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HOUSING SERVICES 'FAIR' IN KINGS LYNN AND WEST NORFOLK

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The housing services provided by Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC are fair although the prospects for improvement are p...
The housing services provided by Kings Lynn & West Norfolk BC are fair although the prospects for improvement are poor, according to an Audit Commission report.

The inspection team awarded the authority one star (out of a possible three) following their visit. The report highlights a number of strengths:

  • Housing information held on the council's website is clear and user friendly and tenants can report repairs online.

  • Empty properties are in good condition and recent initiatives have been successful in re-letting less popular properties.

  • The servicing of gas and solid fuel systems is very effective and there is no backlog of properties that have not been accessed.

    However the quality of estate management and maintenance is variable. Inspectors also found weaknesses such as:

  • There is a low priority given to ensuring that minority ethnic communities and disabled customers can access the service and the service does not comply with the Commission for Racial Equality's code for rented housing.

  • The level of emergency repairs, pre-inspection of repairs and variations to repairs orders is high.

  • Information on repairs performance is not accurately recorded which gives a misleading picture of how well the service is meeting targets for completion of repairs.

  • Significant underinvestment in the housing stock with £81.1m needed to enable the council to bring properties up to the decent homes standard.

  • The best value review process carried out by the council was poor. As a result service areas and value for money improvements have not been identified. The timescales are slipping in a large number of areas with some parts of the plan agreed by councillors, identified for further review by council officers.

    Martin Palmer, lead housing inspector said:

    'Kings Lynn and West Norfolk Borough Council are delivering a fair service to tenants in the borough. However the lack of a rigorous review of the services has meant that significant improvements that could have resulted have not done so and the council will now need to revisit some those areas in order to deliver those improvements.'

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

  • Review the delivery of estate management services to ensure that there are clear lines of responsibility.

  • Ensure that performance management systems are in place which monitor all aspects of quality and cost of services and which link to departmental and individual action plans.

  • Review the procurement of the responsive repairs service to ensure that best value is being achieved.

    The report is available here.

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