Agenda Item No 12

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

Cabinet Meeting: 1 October, 2018

Report of the Cabinet Member for Housing and Building Services

Achievement of Welsh Housing Quality Standards to Council Stock within the Vale of Glamorgan

Purpose of the Report

  1. To advise Cabinet of the achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) for the Council's housing stock and to agree the content of a letter to Welsh Government advising of this position.

Recommendations

  1. That Cabinet notes the achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS) for the Council's Housing stock.
  2. That Cabinet agree the contents of the proposed letter to Welsh Government on achievement of WHQS.

Reasons for the Recommendations

  1. To advise Cabinet on the achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS) for the Council's Housing stock and compliance with the Wales Housing Act.
  2. To seek Cabinet approval of the letter to Welsh Government advising of the Council's achievement of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards.

Background

  1. In 2002, the Welsh Government produced its first documentation setting out its intentions for all Social Housing in Wales to reach a minimum standard.  This document set out a number of aspirations for all social housing to ensure it is fit for twenty-first century living.  In 2004 the Welsh Government undertook a revision of the 2002 standards following requests from a number of Councils seeking additional guidance and clarification.
  2. Subsequently a revised Welsh Housing Quality Standard was issued and adopted in 2008, requiring all social housing to have been improved where necessary to reach the standard by 2020.  The standard covered a range of key elements of the home associated with modern living standards and was split into the following key elements:
  • in a good state of repair - walls and roofs are structurally sound and the home is free from damp.
  • safe and secure - must meet requirements for safe food preparation, heating provision, security to windows and doors and be safe to move around the home.
  • adequately heated, fuel efficient and well insulated - provision of fuel efficient heating and the building must be capable of retaining the heat.
  • contain up to date kitchens and bathrooms - kitchens and bathrooms should be modern and designed to ensure their safe use.
  • well managed (for rented housing) - tenants should receive a good service which meets their needs and the surrounding community.
  • located in attractive and safe environments - where practicable the local footpaths, roads and recreation areas should be well maintained.
  • as far as possible suit the specific requirements of the household (e.g. specific disabilities)" - homes should be adapted to support independent living.

Relevant Issues and Options

  1. This Council initially declared that all its housing stock would achieve the standard by 2017.
  2. A report to Cabinet on 18 December, 2017 (C180), identified the Council would not achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by the end of 2017, due to additional works which had been identified over and above those initially programmed at the start.  Subsequently, a revised achievement date of 31 March 2018 was set and Welsh Government was notified.
  3. Following considerable effort to validate the information held on the Council's housing stock, it is now confirmed the Council achieved the Welsh Housing Quality standard at 31st March 2018 as set out in the revised time frame.
  4. The following table illustrates the amount of work the Council has undertaken to ensure tenants' homes meet the WHQS.

 Element

2012/13

2013/14

2014/15

2015/16

2016/17

2017/18

Total

Kitchens

315

1474

1152

343

69

59

3,412

Bathrooms

266

1387

1023

306

93

86

3,161

Heating/ Boilers

268

207

292

115

52

42

976

Rewiring

317

1616

1181

352

76

77

3,619

Roofs

151

18

12

377

307

511

1,376

External Wall Ins'.

0

0

14

190

198

153

555

Pointing, Painting & Rendering

0

1

14

336

433

496

1280

  1. As a result of the Council having achieved the required Welsh Housing Quality Standard, it now enters the maintenance phase and is required to invest in all properties as newly arising need is identified.  To enable the long term investment required, the Council's Housing Business Plan has been developed to ensure sufficient financial resource is available in each year to address newly arising issues.
  2. The investment profile associated with maintaining the standard currently provides significant peaks in 2027 as kitchen replacements reach the 15 year replacement cycle and again in 2037 as bathrooms reach their 25 year life cycle.  In order to smooth the investment peaks each kitchen and bathroom will be inspected to establish whether or not it requires replacement, thereby enabling some attributes to be replaced over a longer period.
  3. During the major investment programme for WHQS, tenants were offered the opportunity to have kitchens and bathrooms replaced.  Some have declined the opportunity to have this work undertaken; either as a result of personal circumstances or due to the fact that they had installed their own.  These refusals are classed as an acceptable fail and consequently count as a pass in terms of meeting the standard.  Additionally, a number of replacement kitchens do not meet the required cupboard space volume; this is largely down to the confirmed space in the kitchen and an increase in white goods now appearing in kitchens.  These are also classed as an acceptable fail.
  4. The total number of Acceptable Fails and the reasons for the failure are provided in the table below.

WHQS Element

Tenant Declined

Cost of Remedy

Timing of Remedy

Physical Constraint

Total

Kitchen

371

1

3

319

694

Kitchen Non-slip floor

1

 

 

 

1

Bathroom

290

1

2

 

293

Bathroom Non-slip floor

1

 

 

 

1

Heating

64

 

 

 

64

Heating Distribution

4

 

 

 

4

Inefficient Heating

8

 

1

 

9

Wiring

160

 

4

 

164

External Works

2

4

27

 

33

SAP <65

17

13

8

 

38

Total number of properties failing one or more elements

791

           
  1. There are 791 (20%) properties which do not meet the WHQS standard for one reason or another, with the vast majority failing through kitchens which have either been declined or following replacement the design has been unable to meet the full capacity of the cupboard space.  The total of elements is more than the overall total of properties failing WHQS, this is because some homes will have multiple failures.
  2. The data provided above has been validated by the Welsh Audit Office, who inspected the Council's performance in relation to WHQS during May 2018 and was satisfied the Council had achieved the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.
  3. On achievement of WHQS, the Council must formally notify the Welsh Government and the letter attached at Appendix 1 is provided for Cabinet approval prior to submission.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

  1. The Council has invested approximately £92M in its housing stock between 2012/13 and 2017/18, which has been supported with the Major Repair Allowance from Welsh Government

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

  1. The Council has improved the energy efficiency rating of the Housing stock with the average SAP rating now being 71, placing the average property in Band C of the EPC (Energy Performance Certificate) energy assessment.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

  1. Achievement of WHQS is a required standard for all social landlords by 2020 and the Council has achieved the required standard ahead of the deadline.

Crime and Disorder Implications

  1. No implications.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

  1. Access to good quality housing is a major driver in achieving WHQS.

Corporate/Service Objectives

  1. Wellbeing outcome 1: An inclusive and Safe Vale

Objective 2: Providing decent homes and safe communities

Action: Increase the number of sustainable, affordable homes. (2019/20)

Policy Framework and Budget

  1. This report is a matter for Executive decision by Cabinet.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

  1. The achievement of the WHQS applies throughout the Vale of Glamorgan; therefore no individual ward member consultation has been undertaken.

Relevant Scrutiny Committee

  1. Homes and Safety Communities

Background Papers

None.

Contact Officer

Andrew Treweek - Operational Manager, Tel: 02920 673036.

Officers Consulted

Carolyn Michael - Operational Manager Accountancy

Victoria Davidson - Operational Manager - Legal Services

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Environment and Housing Services