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  • 1. Waveney District Council’s Housing Asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010 1 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 2. CONTENTS PART A - INTRODUCTION, CONTEXT AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY ...................................4 Introduction ................................................................................................................................4 Executive Summary ...................................................................................................................5 Context ......................................................................................................................................7 PART B - DIRECTIONAL OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES ...................................................9 Waveney’s Vision ........................................................................................................................9 The Housing Stock ....................................................................................................................10 Related Assets ..........................................................................................................................10 Issues Affecting the Stock .........................................................................................................11 Decent Homes ..........................................................................................................................11 Priority Re-investment Issues ..................................................................................................12 Housing Needs ........................................................................................................................12 Repairs and Maintenance Context ...........................................................................................13 Repairs and Maintenance Principles ........................................................................................13 Responsive Repairs .................................................................................................................14 Void Works ..............................................................................................................................14 Cyclical Maintenance ...............................................................................................................15 Planned Maintenance ..............................................................................................................16 Improvements ..........................................................................................................................16 Disabled Adaptations ...............................................................................................................17 Asbestos ..................................................................................................................................17 Energy ......................................................................................................................................17 Stock Survey and Data Management .......................................................................................18 Housing Business Plan ............................................................................................................18 Re-Investment Priorities - Proposed Schemes .........................................................................19 Project Appraisal and Evaluation .............................................................................................20 Procurement ............................................................................................................................20 PART C - ADMINISTRATIVE IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING AND REVIEW PROCESSES ..................................................................................................................................................21 Resources ................................................................................................................................21 Resident Consultation and Participation ..................................................................................21 Asset Management Database ..................................................................................................22 Implementation Plans and Methodologies ................................................................................22 Performance Monitoring and Best Value ..................................................................................22 Benchmarking Performance .....................................................................................................23 Performance Intervention .........................................................................................................23 2 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 3. APPENDICES Appendix A Housing Priority Plan Appendix B Related HRA assets Appendix C Void Standard Appendix D Service Plan Appendix E Procurement Strategy 3 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 4. PART A – INTRODUCTION AND EXECUTIVE SUMMARY A1 Introduction This Housing Asset Management Strategy (HAMS) was written in conjunction with the Waveney Tenants’ Forum (Repairs Sub-Group). It’s intention is to inform our tenants, members, officers and any other interested parties (eg Registered Social Landlords) of our proposed strategy to manage the ‘bricks and mortar’ of the housing service at Waveney. The approved strategy will be an integral part of the Housing Business Plan that will follow later this year. This HAMS has been prepared in the context of Waveney DC having undertaken a housing stock options appraisal and stock transfer consultation in early 2006, which resulted in an overwhelming vote by tenants to remain with the Council. The outcome of this ballot has necessitated the Council reviewing its objectives for the next three years to ensure that it meets its obligations and commitments to achieve the Decent Homes Standard by 2010. This strategy deals with the years 2007 – 2010 to state clearly what the Council will do in fulfilling this commitment. Asset management is about the long term planning, provision and sustainability of the council’s assets, as held within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). The housing stock is a significant high value asset for the council and its ongoing repair is important to maintain the asset, which is Waveney’s largest liability. The property owned is worth many millions of pounds, either as capital assets or as revenue generating assets, therefore planning for its sustainable future is important. Waveney DC has recognised the need to have a HAMS in place that compliments the corporate AMS that has been approved by council in late 2006. The Strategic Asset Management Plan is intended as a corporate tool to develop systems and processes to enable the Council to use its assets efficiently and effectively. The Housing AMS aims to achieve the same purpose. It was recognised in early 2005 that a strategic overview and joined up approach was integral to the management of Council assets. A new structure was put in place and came into effect 1 st April 2006 which brought together valuation, property maintenance and repair, asset management, energy efficiency, architectural services, and the design and provision of open space and play areas. This approach will provide a comprehensive and joined up service, and enable a proactive management approach in providing the service. The pivotal role of Elected Members was also recognised and reflected in the enhanced status of the Asset Management Sub-Committee. All housing asset matters sit outside the Strategic AMS to ensure that a holistic approach to housing was maintained, including the involvement of tenants. However, policies and strategies that arise within Housing must be approved by the Asset Management Sub-Committee to ensure a joined up approach is maintained with the Council as a whole. It is the council’s belief that the purpose of asset management can be summarised as:  Ensure that operational assets used for service delivery is fit for purpose.  Improving stakeholder satisfaction with the provision of service and improve the corporate image and how the Council is viewed.  