|Rutland County Council expects to feel the impact of a critical housing report when the next assessment of council performance is released on the 22nd February by the Audit Commission.|
Results of the housing inspection, which looked at performance based on 2005/06 outcomes, were released on Thursday 8 February and it shows the housing management service in Rutland as 'poor but with promising prospects for improvement'.
Spire Homes took over responsibility (in February 2006) for managing council houses in Rutland. The latest tenants survey, carried out by an independent company between June and August 2006, shows that 80% of tenants are satisfied with the housing service; 79% felt their rent offered good value for money; 81% felt their home was in good condition; and 87% are satisfied with their accommodation.
Leader of Rutland County Council, Roger Begy, says: 'We are obviously disappointed with the rating received for the housing service, but we do take comfort from the fact that the service has changed a great deal in the last twelve months. We knew that the housing service needed significant improvements and the report quite rightly highlights this. It is important to remember that we were speaking to tenants about the future management of council houses well before the inspection took place; in fact it was as early as 2004. The result of these discussions was that Spire Homes took over that responsibility in February 2006, and I am pleased to say that the latest tenant survey results make for positive reading.'
Mr. Begy went on to say, 'We are 100% committed to working in partnership with Spire Homes to improve the services provided to our Housing Tenants and our focus will be on driving up performance in the key areas highlighted in the report.'
The housing inspection was released on Thursday 8 February and identifies a number of areas that were underperforming before Spire Homes took responsibility for the housing service in February 2006.
Commenting on the Audit Commission report, Julie Doyle, Managing Director of Spire Homes said: 'We have done a great deal of work in our first year to make improvements to Rutland's housing services. The County Council has shared our determination and commitment to work together to make such improvements and we are confident that Rutland tenants will start to see a positive improvement across all areas, including repairs, customer service and resident involvement.'
The inspection found that a high proportion of repairs were not completed on time and vacant properties took too long to be repaired and re-let. The inspectors also found that resident involvement was underdeveloped.
However, when assessing service strengths, the report notes that the new service specification (for Spire Homes) has been developed in consultation with tenants, there are ambitious targets already in place for improvement and that clear, focused and effective leadership and management is now in place.
Chief Executive of Rutland County Council, Helen Briggs, says: 'We need to improve the service. The report makes that clear. It also highlights the fact that we have already put in place the arrangements to deliver the necessary improvements. We have already seen improvements from our extremely effective partnership with Spire Homes. We will continue to build on this and it is vital that we sustain our focus on this important service and deliver against the expectations of 'promising prospects for improvement'.'
'We will receive our 'direction of travel' statement from the Audit Commission later this month (February) and whilst we expect most of it to show our services as being extremely successful, we are almost certain that this housing inspection will impact on our overall rating. This is disappointing. It is however important to remember this is largely based on 2005/2006 performance. That seems to me like quite a long time ago. Since I arrived I have made it clear there is a new focus on performance management at Rutland CC and I expect that to deliver results across all service areas'
Rutland County Council
01572 722 577
start: Friday 9 February 2007