Posted: 05.11.20 at 12:29 by The Editor
An Independent report has found that South Kesteven District Council "does not have adequate controls for housing compliance."
The housing provider, which has 6,000 council houses across the district, has been found to have failings concerning gas, electrical, legionella, asbestos and fire safety.
The report, which has now been published on the council website, said: "We identified gaps in the control framework and weaknesses in adherence to the controls for managing housing compliance safety checks and have agreed seven ‘high’, eight ‘medium’ and one ‘low’ priority management actions."
"Taking account of the issues identified, the Council cannot take assurance that the controls upon which the Council relies to manage this risk are suitably designed, consistently applied or effective. Action needs to be taken to ensure risks relating to housing compliance safety checks are effectively managed."
Earlier this week, councillors received a private briefing on the matter, before a statement was issued yesterday and a letter was sent to tenants on the issue, inviting them to contact the council if they have concerns. The issue is also on the agenda of a council meeting next week.
The council says that as a social housing landlord, it is expected to routinely carry out inspections and repairs of its homes, with the required standards set by the Regulator for Social Housing.
SKDC commissioned the independent audit to understand what, if any, work was required in its properties, and the audit then outlined council failings and what needed to be done to remedy them.
After receiving this report, the council has referred itself to the Regulator and has implemented a comprehensive action plan, to resolve issues raised in the report. SKDC will also increase its housing spend to improve the condition of its homes.
The Regulator will also complete its own investigation and will produce a report which details the areas in which tit says the council's housing service to be non-compliant.
South Kesteven Chief Executive, Karen Bradford, said: “As a local authority and social housing landlord, our immediate priority is and always will be our tenants. Therefore, we commissioned an independent audit and are taking direct action to address the areas highlighted in the report.
“I am sorry that in some areas, we have fallen below the standards expected of us and I would like to reassure our tenants that we are working hard to put things right. Throughout this process, we will continue working closely with the Regulator for Social Housing.”
Opposition councillors have slammed the ruling Conservatives over the issue.
Coun Phil Dilks (Ind- Deeping St James) says they "should hang their heads in shame."
Coun Dilks continued: "It’s an absolute scandal: the Auditor’s Report reveals that year after year, SKDC has been guilty of putting thousands of residents at risk through lack of effective governance and non-compliance with gas, electrical, legionella, asbestos and fire safety regulations.
“The Grenfell tragedy which killed 72 people three years ago should have been a massive wake-up call to every local authority housing provider in the country. But it’s truly shocking that serious failures by Conservative-run SKDC to protect our tenants have continued every day since the Grenfell fire.”
Coun Ashley Baxter (Ind-Market and West Deeping) called the report "truly shocking" and said the ruling Conservatives were "asleep at the wheel."
Coun Baxter said he knew the council was not meeting its house building targets but "I had no idea that the most basic safety checks and condition surveys were being overlooked."
He added: "Frankly, some senior Councillors and Officers should be owning up to the errors of omission which happened on their watch”.
If you are a social housing tenant and have questions about the audit , you can contact the
Council in the following ways:
●Telephone: 01476 406123 or 01476 406080 please press option 3 and then option 4,
from Monday to Friday 8:45am to 5.00pm.
●Email: [email protected]
*Note: If any councillor wishes to comment on this or any other council issue, Nub News would like to hear from them. Nub News is keen to publish comment columns and similar articles, as we do from several councillors already.