Even the word 'transformation' conjures up a bold and creative process of reinvention, and that’s exactly the path we’ve been on here at Curo. Whilst looking for ways to stay relevant and maximise our potential in a complex and challenging external environment, we have completely changed most aspects of the company.
The changes our sector faces are far-reaching and well documented: a new model and significantly reduced funding for affordable housing developments; squeezes on budgets for supporting vulnerable people; the biggest shakeup of the welfare system for generations. The changes to the benefits regime alone are seismic. The spare room subsidy and benefits cap mean many customers cannot afford to pay their rent, while Universal Credit will mean registered housing providers no longer have the security of direct rent payments.
These are just some of the challenges we and our customers are facing. To survive and grow, and to help our customers thrive in a changing and increasingly difficult environment, we knew we had to make a step change. We had to become more responsive, smarter, more efficient, more commercial.
Above all, we had to put customers at the heart of everything we do.
Curo came to life on 2 July 2012 as four legacy housing and support organisations were reconfigured in to one new family brand. The group had previously operated a federal structure, with complicated governance arrangements and we wanted to streamline our structures, processes and systems to operate more efficiently. Underlying this approach was a determination to bring the customer centre stage and set out an ambitious five-year plan to drive up customer advocacy; create greater opportunities for all stakeholders; and develop new lines of business to subsidise our core activities.
Over the last two years we have embraced and driven a massive programme of change and transformation through every part of our business. We have challenged every structure, process, service, work practice and tradition, and looked ourselves in the eye. We have pushed ourselves to explore the limits of our potential and capability, in order to understand what we might be capable of, and we have endeavoured to reach those limits.
The path to transformation is not for the faint-hearted! There are casualties along the way when an individual’s talents are not the right fit, or our customer obsession is not shared by others. But it is a five-year marathon, not a short-term sprint, and the rewards will be in the sustainability of the changes and legacy that we create.
Our mission is: “To make a positive and profound contribution to the neighbourhoods we work in – inspiring and empowering people to succeed in life.”This is an epic ambition, and to achieve it will take an epic amount of courage, drive and sometimes a bit of luck. We are two years through our five-year plan and are making good, solid progress.
We recently heard we have made it through to the finals of the 2014 UK Housing Awards in their Business Transformation of the Year category. Gaining such an endorsement from our peers is important for everyone at Curo. Ultimately though, we are motivated by the value we can add, and the positive difference we can make to our customers’ and our colleagues’ lives.
Photo of lounge area courtesy of Rebecca Faith Photography.