collective voice

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Would you like to reduce your organisation's costs, while improving the wellbeing of your tenants?

November 21, 2017 12:39

ICE recently partnered with Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council to review and improve their housing repairs service. Outcomes include increased efficiencies, increased income for the Authority and improved wellbeing of tenants, with sustained results being enjoyed a year on.

The Challenge

A sizeable organisation with a housing stock of 6,000, Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council wanted to improve their housing repairs service. Their key requirement was that improvement must be permanent (previous reviews had resulted in initial improvements, only to then return to previous service levels).

The Outcome

  • A 19 day reduction in void turn around, resulting in a cost saving of over £150,000
  • 73% reduction in the number of days from report to repair completed - down from 26 days to only 7 days
  • 39% reduction in number of jobs outstanding - down from 405 to 247
  • 80% reduction in number of jobs over 10 weeks old - down from 45 to 9
  • 8% reduction in cancelled jobs, saving the Authority £37,800
  • The service improvement ultimately led to happier tenants, supporting their wellbeing.

Benefits one year on:


  • End-to-end time - 26 days
  • 405 jobs outstanding
  • 7 jobs over 26 weeks old, with 45 over 10 weeks

After the review:

  • End-to-end time - 10 days
  • 328 jobs outstanding
  • 3 jobs over 26 weeks old, with 21 over 10 weeks

One year on:

  • End-to-end time - 7 days
  • 247 jobs outstanding
  • No jobs over 26 weeks old and only 9 older than 10 weeks

The Solution

Combining tried and tested methodology such as systems thinking with our unique ‘people-centred’ approach, we focused on the WHY (the purpose of the repairs service). ICE quickly delivered significant and sustained results. After understanding how the service operated, we experimented in 3 areas: process for repairs, process for voids and management reporting. For the first 2, we used systems thinking to challenge waste in processes, creating cleaner flow of information & resources, which enabled the right trade to turn up at the right time. For the third, we created a suite of reports to be used by all levels of staff, across all trades, to share information effectively and show a real-time performance dashboard.

Through the facilitation provided by ICE Creates, we were able to establish in a very short amount of time the causes of our failure demand and the causes of the waste within our processes. With the team able to take time out from the day job to focus on the review, improvements were made and embedded very quickly. The implementation of the new set of improvement measures that ICE Creates established for us have enabled management and all staff to understand and eliminate failures.”

- Sue Lawton, Building Maintenance Manager, Nuneaton & Bedworth Borough Council

Why ICE?

Established in 1999, ICE are a team of behavioural design strategists and implementers, working with individuals, communities and organisations to co-create a well, confident and resilient society. We blend academic rigour with a deep understanding of lived experience, skillfully combining art and the science of human-centred design via our five key specialisms: system & design thinking, applied behavioural insights, engagement, leadership & culture and lifestyle services. Our impressive client portfolio includes housing associations & local authorities across the UK.

For more information, contact Chris Lunn at or on 07809 704 910

Improved Tenant Experience from Repairs

January 14, 2016 10:15


One thing the ICE insight team find is that a tenant’s experience of reactive repairs clouds their view of many other services supplied by the housing provider. Further, this insight also shows that tenants will not strive for or achieve personal growth (in skills, wellbeing, employment etc) when the basics are not right. Repairs are one of these basic requirements; this is true whether it’s a local authority or a housing association.

The quotes below are from our insight work with a housing association and are not unusual:

“I’ve been trying to get this leak fixed in my roof. They said I should talk to them, but they have been a pain.”

“It’s bad… we had about an eight week battle to get the patio doors fixed.”

ICE is currently working within the sector to help organisations enhance the services and support provided to tenants, and to understand the benefits that a tenant focused repairs service can deliver. It’s worth remembering that reporting a repair is the most common interaction between tenants and their housing provider, and we all know how important that relationship is to both parties.

Working with Nuneaton and Bedworth Borough Council, our service review identified that over 30% of contacts received were from tenants chasing the progress of their repair. This volume was higher than those contacts where tenants reported a repair. This one statistic alone gives real insight into how tenants perceive the service they are provided with, and was the catalyst for the council’s desire to transform.

Here’s how it worked…

The work was based on the ICE model for service transformation, where our experienced practitioners help staff transform their own services - after all, “those who create, own”.

It began with stakeholder meetings designed to set up the work cleanly by building relationships across the service and with wider stakeholders to ensure the most value from the review.

Then followed the explore stage, where a team representing the whole of the service was brought together to create a current state map.  This visual representation of the in-scope work included the demands placed on the service by its customers, the flow of work and data to show the performance of the systems, as well as details of the root cause of reactive repairs.

The envisage stage then allowed the team to present these findings back to the wider stakeholder group at a vision workshop, ranging from tenant representatives to the executive management team. It was at this event that areas for improvement were agreed, and buy-in from across the organisation was gained. This buy-in was vital to ensure that any changes would be sustained in the future.

Through a period of experimentation, operatives, charge-hands and team managers were given the ability to use innovative solutions to the issues they faced.  They used an agreed methodology that built upon the principles of systems thinking to guide them, and measured the changes made against an agreed set of customer focused performance measures.

What did it achieve?

As well as virtually eliminating the failure demand chasing the progress of a repair, the team has reduced the time for reporting to completing the repair by over 50%, with plumbing repairs now running at an average of less than 2 days.

Reduced repair times have also had a knock-on effect to the “no access rate”, which had been a major cause of waste within the system.

It is still early days, and January sees a period where ICE will support the services to embed these changes and make them business as usual.

For more information contact 0151 647 04700