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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 27/03/2007
Decent Homes Strategy



APPENDIX N
Waverley Borough Council

EXECUTIVE - 27TH March 2007

Title:
DECENT HOMES STRATEGY
[Wards Affected:All]

Summary and purpose:

The purpose of this report is to present the Housing Department’s Decent Homes Strategy indicating how the Council will work towards the government target and prioritise the Repairs and Maintenance work programmes.

Environmental implications:

There are insufficient funds to meet the Decent Homes Standard. The lack of resources means that very limited investment in environmental and external improvements can be made. However, where the Council is making capital improvements to dwellings, energy efficiency and sustainability remains a priority.

Social / community implications:

The Government’s Decent Homes programme is designed to improve the quality of life for the occupants and to help increase life expectancy, health, well-being and educational attainment. Well-maintained homes also improve the attractiveness of the local area, helping to reduce crime and vandalism. Officers will work in partnership with statutory and voluntary agencies to address any associated issues.

Equality and Diversity - The lack of resources may have an adverse effect (as above) for minority groups in Waverley (eg elderly, disabled, single parents).

E-Government implications:

There are none arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are significant resource implications for the Council as a whole, and the Council’s Housing Revenue Account. The Council has the challenge of striving to meet the Government’s Decent Homes Target and not having enough resources to do so. This report suggests a number of opportunities to maximise resources and minimise expenditure in relation to the Housing Revenue Account. As agreed by the Council in July 2006, the policy on useable Right to Buy receipts was revised to enable the first 500,000 to be used for the Decent Homes Programme.

Partnerships – the Housing Department works closely with its maintenance contractors.

Background

Decent Homes regime

1. In 2000, the Government set a standard for decent housing stating that:
2. The standard is comprehensive with four criteria stating that homes should:

be above the statutory minimum standard “the fitness standard”;
be in a reasonable state of repair;
provide reasonably modern facilities and services; and
3. It sets out a framework within which elements of the building fabric and its services are rated as Decent or non-Decent. Although individual parts of a building may fail the ratings test, the criteria states that a whole building will only be non-decent if the individual failures add up in specific ways to become a whole failure. Therefore, every property has its own Decent Homes profile and this does result in adjoining similar properties being rated differently.

4. Waverley Borough Council recognises that it is unable to meet the Government Decent Home Standard Target by 2010. The Council undertook a comprehensive Housing Options Appraisal during 2004, as it was unable to meet the DHS without additional resources. The Council concluded the appraisal and consulted the tenants on a proposed stock transfer during 2005. In December 2005, following the formal consultation period, tenants were balloted on the issue of Stock Transfer and tenants voted to remain with the Council as landlord.

5. An Options Reappraisal was completed during 2006 to further consider the stock options available to the Council and consider the resources, services and assets of the Housing Revenue Account. The reappraisal concluded that, for the immediate future, stock retention is the default option, and this means that the Decent Homes Standard will not be achieved. 6. In 2003 the Council adopted a Repairs and Maintenance Strategy Statement which included a commitment to Decent Homes. The statement has now been reviewed and restated to reflect current circumstances. A copy of the revised statement is attached as Annexe 1. 7. Consequently the Council will now strive to meet the Decent Homes Target and has created a Decent Homes Strategy, to maximise the effectiveness of the resources available.

Strategy 8. Waverley Borough Council has surveyed 90% of it’s stock to assess the condition of its properties according to the decency standards. A comprehensive non-decency record identifying the type and number of failures has been created.

9. Table One shows the number of properties that are currently decent and forecasts till 2010 on the resources available.

Table One2004/052005/062006/072007/082008/092009/1031/12/10
% non decent (forcast)58%57%60%60%62%58%56%
% non decent (actual)58%57%57%
10. In 2004/05, 58% of the Council’s 5,108 properties failed the Decent Homes Standard. In 2008/09 it is expected that only 38% of the Council’s homes will meet the Decent Homes Standard. At the government’s target date of 2010, only 44% of homes will be classed as decent.

Available Resources

11. There are significant shortfalls in the capital budget required to meet the Statutory, Health and Safety, Decent Homes works and other essential improvements. There is a projected 29.6m capital resource available from 2006/07 to 2010/11, which falls well short of the 47m required to complete the works required. As agreed by Members, (June 2006) resources will be aimed at high priority health and safety works, leaving a small amount for other works.

