Small and mighty: does size have an impact on the efficiency of housing associations?

With the Smaller Housing Association Conference this week, speaker Claire Warren reflects on the Sector Scorecard results and what they tell us about the efficiency of smaller housing associations.

Claire Warren is Chief Executive, Pickering and Ferens Homes

Claire Warren is Chief Executive, Pickering and Ferens Homes

31 October 2017

In May 2015, I wrote a blog for the Smaller Housing Associations group that aimed to flush out any ‘sizeism’ that existed within the housing sector, particularly challenging a common perception that the larger the organisation the better and more efficient it is. 

My experience has always been that great organisations can come in many shapes and sizes. 

In that blog, I talked about the high customer satisfaction levels, strong business performance and community-based outcomes smaller housing associations achieve across the country. I threw down the metaphorical gauntlet that, to put substance behind my claims, I was happy for the facts to speak for themselves.

With perfect timing, Home Group’s Mark Henderson appeared – a man on a mission to lead the sector in demonstrating our worth through facts not fiction. Mark and the project’s working group have tackled the difficult job of galvanising the sector and satisfying regulators and commentators, by comparing and contrasting our work through a set of fairly standard metrics – the Sector Scorecard. They have consulted widely and done a formidable job.

Fast forward 18 months and over 300 organisation’s data later and the Sector Scorecard pilot results are in. Guess what? Mark reported in 19 September’s Inside Housing article that ‘size has no impact on efficiency’. The pilot concludes that any organisation's results are clearly shaped by their strategic priorities and their ability to govern and lead an organisation well.

In particular, it highlighted that both large and smaller housing associations are making their respective contribution to the delivery of new homes to tackle our national housing crisis. 

The metrics in themselves are not the end. The pilot’s findings demonstrate different priorities and choices generate mixed results, with a conclusion that we are yet to find a perfect housing association. We all have our strengths and areas that we want to improve. 

Through my experience of national and regional housing groups, I have observed that smaller housing associations share the same ambition and drive for improvement as our larger counterparts, especially when it comes to delivering value for money for our tenants. Size really can be just a number.

Claire Warren is the Chief Executive of Pickering and Ferens Homes and a member of the Federation’s National Smaller Housing Associations Group. Claire will be speaking about smaller housing associations’ ability to demonstrate value at the Smaller Housing Association’s National Conference on the 2 November 2017.

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