One of the UK’s leading housing and support consultancies has launched a completely new approach to reducing demand for repairs – one of the biggest expenditures faced by social housing landlords – to alleviate pressures and reduce costs.

East London based Just Housing Group (JHG) is well-known in the social housing sector for helping its clients to reduce the cost of their repairs. Work has included supporting housing group Midland Heart, who recently reported savings of £10m since commissioning JHG to review and implement changes in its repairs and maintenance division. The JHG team believes its new ground breaking approach tackles the problem of repairs head on.

JHG will be working alongside its clients to look at repairs from a totally different angle and assess what is actually driving tenant demands. From these findings, the company will determine which clusters of tenants are costing social housing providers the most and from there will implement proven behaviour change techniques, often known as Nudge, to reduce the numbers of repairs reported.

Headed by Consultancy Managing Director, Anna O’Halloran, who has over thirty years’ experience in the housing sector, the new initiative has potential to reinvigorate how social housing providers look at their repairs.

Anna explains: “Over time there have been numerous initiatives implemented which have seen a significant reduction for social housing providers in costs associated with their repairs division, as well as improving efficiency. These approaches have generally focused on streamlining an organisation’s repair function, but have not tackled the problem of repairs at the core.

“It is likely that there are groups or clusters of tenants that report more repairs than others, and that these reports are not necessarily driven by the condition of the property. Our work to date has already proven this to be the case. Our unique approach means that we can help individual social housing providers to identify these groups and work with them to influence and change their behaviour.

“Of course, there are always going to be repairs that need doing, but as this area is the greatest expenditure for social housing providers, we truly believe that our approach will see a significant drop in unnecessary spend through achieving successful behaviour change leading to fewer repairs being reported, or necessary.”

And having only recently launched the new approach, JHG is already in the process of working alongside one of the UK’s largest ALMOs to report their findings and will now work with them to implement behavioural insights techniques. In quick succession, the company has also successfully secured a second contract to implement this approach for another large social housing landlord based in the East Midlands. These organisations have recognised the potential that taking this approach will have on reducing costs.

The use of behavioural insights is a relatively new practice to the housing sector, with Just Housing Group leading the way in introducing such a programme. The approach is commonly used by government and public sector organisations around the world to successfully change consumer behaviour.

Working alongside Anna will be Steven Johnson, behaviour change specialist, who will bring significant expertise to the approach. Anna and Steven have been working together for two years with numerous providers to transform approaches to rent arrears, channel shift and compliance using tried and tested behaviour change techniques.

Anna adds: “It is an exciting time for JHG to introduce this new approach which we believe will shape the way tenants engage with their homes, their landlords and report their repairs. JHG is well respected in the sector for adding value, reducing costs and increasing operational efficiencies, and we believe this is exactly what our new offering does. It sets us apart from any other consultancy and demonstrates our innovative approach to looking at things from a new angle and introducing measures that will be extremely valuable to our clients.”

Established in 2004, Just Housing Group provides services and support in the supply, management and maintenance of social housing. With offices in London the company employs 25 staff.