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SOUTH HOLLAND COUNCIL TENANTS GETTING 'FAIR' SERVICE THAT SHOULD IMPROVE

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The housing management service provided by South Holland DC is 'fair' and has 'promising' prospects' for improvemen...
The housing management service provided by South Holland DC is 'fair' and has 'promising' prospects' for improvement according to an independent report published today by the Audit Commission. Inspectors gave the service one star on a scale from zero to three stars.

Linda Birchall, Audit Commission lead housing inspector for the East Midlands, said:

'South Holland is committed to delivering efficient services and to making sure its homes are places in which people want to live. It keeps its estates clean and tidy and is investing in properties to bring them up to the government's decent home standard. We found some significant weaknesses in the council's day to day repairs service, but the council is addressing these issues and has plans to improve its range of housing services. The council has a strong track record in demonstrating continuous improvement and we are confident that the improvements planned for the housing service will be delivered.'

The Audit Commission inspectors found:

.Effective access to council services through the customer services centre, with service standards for customer care supported by a customer care policy and through training

.The council has invested in its housing stock and has the resources to meet the government's decent homes standard and other investment needs by 2010

.Rent collection is effective and in line with top achieving councils, with 99.35 per cent of rent projected to be collected in 2004/05

.Housing areas and estates are environmentally pleasant and free of litter with regular monitoring taking place

But areas requiring further attention include:

.The council cannot fully break down the costs of its services and there are significant value for money issues in responsive repairs and maintenance

.The responsive repairs service has no appointment system, is weak at completing jobs on time, has inaccurate performance information and no effective monitoring of performance

.The provision of aids and adaptations to tenants is poor with delays in processing applications. Tenants are deterred from proceeding because of the contribution required and there is no monitoring of the outcomes of the service

.The council is not offering and using all the ways available to engage tenants in some key service areas

To help the service improve, inspectors recommended that the council should:

.Establish the detailed costs of providing its services within the next 12 months and use this information to address value for money issues

.Introduce an appointment system for repairs that accurately prioritises repairs at the point of contact, and review with tenants the priority times for completing repairs

.Review the aids and adaptations service within the next six months involving tenants and service users to ensure the needs of elderly and vulnerable tenants are being met

.Explore and implement ways of engaging tenants more fully in the housing service over the next 12 months and ensure that the influence that tenants have over the service is easily seen and demonstrated

Copies of the report are available on the Audit Commission website at www.audit-commission.gov.uk

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