Short presentation by Mears and TSG to brief members on their work with the council and measures in place to ensure service delivery.
The Panel received separate presentations from Mears and TSG on their work with the Council and the measures in place to ensure service delivery to housing tenants.
Members of the Panel raised a number of points with the contractors and received the following clarification.
• There were a number of apprentices employed in the Welwyn Hatfield area. Due to the current workforce demographics, which was mainly within the age ranges of 55+ and 18-25 years of age, it was difficult to ensure that all apprentices worked with an individual mentor. This situation was well known in the industry and it was anticipated that there would be a skills shortage over the next ten years. There were steps and initiatives being taken to address this issue.
• There was an aim to replace every kitchen and bathroom over a period of time. This rolling programme was on target.
• Following a survey, it had been ascertained that less roofs needed to be replaced as originally planned. This was due to the existing roofs being in better condition than first thought.
• Although the aim to replace a boiler within three days or a maximum of five days seemed a lengthy period to leave residents without hot water or heating, it was often more beneficial to replace the whole heating system at that time rather than replacing other parts of the system at a later date.
• It was well known that emergency heating and hot water were known to be very expensive to run when the heating and hot water system failed in a property. Housing Officers supported and worked very closely with tenants and supported the very vulnerable. The repair or replacement process was diligently monitored with the aim to resolve the issue within 24 hours. TSG and the repairs team managed the situation on behalf of the Council and took steps to aid tenants as much as possible. Spare electrical heating appliances were carried on vehicles.
• Some flexibility had been built into the budget for ad-hoc repairs. There was also a discretionary budget to cover additional repairs identified when upgrading large items such as kitchens.
• All spending was properly accounted for and audited.
• Tenants’ satisfaction regarding repairs carried out to their property was paramount to the Council and contractors. Constant improvements to the repairs service were made. There was also a very vigorous review process in place with regards to complaints. Very regular customer satisfaction surveys were carried out from which lessons were learnt. The data behind the statistics was very important and robust key performance indicators were set and monitored by the Council.
• Repair operatives entering tenants’ properties were aware of the importance of being alert to wider issues, such as safeguarding or dementia. All operatives received training to report such issues and concerns to the control centre.
• Notifications to tenants of when an operative was due to arrive at a property was closely monitored. Systems and processes for this were regularly reviewed. Those tenants who did not have the facilities to receive texts were contacted by the landline.
• Out of hours heating failure such as over long weekends by tenants who had the emergency call line facility were dealt by the contact centre which was open 365 days a year 24 hours a day.
The Chairman, on behalf of the Members of the Panel, thanked the representatives from TSG and Mears for their very informative presentations.
That the presentations from Mears and TSG on their work with the Council and measures in place to ensure service delivery be noted.