Agenda item

Health and Safety Compliance Report

Health and Safety compliance report on SKDC’s Housing Service


The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning introduced the report on behalf of the Leader of the Council who was experiencing technical issues. Additional presenters were the Chief Executive and Interim Assistant Director of Housing.


In his introduction, the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning outlined the background and impact to residents and the public. The Cabinet Member had been working since his appointment, prior to receipt of the report, to improve record keeping on council stock.


The Chief Executive recorded her sincere apologies on behalf of the Council to all tenants. She informed the Committee that the report with the conclusions of the housing compliance audit had been commissioned by herself, the Leader of the Council and the Cabinet Member for Housing in June 2020.


In June 2020 RSM were appointed as auditors to undertake a compliance review, they undertook a desktop review with key findings attached to the report. The conclusions of the report led to the appointment of an Interim Assistant Director of Housing. The Chief Executive in consultation with the Cabinet referred SKDC to the Housing Regulator.


Systems were assessed to be not fit for purpose that led to an action plan being incorporated along with an improvement plan that had been shared with the Regulator. A compliance response was awaited from the Social Housing Regulator.


Members were assured by the Chief Executive that the right team with the right skill set was now in place. A new head of technical services had been appointed to ensure compliance on electrical works.


The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning added that a risk analysis was in place to ensure compliance during work on a revised programme for housing stock, particularly sheltered housing.


A meeting to go through processes with the Regulator had been held with follow-up correspondence from the Chief Executive to update on critical issues around compliance and progress on the improvement plan.


An action plan was presented to the committee with the primary focus on sheltered housing as well as up-to-date fire risk assessment and inspection. It was additionally reported that:


·       Certification to be reissued on 3,500 properties

·       A rewiring contract to be commissioned to include certification

·       Gas compliance stood at 98% with a strategy in place

·       New IT was to be installed by January 2021 to improve monitoring

All Members would be provided a copy of the action as provided to the Regulator with regular reports back to the committee.


Members raised a number of questions and received the following responses:


·       An officer group had been set to manage and drive forward changes that included the new IT system and deployment of staff. There would be elements of external procurement.

·       Updates to the improvement plan would be provided to the Committee.

·       A housing dashboard was being investigated which would provide regular reports with an audit plan that provided further checks on delivery.

·       The Director of Housing and Property was anticipated to be in place by April 2021. Appreciation was expressed at the skills provided by the Interim Assistant Director of Housing.

·       The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning, the Leader of the Council, the Chief Executive and the Interim Assistant Director of Housing met weekly to address housing issues.

·       A quarterly report covering S106 arrangements would be provided.

·       As a result of high heating costs to residents, all current installations had been halted with future systems to include insultation and factoring in fuel costs.

·       An external peer review had not been undertaken for many years and the need for an external review was recognised.

·       Implications of contents and private insurance for resident had been investigated with assurance that there were no risks to residents.

·       Void progress would be reported by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning.

Members were advised that the Housing Regulator would be monitoring the Council over a 4-year period with intervention over the initial 2 years. A new housing business plan was to be incorporated once the survey of housing stock had been completed.


A councillor made a statement to the Committee outlining the need to address scrutiny failures and the proposed timescales of the action plan that he felt could be shorter through the use of the additional housing profit funds while flagging concerns of future legal costs. The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning confirmed that he had met with the Conservative Group and all members to discuss housing compliance and vision for future improvements. Production of a one year and a separate three-year budget to address improvements were to be presented in 2021. Additional funding was being discussed with Homes England.


A statement was read by the Leader of the Council:


We can all admit that the findings of the reports today make incredibly difficult reading, they have highlighted clear failings in the processes relating to our housing service and I would like to say on behalf of the South Kesteven District Council that I am sorry and I would like to apologise unreservedly to all of our tenants who have been impacted by this.


The priority of the Council is and will always be, our residents and tenants and we have taken direct action in response to the findings of these reports.


We are working closely with tenants to support them and ensure these issues are never repeated.


In terms of the housing audit report this was commissioned by myself and Councillor Reid after we raised concerns with the Chief Executive who also had concerns, shortly after she took up her role.


We are taking direct action in response to the findings and working closely with the Regulator of Social Housing as I know Chris Stratford will have informed you and we will be providing you with regular updates going forward.


Open and honest communication with tenants has also been at the heart of our approach and I know this is particular key in terms of the Housing Portfolio Holder, Councillor Reid.


We have a dedicated team to respond to questions and support tenants throughout this process.


And what I hope this provides is clear reassurance that I, alongside Councillor Reid and our Chief Executive are determined to tackle any challenges we face head on.


Our focus is driving forward significant improvement to our housing service for our tenants and for that of course, that will take all of our work as all of us represent in our ward residents in our social homes.


And once again can I apologise unreservedly on behalf of the Council for our failings we are having to deal with following our commissioning of that report.



1.    The Interim Assistant Director of Housing to provide all Committee Members with a copy of action plan as provided to the Regulator.

2.    Add to the work programme ongoing reports on progress by the Interim Assistant Director of Housing.

3.    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning to provide members with a copy of the improvement plan.

4.    The Chief Executive to put in place a housing dashboard.

5.    Note an error on page 28 of report, which at table 6.1 Bulford Drive, Bourne states ‘planning not submitted’ but should read ‘planning application has been made and refused’

6.    Breakdown of costs for current IT system to be provided by the Interim Assistant Director of Housing.

On being put to the vote it was AGREED to recommend:

1.    To review the Compliance Audit and action plan to meet the recommendations indicated within the audit plan and agree to receive quarterly updates on the progress being made within the work programme.

2.    To note and provide comments on the revised 3 year rolling HRA New Build Housing Investment programme and support the principle that the housing service should focus on compliance priorities, utilising where necessary funds released through rationalising the HRA New Build Housing Investment programme proposals.

3.    That Officers provide necessary updates to members regarding key performance and delivery of programmes to ensure capital investment and compliance objectives are achieved.

4.    To note that the Council has reported itself to the Regulator and is jointly working with the Regulator towards compliance as a matter of priority.

A further recommendation was proposed to form a working group which was not seconded.

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