Agenda item

Q4 Performance Report - Housing


The report was summarised by N Beresford, and some key areas were highlighted in relation to positive performance across the service, particularly in terms of income collection related to HRA stock, as well as 100% gas and safety compliance in relation to HRA-maintained assets.  Additional support continued to be provided to the most vulnerable households, particularly in relation to refugees.


Poor performance had been seen in key-to-key times and non-urgent repairs, though extensive action plans were in place to remedy this.  Several council officials were present to answer any more detailed questions.  The floor was then opened for any questions or comments.


Cllr Johnson referred to the average of a 72-hour delay reported in compiling property information, particularly in terms of what type of information this referred to.  It was explained that this related to property inspection, including key property attributes, in order for the property to be relet.  The delay was ascribed to a range of factors, and it was reiterated that an action plan was in place to work across multiple areas of service to remedy the multiple funding and practical factors contributing to this.


In response to a query from Cllr Adeleke, it was explained that the number of ASB cases tended to be consistent, though there was some seasonal variance particularly in the summer.


In response to a further query from Cllr Adeleke, it was highlighted that 180 homeless households in temporary accommodation undergoing statutory assessment in relation to the existing homelessness legislation.  A dedicated officer also worked to coordinate the Watermill Hotel, which was currently accommodating just over 100 households awaiting resettlements through the Afghan resettlement process.  110 accommodation checks had also been carried out in relation to the Ukraine resettlement scheme, and requests for around 10 accommodation checks per week were being received, though this number was starting to fall.  7 homeless approached had been received from Ukraine households whose sponsor placements had broken down since arriving in the UK, and the council was supporting households in initial asylum accommodation, with support provided to around 205 households in 2 hotel sites, in addition to 10 Syrian refugee households resettled to date.


Cllr Adeleke asked whether feedback from refugees having been settled indicated whether or not those individuals were happy to have been resettled in the Borough.  It was reported that feedback had generally been positive despite the difficulties faced.  Excellent wrap-around support was in place in terms of education, healthcare and other services to aid the resettlement process.


Cllr Imarni highlighted the significant number of negative indicators in relation to waiting times across Housing and Communities services, particularly in relation to non-urgent repairs, and levels of satisfaction with those repairs.  It was explained that this biggest impact to repairs was due to supply-chain challenges owing to Brexit and the pandemic.  There was consequently a backlog of repairs that were not able to be carried out during the pandemic, which were still being worked though, and it was hoped that in time the indicators would improve as this was done.  Quality versus quantity was also a consideration in terms of selecting subcontractors.  In all, however, Cllr Imarni was assured that action was being taken to remedy the situation.


On a further query, there were some challenges in terms of internal communication between DBC and Osborne, particularly due to the volume of repair requests and ongoing works being processed.  Issues had also been seen previously with materials such as plaster, though this was also improving.  Repairs were also being batched to aid efficiency and speed.  Going forward, a focus would also be placed on improving communication toward residents.  An improved triage process was also being rolled out to increase operational efficiency.


Cllr Harden asked about the reluctance of private landlords to take on residents in receipt of housing benefits, and whether anything could be done to remedy this.  It was explained that this continued to be an ongoing challenge, and work remained ongoing to challenge these discriminatory practices.  Some success had been seen in terms of support provided to individuals approaching the council in relation to this.  The focus would also be placed on educating landlords.  In future, it was anticipated that asylum dispersal may further exacerbate these issues in respect of the private sector.


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