Swansea Council’s compliance with the Welsh Housing Quality Standard programme

The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) programme was introduced in 2002 with the objective of raising the standard of social housing across Wales, embracing a large number of legal and regulatory obligations. The compliance deadline is 31st December 2021 which has been extended from end of December 2020 to accommodate delays faced due to the pandemic.

Welsh Government recognises that it is not always possible to bring properties up to standard, in which case an ‘acceptable fail’ is recorded. There are permitted reasons for an acceptable fail; tenant choice, physical constraints of a site and costs or programme timing.

Officers explained that Swansea Council currently has 5,795 properties categorised as an acceptable fail of which 3,165 properties are occupied by tenants who have chosen not to participate in the scheme. Officers outlined achievements since April 2019 as an increase in compliance by 2,338 properties .Officers calculate that the Council will not achieve beyond 77% of compliance due to tenant choice.

The Panel queried the procurement process in place and officers explained that the Council use in-house services to undertake a significant proportion of all housing repairs, this provides a good service and to a good standard and that the Council will support in-house contractors as long as they remain competitive in terms of delivery.

Officers explained that larger programmes need ‘framework contractors’; for example, the kitchen and bathrooms programme was an investment of over £100M and required input from four framework contractors as well as in-house services.

Officers clarified that the Council expects to borrow more money with the forthcoming Decarbonisation Programme. The Council fund the WHQS and it is covered entirely by the Housing Revenue Account.

WHQS does not conclude at the end of the compliance phase, rather the Council will enter into the maintenance phase. Responsibilities will increase in this phase to include decarbonisation and extra fire safety requirements, in addition to maintaining properties at the current standard. As the programme will continue indefinitely, officers will continue to report to Scrutiny and to Council to update Members. The Council will also continue to engage with residents and stakeholders.

Click here to view reports presented at this meeting and all letters sent and received from cabinet.

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