Posted: Thu 22nd Feb 2024

North Wales Council spending up to £60,000 on refurbishing council homes /
This article is old - Published: Thursday, Feb 22nd, 2024

A North Wales council can spend as much as £60,000 refurbishing  any of its council homes – every time a tenant moves out.
Denbighshire Council’s cabinet agreed to back a £16m, four-year framework as part of a plan to renew its procurement process to refurbish empty council homes.
The strategy will see the authority spend £4m a year re-tendering four or five contractors to carry out the work at any one of its 3,480 council homes – if a property becomes vacant.
At a meeting today (Tuesday), the cabinet heard how 250 properties needed refurbishing every year every time one tenant moved out and another prepared to move in.
The cabinet backed the plan which is designed to cut costs and employ local firms.
But councillors heard the staggering amount of money invested in each council home every time a tenant moved out.
When questioned by Cllr Andrea Tomlin, senior council officer Mark Cassidy revealed the authority stripped every home back to the brickwork each time a tenant moved out, costing the authority between £13K and £16K – and sometimes as much as £60K.
“We go into a home as soon as a tenant notifies us that they intend to leave,” he said.
“Unfortunately, lots of our housing stock is very old, and so these days, particularly in parts of Rhyl and Prestatyn, if we go to these homes, we are basically taking every property back to brick, so it is a complete replaster.
“Quite often we have to do internal doors, frames, decoration, so averaging it between £13K to £15K per property, but the reality is some of these properties we are spending £60K. It is a colossal sum of money.”
“There are new demands in which we will have to carpet homes as well, or put flooring in because it will be in negotiation with the tenant because that’s what Welsh Government encourage us to do.”
He added, “The costs are growing phenomenally, so to spend £60K on a property now is quite easy as horrendous as that sounds, so that is where all the money goes.”
Head of housing Liz Grieve also responded to Cllr Tomlin’s question regarding the time each contractor took refurbishing a home.
“We monitor the speed of the void work quite closely,” she said.
“It is something we look at on a monthly basis on our performance. My simple answer is not quickly enough, so the team are often being challenged by me.
“The void framework definitely helps with that. But very often there is a great deal of work that needs to be done.”
Cabinet member for housing Cllr Rhys Thomas said the housing budget meant the council had to be prepared for a reduced number of homes being refurbished to the standard they currently are, due to the constraints of the authority’s budget.
The council is £2.8m overspent this year and has ramped council tax up by 9.34% next year whilst planning to cut services across the board.
The committee approved the re-tendering of the framework, which had last been agreed back in 2018.  The cabinet’s vote was unanimous. ‌​‌​‌​​​‍‌​‌​​‌‌‌‍‌​‌‌​​‌​‍‌​‌‌‌​‌‌‍‌​‌‌‌‌​​

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