Report reveals strengths of City’s housing department

By on 19/01/2012 in News

Birmingham City Council's Homes and Neighbourhoods directorate has been highlighted for its strengths across a range of areas by the Audit Commission.

The Audit Commission's Annual Audit Letter concludes that the landlord function has some clear strengths.  In particular, the adaptations service is strongly customer focused and provides adaptations to vulnerable people quickly. 

Housing performance indicators showed a number of areas of positive performance, with 95 per cent of tenants happy with repair work.  To create savings the council has extended its repairs contract which is estimated to provide a saving of £6m in a year.  The report shows the directorate has significantly improved, increasingly supporting tenants in rent arrears.  It also highlights the council's strong commitment to resident involvement. 

Cllr John Lines, Birmingham City Council's Cabinet Member for Housing, said: “This report shows that our efforts have not been in vain and the hard work delivered throughout the year by staff has been recognised. 

“We strive to make sure that tenants' lives are improved.  We know that houses are not just bricks and mortar to people – they're homes, and are an important part of people's lives.  For many years I have worked with staff, and the residents of Birmingham, so to see these improvements come to fruition is pleasing.  It's good to know the council's strengths have been formally acknowledged.”

The Council has also responded positively in the following areas:
• Planning and delivery of repair and maintenance work - it has implemented a number of improvements including working with the contact centre to improve the speed of call handling and undertaking customer focus groups to get feedback on service delivery.

• Customer access to benefits and debts management - it has enhanced the Housing Support Service and introduced profiling information to identify tenants who are at risk of falling into rent arrears to offer relevant support early on

• Customer Care - it has introduced a revised complaints process and rolled-out a programme of tenant led mystery shopping.

The council continues to modernise its homes, with 99 per cent meeting the decent homes standard.  Money raised for this upgrade was done without assistance from the government.  At present the city council's open market value of its housing stock is 2.5 billion. 

The Letter covers the 2010/11 financial year, and concludes that overall the council manages its finances well and continues to drive service improvement despite receiving less money from the Government as part of the national deficit reduction plan.


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