Campbell Tickell sets up WhatsApp group for corona-hit clients

09 April 2020 3 min. read
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Campbell Tickell has set up a WhatsApp Group for Housing CEOs to share information and good practice on dealing with the Covid-19 situation. The group, which contains around 140 Chief Executives in the housing sector, has already yielded a number of best practices for others in the industry in the current lock-down period.

The coronavirus pandemic has shunted the UK housing market back into confusion, after a brief period resembling some sort of stability. Since the December general election, and the final decider on Brexit that brought, confidence in the housing market increased. Illustrating this, February saw Zoopla announce the UK housing market had its strongest start for four years in January and February 2020, while data published by Rightmove in mid-March showed that the average UK asking price had surged to an all-time high of £312,625.

The lock-down ushered in to prevent the spread of Covid-19 has nullified that earlier progress in a few short weeks, though. Home ownership has gone from a foundation policy for the Conservative government to effectively being frozen, leaving tenants without homes and retirement investments left dormant. Meanwhile, in the rental market, even though rooms are plentiful, there’s nobody to view them. Zoopla stated that demand in the week leading to 22 March fell 40% from the week before, predicting that housing transactions would drop by up to 60% over the next quarter.

Campbell Tickell sets up WhatsApp group for corona-hit clients

Amid this chaos, flexibility, collaboration and communication are central to how housing sector chief executives are tackling the effects of the widening pandemic. In order to support such collaboration, consulting firm Campbell Tickell has launched a WhatsApp group for its clients, hosting around 140 housing association and arms-length management organisation (ALMO) Chief Executives. While the discussions are confidential, group members agreed that a digest of their conversation should be issued to the public, so that others can learn and share their own experiences.

Peabody CEO Brendan Sarsfield said, “We are all in this challenging situation together. Now more than ever, we need to share ideas and good practice. This group has been an excellent example of housing providers seeing how we can maximise our effectiveness and contribution to the whole country’s efforts to beat the virus.”

According to a release from Campbell Tickell, the issues discussed in the CEOs WhatsApp group reveals that widespread home working where possible, or using split teams, has become the norm. Meanwhile essential repairs are being prioritised, as organisations address financial uncertainty and cash holdings. Other critical areas highlighted included new allocations commonly coming from council homelessness lists, alongside the need for emergency accommodation for healthcare workers, the effect of the pandemic on housing sales programmes, and concerns over rent collection especially from tenants not currently in receipt of benefits.

The digest revealed that to tackle such challenges in the new environment, housing providers are getting used to using advanced technology to support more remote working, moving away from office bases while reducing business travel virtual Board meetings. Along with this, CEOs are also looking to the future and innovative approaches, such as closer joint working with NHS and social care, lowering operating costs and prioritising essential services.