Extra £1.6m set for council home repairs and improvements

Additional funds will help clear backlog of work which mounted during Covid pandemic

An additional £1.6million is set to be ploughed into council houses in Babergh and Mid Suffolk to accelerate repairs and improvements.

The cabinets of both Babergh and Mid Suffolk District Councils will meet on Tuesday and be asked to approve the use of money from reserves to help clear a backlog of repairs, which mounted during the Covid pandemic.

The money would also support wider improvements to the council housing service in both districts. Both councils have made clear their determination to address repair and maintenance issues with their 6,700-plus properties.

Babergh District Council is set to release £943,000 from reserves, and Mid Suffolk Council £672,000.

Cllr Jessie Carter, Babergh’s cabinet member for housing, said:

“We want to address these problems urgently.

“We must prioritise the needs and concerns of tenants – it is our responsibility to provide high-quality, safe, and secure housing for them. I am committed to supporting and working with our housing team to ensure that's precisely what we do.”

Earlier this year, the councils referred themselves to the Regulator of Social Housing after falling behind on gas and electric safety checks on a small proportion of properties. In most cases, these inspections are now up to date, and processes have been overhauled.

Cllr Carter said:

“The housing team has done a lot of really good work in getting the compliance testing back on track. There are still other issues we must tackle, particularly around repairs. We also need to ensure our complaints system is robust, and that there are regular checks on our housing so work can be prioritised.”

If approved by both cabinets, the additional funds would accelerate repair work – providing resources for 2,000 repairs, as well as supporting ongoing changes to the housing service.

Cllr Richard Winch, Mid Suffolk’s cabinet member for housing and property, said:

“We have carried out an extensive review of our housing service and we are moving in the right direction, but we need to do better for some tenants.

“Our teams have been working really hard on this and good progress has been made, but additional resource is needed to complete the outstanding repairs and truly transform our housing service.

“We have also been carrying out enhanced surveys of our properties so we have much better visibility of the challenges we face.

“The whole team is committed to making sustainable, long-term improvements to provide a consistently excellent service to our tenants. This funding will help us achieve that.”

The report to be discussed on Tuesday notes there has already been reduction by a third of outstanding repairs, while wider improvement work in the councils’ housing service has continued to progress.

This has included overhauling processes and obtaining more robust data, with regular feedback sought from tenants across both districts.

Pictured: Cllr Jessie Carter, Babergh cabinet member for housing, and Cllr Richard Winch, Babergh cabinet member for housing and property

Cllr Jessie Carter, Babergh cabinet member for housing, and Cllr Richard Winch, Babergh cabinet member for housing and property