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Housing Options Service Review

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The Context

Housing demand is higher than ever, and Oldham Metropolitan Borough council's housing services were overwhelmed to the point of crisis as a result of unprecedented demand, resulting in long wait times, frustrated customers, and a growing backlog, all at the expense of staff wellbeing.

The Requirement

The Human Engine team were asked to undertake an independent review of the Housing Options service in order to suggest potential transformation and improvement activity. The review's objective was to enable the service to move from reactive service provision, to more preventative place-based delivery, using an evidence base to inform such actions. The review was conducted along five key lines of enquiry around which, the key challenges and opportunities were identified:

  1. Demand - analysing the demand currently received by the service and evaluating the methods for reducing or repositioning the service's demand will help to ease the backlog in the short term, and work towards a new preventative, place-based operating model in the future

  2. Key processes and systems - assessing the extent to which current processes and systems are fit for purpose and how they could be improved to aid with efficiency

  3. Customer access - evaluating the current modes of customer access and providing recommendations about how increasing a service’s accessibility, or indeed decreasing it, can help the service to stand up to the future

  4. Resources and staffing - recognising the huge value that the service's staff bring to its offering and assessing ways in which their welfare can be prioritised in order to improve retention and satisfaction rates. Similarly, drawing attention to gaps in resourcing and how these can be filled is vital.

  5. Performance - considering the performance measures and standards that the service must adhere to and seeking opportunities to further improve the service's performance.

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The Programme

The Human Engine team used its service review methodology as an approach to this project. Using this methodology, Lines of Enquiry were agreed from the outset and supplemented with the desk based analysis and stakeholder engagement which followed.

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The Outcomes

Despite the timescale of this project being relatively short, the team have been able to deliver a series of evidence-based recommendations which will help to guide the Housing Options service out of crisis in the short-term, and towards a new delivery model in the medium to long term. This transformation will enable the Housing Options team to:

  • Manage their demand, cleansing their existing data and clearing their backlog

  • Provide a more efficient service, reducing the number of caseloads allocated to each officer and setting realistic, yet helpful timeframes for their customers

  • Move towards locality working, aligning to the council's place-based approach

  • Focus on prevention management, reducing the risk of future housing crises in the long term

  • Successfully manage their resources, filling vacant staff positions and increasing staff satisfaction and retention

About Us

Human Engine is a Financial Times top-ranked management consultancy with specialisms in strategy, change, digital, commercial and projects.  

It was founded in 2018 with a belief that the public sector deserves better than it gets from traditional consulting firms – more human, more personal and more knowledgeable of the reality of delivering modern public services.

We have worked with dozens of public sector organisations to help transform their strategies, operations and cultures to be more agile, commercial and entrepreneurial in order to achieve financial sustainability and improved outcomes for customers and communities. 

Our mission is to help individuals and organisations to do the best work of their lives.  We do this by blending first-hand experience of the problems we help our clients solve with award-winning consulting expertise and an approach based on trust, collaboration and partnership. 

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