We are a unique organisation in Norfolk – a Christian charity providing housing, youth development services and health and well-being facilities in both urban and rural areas of the county.
What we believe Value for Money is about
Providing services that achieve a balance between cost, quality and added value.
We believe that we achieve added value through the range of services and activities that we provide. Many of the young people we support have complex needs including those affected by homelessness, family breakdown, domestic violence, isolation, disrupted education, offending and poor physical and mental health. Our services directly impact on their life chances. Although difficult to quantify, we are confident in claiming that our services also prevent or reduce the need for other interventions both short and long term with obvious benefits for individuals as well as the public purse.
Doing the right things
Our vision and mission are ambitious but give us clarity about what we want to achieve. Our business strategy sets out the core activities that we will undertake to deliver the vision and mission. We restrict our activity to Norfolk which ensures we remain focussed, can deliver existing services efficiently and manage growth in a sustainable way.
Providing quality services that people need and want at the right time and at the right price
Quality services for our service users require focussing on individual needs and working towards achieving positive personal outcomes. Our values underpin everything we do and are integral to us delivering a quality service. We work to support disadvantaged young people who are at a point of crisis in their lives. We are committed to providing cost effective services and being accountable to both our service users and commissioners. Our approach to financial planning and risk management ensures we maintain a focus on costs as well as quality. We are committed to customer and stakeholder engagement which contributes to maintaining and improving customer satisfaction.
Our approach to Value for Money
Our business model
We seek to make a surplus in our work to deliver contracts, sales based and landlord services, as well as grants, in order to reinvest.
As a charity, we also fundraise for particular projects and generate fundraised income for the organisation as a whole, again for investment.
We use the resources we have secured through these activities to deliver additional services that help us achieve our mission. We expect what we spend to be directed towards areas that we anticipate will gain us further funding in future in order to secure sustainable delivery for the long term benefit of young people.
Rationalisation and new business
We are determined to maintain and develop a healthy, strong and financially secure organisation.
Over the last 5 years we have:
- Closed our main hostel in Norwich and opened 2 replacement purpose built hostels. As a result we have improved the quality of accommodation on offer and reduced potential maintenance costs in the long term.
- Merged with another housing provider, which has strengthened our balance sheet and reduced overall management overheads
- Developed a strategy to dispose of other stock that is not fit for purpose and replace with new build
- Invested in our website and carried out surveys of funders and stakeholders to effectively market our organisation and our services
We are currently:
- Exploring opportunities with partners to undertake leasing of existing stock to increase our management base and reduce overhead, with the added benefit of being less dependent on high risk funding
- Actively looking for a new housing service to improve our service offer and reduce our management overheads per unit
In developing any new service we will consider value for money as part of the business case. This includes considering inputs (costs) as well as outputs and outcomes. Outputs and outcomes can include:
- Benefits to individuals
- Benefits to communities
- Service quality
- Financial returns
These areas will always be assessed within the context of our vision and mission.
Costs and performance
Our Board and staff are highly aware of the need to stay competitive and win contracts, and the balance between cost, quality and outcomes.
In the last year we have:
- Reorganised accommodation in one service in terms of client group and management, to reduce losses
- Reviewed our charges in our community cafe to ensure sufficient margin and removing product lines that do not offer value for money as part of wider work to improve performance
- Turned around management performance and increased our presence in one service
- Agreed an improvement plan in relation to void costs
- Continued to focus on improving quality using the Quality Assessment Framework
- Put case studies on our website – highlighting overall outcomes and how lives are transformed – to complement standard performance information
In line with our commitment to continual improvement, we commissioned an external Value for Money audit. This has highlighted strengths and weaknesses and helped us agree key improvement actions including those that focus on costs and performance.
We have plans to:
- Further develop our outcomes framework to ensure we remain focused on “life transformation” without impacting on our costs and our competitiveness
- Ensure any framework processes facilitate free flowing interviews that support our values rather than processes that are over engineered and restrictive
- Review back-office staff roles to re-orientate them to continue to focus on improving quality, but also the organisation’s capability in achieving its mission and objectives, namely, transforming more lives, this will better support the implementation of the new Value for Money framework.
- Carry out benchmarking. We plan to take advantage of being part of the wider YMCA Federation and our relationship with other supported housing providers to carry out meaningful benchmarking in relation to overheads, repairs, voids and management costs. This will also help us identify good practice.
- Develop our void improvement plan to reduce turnaround times
- Further develop our performance management framework to include a new suite of performance indicators including value for money measures such as return on assets
- Introduce a systems framework and tools for service reviews reducing “waste” processes rather than being solely quality assurance orientated
- Further develop our service user and trustee forum, to drive effective co-production resulting in tangible differences to existing services, new developments, and service user satisfaction levels
Making best use of our assets – our people
Delivering our mission and living our values relies on the quality and commitment of our staff and Board members. We are confident about the dedication of our people. Our front line staff and back office team are one of our main areas of expenditure. We recognise the demanding nature of the services we provide and strive to achieve the right balance between getting the most from, whilst also nurturing and developing, our workforce. Efficient and effective staff and Board members are crucial to us delivering quality services and value for money.
We have involved staff in a significant change programme as our services have developed and diversified over recent years. As a result of our external audit we have now committed to:
- Revising and streamlining our approach to change management
- Further empowering our staff and delivering a leadership development programme
- Carrying out a workforce survey with the aim of addressing work/life balance and achieving a more healthy and resilient workforce
We have also committed to further training for Board members including:
- Developing their understanding of VFM
- Spending more time familiarising themselves with the organisation
Making best use of our assets – our buildings and facilities
We are committed to providing quality accommodation and facilities. In the last year we have created a new post of Facilities and Health & Safety Manager to secure improvements in our approach. Over the next year we have committed to:
- Introduce an objective to maximise VFM on assets
- Undertake a stock condition survey.
- Develop a cost effective planned maintenance programme
- Maintain a focus on void costs and deliver improvements in turnaround times
We have committed to reviewing our approach to procurement. We will take advantage of our positive track record of partnership working and consider the costs and other benefits of joint procurement with other YMCAs and /or other housing providers. This will be particularly significant when carrying out our stock condition survey and delivering our planned maintenance programme. Work already undertaken with another YMCA has already secured cost savings and quality improvements in professional services.