and Asbestos testing companies
• M
anagement of lift maintenance contracts
for all Brent Corporate Buildings
• E mergency Planning activities on behalf
of Brent Council
• P
roviding security patrols to libraries and
community centres
• Board
Member Training for other ALMOs
and housing associations
• Seminar for public sector forums
• Procuring
Grounds Maintenance contract
for another ALMO
• Management
of Houses in
Multiple Occupation
• Housing
management support to London
Borough of Harrow
• Peer
reviews, governance advice or
action planning
• Short
term management contract with
a South London TMO
• Setting
up an accounting management
system for another housing organisation.
9.3 Developing objectives
We are very keen to develop our portfolio
of work for other organisations further as the
sources of income provides a valuable source of
revenues into BHP’s business. Work carried out
for other organisations is carried out at marginal
cost and represents good value for money for our
clients/customers and generates a positive return
for the company.
We have established a reputation for being a
positive and constructive partner and are able to
softly market the services we are able to provide
via the range of forums and networks we are in as
well as incrementally through other organisations.
We will continue to review the opportunities
for major contractual or partnering opportunities
to provide housing management and repairs
management services to other organisations.
Very recent announcements on the future of
regulation and housing inspection in housing
suggest that there will be a growing market
for the provision of management services
through competition. BHP views this as a market
opportunity to help grow and diversify in the
markets we are providing services too.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
10 A sustainable financial future for BHP
10.1 Introduction
The financial outlook for Brent Housing Partnership
has fundamentally changed since our last plan
in 2003. During that time, we have invested
unprecedented capital sums in the stock to meet
the decent homes programme and despite a
series of growing challenges and pressures on the
Management Fee from the Council’s HRA, we
have been able to be flexible in the deployment of
revenue resources and have been able to build up
company reserves of around £1.5m.
Since 2003, there has been a fundamental shift
in the amount of resources made available to
Brent Council for spending on the council housing
stock and a gradual withdrawal of real spending
power is now set to bite very deeply into our ability
to increase investment in service delivery and the
stock. Our response will be to seek the necessary
efficiencies from our costs along with parallel
efficiencies within the council’s retained housing
functions in order to maintain the Housing
Revenue Account (HRA) in balance with
a sensible level of reserves.
Where we get our money from
As an ALMO, the main source of income for our
core services comes from the Management Fee
paid by the Council which totals over £9.4m. We
have been very successful at bringing in income
from other sources but in 2007/08 we estimate
that this additional income will only account for
around 5% of our overall revenue income.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Just under 10% (or around £900k) of our cost base
is made up of expenditure incurred with the council
under Service Agreements.
On the capital side, funding for some staff in our
Standards and Procurement Division is paid for
from the Council’s capital programme administered
by BHP.
Our asset base
BHP does not hold its own assets and all the assets
in use by the company are owned by the council,
including the housing stock and the administrative
buildings. As a wholly owned company operating
almost exclusively services on behalf of the council,
this is not an issue moving forward. But as we seek
to develop services outside of the management
agreement and in particular as we seek to build
and own our own stock, we will need to
demonstrate our financial strength to potential
customers and the Housing Corporation.
Whilst we can rely on the comfort provided by the
parent council in the short term, in time we need
to develop our own independent asset base so
that we may meet the liabilities we are building up
as an independent company. Indeed, as the council
has been reluctant to underwrite the amount of
pension deficits in BHP’s accounts, given its own
very difficult deficit position, we have kept costs
below income and fee levels in order to build up
surpluses in our accounts. These surpluses will be
available to fund any one off costs associated with
reducing the size of BHP.
Subject to the need for our reserves to meet our
own liabilities towards future costs, we may be in a
position to selectively apply some of those reserves
for the benefit of the Council’s wider housing
strategy by agreement with them.
10.2 Where are the pressures
coming from?
The HRA relies upon funding from the
Government via a national finance and subsidy
system. The rents that the council charges to
tenants are not directly available to the council
and BHP but are pooled nationally and
redistributed as allowances to spend money on
services and the stock. For revenue, the services are
primarily funded by Management and Maintenance
Allowance and for capital, the core minimum level
of funding from the Major Repairs Allowance.
