Q & A

Dr Louise Dunne, the housing sector lead at CIPFA, answers your questions regarding the new service:

What makes this new service different?

Firstly it was designed in partnership with housing professionals who know exactly what they do, and do not need, from a benchmarking product. Practitioners who know which types of management information will help them to deliver great services.

Our approach is unique because it starts with a top level review of your performance at the end of April each year. CIPFA’s health-check recognises that in the Local Authority and ALMO sectors – no two organisations are the same – people count differently, and count different things – making meaningful comparisons really difficult and time consuming.

To overcome this, CIPFA’s diagnostic experts will work through all of these tricky issues on your behalf.

What do you mean by strategic? 

Strategic benchmarking exercises assess topics such as strategic direction; structure and governance and looks in detail at the business critical decisions that may need to be re-aligned to deliver an organisation’s ambitions. This will include benchmarking exercises that measure the validity of the business assumptions; core competencies and resources allocation; organisational infrastructure and the business fundamentals that define an organisation’s operational strategy. 

How will you measure the performance of the business plan?

CIPFA’s benchmarking methodology starts from the premise that to generate data about the business plan performance is only a first step in the process towards improving performance. The second step is to turn that data into meaningful information that can be used by the decision-makers to re-align the business plan assumptions to current policy and other external and internal changes. As such our exercises are structured to look at the business plan as comprising 3 inter-related parts:  

  1. Years 1-5 focusing upon income and asset management /
  2. Years 5-15 focusing upon estates regeneration and loan funding
  3. 15 years+ focusing upon longer term asset management and long term finance. 

Finally using diagnostic tools, CIPFA will interpret the data generated across these 3 business plan elements, to enable senior decision-makers to focus upon what really matters to them.

Will there be metrics to measure operational performance as well?

Yes, there will be a suite of targeted indicators to enable a comprehensive health-check of your business that includes a separate trend analysis later in the year.

Why is your approach to benchmarking so unique?

Because it is represents a model based upon the very best of the private and public sector practices combined – one that can recognize both the commercial realities of social landlords as businesses, and the service ethos of public duty in supplying good quality homes to local communities. This is a service that is designed to be flexible and relevant – one that can adapt to the ever-changing demands of the housing market; housing policies and regulatory controls, within a matter of weeks.

What expertise do CIPFA have in benchmarking?

CIPFA deliver 600+ benchmarking exercises each year. We work with every Local, Police and Fire Authority in England, and we have a dedicated team of data analysts; housing practitioner experts, and technical staff who will ensure that this new product and service – are second to none.

How do I find out more?

If you want to join the growing number of Social Landlords who have joined this new service, simply call our housing expert, Louise Dunne on 07767 865 614, or email for more details: louise.dunne@cipfa.org.

Alternatively contact our networks subscription team at cipfanetworks@cipfa.org or call on 020 7543 5805 to speak with us direct.

What types of social landlords will we be benchmarked against?

We will interrogate your data and identify which benchmarking peer group(s) you would most benefit from being placed with. CIPFA will give you this information together with your own tailored performance report highlighting all of the relevant issues for your organisation.

Can I interrogate the data in more depth myself?

Yes. Our web-site hosts a range of on-line Excel based tools to allow you to interrogate the data, as much, or as little, as you choose.

After my initial health-check – what happens next?

Each year there will be a second benchmarking exercise to identify significant trends in your organisation’s performance. This report will highlight critical risks to the business plan and key opportunities for your services. Trend analyses allow us, and you, to look at historical and predicted future performance across both the strategic and operational parts of your organisation. Our approach to benchmarking will give you management information to link strategic choices, resource allocation and risks, with operational delivery and front-line services.

Our approach has been to design metrics that can capture performance at the strategic and operational ends of the organisation – looking at performance in the round to include business planning; resource allocation and finance, risk and governance.


For just £4,500 per annum your organisation will be able to access all the benefits of the service – from benchmarking to the ongoing networking support and guidance. 

Return to the CIPFA Housing Diagnostics and Benchmarking Service home page.