How believe housing’s new fleet will benefit staff and customers

Believe housing has a new fleet of vehicles which is on the road to saving it thousands of pounds to reinvest in homes and services for its customers.

The County Durham based housing association, which manages more than 18,000 affordable homes, recently appointed Alphabet to supply its fleet of 165 light commercial vehicles (LCVs) including two company cars.

The move from a flexi-lease arrangement to a sole contract hire supplier, which is currently underway, will save believe housing money and ensure a safe and comfortable working environment for frontline staff.

It also fits with an environmental pledge made by the housing association last year to take significant steps to reduce its carbon footprint, by reducing fuel consumption.

Some of the vans in the fleet have been downsized and in the first year of the contract 10 per cent will be electric vehicles (EVs) ­- Vauxhall Vivaro-e commercial vehicles and Nissan Leaf cars – which can be increased in future years.

To support the operation of EVs, extra charging points are being installed at believe housing’s offices in Seaham and Bishop Auckland and at the homes of trade operatives so they can charge their vehicles overnight.

Rachel Cox, Director of Property Repairs, said: “Most of our staff get to work in one of our lovely offices or from home, but for trade operatives the van is their office.

“Making sure the vehicles were fit for purpose and were a safe and comfortable working environment was at the forefront of our minds.

“That meant consulting members of each trade, so the racking suited the materials and tools they use, to having air conditioning and DAB radio in the vehicles.

“The move to a sole provider and new funding model will reduce operational costs by about 30 per cent over the next five years, and as a not-for-profit all the money we save will go back into providing affordable housing in the region and a wide range of support services for customers.”

The housing association worked with fleet consultancy service, EVP Solutions, to review its fleet provision when the previous arrangement was coming to an end.

Since taking its repairs services in-house in 2019, believe housing’s direct workforce has grown and the fleet requirements of frontline staff including property repairs had changed.

EVP Solutions provided expert support with the review, funding route, specification and procurement of new vehicles, along with up-to-date information on market trends and relationships with suppliers and manufacturers.

Alphabet is also providing maintenance, accident management, driver risk management and rental services so believe housing can keep its teams on the road and delivering services to customers.

Alphabet’s conversion partners Modul-System provided the bespoke racking and Media Fleet worked with believe housing’s designers on the striking livery, which includes a reflective element to provide night-time visibility.

The new vehicles are equipped with telematics provided by Quartix, along with dashcams and a performance dashboard, to help believe housing understand the status of its vehicles and driver performances.

Dermot Kehoe, Corporate Sales Manager at Alphabet (GB), said: “It’s great to be working with believe housing in this key period of growth for their business.

“With a substantial fleet based on a flexi-lease model, we were keen to get the process of moving to contract hire vehicles underway as soon as possible, so they could start benefitting from significant cost reductions.

“And by advising them to order the LCVs prior to full specifications being agreed, we were also able to help them avoid three price increases on the main models they selected, creating further cost savings for the business.

“We’re delighted to have part of the new fleet already in operation for believe housing and are looking forward to identifying more efficiencies, as we continue to build our partnership and help them drive the business forward.”