The latest energy price cap increase has put pressure on professionals across the property industry. With the new Prime Minister announcing an average cap of £2,500, block managers in the UK are now looking for ways to manage the extra costs.
Keeping large blocks clean, safe and in working order is no small task. With one of the harshest, most expensive winters in years now on the horizon, the job isn’t getting any easier. To understand how these complex financial times will affect block management, we spoke to Executive Chair of The Property Institute, Nigel Glen, and Fixflo Sales Executive, Joe Goss MIRPM.
What do block managers do?
As a block manager, you’re responsible for more than maintaining lobbies and corridors. This position also requires you to prepare annual services and charges, manage payments, compile schedules for contractors, and respond to any concerns occupants may have.
Through each of these different responsibilities, block managers are touched by the effects of rising energy costs. “From anxious occupants to inefficient heating systems, the increased pressure will certainly be felt by managers,” asserts Joe.
How will the cost of living crisis impact block management?
Block managers are responsible for creating a budget that covers all the maintenance necessary to keep their property safe and liveable. Increased energy costs mean spending less elsewhere, or having to find new ways of reducing power consumption. In addition, the energy crisis is part of a broader cost of living squeeze, with many contractors and service people putting their prices up.
Government policy may compound these effects for some managers. As Nigel suggests: “The energy price cap has been set at an average of £2,500 and the Government has set variable tariff price caps accordingly. However, thousands of blocks run with communal heaters, with a central boiler plant servicing multiple residencies, and these are on commercial gas contracts. These contracts have historically been cheaper for leaseholders, but since the government is only extending the price cap to Heat Networks for six months - who knows what will happen thereafter.”
“Such Heat Networks are usually much more energy efficient, which is something that should be accounted for when the cap protection may be removed. Why should leaseholders who enjoy communal heating systems pay more than someone using a less efficient system?”
As Government policy continues to be developed and announced to the public, it is important that block managers keep up to date, and make their voices heard, to ensure that the price cap is fair for all.
What can block managers do?
“Communication is going to be one of the most important things moving forward. We are all subject to these changes, and that means we are all in it together. It’s important to speak regularly with occupants, but you should also keep in contact with contractors and managers.” - Nigel Glen
“Each block is its own community. As a manager, it’s important that you work together with your cleaners, security staff and maintenance personnel. That way you can keep everything up-to-date and safe for occupants,” Nigel comments.
“You should also consider engaging with other stakeholders in the organisation, such as directors and landlords. They might be able to implement internal energy saving regulations, which would reduce the use of costly equipment,” Joe adds.
What are the next steps?
Planned Preventative Maintenance (PPM) can help block managers be more efficient, especially when energy prices are rising. Poorly run and maintained systems are a huge drain on energy, which in today’s climate means an astronomical bill at the end of the month.
For example, if you don't have the right PPM for your gas or electric systems, they may generate dust or wear out quickly. This can result in systems running inefficiently, or even failing completely. By optimising machinery and equipment, managers can take pressure off of themselves and the block’s internal systems.
“Block managers can take back control of their energy usage by getting ahead of planned preventative maintenance. This will help them save money and overcome the price increases that have been affecting them," explains Joe.
Planning your repairs and maintenance has never been more important. Get in contact to learn more about how Fixflo can help take the pressure off.