Whilst the MRA has been relatively stable in recent
years, there has been a fundamental change in the
way M&M allowances are calculated and this has left
many of the council housing authorities in London
substantially worse off. The tables and charts below
illustrate the situation.
Table 10.1b
Forecast increase in M&M allowances to 2012
Brent M&M allowances (£)
Cumulative increase to 2004-08
National growth (2003/04 = base)
Cumulative increase to 2004-08
Note: M&M allowances are below the target set by the Government for 2007/08
and so will still not increase with inflation until the target is caught up with.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The tables show that as a result of changes
to the calculations, allowances for Brent’s council
housing services have increased only 12% from
2003 to 2008 compared to over 40% for the
national average and that the pain is set to
continue with less-than-inflation increases
all the way to 2011.
The chart below illustrates the long term challenge.
hart 10.2 Movement of actual/forecast
revenue service allowances compared
to national average increases
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
The chart shows that the gap between the forecast
allowances in 2012 compared to what they would
have been if Brent had received national increases
is £768/unit or, by 2012, around £6m of reduced
annual revenue funding compared to 2003.
In addition, as the decent homes programme has
now ended and as set out above, this programme is
likely to reduce significantly in this and future years.
10.3 The key factors affecting
the future
In projecting forward our resources for the period
to 2012, we have made some assumptions about
the way in which income and costs will behave
over that period and also the changes in the stock
we will be managing on behalf of the council.
Stock managed Table 10.3 below shows the
forecast changes in properties over the period
Actual number of properties on 31 March 2006/07
Projected loss of properties 2007/08
Projected number of properties on 31 March 2007/08
Projected loss of properties 2008/09
Projected number of properties on 31 March 2008/09
Projected loss of properties 2009/10
Projected loss of South Kilburn properties
%age change
Projected number of properties on 31 March 2009/10
Projected loss of properties 2010/11
Projected number of properties on 31 March 2010/11
Projected loss of properties 2011/12
Projected number of properties on 31 March 2011/12
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Inflation and efficiencies: 3% growth in costs for
all years partly matched by average 1.7% annual
efficiencies in costs to reflect both the reduction
in properties through the Right to Buy the ongoing
reduction in real terms spending resources from
the Government.
Pensions: like many public sector companies. BHP
has a shortfall on its share of the Brent Council
pension fund. We need to make additional company
contributions into the pension fund in the next
2 years in order to ensure that it is appropriately
funded moving forward.
Capital: capital financing and finding is forecast
to be in line with the forecasts set out above.
10.4 Our Financial Strategy
Our overall financial strategy is therefore founded
on the following four elements:
Reducing the total size of BHP to reflect both
the loss of stock and the need to become
more efficient.
Reducing real terms revenue costs year on year.
Continue to operate at a level of reserves
sufficient to meet potential liabilities
(for example pension and other, short term,
costs) and consider their deployment for
wider housing purposes in partnership with
the council.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Actively seeking, but not budgeting for or
relying upon, additional income from providing
services to other organisations and the new
projects and initiatives we are working on.
Build an asset base to allow us to trade
more effectively with other organisations,
to enable us to go for opportunities to secure
greater grant funding for regeneration and
redevelopment and to offer growing comfort
to both the Board and the Council that we
are able to meet our liabilities in the future.
10.5 Summary of financial forecasts
10.5.1 Management Fee
The following tables set out the financial forecast
for BHP’s management fee over the business plan
period compared to the forecast if no efficiencies
were required.
Table 10.4
Forecast management fee with efficiencies
Growth in fee with inflation
South Kilburn transfer
Management fee with inflation
Cumulative efficiencies
Management fee forecast
The table shows that the fee would increase
beyond £10m and having transferred out South
Kilburn, would be £9.5m but that the funding likely
to be available in the HRA is £9.0m, representing
cumulative annual efficiencies required over the
period of £516,000.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Table 10.5 Breakdown forecast
of Management Fee to 2012
Running costs
Service agreements
Management fee forecast
The table shows how we will spend our
management fee between staffing and other
costs and highlights that the costs charged
to us under service agreement by the
council are not expected to grow at all
(ie with no inflationary increase) over the
period to 2012.
