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Sheffield Decent Homes Investment Programme

Project Number: 1284

Innovation: Sustainable Training for Sustainable Communities

Project Details:

Start date of ALMO: November 2004
Duration 7 years
Housing stock: 53 500
Total contract value: Approx £1 billion
Duration 7 years- to 2010/11
Start date of pilot: 2001
Duration: 3 years
Number of trainees on pilot: 200
Percentage of BME trainees on pilot 10%
Percentage of female trainees: 12%
Number of trainees intended to be taken on by ALMO1500
Average retention rate on pilot: 92%

Since 2001, Sheffield Council has been working to develop a sustainable housing investment strategy to raise enough finance to bring all of its council housing stock up to the Governments Decent Homes Standard. In 2001, Sheffield Council decided to pilot a Decent Homes Programme funded from its own resources to ensure that should money be released through Government's ALMO Programme, this investment could be delivered within the timescales required. The three-year Decent Homes pilot programme has proved essential in preparing for the ALMO Programme and gaining familiarity with new supply chain and contract arrangements.

It also offered the opportunity to integrate Sheffield Council's established community training scheme with the ALMO's activities, thus creating a 10-year programme entitled Decent Homes Sustainable Training and Employment. Sheffield Council already had a local training and sustainable employment programme in place, known as the Construction Job Match (CJM) Initiative. The Decent Homes Programme provided the opportunity to address further training and local employment opportunities particularly in disadvantaged communities. Specifically, the pilot scheme enabled Sheffield Homes to plan a comprehensive training and local employment programme designed to recruit local people to undertake the works.

Sheffield's training programme is the largest - by the number of trainees - of the STSC demonstration projects. Two hundred trainees have already secured places on the pilot scheme and 100 full time permanent employment positions have been created for local people. A further 1500 training opportunities will be provided in the remaining seven years of the ALMO. 500 fully funded training places have been secured over the next three years, commencing 2005.

The Sheffield ALMO Decent Homes Programme has involved bidding to the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister in three separate rounds, due to the size of Sheffield Council's housing stock. It requires a total of approximately £600m of gap-funding ALMO resources. Three separate bids have been submitted: two have been approved and Sheffield is awaiting the outcome of the third. If it is successful, just under £1bn will be spent between 2004 and 2010/11. The Sheffield ALMO was established in April 200 4 as Sheffield Homes, who has the responsibility of managing and maintaining all of Sheffield's council housing.

Procurement and partnering

Following a comprehensive procurement strategy, Sheffield Homes and its Partners have just signed the Sheffield Construction Partnership, designed to bring together the commitment of 5 large construction partners to deliver the decent homes programme as well as their commitment to work closely with Sheffield Homes to provide training and local employment opportunities over the life of the project.

Sheffield Homes' five Partner organisations are Kier Sheffield LLP, Lovell Partnership, Keepmoat, Connaught and Mears Group. Training was an integral part of the procurement process used to select these Partners. A clear policy on recruitment and training was in place during procurement as a result of the Sheffield Training and Sustainable Pilot study and internal funding was allocated to these activities.


Funding is partly provided by Sheffield Homes' contractor partners on a sliding scale over the three-year traineeships. They are also eligible to reclaim costs through CITB-ConstructionSkills grants. Sheffield Homes also provides some funding. Additional funding has been obtained from external sources including EQUAL, Burngreave New Deal for Communities, the Single Regeneration Budget (a resource provided by Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) to support local regeneration initiatives, now subsumed into RDAs' Single Programme), the Learning and Skills Council, Objective 1 and the Institute of Leadership and Management (ILM) .

Applying for and obtaining appropriate funding from third parties has been an extremely resource intensive process for Sheffield Homes. It now has a funding project management team whose role is to secure and oversee funding over the life of the programme and identify new opportunities. The complexity and lack of flexibility around funding arrangements has restricted the project to date and the number of training places that have been provided.


