Scrutinising the Welsh Housing Quality Standard

Photo credit: City & County of Swansea

Photo credit: City & County of Swansea

Scrutiny Councillors recently set up a working group to meet with Councillor Andrea Lewis,  the Cabinet Member for New Generation Services, who has responsibility for Council Housing, in order to discuss the Council’s progress towards achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). The Standard requires all social landlords to improve their housing stock to an acceptable level by 2020, to make sure that all homes are of good quality and suitable for the needs of existing and future residents.

Councillors were pleased to find out that the Council is on course to deliver the WHQS to all Council homes by 2020. Councillors stated that feedback from tenants in their wards was very positive and offered congratulations to officers on the work that has been done so far and the rapid acceleration of the investment programme. It was clear that the  Council has a good grasp on what is required to achieve the standard by 2020 and that the mechanisms are in place to ensure that progress is measured and reported accurately.

It was recognised that effective methods are in place for communicating with tenants through the use of the Housing Improvements Team, the Tenants Consultative Panel, Tenants Groups, Open House and various surveys.  However, Councillors felt that greater use of the Building Advisory Group mechanism, as set out in the Major Works Agreement, would be beneficial.  As this is a tried and tested way to ensure that contractors working in a particular location are able to get to know the tenants and Members and can help to prevent problems escalating.

Some concerns were raised regarding the level of information available on long terms plans, to enable tenants and Members to understand where their properties/wards fall in the investment programme priorities. And it was suggested that better use of “before and after” photos should take place in order to publicise the improvement work.

A number of recommendations were made to the Cabinet Member in a letter, full details of the correspondence can be found on the Scrutiny publications page.



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