Agenda Item No

The Vale of Glamorgan Council


Cabinet Meeting 23 July 2012


Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing, Building Maintenance and Community Safety


Housing Improvement Programme - Progress Update


Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members with a progress update since the appointment of the external WHQS contractors.


1.             That Members note the contents of this report and progress to date.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To update Members on progress with the Housing Improvement Programme.


2.             Cabinet at its meeting of 18 April 2012 (Minute No. C1716) agreed to the appointment of the four external contractors following a detailed procurement exercise via OJEU.

3.             The external contractors being:-

·               Western Vale & Rural Areas - Lovell Partnerships Ltd.

·               Barry Area 1 (Dyfan & Gibbonsdown) - Ian Williams Ltd.

·               Barry Area 2 (Remaining Barry Areas) - Apollo Property Services Ltd.

·               Penarth & Dinas Powys - SMK Building & Maintenance Ltd.

4.             Cabinet also agreed that Building Services are allocated some work packages of the programmed works subject to meeting price and quality standards. This includes sheltered accommodation across the Vale and equates to £500k for the first six months of the programme (3 September 2012 to 31 March 2013) and £1m per annum thereafter.

Relevant Issues and Options

Contractor Mobilisation


5.             Pre contract meetings have been held with each of the contractors including Building Services. These meetings are really to "kick-start" the mobilisation period in readiness for the formal contract start date of 3 September 2012. The Council has included, as part of its project management arrangements, a three month lead-in period so that all contractors and the Council have sufficient time to make the necessary mobilisation arrangements prior to works formally commencing.

6.             During this period, contractors are:-

·               Putting team structures in place including site staff (Framework Manager or Site Manager, Quantity Surveyor, Tenant Liaison staff, workforce and apprenticeships).

·               Considering local depot arrangements.

·               Meeting with local suppliers to finalise their supply chain.

·               Finalising sub contractors (where required).

·               Working on tenant literature as part of the communication process with tenants.

Framework Core Group


7.             A Framework Core Group has been established in which all contractors will meet on a quarterly basis (monthly up until December 2012) to work collaboratively together to deliver a successful programme of works. Some of the main objectives of this group include:-

·               Measuring and monitoring the performance of contractors against a suite of key performance indicators (KPIs) and these will be reported to Cabinet on a quarterly basis for all contractors.

·               A consideration of any joint purchasing arrangements.

·               To share "lessons learned" across all contract areas.

·               Identify and solve any problems issues/areas.

·               To review the success of community benefits.

·               Review communication and publicity material to tenants.

8.             The Framework Core Group have now met on a couple of occasions since the initial pre contract meetings to continue to review contractors' mobilisation in readiness for the formal start. In addition, a "Get to know You Session" was also held with Council staff, contractors' site staff and tenants from the Quality & Design Forum.

Housing Improvement Programme - Tenant Engagement


9.             The tenants Quality & Design Forum (QDF) was established as part of the new governance arrangements for overseeing the Housing Improvement Programme. The forum has a membership of six tenants who were voted on by the Vale Housing Panel. To date, the QDF have been involved in the following:-

·               Reviewing tender documentation including the development of the Residents Access Protocol that contractors must comply with as part of the improvement programme (protocol included in tender documentation).

·               Reviewed and scored quality submissions from all contractors.

·               Interviewed contractors during the tender process (in association with Council officers).

·               Interviewed Tenant Liaison Officer staff as part of the recruitment process.

·               Produced a first draft of the Code of Conduct that all contractors and their staff must comply with when undertaking WHQS works.

10.        QDF responsibilities include ensuring that all improvement work is carried out to an acceptable standard (quality of workmanship), value for money is achieved and all contractors work within the “Contractors Code of Conduct”. In addition, they are required to monitor the performance of all contractors (including Building Services) on an ongoing basis and make recommendations to the Housing Project Board to improve services as a result of tenant concerns.

11.        In respect of monitoring performance, and particularly key performance indicators, all contractors as part of the tenants' governance structure are required to attend the QDF on a quarterly basis to be scrutinised by tenants on their performance.

Voids - Pilot Sites


12.        To establish and check on the quality of workmanship for each of the contractors, and prior to the formal start date to determine the expected quality standard, two current void properties have been identified in each contract area (including Building Services) for each contractor to complete to the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). These will be completed in July/August so that all contractors understand what is expected from them in terms of workmanship and quality. Any issues as a result will be raised with the individual contractor concerned.

13.        Members may wish to note that the Council is continuing with its current capital refurbishment programme of replacing roofing, windows & doors and heating systems until end of August this year. After which, from September onwards, this will then be the responsibility of the appointed WHQS contactors.

Works Programme


14.        A works programme for the full 4½ years (3 September 2012 to 31 March 2017) has been developed for each of the four external contractors and Building Services - see Appendix 1. As far as possible, it has been developed on a “worst-first” approach although balanced against practicalities of particular circumstances. This has included:-

·               A consideration of information in the Council’s Keystone System (Asset Management System for all Council homes) as a result of full property surveys against each Council Property – and where surveys have been completed.

·               Officer input and experience of Council properties.

·               Local knowledge of Council properties and community areas.

15.        Members should be aware that whilst the works programme has been developed for the full 4½ years, experience from other Councils has indicated that changes will occur. An example being that it has been agreed that during the housing improvement programme, where void properties become vacant, then those Council homes will be brought up to the WHQS (either by the external contractor or Building Services and dependent on location). This will obviously have a bearing on the longer term works programme as there are up to 300 void properties per annum. Other issues may also affect the current works programme such as tenant refusals for instance.

16.        Six month work packages will be issued to each contractor three months prior to those works commencing. This is provided that the contractor's performance, as a result of their performance from the previous work package and meeting KPI targets, warrants further work packages to be assigned to the individual contractor concerned.

