Home Group set to create 130 jobs in the North East

SOCIAL Housing provider Home Group is set to create more than 130 jobs with plans to open its first dedicated call centre in the North East after seeing its revenues rise by more than £60m.

The not-for-profit firm, which is based in Gosforth, Newcastle, is expanding after increased demand for its services and plans to move into a new 11,300 square feet customer service centre at Quorum Business Park in Newcastle in May.

The multi-million pound centre is just part of larger expansion plans by the firm as it looks to consolidate its position as one of the UK’s biggest social housing and support companies. Home Group – which will soon begin recruiting the new staff – currently employs 300 staff in the North East, and 4,000 more across the UK.

The company enjoyed steady growth until last year, when it picked up £48m contract from the Ministry of Justice to provide bail accommodation across the country, which helped its turnover to jump from £250m to £315m.

It says it has decided to open its first call centre in order to improve its customer service operations.

The firm said it was also looking to roll out a multi-million pound refurbishment programme across its existing housing stock, as well as increase work in the social care market.

The firm also provides accommodation for a number of vulnerable individuals, including the homeless and young offenders through its Stonham Services arm. It is the only housing association to be formed by an Act of Parliament, and was set up 75 years ago in response to the deprivation which prompted the Jarrow March.

The company said that it was not looking to set up call centres elsewhere and that the Quorum site would be at the forefront of any future plans to expand its call centre services.

Mark Henderson, Home Group chief executive, said: “I’m very excited about this project and delighted to be able to announce these new jobs.”

The new jobs represent a major boost for the region’s call centre industry which was recently rocked by the news that Firstsource Solutions is to cut 550 jobs at its Stockton centre this year after deciding to move work to the Philippines.

Last year saw the announcement of 900 redundancies at the Shop Direct call centre in Sunderland, as well as the loss of 1,100 workers at Hartlepool-based Garlands.

Jonty Pearce, features editor of Call Centre Helper magazine, said: “The last couple of years have been difficult for the call centre industry, particularly in the North East.

“However, we are starting to see a reversal of fortune for the industry, with many firms deciding to bring their operations back to the UK.

“The social housing market has generally been late to invest in dedicated call centres, which is why we could see other providers following suit.

“These companies are growing at a faster rate because of the increased demand put on them by the economic situation. They need more staff on board to handle customer queries.”