Agenda item

Qualis - Overview

The Group Managing Director is being invited to give an overview of Qualis mainly on the Housing Repairs service followed by a question and answer session.


The Chairman introduced Qualis Group Managing Director, S Jevans, and the Managing Director of Qualis Management, B Johnson, who gave a presentation. This encompassed an oversight of the property management and housing repairs service Qualis provided on behalf of the Council. It also covered Qualis’ values, complaints and lessons learnt, performance in 2020 / 21 and how the Council monitored Qualis and its key objectives.


Before the Chairman took members questions, the webcast was stopped for around ten minutes regarding a private letter a councillor wanted to refer to at the meeting. On earlier advice received from the Monitoring Officer, the Chairman and Chief Executive would not allow the councillor to refer to the letter, even in a generalised way, as its contents were being investigated.


B Johnson answered a range of questions with help from S Jevans, a selection of which are detailed below.


·     More expensive repairs over £600 needed approval from the Housing Asset Team as it was about managing the budget for the Council.

·     In reply to whether the Council was saving money with Qualis, the Agreement was set up on historic pricing. Qualis was doing slightly less than the previous contractor but it was a challenging market as materials and staff costs were increasing. The Strategic Director and 151 Officer, A Small, added that Qualis’ performance had been looked at and the productivity ratio had increased. Unless you go out to competition, you do not know the costs. Finance Portfolio Holder, Councillor J Philip, continued that officers were going through a procurement exercise for best value. Although this cost money, it was important to do benchmarking on costs and that the prices Qualis was charging were fair.

·     Qualis was insourcing and employing people directly and delivering a better price usually, so doing more in-house repairs was better value for money.

·     If a service failure complaint was received by the Council but it was Qualis’ responsibility, it would be transferred to the Qualis Contact Centre unless both of us were involved in which case the Council would take the lead.

·     Assurance was given Qualis did prioritise its service around Council tenants’ vulnerabilities and did not just focus on productivity, as customer satisfaction was important, in reply to a concern our criteria threshold with vulnerable people seemed too high.

·     Feedback from staff who had transferred to Qualis liked the cultural difference of working for a commercial company, its values, the measures in place, the positive culture and focus on delivering and improving performance. An engagement survey would also be undertaken.

·     There was a request for the presentation to be circulated as part of the minutes, which was agreed.

·     Of the 75 staff at Qualis, 25 were from the Council.

·     Qualis was considering applying for Investors in People accreditation and it was agreed that updates on the process would be provided in due course.

·     Voluntary Action provided help on small jobs around tenants’ homes. Councillor H Whitbread advised there was a small service charge but there was quite a long waiting list.

·     Qualis took over the boiler repair contract from Gracelands in April 2022 and it was a legal requirement to service tenants’ gas boilers.

·     In reply to a spike in demand for boiler repairs during the December cold snap when tenants used their heating, back up contractors had been used, not Gracelands.

·     Amazon Cloud was a web-based product used remotely and backed up to the cloud.

·     On customer surveys, Qualis focussed on transaction surveys which were followed up with the HRA to make improvements. The Council, as a social housing provider, undertook a different survey that was required by the regulator. This would be undertaken by the Council in the next 12 months and data would be corroborated with Qualis. As the regulator’s questions were prescribed, it was easy to compare results with other local authorities.




That the Committee received an overview of Qualis.




(1)           That the Qualis presentation be included as part of the minutes.


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