£102 million housing improvements for Birmingham tenants

Cabinet is set to approve a £102 million budget for investment in council properties this year (2010/11) at its meeting on 8 March 2010, contributing to a better quality of life for citizens.

Since 2004, the council has invested £673 million of its own money to carry out the decent homes programme, making improvement to 50,000 properties.

Birmingham is one of the few local authorities on track to meet the government’s target for 95% decent homes by 2010, despite a report by the Audit Commission predicting that nationally it would be “all but impossible” for all local authorities and housing associations to meet this target.

Two satisfied tenants are Walter and Kathleen Cheshire from Woodgate Valley who received new doors, new guttering, uPVC double glazed windows, insulation work and new central heating in their 3 bedroom home.

Mr Cheshire said, “The central heating is brilliant. We both have breathing difficulties but the new heating system has improved our health. The workmen did a great job and kept everything tidy.”

Tenants have been instrumental in setting priorities for the works which include cavity wall, loft, roof and external wall insulation. The additional insulation will improve thermal efficiency for homes, helping the council to reduce CO2 emissions to create a greener, cleaner Birmingham.

As part of the council’s drive to tackle fuel poverty more council homes will be installed with energy efficient central heating and double glazed windows.

Improving security is also a high priority and all homes will benefit from Secured by Design front doors and windows. The replacement of timber fascias and soffits with pvc materials, the re-roofing of some properties and the execution of other associated works will help to reduce future maintenance costs.

£47 million of the budget will help achieve warm, weatherproof homes with reasonably modern facilities. Over 3000 homes will benefit during the course of the year as part of the council’s plans to ensure all council homes meet the government’s decent homes standard.

Councillor John Lines, Cabinet Member for Housing said: “Birmingham’s tenants chose to keep the council as their landlord in April 2002, when less than 30 per cent of our stock was decent. When I became cabinet member for housing in June 2004, I was obliged to find a way to deliver decent homes from the council’s own resources.

“We have made excellent progress, despite the inadequate and inequitable government financial support. The level of decency has increased steadily, from 34 per cent in April 2004, to 90 per cent by March 2009. We will exceed the 95 per cent national target this year.

“We have always recognised that this investment is crucial to the health and well-being of our citizens, who deserve to live in decent homes. I am confident that warm, energy efficient, modern homes will vastly improve the quality of life of our tenants and better homes mean healthier, thriving communities.”

Customer satisfaction levels continue to exceed 95% for decent homes work, with customers participating in design team meetings, procurement of materials and any special needs indentified prior to works commencing on site are incorporated into the customer’s schedule of works.

The council will also continue to fit new kitchens and bathrooms as part of its decent homes plus programme. Properties with kitchens that are more than 20 years old and bathroom are more than 30 years old will be modernised, once the main decent homes programme has been delivered.

For images of properties ‘before and after’ decent homes work has been carried out visit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/birminghamnewsroom/sets/72157623428441027/

Ends

Notes to editor
1. The Audit Commissions report ‘Building better lives, Getting the best from strategic housing’
was published in September 2009. For full report visit:
http://www.audit-commission.gov.uk/nationalstudies/localgov/buildingbetterlives/Pages/buildingbetterlives.aspx#downloads
2. Cllr Lines is a columnist for Inside Housing. For his full column on achieving decent homes for Birmingham against all odds, visit: http://birminghamnewsroom.com/?p=6876
3. Established in 1989, Secured by Design (SBD) is owned by the Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) and is the corporate title for a group of national police projects focusing on the design and security for new & refurbished homes, commercial premises and car parks as well as the acknowledgement of quality security products and crime prevention projects. Website: http://www.securedbydesign.com/index.aspx

Further information from Belinder Kaur Lidher on 0121 303 6969

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