Communications With Tenants


17.        An important aspect of any major refurbishment programme is communication with tenants. The Council is currently working with each of the contractors to standardise and agree on all publicity material across the Vale. This includes:-

·               A "Code of Conduct" for all contractors and their staff to comply with.

·               A "Resident Information Pack" outlining to tenants what the WHQS works will include, who will undertake the works and general information about the process itself.

·               Individual "Component Sheets" (whether new kitchen, bathroom, rewiring or new heating systems) indicating what works will be carried out, how the contractor will carry out those works and how tenants should prepare themselves and their families for the new refurbishments.

·               Standard letters - as part of the planning stage to determine the exact works required at each property, and at least six weeks prior to works commencing, the Council, contractor and kitchen surveyor will undertake a "validation" survey at each home. This is to confirm the works required, to undertake a full kitchen design with the tenant concerned (and for the tenant to agree on colour choices, tiles, worktops, door handles etc.) and to complete a welfare survey with the tenant as to what arrangements need to be put in place for the works to proceed. Appointment and follow up letters are required to organise these validation surveys. It is expected that the validation surveys will commence in each contract area from week commencing 23 July 2012 for the first batch of properties to commence in September this year.

·               An After Care Pack outlining how tenants should care for their new components once the works are complete.

Meet the Contractor Open Days


18.        As part of the ongoing communication with tenants, all contractors will be organising a "Meet the Contractor Open Day" in early August in their own contract area. This provides the opportunity for tenants to meet the contractor, the staff who will be working in their areas and to ask questions on the improvement works that will be carried out.

19.        Each contractor will organise a full kitchen and bathroom mock up at each open day location so that tenants can see the type of components that will be used in their homes (please note, white goods will not be on display).

20.        Building Services staff will also attend all open days and Council staff including Tenant Engagement, Tenant Liaison Officers, Housing Improvement Supervisors and Housing staff who will be available to offer advice on housing related matters. Members are invited to attend these open days - information will be circulated once dates confirmed.

Tenant Liaison and Site Supervision


21.        In looking after the welfare of tenants and their families during and after the refurbishment works, the Council has appointed five Tenant Liaison Officers (TLOs) who commenced 2 July 2012. Their prime role is to look after and support tenants throughout the refurbishment period and be the first point of contact if a tenant has any issues or concerns. This could be prior to the works commencing, during the works and after the works have been completed. The TLO will complete a welfare survey with the tenant themselves during the six week validation survey and this will include the following:-

·               Welfare requirements of tenants including current medication and the identification of any issues for the Occupational Health Therapist.

·               Household demographics i.e. identify any specific needs of tenants including young children, elderly or vulnerable tenants.

·               What support networks are required (if any).

·               How the works will be conducted to minimise disruption to tenants.

·               Establish any assistance that tenants may need in preparation of the property for the works (and re-establish on completion).

·               Identify any furniture, fittings or appliances that need to be moved and protected during the works.

22.        Where necessary, the TLOs will involve internal and external agencies in considering the welfare issue of tenants. The TLOs will very much be in the community where the works are proceeding and will be on hand to continually support tenants and their families.

23.        The Council has also appointed Housing Improvement Supervisors in each contract area who will be responsible for the quality of the workmanship of each of the contractors (including Building Services), raising any defects with the contractors and signing off the completed works - in association with the tenant and Tenant Liaison Officer.

24.        As part of the suite of KPIs to monitor all contractors, the Council is developing a Tenant Satisfaction Form to measure contractors' performance from a tenant perspective. The Tenant Liaison Officer will be responsible for meeting each tenant to complete this form and this will form the basis of tenant satisfaction for each of the contractors concerned. This is an important KPI from a Council perspective and will be reported to Cabinet on a quarterly basis as with other KPIs.

Members Briefing Session


25.        A WHQS Members Briefing Session has been arranged for Monday 30 July 2012 at 6.00pm in the Council Chamber. All external contractors have been invited to attend and to provide a presentation on their company, experience to date and to answer Member questions. Council staff associated with the project will also be in attendance.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment and Climate Change, if appropriate)

26.        Council of 7th December 2011 resolved that the proposals of the Cabinet relating to the Final Housing Business Plan 2011, as set out in Cabinet Minute No. C1515, 16th November, 2011, be approved.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

27.        It is a requirement that the Council meets WHQS and has advised the Welsh Government that this will be achieved by April 2017.

Crime and Disorder Implications

28.        Many of the requirements of the WHQS contribute to the Crime and Disorder agenda, in particular, the requirements of safe and secure dwellings located in safe and attractive environments

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

29.        All tenant homes will be surveyed 6 weeks prior to the improvement works commencing (Joint Property Validation Survey). This will be an ongoing process and will determine the extent of works to be completed at each property and to consider tenant’s welfare requirements prior to and during the works. This will include a consideration of tenants (and their families) who may have special needs, have ill health problems, their preferred language choice and/or other support related issues which may well include external support where required.

Corporate/Service Objectives

30.        Meeting the WHQS and the Housing Improvement Programme contributes to the Council’s corporate priority of making the Vale a safe, healthy and enjoyable place to live via good quality housing and to achieve a quality environment.

Policy Framework and Budget

31.        This report is a matter for information by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

32.        Not applicable

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

33.        Housing & Public Protection

Background Papers



Contact Officer

Simon Davies

Project Manager


Officers Consulted

Sian Davies – Director of Finance, ICT and Property Services

Mile Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

Tony Jaques - Head of Housing Services

Jane Wade – Operational Manager (Property)

Mike Walsh – Lawyer

Andrew Arnold – Framework Manager (Property Section)


Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

Sian Davies - Director of Finance, ICT and Property