Ensure affordability and value for money in the use and operation of assets.  Ensure compliance with statutory and regulatory codes, e.g. Disability Discrimination Act.  Develop and implement a works programme for energy efficient measures that will deliver long term and sustainable reduction in energy use 4 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 5.  Develop and implement a programmed maintenance plan that will maintain the assets to a good standard. All of the housing stock is located within the Waveney district, which has a large rural area, though the majority of the stock lies within the main town – Lowestoft. Under current arrangements it is financially unviable for Waveney to develop new properties, with the last properties being built in 1984. The Council has a good record of working with our partner RSL’s to provide more affordable housing in the district and the council’s Housing Strategy will provide more details on this. As at 1 April 2007 Waveney was responsible for 4,673 social tenanted dwellings and 54 leaseholders. The total stock number is currently decreasing through right to buy sales, and the Council has recently commenced Social Homebuy as a pilot with the Government. However, RTB sales have fallen significantly in recent years (40 sold in 2006/07) and no Social Homebuy completions have been made to date. The Housing Asset Management Strategy has been informed by the stock condition survey and engineering appraisal of the single high-rise and the non-traditionally constructed stock. The stock condition surveys were initially carried out in 2005 by FPD Savills (and validated by Ridge & Co). This survey was carried out as preparation to the Options Appraisal, and the surveys have subsequently been continued by the Council’s own staff. By the end of 2006/07 financial year some 95% of properties had been inspected and found to be in a good condition. Non – traditional stock were randomly surveyed by Curtins Ltd and found to be a good state. A2 Executive Summary Waveney DC is aware that effective asset management is fundamental to the successful delivery of the organisation's objectives, within the context of the Housing Business Plan. Having completed the tenants ballot on the transfer of Waveney DC’s housing stock to a newly registered housing association, the outcome of the ballot (which had a very high 80% turnout) demonstrated conclusively that tenants wished to remain with the council. This meant that the aspirational standards that could be carried out under a transfer were not achievable by remaining with the council, and the focus of our attention would be on achieving the Decent Homes Standard, plus other works required of a landlord in statutory and health and safety terms. Waveney is confident that the stock can be maintained effectively and sustainably, although recognise that care is needed only to direct resources to works that are identified from our surveys and stock data to meet our obligations made at the time of the consultation on stock transfer. Waveney has recently embraced the principles of effective asset management with 1. The importance associated with maintaining effective stock condition and attribute information, 2. The assessment of sustainability and future options for poorly performing stock, 3. Effective procurement, 4. The value of an established relationship between the maintenance and management functions, 5. The effective delivery of works programmes required to keep the stock in good condition. 6. The definition of the Council’s position with regard to asset management and how this aligns to core business objectives; 7. The definition of needs, future trends and changes influencing the council’s objectives; 5 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 6. 8. The definition of the stock, its condition, use and required re-investment over the next 30 years; 9. Identifying risks and issues relating to the assets and how these may be mitigated; 10. Establishment of frameworks and templates for monitoring, recording and evaluating performance. This document establishes the framework within which asset management operations will be provided. It highlights the component parts of the asset management function and their inter- relationship. This strategy and its component parts will be overseen collectively by the Principal Service Managers for Housing and Repairs to ensure that a comprehensive and holistic approach is adopted to the management of the housing stock. The Council’s direct labour organisation (DLO) has recently been integrated into the Housing building team and functions within the Housing Revenue Account. This is a fairly new introduction, but early signs suggest that it is bringing better control and efficiencies to the department. Most of Waveney's stock is in high demand, although there are pockets of unpopular stock, for example some of our sheltered housing bedsits. This is acknowledged in this strategy and proposals are put forward to deal with the long term difficulties the council has had with these properties. Continued future re-investment is required to maintain the stock in good condition. The re- investment requirements have been identified by the stock condition survey, as represented within the Asset Management Database. Revenue, or income, is limited by Government imposed constraints and will be influenced by the convergence of rents (required by 2012), known as rent restructuring. This is a national regime and one that the Council has no control over. The Council is in a position of ‘negative subsidy’ and lost over £2million in 2005/06. It is recognised that the council must work within these constraints to upkeep the stock to the highest possible standard. Cost information is provided from Waveney’s Asset Management Database, this system will be maintained up-to-date with stock condition and attribute data. Robust stock condition information forms the cornerstone of an effective strategy and gives rise to programmes of re-investment designed to maintain the stock appropriately and in good condition. Condition data has been enhanced and validated by an ongoing programme of stock surveys and feedback from other repairs and maintenance activities. In recognition of the importance of such a database, the Council is currently looking at procuring a new integrated housing management IT system that will include an asset management system. It is hoped that this can be introduced in 2008. By regularly reviewing component costs and updating the Asset Management Database, it is possible to ensure that budgets and the Housing Business Plan are aligned with the requirements of the stock. Waveney recognise that tenants should have an input into management of the housing asset and besides continuing to promote resident involvement through its Tenants Compact and involvement strategy, it will work closely with the Tenant’s Repairs Sub-Group of the Tenant’s Forum. This group have been briefed fully on the operation of the Repairs service and understand the issues and challenges facing the service. Their input will be invaluable and this strategy acknowledges and thanks those tenants for helping the Council in delivering this document. Waveney has long understood the importance of effective procurement and the requirement for good working relationships with partner providers, whilst delivering high standards and good value for money. The council’s in-house Procurement Team work closely with the Repairs Team to ensure work and materials are correctly procured to maximise value for money to the authority. This will continue to be a corporate priority to Waveney. 