Guests flocked to Efficiency North’s third annual conference on Thursday 12 July, packing out the Keepmoat Stadium in Doncaster to join in 'Bringing Brexit Home’, a day focussed on examining Brexit’s potential impact on social housing construction supply chains and communities.
Chair Jackie Axelby MBA MBE welcomed over 170 delegates from social housing landlords, contractors and tenant communities from across Yorkshire and Humber - double the level of attendance at EN’s 2017 conference. Chief Executive Lee Parkinson took a look back over the 12 months since the previous conference, giving context to the many changes and unprecedented growth in Efficiency North and the additional offer of the two new ventures, EN:Able Futures and EN:Able Build.
Supply chain impact post Brexit
Keynote speaker Dr Linda Xu, Research Associate at the University of Sheffield, presented the results of research into the implications of Brexit on the sector for a report commissioned by Reallies recently undertaken by the Management School, led by Professor Jonathan Linton. Whilst acknowledging the current uncertainty, Dr Xu outlined how potential problems are opportunities in disguise, with a ‘race from the bottom’ effect meaning changes in supply and demand and greater emphasis on life cycle.
Working together to deliver real social value
The Chief Executive of HACT, Andrew Van Doorn, speaking on the importance of sustaining social value delivery through procurement post-Brexit, presented some shocking statistics on the current socio-economic state of the country, with 14 million people in the UK currently living in poverty. He advised the need to be more demanding and look more closely at how the social housing sector works with supply chains to deliver social value that really matters and to avoid a race to the bottom. Andrew stressed the importance of being innovative in working in collaboration and commended Efficiency North’s achievement in delivering £3,885,499 in social value in 2016/17 by working closely with landlords, contractors and local employment groups.
Chair Jackie Axelby and Chief Executive Lee Parkinson joined Dr Xu and Andrew to form a panel for the Q&A session which generated a lively debate, including discussion on how to embed long term benefits of Social Value into procurement contracts and realise the benefits of partnership.
The afternoon opened with a case study illustrating the range of successful outcomes in terms of construction, repairs and maintenance and employment and skills achieved by working together, featuring Together Housing and Efficiency North. George Paterson Director of Property Services for Together Housing Group explained how they had accessed the full range of services provided by Efficiency North Operating Companies and how these services fit into Together Housing Group’s operating model. George commented upon the quality and experience that Efficiency North brings which compliments their existing service delivery resources and the savings that are delivered through collaborative and intelligent procurement solutions.
A different take from poet-in-residence Matt Abbott
Efficiency North’s poet in residence Matt Abbott offered a different take on Brexit, capturing the audience’s attention with his performance of a thoughtful, powerful and inspiring selection of poems from his Two Little Ducks collection on the subject of the Brexit vote, alongside poems from his anthology about community projects backed by the EN:Able Community Investment Fund. Beginning in October 2017, Matt spent 6 months visiting 18 projects across the region to produce a unique collection, which offers a snapshot of life as it's lived in local communities now. Leaders of Artistic Spectrum, Happy Days, Help 4 Homeless Veterans, Butterflies Dementia, the Cascade Foundation and Stainforth4All were amongst audience members hearing poems about their work and experience performed publicly for the first time.
Social Value Awards for outstanding achievement
The day’s proceedings concluded with a presentation ceremony for this year’s Social Value Awards, hosted by EN:Able Futures executive lead Catherine Bishop. In another demonstration of Efficiency North’s growth, this year winners were announced in five categories, three more than in previous years. Besides the Community Initiative of the Year, won by Butterflies Dementia, and EN:Procure Apprentice of the Year, won by Jordi Simpson, trophies for outstanding achievement were given to the Local Employment Group of the Year, The Learning Community, the EN:Able Futures Trade Apprentice of the Year, Jack Walmsley, and the EN:Able Futures Technical Apprentice of the Year, Katy Robinson. The three apprentice awards were kindly sponsored by Yorkshire Builders Federation.
Room for a house in the car park
Throughout the day Premier Modular’s volumetric house made an unusual addition to the Keepmoat stadium’s car park. Having the house on site provided an opportunity for guests to take a guided tour. Having one room’s walls and ceilings peeled back to reveal its component parts and fittings, guests were more fully able to understand its benefits in terms of building fabric, time and installation costs to support construction of affordable new homes.
Efficiency North Chief Executive Lee Parkinson commented, “It was great to see Efficiency North attracting such numbers and the lively, dynamic atmosphere they brought. We’d like to thank our speakers for their insightful contributions and hope guests enjoyed the day as much as we did. To build on the success of this year’s conference we’d like to make next year’s event not only larger scale but with the offer of a wider range of content to bring together even more of our regional social housing and construction partners to support their learning and breakthrough-thinking in the critical, early post-Brexit era.”
CLICK HERE to view the presentation slides from the day.
CLICK HERE to read the University of Sheffield Management School Brexit impact research report.
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