Industry News, Premier Construction

UK Universities Continue To Maintain Direct Labour Organisations Despite Increasing Financial Pressures

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Despite financial pressures, UK universities continue to contribute to local employment by maintaining an in-house workforce for Buildings Repairs and Maintenance.

A study commissioned by Travis Perkins Managed Services has revealed that, contrary to popular belief, the majority of UK universities still employ an in-house workforce for Buildings Repairs and Maintenance. The report, Educated Savings, reveals that only 12% of universities outsource this function.

Educated Savings also highlights the continuing financial pressure on universities, showing that the rise in tuition fees has promoted higher expectations from students. With the quality of a university’s estate playing a significant part in a potential student’s decision on where to study, costs have continued to rise. In fact, the total annual revenue expenditure on estates management by the sector has increased by 9% since 2011 and currently stands at £2.0bn. Repairs and Maintenance (R&M) represents 38% of that cost.

By maintaining a Direct Labour Organisation (DLO), universities are able to contribute significantly to the local economy; providing employment and affirming their place within the community. An in-house workforce also allows universities direct control over implementing quality and efficiency drives. Educated Savings highlights other sectors, including social housing and the NHS, where maintaining a DLO has enabled organisations to significantly reduce costs and improve efficiency. The study concludes that the streamlining of R&M materials supply chains, with measures such as just-in-time stock management, improved price negotiation and transparent job scheduling, could significantly reduce expenditure and increase workforce productivity.

Stuart Hough, Managing Director at Travis Perkins Managed Services said: “It’s great that so many universities still recognise the benefits of a DLO. With new generations of more discerning students creating a more competitive marketplace, an attractive and well maintained estate now plays a more important part in their choice of university. Universities are under pressure to maintain their estates to a high standard, ideally without further increasing costs. As a first step, the more efficient purchase and management of materials, which represent nearly 40% of their overall R&M costs, is going to have a significant and positive impact.”

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