6 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 7. Context All of Waveney’s stock is located within the district of Waveney, with about 65% of the stock being in Lowestoft. There are also four market towns across the district which have a concentration of council housing. The district has a population of approximately 114,000, across a wide area of 37,000 hectares. The main centre is Lowestoft, the most easterly point in Britain. The area is generally a deprived one, and the Council has been the significant beneficiary of Objective 2B European funding to help the local economy. The housing demand in the district is relatively high, and the councils own housing strategy identifies serious shortfalls in affordable housing. House prices in the area are low, which reflects the low incomes and the shortage of well paid jobs. However, even though house prices are low the level of right to buy sales in recent years has fallen and in 2006/07 41 were sold Following the recent industry appraisals such as the Barker report and the Gershon review, and in accordance with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) proposals Waveney will be endeavouring to improve efficiency whilst maintaining a high standard of service. Waveney aims to effectively manage good homes that meet peoples needs and preferences by: Keeping homes well maintained and in a lettable condition; Programming works so that maintenance is carried out effectively and responsively, in a way that reflects residents preferences; and ensuring that necessary re-investment in the future of the stock is made a key priority. It is acknowledged in this strategy that the achievement of the decent homes standard for all our housing stock is the prime objective. However, whilst the Decent Homes agenda is very important to the council, it is one of a number of issues that need to be considered in the holistic view of housing asset management, albeit within the constraints of Waveney's wider objectives and funding basis. The aspirations of its residents have been considered by the Council in the Housing Asset Management Strategy, but following the tenant’s ballot it is the reality that we cannot achieve these aspirations and it is necessary to focus on the basic provision that maximises the satisfaction of our tenants. The Council acknowledges the importance of initiatives such as Supporting People (despite diminishing budgetary availability) and providing attention on services to vulnerable people and families with children. This is directly linked to issues the council has with void properties and the future of the warden service provision which will be subject to a review late in 2007. This Housing Asset Management Strategy has been structured into 3 main sections, being: Part A – Introduction and Executive Summary Part B - Directional Objectives and Strategies Part C - Administrative Implementation, Monitoring and Review Processes 7 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 8. The Council has determined the current position regarding its housing stock, and this will be clearly stated in the strategy. Additionally it identifies the future objectives of the stock, as agreed with tenants and clearly stated at the time of the tenant’s ballot. These directional components will result in a number of initiatives aimed at achieving the objectives and in order to successfully deliver these the Council will consider how it will organise and resource what needs to be implemented. 8 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 9. PART B - DIRECTIONAL OBJECTIVES AND STRATEGIES B1 Waveney Vision The Council has a strategic vision of ‘A safe, clean, attractive and prosperous environment for our communities’. Within this there are seven strategic priorities for the authority. These are: • Housing – Meet the housing needs of the most vulnerable people living in Waveney • Environment – Value Waveney’s environment and protect it for future generations • Community Safety – Reduce crime and anti-social behaviour in Waveney and improve community safety • Regeneration – Encourage economic vitality and develop cultural activity across the Waveney district and the sub-region • Health and Well Being – Improve the health and well being of Waveney’s communities • Customer Access – Improve customer access to information and services • Performance – Improve use of resources and performance The Housing strategic priority guides the focus of work undertaken in the Housing department. Within the context of this Housing AMS, the strategy seeks to ensure that the housing stock meets the requirements of our tenants and future tenants, some of whom are very vulnerable and need the assurance of a warm, safe and secure home. This fundamental basic provision enables all the other elements to be provided to our tenants, such as health and social support, education, job security etc. It is recognised that ‘bricks and mortar’ gives the basis of a home which any person needs. The Housing Priority Plan for 2007/8 identifies the issues within the strategic priority for housing, and provides an action plan. This can be found at appendix A. The Priority Plan ensures a co- ordinated approach to a range of issues, which is cross cutting across different departments of the Council. The Housing Priority Plan in turn informs the Housing Management and Housing Repairs Service Plans that are more focussed on the particular service delivery, but which ensure compliance to the overall objectives of the council. The Council has aspirations for the provision and maintenance of the housing stock, and was rated as a two star housing service in 2003. It seeks to ensure that we learn from excellent organisations, and is a member of the Housing Quality Network. A recent STATUS survey shows high levels of satisfaction amongst tenants in the delivery of the housing service, and this is something we wish to build upon. As part of the overall aims and objectives of the service and maintenance of the housing stock Waveney wishes to strive to: - • Provide a high standard of affordable housing; • Provide customer focused, high quality services to residents; • Operate a sustainable business; • Achieve the 'Decent Homes' Standard by the deadline of 2010 across the stock and to maintain this standard; • Provide energy efficient, comfortable homes that residents are proud to live in; • Ensure all targets agreed with the residents are achieved; • Ensure effective communication and consultation with all stakeholders using plain English; • Make services available and easily accessible to all the community, including 'hard to reach' groups; • Work with and involve residents to provide excellence in service delivery; 9 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 10. • Maximise choice for residents in the context of achieving value for money; • Empower and encourage residents to participate in and shape the services they receive; • Promote equality and diversity in all aspects of service provision; • Consult on and publish clear and measurable standards for all service areas; • Enable a motivated and focused staff through empowerment, team building, training and effective appraisal; • Provide innovative, flexible and responsive housing management and maintenance services; • Work with all of its partners to provide best value, quality solutions and continuous improvement across all services; • Be an outward looking, learning organisation at the forefront of innovation and development in the housing sector; and • Use complaints and customer feedback positively to learn and improve services that deliver a high degree of customer satisfaction. B2 The Housing Stock The profile of Waveney’s stock of all types and tenures at the 1 April 2007, is: The stock number, by geographical area can be broadly separated into Lowestoft: 2557properties, and rural areas: 2118 properties The profile of stock by accommodation type can be summarised as follows: House Type 1919-24 1945-64 1965-74 Post 1974 Pre 1919 Total Bungalows 36 259 279 568 0 1142 Flats 23 350 220 601 2 1196 Houses 575 1164 161 278 19 2197 Maisonettes 4 2 21 1 0 28 Studios 0 60 89 35 0 184 Total 638 1835 770 1483 21 4747 The stock contains only one high rise block of 85 flats and 140 'non-traditionally' constructed properties. These properties have been subjected to additional structural condition assessments in 2005. This data will be combined with other stock condition information in the Asset Management Database. B3 Related Assets In addition to dwellings, Waveney is also responsible for a number of assets related to dwellings, for example the Pumping Stations, unadopted roads and paths, garages and garage forecourts and community halls. These are listed at appendix B Related assets including undeveloped spaces will continue to be assessed with respect to their sustainability, use, and contribution to their environment. In some instances redevelopment or change of use will be considered to provide an appropriately balanced environment, which enhances estate appearance and provides appropriate facilities. This Housing Asset Management Strategy does not include Waveney’s corporate stock, which is covered by the corporate strategic asset management strategy. This involves property such as offices (including the Housing Office) and depots. 