Unitas, the company established to repair and renovate council properties in Stoke-on-Trent, is celebrating its first anniversary.
Dozens of Stoke-on-Trent businesses have benefited from opportunities created in the first year of operations for the city council’s housing repairs and maintenance company.
Unitas Stoke-on-Trent was launched in February 2018 as part of a drive to improve services for tenants and raise housing standards in the city.
Its aim was also to work with local businesses to support the city’s economy, with around an annual £17 million worth of work to be spent locally, where possible, on contracts or goods.
And in the last 12 months, 33 companies in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle have secured contracts with Unitas to the value of almost £7 million – that’s 76 per cent of available works won by local businesses.
Alec Fern, installations director at Brenden Fern Limited – a property services company based in Sandyford – said: “Having worked with Stoke-on-Trent City Council for over 20 years, this latest collaboration has panned out great.
“Utilising our local employees to carry out maintenance work in the council’s housing stock means keeping the pound within the city.”
Anna Sandywell, director of PAG Cleaning Services Ltd, which is based in Tunstall, said: “We are really fortunate to be working alongside Unitas and are proud to be serving our local council.
“PAG has been a contractor for the council for eight-and-a- half years. Within this time we have formed good working relations with the voids and responsive team throughout.
"Any issues we may have come across have always been dealt with with ease by Unitas in a very professional manner.
“We will endeavour to maintain our standards of work and relations alongside Unitas into the future.”
Unitas is a wholly-owned subsidiary of the city council and will deliver repairs and maintenance services to Stoke-on-Trent’s 18,500 council homes and 600 public buildings.
Around 440 staff are employed by Unitas, which is based at Cromer Road. In its first 12 months of operation, the company has carried out more than 98,655 repair jobs, and work to 1,213 empty properties has been completed in order to help to bring them back into use.
As well as this, 72 new bathrooms, 219 kitchens and 374 doors have been installed and fitted as part of the city council’s commitment to invest in its housing stock.
In addition, dozens of local businesses have been supplying goods and services after successfully bidding for work such as plastering, plumbing, joinery and bricklaying.
Three separate frameworks were created – labour-only, planned works and specialist work. The frameworks will run for four years – with the potential to undertake work costing nearly £40 million.
Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “When Unitas was established, our aim was to offer an improved, more flexible service for tenants and to ensure that property owned by the council is maintained to a high standard.
“We also wanted to continue our push towards making services more commercially-minded – driving efficiency and supporting the local economy.
"And by being able to use so many local businesses for the supply of goods and services we have definitely achieved this.
“We’re investing millions of pounds in our housing stock at every level. We’re keen to maximise the potential of all our assets in order to meet housing needs and drive forward the city’s economic growth, and the continuing success of Unitas is just one part of that.”