Collaboration is the real key to success in development

The power of collaboration is invaluable to the housing sector. We know that we can learn and accomplish more by working together which is why Abri, LiveWest, North Devon Homes and Ocean Housing formed Advantage South West (ASW) in 2004. ASW works together to improve homes and lives through collaboration and innovation, for example through procuring products and services to designing innovative homes that improve value for money for its members and its customers.

ASW members all share an ambition to create sustainable communities and build high quality and affordable homes that keep costs down. Growing in scale, the consortium is now made up of 18 housing providers who together represent 150,000 homes in the south west. In the last year alone, our members made cash savings of £2.3m through our frameworks buying things like windows, doors, kitchen units, heating products, legal services and property compliance work – all the result of simply working as a collective.

Creating better outcomes for everyone involved

Together our group make up a diverse pool of talent and expertise. We share more than just an ambition, we’re on a joint journey to achieve net zero carbon emissions by 2050. We’re developing energy efficient solutions for existing and new built homes in the south west to deliver innovative designs, decarbonise, and manufacture homes off-site with the help of Modern Methods of Construction (MMC).

Stronger in numbers, we’re able to tackle the housing shortage better, our purchasing power to buy homes from leading MMC manufactures becomes greater when we work as one. ASW is a Board member of Building Better, an alliance of 29 housing associations and local authorities that are backed by the National Housing Federation (NHF) – together we’ll be increasing the use of MMC in the social housing sector. Through collaboration we’re able to combine our development pipelines for MMC homes to increase our collective negotiation power to bring costs down and build long-term partnerships with manufacturers who have greater certainty of demand.

Making a real difference

Building strong connections both in and out of our sector is key for the growth of the consortium. Collectively, ASW’s members have a wider reach with access to our 30 frameworks for supplies, services, and operations – our variety of resources empower us to build safer homes and support communities.

It’s all hands-on deck, we’re truly able to go that extra mile to create brighter futures in neighbourhoods, for example in supporting people in their daily lives by partnering with Westcountry Savings and Loans to provide a credit union sustainability programme with lower rates for our customers. This programme helps customers gain better control of their finances, acting as an alternative to high-interest loans or payday lenders. On a £500 loan over 6 months there are interest savings of around £300 by using WS&L compared to payday lenders.

The future of housing is in our hands

By combining all our skills and expertise, we’re able to continue on our journey to become net zero by 2050, but we take it all with a pinch of salt, as our field of work faces skill shortages.

Focussing on growing our future workforce, we’re working with social housing providers to attract and retain skilled people interested in working in the sector. We’re working with colleges that offer further education to help more people gain access to training and qualifications; investing in a labour force that will continue to support the innovative delivery of zero carbon ready homes. We will shortly launch our collaboration strategy for decarbonisation which has been created with our Members.

The future of housing is on our hands and by working together, we achieve more – if you are interested in joining us or want to know more about the work that we do contact to get involved.