The Director for Housing and Property presented the report which outlined the compliance issues within the Housing Service.
Members’ attention was drawn to various sections of the report: meetings with the Regulator; the implementation plan. The Earlesfield Estate Action Plan; Sheltered Housing improvements; and Regulator’s Customer Regulation Review.
A query was raised regarding how long the Fire Risk Assessments had taken to complete and if there were any unexpected circumstances discovered during the Assessments. The Director confirmed that the Fire Risk Assessments had been rolled out at the beginning of the year. The focus had been on blocks of flats and he confirmed 100% completion, over a 12-week period. The Director highlighted findings within the fire assessments, he was pleased to confirm that the Council’s ‘in-house’ work force had now been trained on the replacement of fire doors which would help address issues going forward. The Director for Housing and Property stated that the Regulator was satisfied with the Council’s approach.
Members discussed the report as follows:
· Would the new IT system be available for tenant feedback and if it would be live by the end of October 2021?
The Director confirmed that the system would be up and running by the end of October 2021. Reference was made to the Government White Paper, that had recently been published, in the Charter for Social Housing Tenants. It was important to listen to tenants and take their views into account. South Kesteven District Council would be the first local authority to use the “Rant and Rave” software which was already used widely by housing associations.
· Lack of Stock Condition Surveys. The last Survey had been carried out in 2009. A Member asked if the whole of the stock review would be ready later in 2021 or just 20%.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property expressed disappointment at how the issue had been addressed in the past. He stated that the preliminary findings would be available by the end of October 2021. The findings would be used to build next year’s budget and was one of the reasons that the Housing Revenue Account budget would be delayed in December. It was confirmed that the survey was 100% of all Council housing stock.
· Housing budget for 2021/22 and how numbers had been reached in relation to the housing stock and this was less than satisfactory performance of the housing service and this had not previously been picked up by Scrutiny.
The Chairman of the Committee stated that they would be carrying out a thorough scrutiny review and that all evidence would be considered.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property stated that he understood Members’ ongoing concern. A culture shift was being supported within the teams and remedial work was being prioritised with more complicated work being outsourced. Recruitment was being carried out to get more skilled labour, also forward ordering and planning for supplies had been undertaken.
The Chairman stated that if any Member had any concerns to raise it with him or the relevant officer.
· Members suggested that a designated email address, was set up for Member enquiries only and that Members be given a reference number.
· It was confirmed that a general inbox for Member enquiries was available and was being monitored by officers who had access.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property stated that although a single point of contact for Members to make enquiries and complaints had been put in place, the Officer was currently not available, however a temporary officer appointment would be made.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Property gave a brief overview of the current position of void properties. It was noted that Void Management would remain a key area of operational focus and that immediate changes were being introduced to assist in turn-around times.
1. To note the latest compliance position, following the ongoing meetings with the Regulator of Social Housing.
2. To receive a further update report at its next scheduled meeting