Housing services update November 2023
We're issuing an update on the ongoing investigation within our housing maintenance and the contracts we manage. We've been working diligently to understand the extent of the situation, including governance, finance and contract management.
In line with our commitment to transparency we have key updates to share.
Progress on the external investigation into contracts we manage
We appointed an external investigation team to make initial enquiries into suggestions there may have been fraudulent activity with the council in respect of the relationship with one particular contractor. An accredited anti-fraud investigation unit has been instructed. We have also contacted the police to advise them of our concerns within housing maintenance. The investigation is ongoing, therefore, at this time, we're unable to provide any further specific details.
It is likely that there have been some non-compliance issues within the council's housing service, which have led to a lack of governance around contract management, people management and financial controls. We are tackling this head on - we are carrying out a governance review in the service area to ascertain how such failings have arisen and we are working on a governance framework and action plan to provide assurances of compliance going forwards.
Part of this action plan includes a report to our corporate governance and standards committee for open and transparent discussion, along with any action necessary to ensure compliance with best practice.
Tenant updates and housing works
We have been communicating regularly with our Tenant Engagement Group.
We know that some home repairs have been delayed. We've started a comprehensive plan to deal with outstanding work. We're working hard to continue providing our housing maintenance services with limited disruption. Our priority continues to be the safety and wellbeing of our tenants, and the compliance of our properties.
Leader of the council and Lead Councillor for Housing, Cllr Julia McShane said:
"I understand that this has been a concerning time for our tenants. I want to reassure our tenants that their welfare continues to be our absolute focus. Our officers are working in a robust and diligent manner to ensure that we follow a methodical process throughout this very serious and sensitive matter. I want to assure everyone that we will continue working with the appropriate authorities to make sure the matter is dealt with efficiently and thoroughly. I would like to thank officers for their time and professionalism in dealing with this matter."
We're facing a complex and challenging situation in our housing service. It's important to ensure there is a robust governance framework in place to govern our approach to this matter moving forwards. In line with our corporate governance and standards, it is recommended that a report with updates on progress, or recommendations and an action plan, will go to committee in approximately six months.
We remain committed to transparency and will release further information when it is appropriate and permissible to do so.