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LEICESTER SCORES TWO STARS FOR HOUSING MANAGEMENT

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The housing management service provided by Leicester City Council is 'good' and has promising prospects to improve,...
The housing management service provided by Leicester City Council is 'good' and has promising prospects to improve, according to an independent report released today by the Audit Commission.

An inspection team gave the service two stars out of a possible three because inspectors found that tenants could access their local housing offices easily and that staff were friendly, professional and competent. Leicester makes serious efforts to ensure that its housing services remain sensitive to the needs of all members of a diverse community. A high priority is placed upon sustainability of tenancies with an emphasis on early engagement with new tenants and housing related support for the most vulnerable.

Martin Palmer, head of housing for the Central region said:

'We were particularly impressed with the quality of service in dealing with anti-social behaviour, racial harassment and nuisance. The partnership approach to community safety is a particularly positive feature of the service. There are areas of weakness - particularly in empty property management and rent collection - which the council recognises. Improvement plans present an ambitious programme of change.'

The inspectors found a number of key strengths such as:

* a commitment to customer care within a very diverse community

* accessible, locally provided services

* quality checking by trained tenant inspectors

* community safety given a high priority

However, inspectors also found weaknesses such as:

* it takes the council too long to let empty properties

* a lack of attention to the needs of leaseholders

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

* Develop a clear and more robust strategy for the management of voids

* Set clear standards for cleaning contracts and check that these are being met

* Develop a strategy for involving leaseholders and publish written guidance tailored to their needs

NOTES

The report covers: access to services, customer satisfaction & diversity, tenant involvement, management of estates and tenancies, rent collection & arrears recovery, letting empty properties and community safety.

The council owns and manages 24,129 homes in the city. The landlord services budget for 2003/04 is£14.1m, of which the housing management service allocation is£6,451m.

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