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Local authorities in England and Wales currently own approximately 3.3 million homes, and plan to spend around£4.8...
Local authorities in England and Wales currently own approximately 3.3 million homes, and plan to spend around£4.8bn on repairing, maintaining and improving this stock in 2001/02.

*£2.4b on responsive repairs (those reported by tenants) and planned maintenance

*£2.4bn on capital improvements to council homes

The backlog of repair and improvement work in local authority housing stock is considerable

*£19bn of work in England (1996)

*£750m in Wales (1998)

In 2000, government in England and Wales made a commitment to bring all council housing up to a decent standard within a decade. English housing has a further target: one-third of non-decent homes should be brought up to standard by 2004. To assist this, capital available for improvements to council homes in England has increased significantly in the last two years. Local authorities need to take action to deliver the government's housing decency targets and ensure that new money is spent effectively, for the benefit of current and future tenants.

Services currently delivered to residents - both tenants and leaseholders - are highly variable: there are often differences in performance between different parts of the service within one authority.

* resources are not always spent on the most appropriate stock

* planned maintenance programmes are not completed on time, and often underspend

* there is little control of (relatively expensive) responsive repair work

* tenants and leaseholders are not involved as fully as they could be, in setting standards and in decision-making

* performance management and the use of basic monitoring information are poor

* value for money is not obtained when letting maintenance contracts

As a result, of 34 inspections of repairs and maintenance services carried out by the Housing Inspectorate so far, less than 1 in 6 has been rated by inspectors as 'good'. There are, however, many examples of good and innovative practice among inspected authorities.

To run an effective repairs and maintenance service, an authority has to carry out several interlinked activities well, involving staff at different levels within housing and outside it, with challenge and support from members and with the involvement of residents.

* adopting a strategic, long-term approach to repairs and maintenance, supported by an effective business planning process

* engaging more with residents, to improve services and input to decisions

* managing effective planned maintenance and capital programmes

* running efficient responsive repairs services

* improving performance management and competition, and moving to new forms of procurement

It is encouraging that nearly three-quarters of inspected authorities were likely to, or would, improve, with none that would not improve. Authorities need to use this capacity to change, building into their work the need to learn from other authorities, to deliver better, more efficient services to residents.


* Housing Repairs and Maintenance: Learning from Inspection Report

Stock code: LLI2671 £18.

* The national report is available here

* A Briefing is available here

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