Council’s housing repairs backlog dips slightly but remains above 9,000

Council workers and contractors are dealing with more than 2,000 housing repairs a month as part of a £1.5 million drive to tackle a huge backlog.

But while they are making headway, the number of outstanding jobs remains above 9,000, councillors were told yesterday (Wednesday 28 September).

Conservative councillor Anne Meadows said that the backlog had soared since repairs were insourced – or brought in-house – by Brighton and Hove City Council two and a half years ago.

Labour councillor Gill Williams and Green councillor David Gibson, who chairs the council’s Housing Committee, blamed the backlog on the coronavirus pandemic.

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But with 11 contractors expected to help tackle the backlog, Councillor Meadows called for a report about the council’s policy on insourcing and the use of outside firms.

She also asked for the proposed report to outline how a “repairs task force” would deal with the repairs backlog “including how much this will cost and how it will be funded”.

Labour called for officials to provide statistics on the progress being made in tackling the backlog.

At Hove Town Hall, the Housing Committee was told that the in-house repairs service had 9,127 outstanding repairs, down from 9,608 in July.

Councillor Meadows said: “We need an outline of how a proposed housing repairs task force will address the current backlog, including the extra costs being incurred over and above that £1.5 million we’ve agreed and how it will be funded.”

Councillor Williams said: “I do think it needs to be acknowledged that this backlog was caused primarily by covid and was unavoidable. That needs to be recognised. It’s only fair to do that.

“I’d like to see statistics on the progress on getting the backlog down. I’m sure this is going to happen and be brought to a future committee anyway so we’re not asking for anything impossible.”

Councillor Gibson said that more than 2,000 repairs were carried out each month, which was slowly reducing the backlog, but new requests for repairs were always coming in.

The council was in the process of taking on contractors to bring the numbers down further, he said, and this should be completed soon.

Councillor Gibson said: “Officers in the council’s housing and repairs service have worked tirelessly through the pandemic to provide tenants with essential repairs services.

“However, a backlog of routine repairs and empty council homes has built up due to covid-19 impacting on staff levels and contractor availability to complete the typical number of jobs raised each month.

“The housing maintenance and repairs service continues to make good progress in its covid recovery programme.”

Councillors voted unanimously to receive a report on progress in reducing the repairs backlog.

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