UK’s largest housing association will overhaul services in a bid to become “the best social landlord”, chief executive Clare Miller writes in Housing Today article.

Clarion Housing Group chief executive Clare Miller has revealed a plan to radically reorganise the 125,000-home housing association to focus on improved housing management and customer service.

Miller, writing exclusively for Housing Today, said: “We will restructure some parts of Clarion to put more resources in key priority areas, but it will demand significant savings elsewhere in the group.

Clare Miller clarion new

Clare Miller, chief executive of Clarion

“This isn’t at all easy in the external climate…but it’s necessary for us to adapt and challenge conventional thinking.”

Clarion, which in recent years has attracted public criticism for standards in some of its homes, has appointed operational improvement consultancy Newton Europe to look at “every aspect of the organisation” says Miller.

The £1bn-turnover association has now identified key priority areas, including improving handling of customer enquiries, housing people more quickly and ensuring frontline workers are more visible.

“I want to be the best social landlord in the country and this change is designed to deliver an improved experience for everyone who lives in our homes,” Miller writes.

Clarion is not at this stage revealing which specific parts of the organisation will have to find savings under the plan. It is also not yet publicly quantifying predicted levels of cost savings or extra spend, or the extent of possible job losses among the group’s 3,700-strong workforce.

A spokesperson stressed however the transformation programme, which will take 18 months to embed, will be “of ambition and scale.”

“It does include a review of how we’re set up – to ensure we have people in the right roles and have an organisation fit for the future,” he added.

Miller said the association has already committed to some changes and launched pilot programmes, including introducing new diagnostic tools for its call centre workers to help identify fixes for properties and digital tools for repairs and maintenance teams. A spokesperson said this has helped boost productivity of frontline teams “by 17%”

Miller said: “We have a project dedicated to the speed of turning round void properties, as we’re determined to make properties available more quickly.

“We’ll retain a national call centre, but there will be a named and visible lead member of staff for all our communities. This is about delivering a local service, while retaining the benefits of our size and scale.”

>>See also: In search of a magic patch size: How social landlords are rethinking their housing management approaches

>>See also: It’s time to make sure Every Person Counts in housing

>>See also: ‘Bigger and complicated is what we enjoy’: an interview with Clarion’s Richard Cook

The association has received criticism in recent years over conditions in some of its properties. In 2021 it featured in an ITV documentary which highlighted issues on its Eastfields estate in Merton, south London.

In 2021 it was hit with two severe maladministration judgements by the Housing Ombudsman prompting the ombudsman to investigate if there are systemic failings at the landlord. Neither the ombudsman nor the Regulator of Social Housing found systemic failure at the association. The Housing Ombudsman also earlier this year ordered Clarion to pay £10,800 in compensation to households after it made four findings of severe maladministration relating to damp and leak repairs.

Clarion, which last year was the UK’s largest social landlord by turnover, last week announced its full-year completions for 2023/24 have fallen 24% as it takes a more cautious approach to development. The association, in an unaudited trading update, confirmed it completed 1,538 homes in the year to 31 March, down on the 2,032 recorded for the previous year.

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