10 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 11. B4 Issues Affecting the Stock The following key issues have been identified as requirements and as potential risks: 1) Decent Homes - A Government standard to be met by 2010 then maintained. This issue is discussed in the section below. 2) Property - Waveney continues to lose property through the right to buy (although this process has slowed in recent years due to levels of affordability and changes in right to buy thresholds). 3) People and Demographics - The aspirations and diverse needs of residents and prospective residents are key to the strategy. It is crucial that residents are involved and consulted whilst the Housing Asset Management Strategy is implemented, as there is risk associated with their ability to exercise choice in terms of property type, tenure and location. Aspirations, preferences, demographics and other social factors can significantly influence the demand for the property and the resulting re-investment required. This is particularly relevant to the potential future fall in demand for sheltered units of accommodation. Waveney has a large elderly population, and it is part of this HAMS to recognise that investment needs to take place to cater for this client group. 4) Funding - Funding is currently determined by the Government and is distributed to the Council through capital (e.g. the Major Repairs Allowance (MRA)) and into the Housing Revenue Account (HRA). Under present subsidy rules the Council does not determine what proportion of rents are returned to HRA, with Waveney incurring a net 'negative subsidy' (i.e. the subsidy allocation to HRA is less than the sum of rents received). There are defined categories to which re-investment can be directed and also the manner in which the business will be regulated and monitored. There are risks associated with these aspects and also the changing nature of political directives over time. 5) Procurement - In recent years construction price inflation has out-paced RPI and the construction industry cannot attract sufficient capable and qualified staff to fulfil demand. Care is therefore needed to attract reliable providers that view Waveney as a key client. Additionally, as we operate our own DLO, it is important that the Council continually assess that it is achieving value for money and performing competitively compared to the open market. This will be one of the major challenges to the authority. B5 Decent Homes Decent Homes is a Government led initiative, introduced in 2000. All social housing within England must be brought up to this Standard by 2010. The focus for Waveney DC is to ensure its commitment to delivering Decent Homes by this deadline and then maintaining that Standard. This will be done by programming re-investment works in accordance with the forecasts of the lifespan of various attributes obtained from the stock condition survey. Waveney recognises that Decent Homes is a 'minimum standard' and acknowledges the House of Commons Select Committee recommendation (2004) that social landlords should aspire and plan for 'decency plus'. In other words a better standard that also takes account of the views and aspirations of residents. This is something that the council wishes to strive towards, but within the realms of what is affordable following the tenant’s ballot. The 2004 stock condition survey indicated that, 1851 dwellings (38%) are deemed 'currently non- decent' in accordance with the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister's February 2004 Decent Homes Standard definition. 11 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 12. The number of dwellings that are classified as ' non-decent' at the end of March 2007 is 815 (17%) of the stock. Future years maintenance programmes are planned in order to maintain properties in a decent condition, and potentially non-decent properties by tackling failing elements based upon their life and condition. The projected cost of delivering 'a maintained Decent Homes Standard’ and undertaking programmable renewals by is £13.7 million. B6 Priority Re-investment Issues The stock condition survey indicates that the stock requires a significant programme of work to maintain the stock over a 30-year business plan term. According to the stock condition survey the priority issues for re-investment are: • Heating and boiler replacements; • Kitchens refurbishment; • electric rewiring; • Bathroom improvements; • Roofing replacements. The profile is reflective of a stock requiring a need for ongoing repair and improvement. B7 Housing Needs Waveney works closely with partner housing associations to help deliver a 'joined up' service that is targeted at meeting the needs of a wide range of people. Evidence such as the housing market assessment survey is used for this purpose. The Council publish a Housing Strategy and contribute to the Local Strategic Partnership. Particular care is taken to ensure that new development addresses identified need in appropriate locations. The Council is clearly unable to provide new development, but any renovation and reinvestment will be influenced by these identified needs. In addition to developing and reviewing regular housing needs strategies and support assessments, the Council also assesses need by analysing applications for accommodation. The Council is to imminently introduce of a sub-regional Choice Based Lettings Scheme (called HomeFinder) which may have a positive impact on future lettings, and more readily identify difficult to let areas. In order to produce a balanced strategy: Housing needs within Waveney’s geographic area of operation are dominated by a requirement for 'general needs' social rented accommodation. It is however recognised that there are client groups in Waveney that are not catered for – some of the most vulnerable groups in the district such as 16/17 year olds and people with learning disabilities. Any strategy must look at how these groups can be accommodated. Most need equates to family accommodation, for which there is good demand, although there are pockets of unpopular stock, for example some sheltered bedsits. 12 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 13. The need for desirable, affordable homes are augmented as a result of relatively high local property prices (in relation to earnings) and a shortage of affordable private rented accommodation. There is also a requirement for flexible accommodation that can easily be adapted for an expanding family or ageing occupancy, in accordance with the principles of 'lifetime homes'. The Housing Strategy reports increasing waiting lists and homelessness approaches. This evidences the need to develop more affordable housing as well as the need to maintain existing housing assets in good condition. It is recognised that care needs to be taken not to re-invest in poor performing areas at the expense of all others. Nor should high-risk re-investment occur without due consideration, option appraisal and piloting. B8 Repairs and Maintenance Context Waveney’s stock is located across the Waveney district, and though is focussed on Lowestoft (some 65%), a large number is distributed around the four market towns of Beccles, Bungay, Halesworth, and Southwold. We are located in an area of current high demand for construction related services with huge construction and engineering works progressing in Lowesoft. This inevitably results in high construction costs, with the area competing with nearby growth areas such as Norwich and Cambridge. At present, rates of construction price inflation are very high, and have exceeded other measures of wider inflation such as the Retail Price Index (RPI) for several years. This means that Waveney must work hard to establish good long term working relationships with reliable contractors and other parts of the supply chain, as well compete in the employment market with our direct labour organisation to recruit competent tradesmen. The direct labour organisation is an integral part of our business in terms of delivering work that represents value for money and good service to tenants. The results of the stock condition survey indicate the need for continued future re-investment in order to meet and maintain the Decent Homes Standard and in order to maintain the stock in good condition. The findings of the survey reflect the age profile of the stock, noting that most stock was constructed post war, especially in the 1950’s – 1970’s. However, there is a range for the stock from early 1900’s to 1987, and within this there is a range of types including non-traditional steel frame constructions (which present their own unique challenges for asset management) and thatched cottages. In 2006/7 Waveney commissioned 83% of work in a pre-planned way, with 17% being commissioned reactively. This far exceeds the Audit commissions recommended percentage of 70%/30%. B9 Repairs and Maintenance Principles The need to undertake work arises either through pre-planning, or in reaction to immediate requirements. Whilst budgets for 'reactive' works (not pre-planned) can be set in advance, the precise scope and nature of the works required cannot be defined in terms of scope, location or quantity. The Council’s responsive and void works budgets fall under the 'reactive' category, whereas all other work is pre-planned. 