How Birmingham embraced its challenges with bold obligation
Knowing and addressing your weaknesses, as an individual or organisation, puts you at an advantage and ultimately lends itself to success. This is unquestionably the bold philosophy we have witnessed from our partners at Birmingham City Council over the last few years and it is an ethos that, if replicated, could have remarkable outcomes for communities across the UK.
Birmingham is Europe’s largest local authority and, with that, comes greater housing stock, customers, and infrastructure to contend with – not to mention the pressure and responsibility as a leading local authority to perform and innovate.
Housing is one of the region’s greatest challenges. As well as keeping homes up to a decent standard, the council is facing issues with homelessness, fuel poverty and ensuring there is a suitable amount of housing for families of multiple occupancy – and with the cost of living on an alarming upward trajectory, it is a trend we anticipate will continue.
These issues are compounded by rent freezes, a lack of funding, and the pressure of embracing the net zero agenda. So how has Birmingham faced up to these challenges? It essentially said, ‘go big or go home’.
The council took the bold step of publicly declaring and committing the city to be net zero by 2030. This includes implementing citywide decarbonisation measures across all buildings, as well as introducing clean air zones, cycle routes and overhauling the public transport system.
For the last five years, EQUANS has been responsible for maintaining 9,000 homes across the North of the city, and this contract was recently extended by a further two years, so it is something we have proudly supported. In addition, we have now also been awarded the contract for an extra 31,000 homes across Birmingham’s East and West quadrants – which means we are now responsible for making 40,000 homes across the city warmer, safer and more energy efficient.
Working collaboratively with Birmingham as a delivery partner has been inspiring. EQUANS prides itself on exceeding industry standards and so we have a shared ambition to help make the region’s goals a reality. We are also able to support in obtaining funding to help drive these ambitions forward.
The council’s mantra is ‘Be bold, be Birmingham’ – refusing to shy away from ambitious commitments and instead using them as motivation. We are continuing to see the sector make similar pledges across the UK, demonstrating this desire to see results – improving communities, starting the decarbonisation journey, and embracing the energy transition with the ultimate goal to help residents and make homes more energy efficient.
Julie Griffin, Managing Director – City Housing, Birmingham City Council
We are delighted to have EQUANS as our delivery partner, providing excellent services to two thirds of the city’s 60,000 housing stock. As the largest local authority landlord in the country, the pressures of the national housing crisis are very real, however the EQUANS team provide fantastic support in delivering our bold ambitions, whilst providing excellent core services, including repairs and maintenance, capital improvements and our route to zero activity, as we strive towards customer excellence.
We’re on a transformation journey ourselves, with bold aspirations to be one of the best providers in the country, leading on innovation and best practice, providing citizens with excellent, well-maintained housing and support through these challenging times for the sector.
EQUANS have proven themselves as a market leader in the sector and we’re looking forward to a really positive impact for customers over the next two years, as we make further bold steps together.
This article originally featured in "MJ".