10.5.2 Capital investment in Brent’s
housing stock
The total capital programme managed by BHP
is around £23m in 2007/80 and this is set to
reduce annually in the period to 2012 as specific
schemes are completed. A summary of the
programme is contained in the section on asset
management above.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
10.5.3 New business and growth
As set out above, we have not included any of the
cashflows from our new business opportunities
into our financial plans within this plan as the
precise nature of the cashflows, the vehicles and
organisational structures are not known at this
point. However, if each of the initiatives towards
stock redevelopment and new build are converted
to actual business income streams, it is clear that
the share of our business taken up by these new
initiatives will be considerable. If all opportunities
come to fruition, there is scope for the gross
income of companies in which BHP has a stake to
grow overall income by around 25% by 2012 which
will see BHP established as the primary agency
for regeneration in Brent and a major agency for
regeneration across the West London area.
10.6 Financial freedoms
We will continue to monitor the progress of the
self financing pilot project being carried out by
the Government. Details of the prospects will be
clearer as a result of the forthcoming Spending
Review being carried out by the Government.
financing housing service with a more sensible long
term level of debt which would enable sustainable
long term investment in the stock. Debt might be
adjusted to allow us to maintain and sustain the
stock in the longer term and open up the option
to develop and build HRA owned stock without
the current financial penalties.
If self financing were to become a programme
and if Brent Council and BHP decided to apply
and become successful, there could be some
considerable advantages to us and residents.
Despite some discouraging findings for Brent of
the initial pilot NFA project carried out as part
of the review of the long term viability of ALMOs,
the findings within the latest project suggest that
Brent would be able to participate and could see
a considerable amount of housing debt written off
(or taken over by the Government) leaving a self
At this early stage, it is not possible to predict the
outcome of the national project but it is clear that
the key advantages for us would be around the
maintenance of existing neighbourhoods and estates
on a more sustainable long term footing. And whilst
development, regeneration and new build through
BHP does not require self financing as a prerequisite, the overall financial freedom implied by
the council securing control over the rental stream
of the stock would be significant and allow a greater
number of potential schemes to be advanced.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Appendix 1 SWOT analysis 2006/07
• Well established ALMO with effective board
•Able directors and senior managers,
exceptional leadership
•Staff team: loyal; knowledgeable; ethnically
diverse; most are committed; low turnover;
Finance team is strong
• Governance: no maladministration
•Good relationship with Council; the new
management agreement gives a planning
framework until 2012
•Performance focus and achievements: top
quartile; Decent Homes; ISO, IIP, 2 Ticks;
ASB management; support services;
procurement expertise
•Learning culture; self-critical, adventurous
and adaptable
•Tenant involvement in decision-making
•Very strong IT infrastructure
•Partnership approach
•Directorate works well.
•Too tied to local government way of doing
things – need to do things in a different way
•98% of BHP’s business comes from one
customer – the Council
•Finance team lacks commercial experience
•Junior/middle management weak; limited
career development opportunities
•A few disruptive staff
•High sickness levels (although improving)
•HR procedures lack flexibility
•Gender imbalance of staff
•Lack of resources mean limited capacity
for policy development and research work
•Communication and co-ordination across
the Divisions
•Lack of housing options will limit customer
satisfaction (one in four tenants is on
transfer list).
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
•Relationship with the Council could be better
exploited in order to move into different
service areas
•Winning the PFI bid: new build
•Opening up new business opportunities;
selling services to other organisations; using
partnerships; large new developments will give
•Retaining 3 stars in inspection
•Move to new premises will further develop
independence and corporate image and be
more efficient
•Charter Mark
•Using IT e.g. digital TV in innovative ways to
promote more efficient working
•Bring more service in-house to save money.
