Huge home repair deal set to be ripped up by Islington Council
PUBLISHED: 07:11 24 June 2013
The town hall could be set to rip up a £150million contract to repair council homes and bring the work back in-house – even though it could cost up to £30million more.
Back in 2010, Islington Council signed a £15million per year deal with Kier to maintain the borough’s 30,000 council properties all the way up until 2020.
But the contract has a four year break clause – up in November next year – and even though it could increase the cost of the service by 20 per cent, the council looks set to bring the 40,000 annual repairs back under direct control.
The presentation to the housing executive last week warned that standards are likely to deteriorate before a new service launches, that cost will be uncertain because it won’t be guaranteed by a contract and that cash for apprentices and other benefits will have to be stumped up by the council.
Cllr James Murray, Islington Council’s executive member for housing and development, said no decision has yet been made.
He added: “We know having an effective and high-quality repairs service is important for our tenants. Although there are severe pressures on council funding, we must make sure we maintain long-term investment in a repairs service that is responsive to tenants’ needs and keeps Islington’s council housing in good condition.”
Cllr Terry Stacy, leader of Islington’s Lib Dem opposition, said: “Whatever decision the council comes to they need to make sure they are getting a good deal for tenants and leaseholders.
“The council need to be very careful about bringing all these services back in-house. They’re putting all their eggs in one basket.”
Other options for the council next autumn are extending the contract as it is, or trying to thrash out a more favourable deal with Kier.
If they do cancel the contract, which includes bringing 170 staff under the town hall banner, another risk identified by the report is that more leaseholders could challenge the council over their bills when the prices go up.
Brian Potter, chairman of Islington Leaseholders Association (ILA), said: “We don’t get value for money as it is.
‘‘I am in favour of services coming back in-house but we need a guarantee that prices won’t go up.”
Kier’s relationship with the council has suffered a number of controversies .
Earlier this year it was alleged a senior employee in the company’s Islington branch created a series of fake jobs to the tune of up to £1million.
The employee is suspended while an investigation, which has been underway for almostthree months, is completed
A spokeman for the contractor said: “We confirm that investigations are still ongoing, but due to their confidential nature, we are not in a position to provide further details.”
In addition its previous council deal, which was legitimate, came under fire for being a profit-sharing “sweetheart” deal which saw the company pocket £12million of taxpayers’ cash.
Islington Council say a decision to bring the service back in-house would be nothing to do with these matters.
In recent months the council has brought serveral services back under direct control.
These included the recycling, waste and street cleaning team, cleaning staff at the town hall and Homes for Islington, which used to manage the council housing stock.
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