'Build communities not homes,' says framework leader.

Solving the housing crisis is as much about building communities as it is homes, according to the head of one of the UK’s leading social housing procurement consortiums. 

Speaking during Housing 2023, Lee Parkinson, chief executive of Efficiency North says that while the housing shortfall is a significant challenge that needs addressing, creating resilient communities that can support them is just as important.  

Efficiency North’s membership - made up of more than 50 social housing providers - is responsible for nearly three-quarters of a million homes across northern England, having delivered a total of £483m of new build housing projects through EN:Procure, the consortium’s framework arm. 

However, Parkinson believes that the work that has been done to build and strengthen the communities around these homes has been critical in supporting that growth. 

“Depending on which metric you go by, it would take the UK somewhere around half a century at the current rate of building to clear our housing backlog in comparison to other European countries," he said.

"When you factor in the current economic climate and the very real financial situation that is putting people under pressure, there is an acute need for more social houses to be built and built quickly. 

“You only have to talk to our members to hear about the challenges they are facing every day to get an understanding of how deeply this problem runs, but it’s not just a need to put a roof over people’s heads that needs addressing. 

“There needs to be a community created around these houses, and fortunately that approach is understood by our members as we work together to tackle this crisis."

Parkinson adds this comes about through the "creation of real social value", and opportunities that wouldn’t have come about if that development hadn’t been built.  

Through its EN:Able Communities arm, Efficiency North has helped create more than £1.5m of funding for local community projects since 2015, while EN:Procure’s social value credits system has supported the delivery of £516,000 of social value since 2019. 

Parkinson said: “In the case of Efficiency North members, they can choose to create new apprenticeships, jobs in the community or community investment depending upon their preference. 

“What this means is that this money gets spent in areas where it is really needed, and it has led to more than 100 community organisations benefitting from support, and nearly 700 jobs and training opportunities created by our members’ framework activity.” 

EN:Procure’s latest 4th generation version of its New Build Framework is currently out for tender, and Parkinson says that regeneration will remain at its core as it continues to evolve.   

Parkinson said: “Frameworks offer a swift, flexible and cost-effective route to providing new homes, on both a small and large-scale basis, and also the added benefits to local communities of employment and training opportunities and funding for social and economic regeneration projects. 

“As with all of our frameworks, those selected to the New Build Gen-4 will not only be expected to complete the works to a high standard, but are expected to share our commitment to regeneration through our dynamic models for ESG delivery - specifically the creation of training, work placement, educational activity, direct and shared apprenticeship, and new employment opportunities.” 

 Find out more information about Efficiency North.  

If you would like to contact Sarah Walker about this, or any other story, please email