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Agenda Item No. 6

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee: 11 October 2017

 

Report of the Director for Environment and Housing

 

Update on Housing Improvement Programme

 

Purpose of the Report

  1. To provide Scrutiny Members with performance information relating to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) improvement works.

Recommendation

  1. That Members note the current performance position with this programme.

Reason for the Recommendation

  1. To ensure Members are furnished with necessary performance information pertaining to WHQS (attached as Appendix A).

Background

  1. The Welsh Housing Quality Standard Improvement Programme has been operational since September 2012. Members of this Committee requested a regular update report be provided to ensure appropriate monitoring of the financial risk on such a high profile works programme.
  2. Work initially commenced on the internal upgrades to properties with new kitchens, bathrooms, heating and re-wiring works being undertaken and to meet the standards set by Welsh Government. These internal works have now been completed to all identified properties with the exception of those where work has been declined by the tenant (this is recorded as an acceptable fail under the WHQS guidance and therefore still counts as a pass in terms of the Council's reporting process). Those tenants declining the initial offer of internal works have been approached again to check if they now wish to receive the work and this has been subsequently delivered. Any property which has not received the internal works is upgraded as part of the void process for the new tenant.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. The final accounts for the internal works have now been settled and work to repair and improve the external fabric of the buildings, including; new roofs, windows and doors, brickwork and rendering repairs, external painting and external wall insulation, is now well progressed.
  2. It has been possible to successfully renegotiate the terms of an extended framework with three of the four framework contractors to enable completion of the programme. The number of roofing contractors operating in the Vale has also been reduced from three to two since the works in one of the allocated areas has been completed.
  3. As mentioned in the previous report presented to this committee in November 2016, contractors have found it difficult to recruit and engage suitably experienced staff to resource the contract and the project management team has requested the removal of a number of operatives from site. Additionally, it is necessary to complete an ecology survey to safeguard wildlife nesting or roosting in the property during the works. A number of roof surveys have found nesting birds and bats and it has been necessary delay some properties to protect these species.
  4. The work identified in the original programme taken from the Savill's (Consultant's) data, is scheduled to be completed before the Christmas period. However, further work has been undertaken on the stock condition data held by the Council, which has identified limited information on 600 properties. Surveys have now been completed at these properties and the subsequent work programme is being assessed before it is issued to the framework contractors.
  5. Once the survey data has been assessed, the framework contractors will be consulted to establish a realistic timeframe in which to complete any additional work. Members will be advised of the outcome should this affect the proposed Christmas completion.
  6. From the performance information attached at Appendix 'A' of this report, satisfaction scores remain below the target of 90%. Whilst effort has been made to improve these scores and the results have been discussed with individual contractors, the length of time taken to complete the works continues to have a detrimental impact on satisfaction. The number of properties contractors can work on at any one time has been reduced to lessen the time taken at each property; however, this appears to have had limited effect.
  7. Members should also be aware that the mechanism used to collate the satisfaction figures which will also have an impact on the overall score. Tenants are requested to provide a score from one to ten; therefore whilst the overall average figure fails to achieve the required target of 90, individual scores above 6 should be seen as a satisfied tenant.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. There have been delays to the project arising from ecology surveys and an inability to recruit adequate experienced trades. This major improvement project is scheduled for completion during 2017 and it is envisaged the majority of the work will be completed by the end of 2017 despite the issues and delays raised above.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The efficient and effective delivery of housing improvements increases the 'quality of life' for our tenants. The improvements include various energy saving works which help to reduce domestic energy consumption, hence assisting in protecting the natural environment.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. There are no Legal Implications at this time.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. Long term empty properties can have an adverse impact on the perception of residents living on our estates and can lead to increased levels of vandalism and crime.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Improving our approach to housing refurbishment will benefit all parts of the community for which we serve.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. To manage the Council's workforce, money, information and assets efficiently, effectively and securely.
  2. Satisfying WHQS will improve the housing stock therefore contributing to the health, wellbeing and safety of tenants and other residents.

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is within the policy framework and budget.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The report presents Vale wide information so no ward member consultation is required.

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Andrew Treweek, Operational Manager - Building Services - Tel 02920 673036.

Officers Consulted

Operational Manager - Legal Services

Accountant - Housing and Building Services

Accountant - Visible Services

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing