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18 July 2013 | Will Green
Spectrum Housing Group is planning to train up residents and get them professional qualifications to help make procurement decisions.
At the housing association, which operates across southern England, a panel of residents already help define requirements, evaluate tender submissions and attend supplier presentations and selection panels.
But group procurement manager Yvonne Kemsley wants to take this further and provide training and CIPS qualifications.
“The more they understand the procurement process and how we go about purchasing goods and services the better it is for us,” she told SM. “It’s a case of inclusion and making them part of the decision. At the end of the day it’s much better that we are buying services they have had an input about. It helps me, it helps them and it helps the business.”
Spectrum Housing Group is a not-for-profit organisation that owns and manages around 18,000 homes and maintains another 35,000, working in partnership with local authorities, health trusts and other bodies.
Spectrum is based in Dorset but owns homes from Portsmouth to Plymouth.
Since Kemsley joined the group two years ago she has overseen £2 million of expenditure and pushed through £263,000 of savings.
“The biggest challenge has been getting people to understand the real benefits of procurement,” she said. “If you talk about cost saving people will clam up. I think they see procurement as the police force. That’s not how it works – I’m here to help.”
Kemsley’s work is part of the Spectrum Pathway Programme, which is aiming to get unemployed people – particularly residents – back into work. The scheme, which includes placements in Spectrum and firms in the organisation’s supply chain, provides eight weeks’ unpaid work experience with the potential to move onto a six-month paid placement. So far eight people have been through the process as a pilot and now the aim is to find another 30 candidates.
Duncan Breckell, HR business partner, said a combination of welfare changes and reduced government grants for housing organisations meant it made sense to help residents into work.
“We need to take a proactive approach to support them to be in a much better position financially and the most obvious way to do that is for them to be in employment,” he said.