13 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 14. The Council is mindful of the good practice stated by the Audit Commission that recommends a threshold of 70% planned expenditure v 30% responsive expenditure. It has undertaken several projects to reduce the ongoing responsive repairs work such as the installation of Upvc windows and doors, renewed boilers and central heating systems, and electrical testing and rewire programmes. Pre-planned work occurs under one of three budgetary headings (cyclical maintenance, improvements and planned maintenance); these are explained in more detail below. Pre-planned contracts have several advantages including: • Better value through economies of scale by securing better prices for components when many are ordered versus 'one off' purchases; • Better consistency of component used, which is good for subsequent repairs and material performance assessments; and • Better service delivery to tenants with planning on when work will take place to a property. The requirement for cyclical maintenance, including the servicing of gas appliances, is derived from attribute and servicing records held within the Housing Repairs IT system. The requirement for improvements or planned maintenance (component renewals) is derived from a separate database, which has been informed by the stock condition survey that the Council has carried out. The survey was undertaken on the basis of predictions for major repairs or component renewals on a pre-planned and programmed 'just in time basis'. In other words components should not be renewed well ahead of schedule (lifecycle + assessment of actual condition), nor should they be renewed too late (i.e. when they compromise the property or when they may impose an undue burden on responsive repairs) and inconvenience to tenants ‘Just in time' is a best practice principle promoted by the ODPM in their guidance (Collecting, Managing and Using Housing Stock Information - a good practice guide). These core principles will be met through the following actions (given by budgetary reporting category): B10 Responsive Repairs Responsive repairs are issues that arise on a day to day basis, typically being small scale and of a low cost. They include work such as fixing a plumbing leak, or re-fixing a loose roof tile. The DLO carry out these tasks and a major review of the delivery of this service took place in 2006/07. Larger repairs are undertaken through pre-planned contracts, again through our DLO or through specific specialist contractors. It is not intended that major works or component renewals should be financed by this budget, unless they represent an unforeseen and significant health and safety issue. Repairs that are not Waveney’s responsibility or which arise through the unreasonable actions of a third party will be recharged accordingly. To encourage efficiency and a better service Waveney has adopted the use of a composite schedule of rates. The change to these rates has brought real benefits to the workforce and the office based staff as it has helped to reduce repair action time, administration and management costs, whilst providing an auditable pre-priced expenditure trail, aimed at delivering best value. B11 Void Works Void properties are unoccupied dwellings and typically arise when there is a change of tenancy. Void works include statutory testing of gas and electrical systems, as well as the works required to 14 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 15. make the property fit for incoming residents. The extent of works undertaken are defined within the Void Standard (see appendix C). We have a designated Voids Team that will deal with all work to empty properties, though some of these tasks (such as installing a new kitchen) will take place generally when the new tenant has moved in. Waveney has not performed well in past years in keeping the period of time that a property is empty to a minimum. This is a target for improvement within the Service Plan (appendix D) . It seeks to do this in order to provide homes to those waiting faster and to maximise revenue income. Our target time for turn-around of a property is 30 days. However, in reality the Council has some problems with particular types of sheltered hard-to-let stock that significantly adversely affect the turn around figures. The Council has properties that have been empty for over five years. This is a major challenge for the authority, and a working group composed of tenants and members started meeting in late 2006 to try and address the problem and carry out an option appraisal for some of the stock. The outcome of this review is likely to be known in the autumn of 2007, which will have a major impact on this Asset Management Strategy. One early recommendation is the disposal of a sheltered housing scheme on the open market. In 2006/07 there were 345 void occurrences (a turn-over rate of approximately 7%). Whilst accepting that turnover is inevitable, the Council’s aim is to reduce this rate. Waveney is also aware of possible under-occupation rates in our properties, though there is no hard evidence to support this. We seek to reduce under-occupation of dwellings through the assisted relocation of tenants that no longer need large homes. This has been through financial incentives, but it is now intended to review this and offer a ‘service’ where housing staff will oversee all the arrangements incurred in the moving process to minimise the stress to elderly tenants. The intention is that this will free up family accommodation and help occupy some of our more difficult properties. During the void period essential tests and works are undertaken to ensure that the dwelling is statutorily fit, safe, clean and that any residual rubbish has been cleared. The void period will be used as an opportunity to catch-up any internal or disruptive works that have previously been declined by a resident, especially those works that affect the Decent Homes Standard or health and safety. Although, typically major works or component renewals will not be undertaken during a void period and will be added to a pre-planned programme of similar works that benefit the entire neighbourhood in an even-handed way, rather than 'pepper-potting' works to suit re-letting. This will also help to reduce void periods. Prospective residents are given information about forthcoming programmes of work and planned improvements to their homes, and we aim to provide dates within a six week period if that property has missed out on work that took place in the area earlier. To help support new residents, Waveney offers a discretionary decoration voucher scheme, whereby they may obtain materials from local suppliers to improve the internal decorative order of their homes. The cost of this scheme is £40k each year, and is appreciated by prospective tenants. B12 Cyclical Maintenance Cyclical maintenance comprises the regular servicing of mechanical and electrical plant (such as boilers) and painting together with pre-painting repairs. Cyclical servicing occurs on regular pre-defined intervals, for example boiler servicing annually and painting once every 5 years. 