Consortium bidding – tips from a Wave 1 pioneer
[29 July 2022] Forming a consortium can be an effective way to deliver your retrofit objectives. There are real benefits from collaborative working when it comes to building scale, unlocking efficiencies and delivering for your residents and communities.
In Wave 1 of the Social Housing Decarbonisation Fund (SHDF), consortia played a vital role in securing SHDF money. 159 organisations were represented through the 55 successful bids supported by Social Housing Retrofit Accelerator (SHRA), when only local authorities or combined authorities were able to lead SHDF bids.
With the criteria changing for Wave 2.1, and all Registered Providers (RPs) now eligible to bid, what role do consortia still have to play?
Forming a consortium can be an effective way to deliver your retrofit objectives. There are real benefits from collaborative working when it comes to building scale, unlocking efficiencies and delivering for your residents and communities. By working with partners and pooling resources, you can make the best use of the strengths of different organisations, with a more diverse range of skills and knowledge to address technical, legal and commercial considerations.
As Government scales up ambitions for Wave 2.1, bids will need to include a minimum property number of 100 social homes per project, and significantly larger bids are being actively encouraged. Forming a consortium could be the key to your organisation unlocking additional funding.
Before you consider whether a consortium approach is right for your project, hear some lessons learnt from members of West Yorkshire Combined Authority's consortium bid for Wave 1:
“Be clear about why you are forming or joining a consortium bid.”
There could be a variety of reasons: the different scale, capacity and skills of organisations may act as a barrier to individual bidding, the desire to share delivery and procurement costs and risks, and so on.
The core group of partners will probably form quite early on, through established contacts or other working arrangements. In our case this was under the umbrella of the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership.
“Choose the right lead partner.”
For Wave 1 this was an easy choice for us as we needed a local government lead partner, and the West Yorkshire Combined Authority, with whom the West Yorkshire Housing Partnership was already working closely, was the obvious choice (and willing to do it!).
WYCA are also experienced and have the governance processes in place to manage complex funding programmes on behalf of consortia arrangements.
“Start building relationships early.”
This includes relationships between the key housing partners, but it also covers things such as consultant and procurement support. Include these people in your team from the earliest opportunity.
Be inclusive – as word spreads about what you are doing, others will want to join. Provided they can add value and not put your delivery programme at risk, welcome them in.
Engage with the supply chain early in order to ensure when you submit the bid, you have evidence to attach alongside your estimates costs and have a high cost-confidence.
“Advice for lead bidders...”
Think beyond the bid deadline and figure out when the key internal decisions need to happen. For example, if you need board approval before you can receive and spend the grant, then plan your route to the meeting and identify your internal approvals and sign off.
Ask your partner organisations for a basic project outline early – this can be very simple, the number of homes, estimated costs, proposed measures and EPC information. This will help your internal communications and briefings. Tip: engage the SHRA early and secure support.
“Take a short break once the bid has gone in…”
… but don’t sit back for too long. Start preparing for the delivery phase and planning the implementation of your programme.
Support is available through the SHRA to those looking to form a consortium – get in touch today.
More information on consortium forming
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