Sheffield Homes has developed close working relationships with local FE colleges and a range of training providers to secure and develop appropriate training provision. Notably, it has established and built its own training centre for trainees between 14-19, an age group not previously catered for by existing training providers. This new centre will see over 300 young people receiving training each week during the school academic year timetable. These trainees will then receive short-term work placements through the CJM initiative. Concerns about future training provision have led Sheffield Homes to ask its five partners to develop a three-year skill requirement plan.

Trainees are offered the opportunity to complete the NVQ Level 3 within two years. They are obtaining qualifications in key skills such as plumbing, bricklaying and joinery in order to meet future demand from the Decent Homes programme. Trainees are fully funded and are generally offered employment on completion of the programme. To date 200 jobs have been created across the programme.


A key challenge for Sheffield Homes has been recruiting workers. It is targeting particularly local young people from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. It has worked with local employment agencies and national bodies such as Job Centre Plus and Connexions to recruit such applicants, and has held job fairs at local schools and colleges.

However, recruitment of appropriate trainees on the scale being proposed by Sheffield Homes has proved problematic - the first employment fayre at the Don Valley Stadium provided a list of over 800 people who wanted to take part in the scheme so a shortlisting had to take place. Although the numbers exceeded demand not all applicants met the criteria and during the pilot not all applicants were eligible for funding. In response to these issues experienced during the pilot, Sheffield Homes has worked with Sheffield First's Employment Unit to establish Sheffield Construction Job Match (CJM). CJM has provided a one-stop shop for Partner contractors looking for trainees - it enables effective job matching between applicants and training employers. The Sheffield Project Team has worked hard to ensure the problem of funding does not restrict certain people in future by accessing a creative funding cocktail arrangement.

The target groups for Sheffield's training programme are local individuals from socially disadvantaged backgrounds. While the pilot programme has trained largely young people, the future intention is to assist adult trainees with re-skilling or returning to work. Wider consultation has taken place to provide opportunities in particular for certain client Groups, Sheffield College has established a specific course just for women and wider consultation through Sheffield's relationship with BME Forums particularly the Black Community Forum has helped to target opportunities at this client Group. To address some of these issues a new Community Building Company has been established, Community Construction Limited, the aim of this new umbrella organisation is to work closely with small BME builders as well as supporting the CJM recruitment process and facilitating the training to solve the training problem associated with cultural differences in these communities. Community Construction Ltd is legally established and plans to start trading September 2005.

Of the 1500 people Sheffield aims to take on its programme over the next seven year, its objective is to take 150 individuals from Black Minority Ethnic (BME) backgrounds and 150 female trainees.

Co-ordination and support

Mentoring of trainees is seen as crucial to the programme's success, particularly as the vast majority of trainees come from socially deprived backgrounds. The first two or three weeks are seen as critical in retaining people on the programme. During the initial induction week, as part of the pilot trainees were given alarm clocks to encourage them to get to the programme in the mornings followed by a 'pick up service'. This proved particularly beneficial to those whose parents have not worked for some considerable time.

Additionally, each partner has a training co-ordinator. Sheffield Homes is also taking on a programme training co-ordinator, partly to ensure it is gaining maximum financial benefit from its significant buying power.

Outcomes and next steps

Sheffield appears well placed to deliver its ambitious training programme over the next seven years. It has learnt and responded to a number of issues that have arisen over the three year pilot project. Equally the pilot has enabled Sheffield Homes to build close relationships with a number of key stakeholders in this process, including its contractor partners, local business, further education colleges and schools. Perhaps most importantly, it has won the support of local communities who have experienced the benefits of providing training and employment for local socially excluded people.

For further information, please contact :

Janet Sharpe, Investment Programme and Training/ Employment Project Manager,

Sheffield Homes:

Tel: 0114 273 5933

Mobile: 077 11 153 650

Project team


Kier Sheffield


Lovell Partnership


Mears Group


Sheffield Rebuild

Community Construction Limited


Employment Unit, Sheffield City Council

Sheffield First Partnership