Unitas turns one: how has it affected Stoke-on-Trent business?

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Stoke-on-Trent City city council are now at the end of their first year of operations for their housing repairs and maintenance company.

Unitas, the scheme launched in February last year has impacted dozens of Stoke-on-Trent businesses. The city council say their aim was to raise the standard of housing in the area.

“It was part of a drive to improve services for tenants and raise housing standards in the city.

“Its aim was also to work with local businesses to support the city’s economy, with around an annual £17 million worth of work to be spent locally, where possible, on contracts or goods.”

Unitas was launched in February 2018, one year ago

In the last 12 months, 33 companies in Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle have secured contracts with Unitas to the value of almost £7 million.

Alec Fern, Managing Director at Brenden Fern Limited, a property services company in Sandyford- said: “All of our 40 odd employees are ST postcode based so we are working for a company in the ST area, our offices are based in the ST area and our operatives are.

“We’re trying to keep that Stoke-on-Trent pound in the city which, by Unitas using local contractors like ourselves they’re helping to do that.

“We are just trying to keep everybody within the Stoke-on-Trent area busy all the time and keep that pound in Stoke-on-Trent.”

He added: “I think the working relationship now, over certainly the last twelve months, has got stronger between the contractor and Unitas.

“It has certainly been, in my view, a nice breath of fresh air compared to previous years so it’s looking like it’s going to be a positive future with them.”

Councillor Randy Conteh, the city council’s cabinet member for housing, communities and safer city, said: “When Unitas was established, our aim was to offer an improved, more flexible service for tenants and to ensure that property owned by the council is maintained to a high standard.

“We also wanted to continue our push towards making services more commercially-minded- driving efficiency and supporting the local economy.

“And by being able to use so many local businesses for the supply of goods and services we have definitely achieved this.”

Cllr Conteh continued: “We’re investing millions of pounds in our housing stock at every level.

“We’re keen to maximise the potential of all our assets in order to meet housing needs and drive forward the city’s economic growth, and the continuing success of Unitas is just one part of that.”

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