BHP Performance data
Decision maker: Housing Scrutiny Committee
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: No
Is subject to call in?: No
Hakeem Osinaike (Operational Director, Housing) presented a report focusing on BHP Performance, resident engagement and council properties stock. He explained that although fundamental issues still exist, the Council had identified the reasons for it and actions were taken to improve it. Four particular areas of concern were highlighted – delays when calling the contact centre, repairs, rents and health and safety. The transition period, coupled with IT issues and management shortage, affected performance and led to an increase in complaints. Nevertheless improvements had been made since then and with the service moving back in house they expect a significantly improved relationship. With regards to rent collection, Mr Osinaike explained that despite poor performance in Quarter 1, this area was now doing well with significant percentage of rent collected since August 2017. With regard to health and safety, he updated the members that a specialist consultancy had been engaged to undertake a review of all compliance process, during October, in terms of gas, electricity and fire safety as review staff roles and responsibilities. Finally, on the issue of resident engagement, members heard that despite all efforts, statistics show that only 3% of the residents engage with the Council, with a substantial silent majority of 97% remaining unengaged. In order to tackle this, the Council intended to explore further engagement options, including social media as well as type of residents targeted and meeting format. In addition, a paper was recently presented to the BHP Members and Resident Panel and the comments received would be taken into account in the preparation of the resident engagement strategy (officers to bring plan to HS for further discussion).
In the discussion which followed, members asked further questions on customer experience and the performance on the contact centre. They felt that the delays in customer enquiries and the responses received were unsatisfactory and instead more focus should be paid on face to face engagement with tenants and leaseholders.
In response, officers explained the fundamental issues off BHP service delivery still existed, which made it difficult to have direct contact with residents. However, issues had been identified and transformation programme in place. Members were reassured that the Council was determined to make the new structure more flexible and responsive and actions were being taken to improve this, including a new head of customer service due to start soon and service managers posts currently being advertised. In addition, the Council was looking to set up a dedicated customer insight team to provide insight on the different customer types as well as an improved housing management computer system to ensure that information held is correct and managed well. Once the above system had been put in place, members would be presented with an equality impact assessment, particularly on the levels of vulnerable residents living at BHP properties.
Further area of discussion brought up at the meeting was the variance in ground maintenance in different estates and ways to identify blocks in Brent who have unsatisfactory levels of service. Officers explained that the issues were known to Council and plans were in place to tackle them. Overall, estate inspectors were responsible to check quality of service but due to recent events, resources were redirected to fire safety. However, increased number of estate inspectors was possible there was scope for re-instating inspection but timescales for this could not be confirmed. Officers also said that the contract with Wettons was being extended for 12months during which a procurement process would start. Other alternative options included the digitalisation of information as a way of monitoring resident satisfaction through surveys.
Members also sought information on the issue with asbestos and in particular the programme on removal of asbestos from council properties and any data available. They expressed concerns that this had been an ongoing issues, with repeated investigations of asbestos on the same areas resulting in significant charges to the leaseholders as a consequence. Officers explained that an asbestos log exists but quality of data was unsatisfactory and properties were often being identified on ad hoc basis, particularly during repairs. Asbestos compliance practices were also being reviewed.
Finally, the committee touched upon the issues with voids and whether that has been reviewed and on what basis were properties prioritised and allocated. Hakeem Osinaike said that information on the above was not sufficient to allow for strategic decision to be made. He explained that the issue was treated as a priority with workshops on voids planned to discuss it. The move of BHP back in house would also ease communication with responsible officers, with the overall process due to be agreed and reviewed by December 2017.
i) final plan on resident engagement to be brought for further discussion to the Housing Scrutiny Committee upon completion
ii) equality impact assessment to be done on vulnerable residents living at BHP properties
iii) report on voids and what actions would be taken to tackle them
Following this item, it was RESOLVED that the order of business be amended as set up below.
Publication date: 02/11/2017
Date of decision: 14/09/2017
Decided at meeting: 14/09/2017 - Housing Scrutiny Committee