International company Engie appointed by Ashford Borough Council

The tenants of the 5,500 homes owned by Ashford Borough Council will enjoy a range of benefits following the appointment of an international company to handle maintenance and emergency repairs.

The council awarded a 10 year contract to energy and regeneration specialist ENGIE after a tender process which set a high benchmark for service levels and efficiency, innovation and value for money. The contract is worth £25m.

Sharon Williams, Head of Housing at Ashford Borough Council, said the authority had previously worked with up to a dozen suppliers in delivering reactive housing repairs and maintenance for its 5,500 properties across the district.

“Integrating all that work through one supplier is already bringing considerable benefits to the council, while tenants are also enjoying improvements in the service they receive.

“ENGIE is hugely experienced in providing property support services to the housing sector, including some of the biggest housing associations in Kent and across the UK. By engaging them we are reaping the benefits of their experience and the specialist resources they can provide,” she added.

ENGIE and Ashford have already integrated their contract management system and housing repairs system, helping to streamline administration and reduce paperwork. As part of this “smarter way of working”, ENGIE now has 10 staff embedded within the council’s housing repairs team at the Civic Centre, said Sharon.

The 10 year contract with ENGIE is not costing Ashford Borough Council any more than the total of its previous arrangements with multiple contractors but the significant improvements to services are already proving highly beneficial.

So how are Ashford tenants set to benefit from the appointment of ENGIE?

People will already have noticed the fleet of ENGIE-branded vans on the roads across the district, while service improvements include faster response times for urgent repairs, with the out-of-hours response time reduced from a maximum of four hours to two hours.

More choice and flexibility are also offered to tenants making appointments, with appointments now extended until 8pm each Wednesday and also until 1pm on Saturdays.

Planned future improvements for tenants include agreeing an appointment when reporting a repair, receiving text reminders of appointments, improved online access to report new repairs and also to check the status of their previously reported repairs.

As part of the contract, ENGIE has committed to utilising a local supply chain to put back into the local community, while offering 40 work experience placements for young people in the region, five apprenticeship schemes lasting two years each and a further five traineeships. The apprenticeships will be arranged in conjunction with Ashford College.

The company has also proposed a waste recycling target of 95% for year one, moving to 100% in year two as part of its ambitious energy efficiency targets.

Simon Lacey, Regional Managing Director for ENGIE, said: “Ashford Borough Council has a diverse mix of tenants with varying needs, including elderly, disabled and vulnerable residents. We have a proven track record in widescale repairs and maintenance, as well as delivering bespoke solutions for those with specialist care needs, so we are well placed to take on this contract and offer a reliable service that centres on customer’s needs.

“The council has invested heavily to offer the best standard of living for its customers and we are thrilled to be supporting them in these efforts. We have worked closely throughout the contract negotiations to ensure this isn’t just a repairs contract, but a programme that will ultimately improve lives through better, more sustainable homes, while presenting employment and training opportunities for local people.”

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