•Local political situation: reorganisation
within the Council; loss of influence in BHP’s
negotiating position
•National political vacuum on ALMOs;
requirement to address wider social issues but
no long term planning framework
•Loss of customer satisfaction once major
works are completed and novelty of
improvements wears off
•Attitude of Trade Unions
•Uncertain funding. Have not yet had a
breakthrough in terms of new income
generating business
•Loss of good staff to other employers in
an increasingly competitive labour market,
especially technical staff
•Loss of stock threatening viability: loss of
revenue; loss of staff
•Forward planning is difficult when uncertainty
re South Kilburn homes
•Increasing customer expectations
•Increasing proportion of vulnerable people
in BHP properties needing support.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Appendix 2 Governance action plan
Action Point
New Residents Scrutiny Panel to be set up to give
resident representatives the opportunity to comment
on board reports prior to board decisions.
February 2008 and ongoing through next
five years.
As a means of addressing any skills gap which may
be preventing the active participation of tenant
representatives on the board on discussions about
performance, management should ensure that
appropriate training and information is provided
to enable them to participate more fully.
January 2008 and ongoing through next
five years.
Management should ensure that there is a system
in place for comments and suggestions made at Area
Housing Board and Residents Scrutiny Panel meetings
regarding BHP’s performance and reports, to be collated
and where feasible considered as part of the decision
making process.
March 2008 and ongoing through next
five years.
A system to be implemented for the regular (quarterly
or annual) monitoring of progress of the planned actions
in the Resident’s Participation Strategy and Compact
and when the plans have not been achieved then actions
should be revised or updated in the light of the results.
December 2008 and ongoing through
next five years.
Guidance or procedures with regards to the
management of areas of persistent underperformance
should be produced and made available to all
relevant managers.
Ongoing through next five years.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Action Point
Management should ensure that planned actions to
address areas where there has been persistently poor
performance are monitored in order to ensure that
these actions are being implemented.
Ongoing through next five years.
Where planned actions have not been implemented
as indicated, the responsible managers should be
required to provide written explanations as part of the
performance management reporting process about the
reasons for the actions not being implemented.
Ongoing through next five years.
Ensure that a system is put in place for collating and
analysing the feedback obtained from board members.
The information obtained from the feedback should
be taken into consideration when putting together any
future training plans.
August 2008 and ongoing through
next five years.
Management should ensure that there is an appropriate
balance of skills and competencies on BHP’s Board.
Ongoing through next five years.
Ensure that procedures are put in place for the regular
review of board succession plans and the competency
and skill set of board members.
Ongoing through next five years.
To review payments to Board Members and seek
approval from Council for implementation of a system
of payments.
September 2008 and ongoing through
next five years.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Governance action plan (continued)
Action Point
Management should continue to consider innovative
ways of improving the diversity of Board members in
order to ensure that membership of the BHP Board
is as far as possible representative of the community
it serves.
June 2009 and every three years.
The Board should delegate the responsibility for the
review and monitoring BHP’s internal control systems to
the Finance & Audit Sub-committee, so that the internal
control system is regularly reviewed and monitored
alongside risk management.
Ongoing through next five years.
A formal mechanism should be implemented for the
assessment of progress of the five year business plan and
as a means of assessing the likelihood of targets on the
plan being achieved or not; and where necessary for the
plan to be revised or updated in light of the results.
Completion of plan March 2008 and annual
review to 2012.
Procedures for ensuring compliance with the code of
conduct should be periodically evaluated and appropriate
action taken where necessary.
Ongoing through next five years.
Management should implement a clearly defined
Code of Conduct for Agents (Contractors) as part
of contractual agreements.
June 2008 and annual review to 2012.
The review of the conduct of contractors should form
part of the performance management and monitoring
of Agents (contractors).
Ongoing through next five years.
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
Appendix 3 Five year business objectives
Neighbourhood Services
Neighbourhood Services will seek to achieve
improved quality environmental standards on
all estates in Brent, covering estate cleaning,
grounds maintenance and communal repairs;
we will implement an extensive environmental
improvement programme as part of the overall
capital programme and improve resident
participation by actively seeking to increase the
number of residents associations, community groups
and individual residents to become involved in all
aspects of BHP’s business over the next five years.
to seek innovative ways to recover arrears and
providing quality welfare benefit advice to assist
tenants to maximise their income will be the
primary five year objectives for the Rents team.
