A report to be considered by Kirklees Council’s Cabinet next week (20 October 2020) will recommend transferring the management and maintenance of the borough’s council housing to the local authority.
The recommendation follows a major engagement exercise with tenants over the summer and lays the foundations for improvements to homes and neighbourhoods for over 22,000 Kirklees residents.
Since 2002, council housing in Kirklees has been managed and maintained by Kirklees Neighbourhood Housing (KNH). Over the past year, the council and KNH have been looking at options for the future management of council housing that can deliver the best possible service for people, homes and communities across Kirklees.
An independent report by the Local Government Association, published in November 2019, recommended that the council’s ambitions would be better delivered through a new model of housing management. A council scrutiny panel also took a detailed look at all the potential options.
In June 2020, Cabinet agreed, in principle, that a single, council-run, service would meet their ambitions. By bringing housing management and maintenance services in-house, the council believed it could be more accountable to tenants and ensure that local priorities on issues like health, inequalities and the environment could be delivered more effectively. In particular, the council’s place-based ambitions, where services are designed around the needs and priorities of local communities, would be strengthened if the council had responsibility for delivering vital housing services.
Before making the final decision, Cabinet agreed that the proposal must be subject to the views of tenants. Since then, over 2,000 Kirklees residents have taken part in the engagement exercise during which the council put its proposal for bringing the service into the local authority. Most people who gave a view on the council’s proposal supported it. Tenants also told the council about their hopes and priorities for the future. The council has pledged to use resident feedback to build the new service.
If the proposal is supported by the council’s Cabinet, KNH’s responsibilities will transfer to the council at the end of March 2021. The changes will not affect the rights and status of tenants.
Cabinet Member for Housing and Democracy, Cllr Cathy Scott, said: “This decision will not be the end of a process, it’s just the start. By bringing KNH and the council together, we can achieve more for tenants and communities across Kirklees. A new model means we can work together more effectively to achieve the things that really matter to people and we will be accountable, as a single organisation, for delivering them.
“At the heart of this new relationship are tenants. These arrangements will give residents a strong voice in shaping their homes and communities for the long term. We’ve started this process with a listening exercise and that is the spirit in which we will continue.
“High quality homes are essential for people to thrive, so it’s right that we have listened to independent experts, councillors and - most importantly - tenants themselves before we came to this conclusion.
“We have an ambitious vision for Kirklees where services and solutions are right for individual communities. But we need to make sure our organisation is set up to meet the challenges effectively. For council housing, and the people who live there, we will be better placed to deliver outstanding services by combining our joint skills and capability into one organisation”.