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BARKING & DAGENHAM'S PRIVATE SECTOR HOUSING A 'FAIR' ONE STAR SERVICE

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The private sector housing service provided by Barking and Dagenham LBC is a 'fair' service with promising prospect...
The private sector housing service provided by Barking and Dagenham LBC is a 'fair' service with promising prospects for improvement, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

The Audit Commission inspection team gave the service one star* because service priorities have been set in consultation with the community. People are generally satisfied with the level of service they receive

Joanna Killian, lead housing inspector for London Region Inspection Service, said: 'Barking and Dagenham council has developed a challenging but realistic service improvement plan that has already delivered some improvements over the past year. The council now needs to ensure improvements are made consistently across the service and that services are delivered in the most cost-effective way.'

The inspection report highlights a number of key strengths:

- there is strong commitment from managers and staff to improvements, and resources to deliver service improvements have been identified

- the council has made significant improvements in recent years

However, inspectors also found weaknesses:

- information about the service is not widely available to the public

- enforcement action to help improve living conditions for private tenants is not widely used

- quality of the service is variable

To help the service improve, inspectors made a number of recommendations, including:

- review all available statutory powers and ensure these are being used to maximum benefit for the residents of Barking & Dagenham

- improve access to the service by reviewing the arrangements for physical access, taking account of the corporate customer access review and the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act

- ensure tackling illegal eviction and harassment is clearly addressed in the improvement plan

The Private Sector Housing Service best value review (BVR) covered: improving housing standards, tackling harassment, bringing empty properties back into use and providing renovation grants to repair properties. The service cost£216,000 for 2001/02, with the grant budget for the service (excluding disabled facilities grants) being£560,000.

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