Prioritising Works

12. Waverley Borough Council recognises that, with no additional funding, the resources available must be used effectively to maintain the housing stock over the next five years and into the future. The comprehensive stock survey has enabled Waverley to decide upon an appropriate programme of works.

13. The projected Capital Budget illustrates a 28 million shortfall in the funds required. The capital budget has to fund works not only for the Decent Homes target but other Statutory, Health and Safety and essential improvement works.

14. The Capital works programme has been divided into four classifications:

Priority One - Health and Safety and Statutory Obligations Priority Two - High Priority works Priority Three – Medium Priority works Priority Four – Low Priority works
15. The Council have prioritised Health and Safety works as the key priority for the housing stock. Failure to meet the legal requirements regarding health and safety is considered to be a criminal offence. Some Health and Safety works will also contribute to meeting the Decent Homes Target but failure to respond to Health and Safety works would be negligent affecting not only the maintenance of the property but the health and wellbeing of tenants.

16. The resources have been divided across the classifications for 2006/7 and 2007/8 with the following percentage allocations:

Priority One 75%
Priority Two 17%
Priority Three 8%
Priority Four 0% 17. Preference has been given to Heating Upgrades and Re-wiring in Priority One, to ensure that over the next five years all required work will be completed. Maximising the number of Decent Homes

18. To maximise the number of homes that will achieve the decent homes standard officers will give careful consideration to the work programme for properties included in the priority one work programme officers will consider a “package of works” where one additional improvement results in decency. Therefore preference will be given to properties that will attain the decent home standard from that one improvement

Void Properties

19. Void Officers will consider any decent homes failures when inspecting properties. If a property can be made decent with a little extra investment, beyond the normal void works, this will be considered.

Housing Health and Safety Rating System (HHSRS)

20. The HHSRS has replaced the Fitness Standard element of the Decent Homes Standard. The standard assesses the health and safety risks inherent in a property. If a property fails the HHSRS it automatically fails the decent homes standard. HHSRS failures are classified as Priority One works and will be addressed at the earliest opportunity.

Other Decent Homes Projects 21. Projects have also been identified to increase the resources available to the HRA and provide further funds for capital works to meet the decent homes target.

Trickle Transfer

Improvement Grant Schemes

Tenant Involvement 22. Officers have worked closely with tenants through tenant groups, Tenants Panel, Member/Tenants’ Special Interest Group and tenant surveys to ensure tenants understand the financial limitations and that the programme of works best meets their expectation.

Other Relevant Strategies Procurement 23. Repairs and Maintenance staff are drafting Asset Management, Procurement and Sustainability Strategies to formalise their existing good working practices.

Sustainability

24. In line with Waverley Borough Council’s Climate Change Action Plan, all work carried out within the Decent Homes programme will, within economic constraints, use sustainable methods of procurement and installation.


Conclusion

25. The Council will strive to meet the Decent Homes Standard within the resources available. Priority will be given to health and safety and statutory works. Officers will seek to maximise the number of decent homes by utilising the stock condition survey.

Recommendation

It is recommended that

1. the Decent Homes Strategy be endorsed; and. 2. the revised Repairs and Maintenance Strategy Statement, as set out in Annexe 1, be approved.

Background Papers (DoH)

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

CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: David January Telephone: 01483 523361
E-mail: djanuary@waverley.gov.uk




Comms/exec/2006-07/334

ANNEXE 1


Repairs and Maintenance Strategy Statement 2007



Statement of intent

To achieve repairs right first time.

Objectives

To ensure the service is responsive to tenants and maintains homes within budget

To give priority to Health and Safety within the work programme

To strive to meet the Decent Homes targets

To minimise expenditure on responsive repairs and maximise the use of resources in planned and programmed works

To regularly review, polices and procedures according to tenants priorities, tenants involvement and best practice

To procure services, materials and goods by balancing value and quality. Seek wider opportunities to make economic savings.

To continue to examine procurement methods which maximises opportunities for lowering costs

To manage and maintain the properties in such a way as to balance the economic value of the assets with the social and economic needs of the residents

To ensure that, where it is economically possible, to approach service delivery and carry out works in sustainable manner.



Comms/exec/2006-07/334