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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 03/02/2004
APPENDIX L - RE-FOCUSING AND IMPROVING THE REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE SERVICE TO CUSTOMERS



Summary & Purpose
This report outlines proposals to refocus the Repairs and Maintenance service to improve customer services to Waverley’s tenants.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Natural
Resource Use
Pollution
Prevention and Control
Biodiversity
and Nature
Local
Environment
Social
Inclusion
Safe, Healthy
and Active
Communities
Local
Economy
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive


APPENDIX L
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL

COMMUNITY OVERVIEW & SCRUTINY COMMITTEE – 27TH JANUARY 2004
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Title:
RE-FOCUSING AND IMPROVING THE REPAIRS AND MAINTENANCE SERVICE TO CUSTOMERS

[Wards Affected: All]
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Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The annexes to this report contain exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in paragraph 1 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:

Information relating to a particular employee, former employee or applicant to become an employee of, or a particular office-holder, former office-holder or applicant to become an office-holder under, the Authority.

Summary and purpose:

This report outlines proposals to refocus the Repairs and Maintenance service to improve customer services to Waverley’s tenants.
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Quality of life implications – social, environmental & economic (sustainable development):

Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe, Healthy and Active Communities
Local Economy
N/A
N/A
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive
Positive

These proposals will ensure one of the most important of the Council’s services is even more responsive to the needs of its tenant customers.

E-Government implications:

The re-focusing of the service will incorporate the development of the Orchard system as part of the Housing service e-government initiatives.


Resource and legal implications:

These are detailed within the report within existing budgets and resources.

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Background

1. The Housing Service was reorganised in July 2001, recognising the need to separate, as far as possible, the Strategic Housing and Landlord Services. In particular, as a result of the demise of CCT and introduction of Best Value, a functional approach creating a Housing Management and Housing Maintenance Division for the Landlord’s services was agreed by the Council.

2. The reorganisation brought together the day-to-day repairs service and the programmed maintenance and surveying service into one location at the Council Offices in Godalming. The physical re-location took place in January 2002.

3. A Measured Term Contract with two new customer focused contractors was also entered into from February 2002. The performance of the Repairs and Maintenance has continued to improve and it is now considered appropriate to further refine and re-focus the service to ensure continued service improvements.

Introduction

4. In December 2002, the Best Value in Housing Inspector undertook an inspection on the Repairs and Maintenance Service review. This resulted in it being judged as a one star service with promising prospects for improvement. The inspection report recognised that continuous improvements were being achieved emanating from the Repairs and Maintenance strategic plan agreed by the Council in 2002.

5. Comments by the inspectorate highlighted the need to make more progress on achieving the Government’s targets for Decent Homes and improve customer service to Waverley’s tenants. Previously, the status survey of customer satisfaction with the Housing Service completed in 2000 indicated that 78% of tenants were satisfied with the repairs and maintenance service they receive. Subsequent discussions revealed that a significant number were concerned, that despite a polite response by Waverley, they did not feel confident that their request would always be fully completed to their satisfaction. The initial results from the current 2003 survey indicate that progress is being made on this issue.

6. As part of the process to address the issues raised by the Inspection expert, advice was sought from consultant surveyors, Ridge and Partners. Among recommendations from them relating to strategic and procedural issues on Decent Homes and standards of work, it was also recommended that the Repairs and Maintenance Service be reorganised to be better able to deliver Decent Homes Targets and Service Standards expected by its tenants.

7. It was recognised by officers, and more importantly tenants, that although the sections were managed separately, they were perceived by the tenants as one service, and that further integration was necessary if the service was to be able to improve its 78% satisfaction rating to 90% and above.


8. Three key areas were identified as requiring attention.

The Proposals

9. The key proposals are as follows:-
10 Comprehensive stock condition information will enable more informed programmes of repair and replacement to be drawn up over a number of years, and more realistic information to be given to tenants as to the likely date when they can expect particular large scale elemental works to be carried out. At the same time, decisions can be made regarding the long-term viability of certain properties, by comparing their long term maintenance costs with potential refurbishment, conversion or rebuild.

11. It is recommended that a new post be created, that of Asset Manager, which formalises and gives single responsibility for work, which currently is carried out by different staff within the section, and enables a focus and weight to be given to this important area of activity for the future. Recruitment to this post is expected to be from within existing staff, so there will be no extra resources required for this work.

12 As a consequence of the retirement in July 2003 of the Deputy Head of Housing Maintenance, it is proposed that this post is not replaced directly but that the duties be subsumed into the new structure with three section heads being given enhanced responsibilities and reporting directly and equally to the Head of Housing Maintenance. Consequently the new reorganised service will not need to attract extra resources to operate. See (Exempt) Annexe 1 for existing and (Exempt) Annexe 2 for the new structure. The ultimate objective of the re-structure is to improve the delivery of the service and increase tenant satisfaction. The statutory performance indicators can then be monitored and acted upon to achieve continuous improvement.

Resources

13. These proposals are intended to ensure that a new customer focus and a continued improvements to service delivery to customers are enhanced. Repairs and Maintenance of Waverley’s homes is the most important of the services provided for the tenants. The total HRA revenue and capital spend on repairs and maintenance is some 8.0m for 2004/05 and staffing costs of some 890,000. These proposals will be implemented within the total staffing costs of 890,000. The staff have been extensively involved in formulating the new customer focused service.

Conclusion

14. The Council’s Repairs and Maintenance services for its tenants have improved since the re-organisation agreed in July 2001 and actioned in January 2002. The Best Value Inspection in December 2002, and the actions since taken, have proved that the service is improving.

15. These proposals will lead to an enhanced focus on customers and service delivery and continual improvement in performance. The outcome of the Options Appraisal process may require further consideration of partnership working with contractors dependent on the outcome agreed. It is, however, considered that the re-focused service will be well prepared for whichever option is agreed as part of the Options Appraisal process. In the meantime, by utilising the vacant post of Deputy Head of Housing Maintenance, the re-focused service can be implemented within the current staffing costs budget of 890,000 as shown at (Exempt) Annexe 1, as from 1st April 2004.

Recommendation

The Executive is recommended that:-
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Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers (as defined by Section 100D(5) of the Local Government Act 1972) relating to this report.

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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: David Simmons Telephone: 01483 523374

E-mail: dsimmons@waverley.gov.uk



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