On a scale from zero to three stars the Audit Commission inspection team gave the service a poor, zero star rating. There are serious weaknesses around repairs and maintenance, whilst the council's approach to customer service and value for money also requires significant improvement.
Martin Palmer, head of housing for the Central Region said:
'This is not good news for North Warwickshire council tenants. The council has provided a poor housing service for a number of years, with few signs of it either making improvements or providing value for money. However, it has responded positively to our inspection and is committed to ensuring that our recommendations are fully implemented.'
The inspectors found:
.The council's performance on responsive repairs, major adaptations and gas servicing is poor and it cannot show clearly how it will meet the government's decent homes standard by 2010, as required.
.Office opening times and facilities are limited and service standards are neither promoted nor monitored.
.Customer satisfaction is not being properly measured and nor are customers being adequately involved in developing the service.
.Inadequate information about customers prevents services being tailored to the needs of individuals or community groups.
.Ensuring that repairs are consistently completed within target times and that all gas appliances are serviced annually.
.Ensuring that all staff receive equality and diversity and customer care training as well as being able to access appropriate interpretation and translation facilities.
.Collecting robust information on the costs of services to identify where improvements can be made.
.Setting clear value for money targets and monitoring progress.
The council employs 383 full time equivalent staff across all services of which 52 are based in the housing service. It manages 2,814 properties (11 per cent of the total housing stock) with 42 per cent of properties not currently meeting the decent homes standard.
Copies of the report are available on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk/reports