Over the next five years the objectives will
be to reduce unauthorised occupation and
provide incentives to those tenants who are
under-occupying larger family homes to move
to smaller accommodation thereby releasing
properties to assist the Council in tackling
homelessness in the borough.
Appendix 2 gives a detailed description of the
governance action plan, but to summarise, these
are to retain stable but flexible governance
arrangements which include increased accountability
of our organisation to our tenants and leaseholders;
more residents involved in decision making at the
highest level and ensuring the board and staff is
representative of the local community.
The five year objective is to reach a wider and more
diverse audience from amongst our tenants and
leaseholders to make certain that we are meeting
the needs of all our residents; capture a wider and
more diverse range of residents to become involved
in performance monitoring and decision making of
BHP; and to provide information which is accessible
and relevant to the needs of all our residents.
Rent Recovery
Remaining within the top quartile of comparable
housing organisations for rent collection; continuing
Anti Social Behaviour
With an average of 70 serious anti social behaviour
cases each year, our Anti Social Behaviour team
will continue to provide comprehensive casework
management and preventative initiatives to tackle
low level crime and anti-social behaviour within
our communities over the next five years.
Supporting People
The five year objectives for this team is to ensure
hard to reach council tenants benefit from
housing support services; achieve the excellence
grade within the Supporting People assessment
framework and demonstrate value for money
to the Supporting People commissioning body.
Major Works and Building Services
There is currently an investment deficit in relation
to the housing stock and BHP will continue to work
closely with the Council to find a solution to this
problem. A 30 year Asset Plan is being developed
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
by BHP which, when completed in the next few
months, will assist both BHP and the Council in the
longer term planning of council housing investment
needs. Over the next five years the objectives
for the Major Works and Building Services teams
include initiatives to assist the Council to reduce
homelessness such as loft extensions; completion
of the capital works lift programme and ensuring
all properties with communal television aerials are
switched over to a digital system in compliance
with the government target of 2012 for properties
in London.
The five year objectives for the Voids team is to
reach and maintain top quartile performance of 28
day average void turnaround times; to work closely
with the Council’s Locata team who are responsible
for the allocation of properties to find innovative
ways to reduce void periods in council properties;
and to demonstrate value for money by reducing
expenditure on void properties year on year.
Standards & Procurement
BHP has been a lead organisation in the
implementation of new technology to help provide
more efficient and value for money services to our
residents. The five year objectives of this team is
therefore to continue to be able to demonstrate
we are at the cutting edge of new technological
developments; our IT systems are accessible to and
reach the majority of our tenants and leaseholders;
and our staff are well trained in the use of new
technology. In addition the team will continue to
demonstrate value for money to residents by the
efficient procurement of all contracts and ensure
BHP Business Plan 2008 - 2013
residents are involved in the decision making
of all contracts awarded.
Repairs and Maintenance
The five year objectives of the Repairs and
Maintenance Team are to maintain top quartile
performance in repairs response times and gas
servicing, demonstrate value for money within
the responsive repairs service, and improving
the efficiency of repairs ordering through the
implementation of hand held computers.
In addition the team will look at making the
responsive repairs service more accessible to our
residents by increasing the use of our Repairs Bus
service and reviewing repairs appointment times
to meet the needs of our customers.
Finance and Leasehold Services
The Finance team have a number of statutory
obligations including the production of accounts
to be submitted to Companies House and the
issuing of Section 125 Notices to tenants seeking
to purchase their homes. These functions are time
limited and an objective for the team is to ensure
these continue to be produced and submitted on
time and to a high standard.
The collection of leasehold charges through the
issue of Section 20 notices is an important source
of income to BHP and the team have a five year
objective to maximise the issuing of these notices.
Improving leaseholder satisfaction through improved
communication, and continuously challenging and
improving current practices relating to value for
money are further five year team objectives.
Building on Excellence
Brent Housing Partnership
Chancel House
Neasden Lane
NW10 2UF
T 020 8937 2356
F 020 8937 2021
E [email protected]
February 2008/BHP/42090