15 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 16. Due to the specialist nature of servicing works the Council has established a series of measured term partnering contracts to provide the required works over a number of years. The contracts for the testing and servicing of gas appliances and electrical installations provides a valuable source of data to help inform the projected renewal for these components, servicing records are held within the Housing Repairs System. In respect of redecoration works, the Council has made real inroads to reduce the number of cyclical repairs that are carried out each year. The established programme of replacing windows and doors with Upvc, and the replacement of wood fascias with Upvc have had a major beneficial impact on our responsive repairs budget. The current areas that still require cyclical decoration are: 1. External rendering; 2. Internal common parts (such as common stair lobbies); To facilitate an even and regular distribution of work the Council seeks to ensure that work is fairly spread across the district. Inevitably however, with 70% of the stock in Lowestoft, most of the work centres on here. B13 Planned Maintenance The majority of Waveney’s expenditure occurs through large-scale planned works contracts. Waveney has established contracts with private sector partners that have been long term and tend to be in specialist areas that the company can bring expertise. Examples are for: 1 - lift replacement and refurbishment 2 - Large scale roofing contracts 3 - Central heating and boiler replacement However, Waveney is unusual in having its own Upvc workshop and it produces all its own windows and doors at cost price. Consequently, our own DLO carries out large elements of planned maintenance work such as doors, rewiring, kitchens, and bathroom replacement. B14 Improvements Some improvements are required to ensure that the Decent Homes Standard is met, including the installation of heating where none exists, or adding insulation to appropriate levels. Others may be termed 'aspirational' and include the installation of beneficial components, such as smoke detectors, or provide for other work such as environmental enhancement or the re-modelling of hard to let dwellings. Many improvements required have been undertaken and the Council is confident that it can meet the Decent Homes Standard by 2010. Kitchen and bathroom refurbishments are progressing well, and essential loft insulation work (to comply with the standards) has been completed. We are undertaking some remodelling of family housing, as it is our belief that the size of some of the kitchens does not meet the spirit of the DHS standard. However, some of the more aspirational standards that were proposed during the failed stock transfer cannot be achieved by the Council, and work such as new fencing and gates will not be taking place, and do not form part of this asset management strategy. There is only a small budget available for estate improvements, and this is an area that could improve the environment in which people live. However, this strategy acknowledges that the ‘bricks and mortar’ of the buildings must be the priority for the Council. 16 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 17. B15 Disabled Adaptations Waveney recognises its social responsibility to provide adaptations and facilities for disabled people and to comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA). These comprise minor works (such as installing hand-rails) as well as more major adaptations. An annual budget is made to continue the provision of such work. In 2007/08 this amounts to £250k. A tight control has been needed for this budget due to demand exceeding available money. We have worked closely with our Suffolk County Council colleagues in the Occupational Therapist Team to adopt more creative solutions to problems. This has included transfers to more appropriate accommodation rather than undertaking expensive adaptations to a property from a limited budget. It is intended to continue with this approach as part of this strategy Other work may include improvements in accessibility to common areas of blocks and publicly accessible spaces, following an options appraisal. Through new developments (delivered by housing association partners) specific properties for people with disabilities will be provided and converted property will be allocated appropriately to those with special needs. B16 Asbestos Following the development of an asbestos policy and the introduction of the Control of Asbestos at Work Regulations 2002, Waveney has acknowledged that surveys and sampling must be undertaken in order to allow a register to be maintained and management plans followed. All properties that have had an inspection have had a notification of what has been found, and what tenants need to be cautious of. The Housing Team has employed a dedicated health and safety officer to ensure we meet our legal obligations. The register is based upon testing (type 2) surveys of a sample of the stock, common parts and vulnerable areas. It is planned that type 2 survey information for all dwellings will be available, and to continually manage and maintain the register. Asbestos containing materials will be managed in accordance with the Council’s asbestos policy and management plan. In principle all high risk asbestos containing materials (ACMs) will be removed where possible. Medium risk asbestos containing materials are to be removed as a first option and protected or remediated if removal is not practicable. Low risk asbestos containing materials will be managed and left in-situ pending renewal of components on programme (e.g. shed roof sheets), or left in- situ and managed when removal is not practicable, where for example textured ceiling finishes and floor tiles are retained in a property. Our own trained workforce will not undertake any works where there is a doubt about the type of material being worked upon before first checking the Asbestos Register. Where appropriate notification to the Health and Safety Executive would be undertaken and specialised works are carried out by suitably qualified and licensed contractors. It is recognised that the cost implications of removal of asbestos are very expensive, and where high risk asbestos is found there could be difficulties in funding the work though clearly it would be a priority for the council. Indications are that the council stock does not have a large amount of high risk asbestos, which will lend itself to a more managed approach. A budget is set aside annually to carry out removals of the substance. B17 Energy Waveney believes that all residents have a right to affordable warmth, particularly when we are housing some of the most vulnerable people in society. Additionally, under the Councils obligation under the Nottingham Declaration on Climate, the council also considers that the adverse 17 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 18. environmental impact should be reduced by the utilisation of energy efficient materials. Where reasonable to do so, Waveney aims to improve the stock to the maximum possible energy rating through the use of efficient heating and effective insulation. It has made huge strides in this direction with all properties have cavity wall insulation and double glazed windows, and some having loft insulation to at least a thickness of 250mm and the use of efficient condensing boilers and thermostatic controlled radiator valves (which have been fitted over the last decade). It is intended to increase the energy rating, measured through the Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) with an average target score of 65. This compares with a current average score of 72. The figures appear confusing, but the Government is changing the SAP banding from 1 – 120 to 1 – 100. This consequently reduces the SAP figures for the stock and the target figure. However, the target still sets a real improvement over 2006/07. Waveney still seeks grants to supplement programmes of work on energy efficiency initiatives whenever possible. B18 Stock Survey and Data Management Waveney has gathered stock condition data for a number of years on a rolling programme based on a stratified sample survey (15%) of the stock undertaken by Savills, managed and validated by Ridge. The results of the surveys are held on a stand-alone database (PIMSS) which provides a comprehensive record of work to each dwelling. However, it is recognised that the system does not meet our current requirements as it does not interface with our Housing Repairs System. In the spring of 2007 the Council