Backlog in council housing repairs slashed by over half in three months

Harlow Council / Wed 4th Oct 2023 at 07:45am

THE backlog in council housing repairs has been slashed by over 53% in the past three months with Harlow Council on track to ‘clear’ the backlog in housing repairs this year as part of its priority to fix council housing.

Since 1 June, around 10,000 repairs have been completed since the council and its maintenance company, HTS, radically changed the way they were addressing housing repairs in early June. This has meant:

  • The backlog has been reduced by over 1,355 jobs since 1 June.
  • Over 97% tenant satisfaction on follow up surveys following repairs.
  • The removal of the 9-month standard repair time and the introduction of a 60-day timeframe.

The council and HTS have been supported by several local subcontractors to clear outstanding repairs and have focussed on clearing the oldest jobs first. 

The turnaround of void properties has also significantly improved meaning void council properties are coming back into use for Harlow families quicker. The turnaround time has reduced on average from a high of 56 days to 26 days. Significant improvements have been made in also reducing the overall number of voids within the system which has reduced from a high of 198 down to 131.

Commenting on the significant improvements, Councillor David Carter, cabinet portfolio holder for housing, said: “Our first priority is to fix council housing this year and that means clearing the unacceptable backlog in housing repairs. We know we have not done a good enough job on carrying out repairs to council homes and that’s why we’ve invested millions more, overhauled the process and reformed the way we work to ensure housing repairs are carried out to a better standard and faster. 

“We have made enormous progress in the last 100 days by clearing over half of the backlog and we are on track to clear the backlog in council housing repairs this year. There will be more council housing repair reforms to come as we deliver on our priority to fix council housing.” 


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12 Comments for Backlog in council housing repairs slashed by over half in three months:

Kim Oconnor
2023-10-04 08:09:27

😂 😂

V Oters
2023-10-04 08:16:05

Anyone would have thought there's an election coming up! They'll be giving out candy next.

James Leppard
2023-10-04 08:19:34

This undoubted improvement and progress follows the much needed changes to HTS senior management, installed by the previous Labour administration. More is being done, but this administration is delivering on its pleages across the board.

James Leppard
2023-10-04 08:20:14

This undoubted improvement and progress follows the much needed changes to HTS senior management, installed by the previous Labour administration. More is being done, but this administration is delivering on its pledges across the board.

2023-10-04 08:54:38

So nothing to do with the phone call i got a couple of weeks ago regarding a leaking garage roof asking if i would still like to be on the list waiting for it to be repaired then, must have been first reported about 10/12 months ago and still faulty. So out of the 10,000 repairs completed since June how many were via a phone call and people have either given up or sorted it themselves.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-10-04 09:47:46

Three things of interest in this article. Firstly, clearly HTS do not have the capacity to carry out all of the work reported by tenants of the Council, so the Council are having to use firms in the private sector to reduce the backlog. Secondly reducing the time it takes to turnaround vacant homes is nothing to shout about, when under bad old Labour the figures were usually around 16 days. Thirdly, those on the Council's Housing Register must surely be surprised to learn that the Council still have 131 empty homes. It is clear that radical changes to HTS are being made, it is a shame that this did not take place far earlier.

2023-10-04 11:27:51

"The removal of the 9-month standard repair time and the introduction of a 60-day timeframe." Is this a joke? Been waiting over a year for repair... guess we aren't one of the lucky ones

2023-10-04 12:55:55

Yes l agree house repairs time frame is not great and l would like to know how many was written off by phone calls but when cladding was done on my neighbours house one off our bedrooms suddenly became very damp when l rang the council (the labour) was basically told prove it was done by there contractor so as l was buying my house had to pay for repairs. is it changes were not made to HTS earlier because it was a labour council as for turn around time times under labour l don't believe it 😏yes conservative council needs to do better this won't happen overnight labour had year's to improve but didn't

David Forman
2023-10-04 13:38:14

Nicholas Taylor should refer back to section 4.6 (housing) of the LGA's Peer Challenge Review of March this year which highlighted HTS using paper-based systems "reducing responsiveness and insight." Also, the report highlights "key stakeholders we spoke to across HTS and the council were unable between them to pinpoint the existence of a recent stock conditions survey." These and governance issues should have been rectified by the last Labour administration when it created HTS, but instead they gleefully extracted the savings made by ditching Kier. Remember Chris Vince sat on the HTS board for a time. See LGA Peer Review at https://www.local.gov.uk/our-support/council-assurance-and-peer-support/peer-challenges-we-offer/corporate-peer-challenge-80#46-housing-a-microcosm-of-our-findings

David Forman
2023-10-04 14:10:20

I forgot to say that the local Conservatives deserve credit for organising the LGA Review and other reports into HTS. The issues identified are clearly being progressively rectified and are paying dividends. Hence we see the reduction in the backlog of repairs.

From Harlow
2023-10-04 14:26:31

Reduced by half yes because a large number were never closed off the system so a simple phone call found out the job had already been done but how much is it costing to use all the contractors that have been brought in there is not an endless amount of money.

Nicholas Taylor
2023-10-04 14:29:54

Frankly David, using paper based systems only leads to reducing responsiveness and insight if management are not monitoring what is coming in, how long jobs are taking to complete and how many are outstanding. It is not rocket science, we all did this in the Housing service in Harlow on a very regular basis for decades before computers came along. The fact is, the Council have no records of where and in what numbers houses were repaired and painted before 2016 and continue to only do about 200 houses each year. As far as I know there has been no recent stock condition survey, that is at the heart of the problem. What the Council will undoubtedly find is that the the number of repairs reported by its tenants will increase, if only because most are living in homes that are 50 plus years old.

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