Social Housing and Process Improvement: Is it Time for the UK to Go Lean?

Although I live in the USA, I am keenly aware of what is taking place in other countries.  When I lived in Germany I spent several weeks in the UK looking at the social housing systems, programs and challenges.  Of special interest to me were the welfare reforms affecting social housing associations.  That included the bedroom tax, Universal Credit, disability benefit cuts, and overall benefit cuts. The cuts are very reminiscent to ones we have experienced in the USA and maybe experiencing again soon.  Social housing and process improvement might be a perfect marriage.

One way to continue to provide high levels of service and mitigate the cutting of resources and money is to take on process improvement.  One example might be the letting process.  It is often complicated with loads of unnecessary steps, processes and confusing steps.  Now might be the time that your agency could take the time to look at this process from A to Z and remove waste.  What is waste you might ask?

  1. Defects – Products or services that are out of specification that require resources to correct.
  2. Overproduction – Producing too much of a product before it is ready to be sold.
  3. Waiting – Waiting for the previous step in the process to complete.
  4. Non-Utilized Talent – Employees that are not effectively engaged in the process
  5. Transportation – Transporting items or information that is not required to perform the process from one location to another.
  6. Inventory – Inventory or information that is sitting idle (not being processed).
  7. Motion – People, information or equipment making unnecessary motion due to workspace layout, ergonomic issues or  searching for misplaced items.
  8. Extra Processing – Performing any activity that is not necessary to produce a functioning product or service.

Look at all of your steps within a process and mark any of them down that fall into the categories above.   Put a special eye on those areas and continue to ask why you are doing it until you get to the root cause.   Are you trying to think where you might put your focus straight away?   Social housing and process improvement tend to go hand and hand.   Look at these key areas.

  • Purchasing a new building or asset for your association
  • Letting a unit to a new tenant
  • Voiding of one tenancy agreement or turning a unit over so a new one can move in.
  • Capital maintenance improvements
  • Compliance work
  • Lease compliance all the way to eviction
  • Selling property.

My aim is not to sell you services or tell you what is best.  I encourage you to see what types of agencies in your town might be using lean or other process improvement methods.  A lot of times sharing of knowledge can be a great first step.  Get a book, watch a YouTube video or even take a class.  The provision of affordable housing is important to the ones you serve.  Social housing and process improvement make sense. Being as efficient in the delivery of that provision is in the best interest of the social housing client and your agency.


3 thoughts on “Social Housing and Process Improvement: Is it Time for the UK to Go Lean?

  1. I can see and appreciate your comments on the state of Social Housing in the UK, But you have also missed one important point in your blog and that is these days the HAs are using their Social Tenants to fund their other activities in the UK market place, And by doing this they are putting a great strain on their stock condition and you may ask why are they doing this, well the answer is simple it is away of making extra cash for those who are driving this method, and as far as involving their front line staff in any ideas as to their Business well this is the UK and senior management do not believe in it as it would make them to knowledgeable of their Business plans, but I must add they are not all like this just a large majority, and the other thing you left out of your blog was the Tenants who live in these premises and also could give a lot of insight as to the mistakes that were being made by the management teams, one being a shortage of homes for Senior’s of the Communities in which they operate, and if you would like a more in depth discussion I would be happy to oblige.


    1. Hi John, I appreciate the comments. I am not on the ground in the UK but the fact that senior leadership in some associations are ignoring line staff and not listening to residents comes as no surprise. I would love to talk more. Drop me an email and we can go from there.


      1. Well you may not have heard in the states yet but our PM has called a General Election in May so there may be some changes coming soon, one can only hope, but on the other hand the Government will go into purdah once a date to dissolve this Parliament has been announced so no action will take place until a new Government has been formed.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s