set up a working group to introduce a fully integrated Housing Management IT system. It is intended that the new system will be fully operational in the spring of 2008. The benefit of this is that the asset management database will link directly with all the work taking place to a particular property and provide detailed and accurate management data. It is acknowledged that such a system is a pre-requisite to achieve effective data management. The current PIMSS database is used to provide high level information, such as 30 year business plan forecasts, as well as detailed work programmes and proposed contract works. No planned programmes are committed until the requirement for works has been validated on site. In some circumstances the on-site validation checking process results in work being deferred to follow the 'just in time' ethos. This has in the past affected our investment plans as data had been obtained by ‘cloning’ the inspected properties from the Savills survey, and found to be subsequently wrong. However, ongoing surveys and data collection ensure that our prime data is increasingly accurate. B19 Housing Business Plan Waveney’s finances are reflected in its Housing Business Plan, of which this asset management strategy sits within. The Housing Business Plan takes account of many factors including income (revenue) and expenditure requirements. The requirements for repairs and maintenance are assessed with reference to the forecasts of the Housing Repairs System and PIMSS, which is informed by the stock condition survey. Additionally, the importance of maintaining the source data and in the associated schedule of rates and lifecycles is acknowledged as these directly inform the Housing Business Plan. There are a number of constraints imposed on the Housing Business Plan, including: • Borrowing limits; • Funding availability; • Sustainability; 18 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 19. • Rent levels (revenue); • Government policy; • Legislation; • ODPM/Audit Commission standards; • Governance implications; • Marketplace costs (e.g. salary levels and works costs); • Grant availability/eligibility; and • Efficiency targets (Gershon agenda). The Housing Business Plan will therefore be reviewed during 2007/08 and will take account of this Housing Asset Management Strategy. B20 Re-Investment Priorities Subject to the sustainability of the properties involved the following schemes are proposed: Affordable Warmth: Waveney aims to provide all residents with a home that is affordable to heat. We will continue to fit energy efficient boilers, upgrade existing central heating systems, supply and lay additional insulation to lofts, and complete installation of double glazed doors to reduce residents heating bills. We will be helping residents maximise the benefits and grants available for energy efficiency measures and publicise energy advice to eradicate fuel poverty. Sheltered Schemes: Waveney will be renewing and upgrading warden call systems in sheltered schemes for older people, so that we can maintain an emergency 24-hour response for the personal safety and security of these residents. However, following a review of the service in the autumn of 2007, it may require changes to our planned investment in these schemes. This HAMS will be amended accordingly. External Overview: Waveney will continue to renew roofs, rainwater goods, soffits and fascias using its own DLO or specialist contracted companies. Safety: We will continue with the 10yr cycle of electrical safety checks to all the stock and upgrading wiring to modern standards. This scheme will ensure that the electrical systems in homes are up to date and safe. Homes should also have sufficient plug sockets to suit a modern lifestyle. A new programme has also commenced in 2007 through rewirings to ensure all smoke detectors are hard-wired to maximise safety to residents. Kitchen and Bathroom Renewal: We will continue installing new kitchens and bathrooms and will upgrade associated plumbing facilities to ensure properties meet the Decent Homes Standard. Responsive Repairs: We will deliver a cost effective responsive repairs service to the published standards. Cyclical Maintenance: We will carry out a cyclical programme of works including a 5 year rolling external repair and painting programme, annual servicing of gas appliances, servicing of mechanical and electrical (M&E) plant and equipment (including lifts and fire detection systems), and a 10 yearly programme of testing and upgrading electrical installations. Disabled Adaptations: We will continue to provide adaptations, such as the provision of handrails, on a demand led basis. However, more major work will seek to consider all possible solutions in conjunction with the Occupational Therapist Team High-Rise and Non-Traditional Property Repair: We will carefully consider the re-investment required in respect of the non-traditionally constructed stock. We will continue to randomly monitor the properties to ensure that medium to long term condition is good. 19 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 20. B21 Project Appraisal and Evaluation Waveney DC must ensure that the re-investment in the housing stock provides maximum benefit and best value for residents, within sustainable parameters. The priority for the authority is compliance with the Governments requirement that all our homes meet the Decent Homes Standard. An appraisal and evaluation process for the investment in the stock will be developed, through which each project will be assessed. Where re-investment is determined not to be in alignment with the objectives of the Housing Business Plan or this strategy, then alternative solutions such as redevelopment, demolition, disposal or other available route may need to be considered. The development of the process will initially be considered by the Tenant’s Repairs Sub-group, and will include consideration of issues such as: Technical Appraisal: 1) Define strategic position; 2) Data; 3) Whole life costing; 4) Standards; 5) Consultation. Financial appraisal: 6) Funding source; 7) Impact of re-investment on finances; 8) Cash flow requirements. Risk Appraisal: 9) Identify risks (internal and external); 10) Quantify risk (scale); 11) Manage risk. B22 Procurement A significant proportion of the work undertaken in management the housing asset is carried out by the Council’s own DLO. It is readily accepted that it is important that we ensure that we are comparing the delivery and cost of this repairs service to establish that the tenants and the authority are getting value for money. It is intended to benchmark the service during 2007 to reassure that the DLO is competitive. Should the service fail to be competitive, the Council has demonstrated that it is prepared to make robust arrangements to ensure value for money is achieved. All contracts are tendered to comply with the Council’s financial requirements as well as the legal ones of course. This process always ensures that we are achieving the best prices for the work. The Council’s Procurement Strategy may be found at Appendix E. There will be occasions when Waveney will seek interested partners by advertising in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU), the procurement publication for major services and projects above designated thresholds. 