Monday, February 26, 2024

Improving council’s homes is Val’s top priority

THURROCK is changing the way it deals with improving its housing stock, the council’s top housing member Cllr Val Morris-Cook told cabinet colleagues on Wednesday (16 January).

She explained that the council currently used “a strict interpretation of the decent homes standard which almost always meant upgrading the minimum number of areas to a home”.

Cllr Morris-Cook said that over the coming five years she wanted the housing team to take a wider view, look at improving “a whole street or a whole estate” and not to take a “sticking plaster” view.

She said: “The team has looked at all our stock, at what areas need doing, and when we’re doing new build like at Seabrooke Rise, we should also look at doing the whole estate.”

And she added: “There are areas in Tilbury and Purfleet too; areas where we can do whole blocks at once, whole streets together and whole estates together.”

Cllr Morris-Cook explained that typically, if a home needed a new bathroom or a new kitchen, then only that was done. Now, if a kitchen needs replacing, there is a good chance others in the neighbourhood need it too as well as replacing bathrooms windows and the like.

Cabinet was told that in the current financial year, three-quarters of the council’s 10,500 homes have requested a repair; that more had been spent on responsive repairs than on capital investment and that many homes suffered from mould and damp.

The new system would mean increasing capital spending to reduce the need for one-off repairs. Cllr Morris-Cook said: “These principles are designed to ensure the borough is able to deliver on its strategic objective of providing housing that is both sufficient in quantity and decent in quality in the most cost-effective and efficient way.”

6 COMMENTS

  1. I will believe it when I see it being done.
    But you have to ask the question, where’s all the money coming from?

  2. As jmw118 has said, just where is the funding coming from for all these repairs, I thought that TBC were struggling for cash, maybe VMC is just giving false hope to those who need the repairs doing, they certainly dragged their heels with the black mould problems, I would take anything that this woman says with a rather large pinch of salt

  3. It was only a few months ago that VMC and Comrade Kent said that the council didn’t use the decent homes standard because they used the Thurrock standard which was far higher and more stringent than the governments decent homes standard. Now we hear they’ve been following it to the letter. The truth is they probably only have what was the old Major repairs allowance to fund the capital programme for housing. The reserves on the HRA are down to the last million which is probably the real reason why thousands of repairs weren’t carried out his year and why they were desperate to get rid of Morrisons. They were going to overspend and the reserves would be gone. Bit like the grants the council won’t get to fund the building of homes for older people.

  4. Novoice their has been a reform of Housing Revenue. The Council has taken over their share of the Government Housing Debt at a lower interest rate. Meaning revenue from rents are no longer going into the National Housing Revenue account and Thurrock Council are keeping the lot. Although they are having to pay interest on the debt they get to keep many million more now – meaning the HRA will be tens of millions in credit – thus the Council being able to build 200 new council homes and improve their housing stock.

    There are reports on the Council’s website that show how wealthy the HRA will now become and some may have noticed the large numbers of new staff that are being employed/recruited by the Housing Department..

  5. Fresh from her embarrassing defeat in the PCC election, you’ll have to forgive me if I doubt its her “top priority”

  6. Ed I know and I have read the Councils 30 year HRA business plan. Unfortunately it doesn’t look like they’ll benefit from the savings made on the negative subsidy payments in 2012-13 to the extent they may wish. VMC is then left with the situation where she is head of housing but has spent the entire year slagging the nasty evil Tory cuts but is going to have to announce that the council is going to make millions out of a Tory policy and they either build houses or improve houses because the law surrounding surpluses on the HRA still means that tenants should still benefit in the end. How will Comrade Kent and VMC dress up the council receiving millions of pounds because of a Tory policy change and square that with the evil Tory cutters mantra. What a dilemma. They’ve got 2 years before the next general election at least. How will they be able to hide the fact that they will be receiving millions of pounds and not spending it to show the benefit of a Tory policy change. Why isn’t the Count making more noise about this. He should be shouting it from the rooftops.

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