Ipswich Borough Council is taking action to deal with a backlog of council home repairs caused by a perfect storm of Covid, supply shortages and increased demand. Councillors will be asked to agree a plan at the Executive meeting on 5 October to get repairs back on track.
The Covid lockdowns meant that repairs were not able to be carried out for significant periods last year. On top of this, the Council has seen a big increase in the number of repair requests from tenants - 20,000 this year compared to 16,000 in a “normal” year. The current number of repair staff are not able to keep up with the larger workload. Contractors who usually support the Council with this type of work are extremely busy and it is now very difficult to find those with the capacity and the right skills to take on extra work. This has all led to a backlog of repairs.
The Council is fixing this problem to prevent delays from getting longer. The benefits of quicker repairs include both better housing and customer experience as well as avoiding larger and bigger repairs with problems that get worse.
The Council’s Executive are also being asked to increase the Councils’ ability to refurbish council homes when a tenant has moved out so they can be let to their next tenant as soon as possible to increase both the number of houses available and rental income. The Council is experiencing a higher than usual number of tenancies ending which is also leading to delays.
Despite the challenges since the outbreak of the Covid in March 2020, emergency repairs and essential works are still being undertaken within the target timescales. Essential works undertaken include all electrical testing and annual boiler checks.
Says Cllr Neil MacDonald, Ipswich Borough Council Portfolio Holder for Housing:
“I am truly sorry that the continuing fallout from Covid has meant that some tenants have had to wait longer than we intended for repairs to their council home and that we have not been able to get empty council homes ready for their next tenants as quickly as we would like."
“Everyone will be aware of the widespread supply problems the country is experiencing at the moment and Ipswich Borough Council is not immune from this. We are working to bring this repairs backlog down as quickly as possible. Going out to tender straight away for more building contractors will help us get back on schedule.”
Says Pamela Pamment, Tenant Representative, South West Area Housing Panel:
“It’s depressing seeing Council properties standing empty because of the shortage of contractors. To employ extra contractors, in my opinion as a tenant rep, would be cost-effective.”