20 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 21. PART C - ADMINISTRATIVE IMPLEMENTATION, MONITORING AND REVIEW PROCESSES This section deals with the implementation plans and methodologies for the Housing Asset Management Strategy, which have been driven by the directional components outlined in Part B. In addition to the implementation and methodologies this section also sets out the processes for monitoring and reviewing projects within a portfolio to ensure consistency with the overall aims and objectives of Waveney and alignment with the Housing Business Plan. C1 Resources The restructure of the DLO to bring it into the Housing Service and for it to be managed by the Housing Service appears to have brought positive results with expenditure down, turnover up, and satisfaction high amongst tenants. All work is now carried out at cost with no profit element allowed. This significantly assists budgeting, and brings control to the client in ensuring workforce resources are directed where required. Waveney’s repairs and maintenance responsibility includes resident communication, contract development, tendering and administration, works identification and supervision.Pre-planned maintenance (major works) is the largest spend area of re-investment and has the greatest impact on other aspects of the client-side service. Consequently, it is acknowledged that significant input is required with tenants to ensure this critical part of the service operates effectively. Staff are encouraged to seek professional qualifications and to adopt 'life long learning' as a personal development goal. Regular briefings and reviews of staff roles and responsibilities by managers helps to ensure that they remain aware, effective and focused on delivery of their key functions. When identified, skills gaps are addressed through targeted and relevant training. The finances required to meet the annual programme are set based on information from the PIMSS system, as well as historical costs on responsive repairs and voids. C2 Resident Consultation and Participation Waveney works hard to ensure that all residents 'have their say' in how their homes are managed and to the standard to which they are maintained, this includes choice in colours and styles in kitchen refurbishments for example. We seek to maximise resident involvement in the service and recently introduced a Tenant’s Repairs Sub-Group (which was nominated and is accountable to the Tenant’s Forum). This sub-group approves new policy and initiatives before they are put into effect. The Council consults with residents and provides information to residents on a wide variety of issues, including: • Relevant information on service levels and agreements; • Information on current performance standards; • Written statements of policy and procedure (upon request); • Regular, informative newsletters; • Relevant information on reports, minutes and agendas of the Council’s committees; • Details of repair and improvement plans. • Regular updates and information on the council’s website Residents are actively encouraged to participate through the 'Tenants Compact'. 21 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 22. C3 Asset Management Database As stated earlier, the Council does acknowledge that its current database provides sound data on which to build investment programmes in the housing, but it is weak in providing a comprehensive range of management data. A budget has been made available in 2007/08 of £1million to provide a new integrated housing management system, that will include an asset management module. This should bring enormous benefits to modelling and profiling stock, and delivering effective programmes. All pre-planned works records as well responsive repair records will therefore be maintained in a single system. The current PIMSS system forms the cornerstone of the Housing Asset Management Strategy, and provides data and information for individual programmes as well as the Housing Business Plan. We are endeavouring to survey 100% of the stock (currently 95%), which will provide good, detailed stock data on which to set up and deliver programmes for future years. C4 Implementation Plans and Monitoring The Council reviews and maintains stock condition data and produces proposed programmes for work based on this to meet the re-investment requirements of the stock, including delivery of key initiatives such as Decent Homes. The proposed programmes are then consulted upon with the Repairs Sub-Group and are ratified by them. It is the intention that this takes place in late autumn each year, to enable the budgets to be calculated and the programmes prepared for distribution to tenants once the budget has been approved by Councillors. The programmes are scheduled over the year, and monitoring will take place to ensure that: • They are keeping to timescale and that slippage is not occurring (which of course will have a knock on effect to later schemes. • They are keeping to budget and that possible overspends or underspends are managed to enable remedial action to take place. • That tenant satisfaction is monitored to ensure we are not compromising on the service being delivered. It will be essential to the long-term success of the Housing Asset Management Strategy that reviews take place to understand lessons learnt and what could have been improved. The reviews will be regularly communicated between all the key stakeholder groups and that feedback from users, especially residents, is considered and incorporated into future plans. C5 Performance Monitoring and Best Value Waveney has embraced Best Value and was proud to have been one of the few councils to be awarded a two star rating in 2003. We are still committed to the process and have a BV working group that regularly looks at different areas of housing to ensure we are complying with what an excellent council would do in accordance with the Government's Key Lines of Enquiry (KLOE). The housing maintenance element (KLOE 3) was reviewed in early 2007. As well as Best Value, Waveney undertakes a regular surveys of residents (at least every 3 years) and uses model questions in order to assess key services that are provided to residents. It is intended that these will form part of an annual report to tenants. In addition, Waveney has a well established resident involvement framework including focus groups, the Tenants Forum, and the Repairs Sub-group. The Tenants Compact has been in place since 2000, and the 2006/07 version was written independently of the council by the tenants and by the Tenant Participation Advisory Service (TPAS), but fully endorsed by the Council. 22 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010
  • 23. C6 Benchmarking Performance It is recognised that benchmarking is an important part of the monitoring and review process, and it is particularly relevant where a council has its own DLO. In late 2005 the Council appointed Tribal HCH Ltd to carry out an appraisal of the DLO (in preparation for the failed stock transfer). This will provide a sound basis on which to ensure that the Council regularly checks the competitiveness of the service being delivered. There is regular reporting against key performance indicators (KPIs) and the service plan (appendix D) monitors performance on a monthly and quarterly basis. The Council intends to access different benchmarking clubs (both regionally and nationally) to ensure the service can be properly gauged against other relevant RSL’s. A STATUS survey carried out in late 2006 found very positive satisfaction rates amongst tenants (87%), which is pleasing but it is accepted that this is just one part of the overall picture on how the housing asset is managed. C7 Performance Intervention The Council undertakes an annual risk review with staff, and the risk assessment becomes an integral part of the service plan. There are, in addition, clear programmes of audit reviews to ensure that policy and law are being complied with. As well as focussing on financial aspects, specialised audits are undertaken in areas to identify as having any potential weaknesses. This represents a proactive approach of prevention rather than cure that mitigates the need for intervention management. Key issues that are carefully monitored include: 1. Performance against agreed key performance indicators; 2. Effectiveness in dealing with performance shortfalls; 3. Resident satisfaction levels; 4. Progress towards meeting the Decent Homes target; 5. Complaints handling. The Council also has a comprehensive set of Standing Orders and Financial Regulations setting out how it is controlled and run. Included within these are a number of measures whereby intervention can be speedy and appropriate to deal with specific issues. Waveney recognises that this Housing Asset Management Strategy is a dynamic document that will develop over time and not remain static. Implementation of programmes of work, changing needs, and the realisation of business objectives will require the Housing Asset Management Strategy to be 'live'. It will therefore continuously evolve over time. The strategy will adapt to a number of influences, including: • Changing need; • Changes in legislation and regulation; • Changes in aspirations; • Changes in corporate objectives; and • Changes in funding regimes. The Housing Asset Management Strategy will be formally updated alongside each revision of the Housing Business Plan. 23 Waveney District Council Housing asset Management Strategy 2007 - 2010