Councillor Gasper will be presenting the Service Improvement Plan for the Void Improvement Project
79.1 Councillor Gasper presented the Service Improvement Plan for the Void Improvement Project. He made Members aware that he had added extra slide, beginning from the slide named ‘Councillor Visits – Properties Visited’.
79.2 Members asked question of the officers and the responses included
· The government had moved away from the Decent Home Standard. However, the standards were still high for Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils.
· Education and training of tenants were important to maintain high housing standards
· A 20% Stock survey rolling over a five-year period would ensure all tenant houses were visited.
· The development of Housing engagement model
· The Support of individual in fixed term tenancy
· The Housing Service team were currently working repairs on 150 - 160 houses
· Tenants to take responsibility for the standard of housing through the new tenant agreement
· Social care responsibility needed to be met too.
79.3 The number for voids in Babergh were as follows for the past three months:
December 2017 – 71 voids
January 2018 – 53 voids
February 2018 – 49 voids
As could be seen for above, void times were being reduced and it was predicted that by May 2018 the turn round time for voids were to be 33 days.
79.4 Officers said that the team were focussing on reducing voids, and it was the intention to reach a target of 10 working days for the turnaround time for most voids and that this was being conducted through a six months project.
79.5 The Cabinet Member for Housing said that she and the Assistant Director met monthly to discuss the way forward and that she was confident that the Housing Team was able to reach the original target for voids, which had been 21 – 22 days. However, there was still a lot of work to do including:
· To achieve regular inspections;
· To enforce the tenant agreement, but also to provide support for those tenants who needed help
· Early intervention for tenants who were struggling
· Ensure there were enough resources for the team to be able provide the above work
79.6 The discussion continued of the influences on voids, how to reduce the void time and current increase of the time it took to turn around voids. But it was also recognised that there had been issues with the creation of BMBS and that these issues were still being addressed. Both Members and Officers were in agreement that the reduction of the voids were a common goal for the Council.
79.7 The requisition of new houses was conducted by a different team and a different budget within the Council and that the Right to Buy scheme could not be used to pay for housing repairs. These were paid for by the HRA budget. It was recognised that the BMBS team were responsible for repairing houses they had not been involved with purchasing process. Therefore, acquisition process was currently being reviewed by the departments involved to allow for the capital purchase to included consideration of the cost of repairs to the property. It was noted that this was a policy issue.
It was RESOLVED: -
1.1 That a monthly Information Bulletin on Voids will continue to be forwarded to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee
1.2 That the at the end of the six months project to reduce void time, a report be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Committee