A Mortimer and I Prendergast presented the Osborne Year 5 Review and asked Committee for any questions.
Cllr Freedman queried that there was no benchmarking on qualitative measures, for example, how many repairs fixed first time and stakeholders saying when a job is completed or not. Also the number of calls falling so drastically they must be doing quite well. I Prendergast confirmed that the measures for first time fix is about 87%, which is above the national average and the target set KPI for the contract which is 81%. All those performance measures are coming in on target. Customer satisfaction with the repairs service at the moment is 98%, the customer will get an aftercare call the moment the repair is closed down by the operative on the PDA and this is total customer care, you will find out if the job was actually finished, it wraps up everything with the customer. Extra measures being considered is including a level of competence interval, which does not happen at the moment and gives us some certainty about the range of that 98%, but also to be recording on the level of satisfaction on a scale whereby we continue to improve the service.
Cllr Freedman asked if there was anything on refused jobs, what happens if tenants call up and say I would like a plasma screen TV installed and we say no, are those numbers already included in the statistics or have they been filtered out. I Prendergast confirmed they are still in the core statistics as they are straight off the telephone lines, so they can’t tell what the call was about.
Cllr England raised concerns about Carrillion and these large contracts, pricing themselves to a very precarious position, so as we are a stock holding authority, does that make us attractive as a contract to win, sufficiently attractive that we are at risk of being in that goldilocks position where we are wooed by a bid that is fantastic but turns out to be made of glass. I Prendergast said it’s a problem round the entire benchmarking operation because you want to be overall in the middle ground, because that’s probably the safest ground to be in, you don’t want to be in the ground where there is a big risk with the contractor. We are on open book with the contractor so we can see what’s happening, we have a gain share as part of the contract, which is being somewhat considerable, almost £2.5m that we shared in gains from the contract. This contract is also making money but delivering value to our client base that’s where it needs to be, we don’t want to be squeezing the contractor so that he’s going to fall over. Osborne are very sensible contractor, there’s a lot of cheap bids out there in the market at the moment.
A Mortimer added that’s one of the things with how the contract was marked and awarded and continually scored, is the fact that it’s on a 60 quality/40 cost basis, so had it been focussed more on the cost the risk of collapse of the contract would have been greater, because there would have been more of a chance of the contractor trying to underbid to score on that. I Prendergast also mentioned the other problem is the weighting you have very little opportunity to refuse a cheap bidder, you haven’t got the marking system that will allow you not to pick anything other than the cheapest.
Cllr Griffiths wanted to highlight that we were with Carrillion for gas servicing but could see what was on the Horizon and we wasn’t happy with the quality of the service, we started to get a little nervous and we terminated the contract, that’s when Sunrealm stepped in to the contract. Two or three years later Carrillion went into administration. Quality is important to us and that’s why it was 60/40, it wasn’t all about price because these are people’s homes and they are our assets. We do keep a watching brief on the market.
Cllr Pringle asked about the compliments versus complaints table and said that it seemed remarkable that they’ve turned it around just as the contract came up for review. I Prendergast confirmed this was a benchmarking review of the contract, at the moment they are awarded up to year 8 of the contract.
Cllr Pringle asked is the quality analysis and statistics, is it because they identified an ongoing problem as we dig into the complaints we can see objectively has been rectified and therefore in the next year and the next year we expect those complaints to remain low or could it be to do with how the contractors present the paperwork or some other reason less related to the service provided methodology. Can we relate the actual quality of service provided or is it to do with how we record or how we approach clients or their feedback. I Prendergast said that when he first heard those figures he was surprised because they are so remarkable, especially on the complaints side, so we did a direct comparison with our own complaints with the repairs service and it was directly comparable, that was our own data that we’d collected ourselves so I couldn’t find any way to fault that figure. What has happened in the interim is that the service has become more efficient, more proactive and things are getting attended to before they become a complaint, so it is about service delivery, it’s about those telephone calls to the client, where you are calling immediately after the work has finished, you will pick up a problem and get it fixed and it’s not going to result in a complaint.
Cllr Griffiths also mentioned that it is important to note that the Tenant and Leaseholder Committee have regular meetings with Osborne, they don’t treat them lightly so when complaints were going up and they weren’t happy, Osborne left this room in no doubt they weren’t happy and it’s worked.
Cllr Adeleke asked about when the contract is still live and you need to introduce additional performance indicators almost like a profit warning, can you briefly explain what are the key reasons behind these problems. I Prendergast said that they were nearly all of that was about communication and service delivery. The service wasn’t delivering the levels or the standards that it is now and that’s about the control of the contractor themselves, their own delivery mechanisms for their workforce. For example the Trades have a debrief every morning, so that everything is picked up, so jobs could easily be left and then it takes the customer to ring up again in a few weeks time, that isn’t happening anymore and we can tell that from the statistics.
Cllr England said this was a contract that’s in the middle somewhere but presumably we’re not able to endlessly extend years and at some point we will reach a crucial point, does that put us in a high risk position than we normally are. I Prendergast said that it doesn’t put you in a high risk. These contracts act like mini franchises so they will have their own management on the ground although they’ve got a big umbrella company running, all those people involved in the operation delivering the service are all the people that would be TUPE’d over to you should you get another contractor in. As long as you have the right people they are going to want to stay and also they are trained to do what is required on your contract, so the risks are not huge. In the next year and half/two years you will need to start re-procuring and looking at the models you will use going forward. A lot of those models are bringing them back in house as Direct Labour Forces, that might not be something the Council wishes to do, but whoever you get in, as long as you’ve got your franchise and your staff that know what they are doing and what needs to be delivered for this contract, you’ll be alright.
Cllr Hollinghurt said that the figures are very impressive and the way in which you described the collection of the data. The operative fixes the problem and has a PDA which is updated once the job is finished, the customer is called to ask if the job was okay and they say yes. That is great, that is great but if I was the workman I’m not going to press that button on the PDA unless I’m sure that when a phone call comes through it’s going to be still okay, that’s something I could control. What I’m suggesting is perhaps the methodology is biasing a good response from the client, being faced with getting a repair completed and they are absolutely delighted to get it done but do we have any idea how often people have to go back to a job that was okay when the operative left but has failed afterward. I Prendergast confirmed that at the moment we believe that’s running at about 3½% of jobs which in terms of volumes it’s very very low. One of the things about the button is you’re very right, the PDA also records customer satisfaction and this also checks against what the operative has recorded on his satisfaction score on his PDA, so that is one that the customer signs. We actually get a lower satisfaction rate on what is signed on the handheld than we do from the telephone call.
I Prendergast added that a social value that will be added going forward and has agreed for the programme is that the PDA will have a concern button, we’ve had concern cards previously and those relate to properties and people. The concern button is coming in because we’ve got Osborne to sign up to Make a Stand which is for domestic abuse and with that we can re-inforce this concern about the person or the property, hopefully meaning that where we’ve got properties running into disrepair we can pick them up quicker, but really the operatives have to do it now rather than going back to their van to put it on a piece of papers.