Agenda item

Voids Process and Performance - Housing Technical Services

Report from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning.

Decision:

1.     Cabinet notes the content of the report.

 

2.     Cabinet approves Option 2 as providing the most efficient operational way forward to implement changes to the process and management of voids at this time.

 

3.     Cabinet requests that the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider at its next scheduled meeting in February 2021 proposals for a new suite of Key Performance Indicators relating to the effective monitoring of void property management performance, and thereafter to receive updated performance data, and progress on further actions being taken to improve overall void management performance.

 

4.     Cabinet receives a following up report within six months relating to the implementation of the Option 2 proposals.

 

5.     Cabinet receives a comprehensive report covering the full review of the revised void management and process changes, to ensure the objectives and anticipated benefits have been achieved, within the next 12 months.

 

6.     That Officers update Cabinet on the progress made to introduction imprest van stocks through a preferred supplier, and the impacts anticipated in the context of the current stores and stock arrangements be subject to a further report to Cabinet.

 

Considerations/reasons for decision

 

·       Report from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning updating Members on the progress towards an efficient voids process and to begin considerations of appropriate performance measures.

·       The need for a comprehensive review of the Council’s management of void properties to put an efficient and effective process in place.

·       The introduction and deployment of a Northgate Integrated Housing Management System in summer 2021.

·       The introduction of new streamlined void work processes and targets.

·       The introduction of Key Performance Indicator data to be reviewed regularly through the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.

·       Changes to the structure of the Technical Services void team.

·       Consultation undertaken within the Technical Service and Housing Management Services, amendments made based on feedback and good practice principles.

 

Other Options considered

 

1)        Leave as current.  This was not a viable option and entailed carrying on the existing processes.

2)      Investigate the potential for all void works to be delivered by an external contractor/s through a price per void contract.

 

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning presented a report which gave an update on the progress towards an efficient voids process and the provision of performance measures. The Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee had endorsed option 2 contained within the report at the meeting on 7 January 2021. Currently void performance was poor and the Council’s objective was to significantly improve void performance, with changes to the processes and management. Structure changes had been identified to stop work being completed in ‘silos’. The proposal streamlined the void work process reducing overall timelines to reduce turnaround times, to enable homes to be released for re-letting quicker. Minor and Major repair teams were being managed by a Technical Services Officer to improve interaction and co-operation, efficiency and effectiveness. Early re-letting had the benefit of increased rental income.

 

The Northgate integrated housing management system was critical to the allocation administration process and consideration of further integration of the housing management system was a significant project, which would but subject to consideration by Members in the future.

 

Performance Indicator reporting and a void standards policy would be looked at by the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee.  Dashboards would be put in place to allow for comparisons to be made and would be a standard item on the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee’s agenda.  Work on a revised Voids Policy would be undertaken by the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee, once approved by Cabinet it would be reviewed every three years.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning proposed that Option 2 be adopted. It was a viable option that captured the core elements of the changes highlighted within the report, which included streamlined void processes to reduce the overall period and reduce rent losses, the introduction of key safe facilities at void properties to reduce days lost for key returns, tighter contract and project management of external contractors activities, merging the minor and major void teams, better van stock processes, early review of current voids standards and reduced costs associated with voids through tighter specification.  The proposal was seconded.

 

Cabinet Members were fully supportive of the proposals before them in respect of the void process and performance and the need to have an effective Voids Policy.

 

A question was asked in relation to the current costs of the Northgate system and proposals for further integration of the system to which the Interim Assistant Director of Housing responded.

 

A comment was made in relation to Ward Members being able to see samples of void properties both before and after work had been completed and it was stated that this was something that could be looked at when the Voids Policy was reviewed.

 

Further comments were made in respect of the Northgate system, the Section 151 Officer stated that the Northgate system was a market leader and had been used by Revenues and Benefits Section for a number of years.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning confirmed that he had been involved in random inspections of void properties and referred to the introduction of a working group for housing which he had mentioned at the recent meeting of full Council.  He wanted Members who were interested in housing to come forward to be a part of the working Group, for the whole of the District.

 

On being put to the vote, it was AGREED:

 

1.       That Cabinet notes the content of the report.

 

2.       That Cabinet approves Option 2 as providing the most efficient operational way forward to implement changes to the process and management of voids at this time.

 

3.       That Cabinet requests that the Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee consider at its next scheduled meeting in February 2021 proposals for a new suite of Key Performance Indicators relating to the effective monitoring of void property management performance, and thereafter to receive updated performance data, and progress on further actions being taken to improve overall void management performance.

 

4.       That Cabinet receives a following up report within six months relating to the implementation of the Option 2 proposals.

 

5.       Cabinet receives a comprehensive report covering the full review of the revised void management and process changes, to ensure the objectives and anticipated benefits have been achieved, within the next 12 months.

 

6.       That Officers update Cabinet on the progress made to introduction imprest van stocks through a preferred supplier, and the impacts anticipated in the context of the current stores and stock arrangements be subject to a further report to Cabinet.

 

Supporting documents: