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Decent Homes Scheme - possible, or not ?

Author Message
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 08 December, 2005 - 10:42 pm:   

The following is part of message by Cllr. Susan Wise that originally appeared elsewhere on SE23.com


Our estates may be perceived by some to be not as salubrious as the greener parts of other areas in London, but I know that there are many conscientious and caring citizens living on them as I have met many of them. And our estates that need investment will benefit from Lewisham Council's Decent Homes 2010 programme and strategy that myself and our Deputy Mayor lead on. Scorpion, please think again about becoming involved in your TRA, we need enthusiastic people like you. And I write this as Lewisham's Cabinet Member for Housing.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 08 December, 2005 - 10:45 pm:   

I then put this message....

To Cllr Susan Wise, regarding the Decent Homes scheme.

You are now probably aware of the Audit Commission report of April, although the Commission says it had become more optimistic, the report suggests the council may not meet the Decent Homes standard by 2010 and demonstrates the number of 'non-decent' homes could increase (para. 117).

Further there is the following:-

"At the senior level the Council is aware that the timescale for delivering Decent Homes is potentially unachievable. In our view the Council is overly optimistic about what can be achieved by the 2010 deadline given the complexity of arrangements which may be put in place, depending on tenantsí views, and the heavy resource requirements and the lateness of the decision to undertake the stock options appraisal." (Para 244)

As usual the main problem is finance, do you think the government will have to step in with additional funds? By the way what are the penalties if the borough fails to meet the standards in time?

Further, a council report on achieving the decent homes standard was put before the council last June, at no point does it refer to the Audit Commission report of 2 months earlier.

Could that be one of the reasons the commission refers to the council as being "overly optimistic" ?

I don't know how the system works but if the Audit Commission produce reports for its own purposes seems pointless if they don't inform the council the results of the audit.

As a councillor would it not have been better to have known the results of the audit so you could better judge what was in the council report was deliverable?

(Explaination: Apparentlty ALMO's require 2 *stars to obtain central funding. Lewisham got one *star/Fair for Repair & Maintenance in April. In 2002 the commission awarded the borough one *star/Fair for Housing Management. A mock inspection in Nov 2004 again gave Management one *star with poor prospects of improvement.)
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 08 December, 2005 - 10:50 pm:   

To which Cllr. Susan Wise, Cabinet Member for Housing responded....


This is for Loneranger-it's real pleasure to find another local resident with a keen interest in Lewisham Council,but such a coincidence that this subject is currently an issue with the Borough's Opposition Party. And I cannot help but wonder, as your detailed comments are so similar to their's, if there is a connection between yourselves. Is there? However, I have been aware for some time of the Audit Commission's report,which has been available since April and we have have been, and are taking, action to address its recommendations via a detailed action plan.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Friday, 09 December, 2005 - 12:21 am:   

I'm rather surprised the Cabinet Member for Housing priority was to attempt to make a political point rather than respond to genuine concerns aroused by the Audit Commission report.

Read again, it is the Audit Commission and at the senior level of the Council who state delivering Decent Homes is potentially unachievable.

I therefore think it's reasonable to raise the concerns I did in my previous message.

My explaination wasn't corrected, so the 1 stars could make funding an issue?

Residents of council properties are being asked to decide on their future in social housing. In fairness to them I hope the Council has included information on the Audit Commission report and how the star system may or may not affect them.

Why consider that I am connected to an opposition party, can't a Labour party member raise concerns?
Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 09 December, 2005 - 05:02 pm:   

To Loneranger-I wasn't attempting to make a political point on this web, as I don't believe that this is the right forum for me to do so. I expect the webmaster would ban me if I tried. However, as you employ a pseudonym, I don't know who you are, and I thought that was what you were trying to do to me because your detailed posting was such a coincidence with current enquiries. That was why I asked in my previous response if there was a connection between them. I'm very glad that a Labour Party member has raised concerns, and maybe you can drop your disguise and reveal your true identity should we ever meet? I promise not to disclose it to anyone.
As to residents of our social housing being aware of the need to improve from a 1* to a 2* housing management authority, this information has been disseminated down by the council, and the TRA representatives across the borough who were on the steering group for our Decent Homes 2010 strategy. This issue has also been discussed at housing panels and other tenant/leaseholder based meeting. They are also aware of the issue of lack of government investment should we not gain a 2*. The Government signed off most of our strategy in July 05, with the ALMO signed off on 9/11/05 via a detailed project and improvement plan for reaching the 2*. This sign off demonstrates their confidence in our ability to deliver our social housing to the Decent Homes Standard by 2010.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Monday, 12 December, 2005 - 08:06 pm:   

Regarding you're last sentence I think you'll find the signing off of the ALMO does NOT demonstrate confidence that the council will achieve 2* Star status and therefore deliver social housing to the Decent Homes standard by 2010. The ODPM is merely recognising the council has an improvement plan in place and an approved scheme for operating an ALMO.

Let's assume the council obtains 2* Stars what happens if then reverts to 1* star will government funding be reduce, as is the case at Lewisham Hospital when it went from 3* Star to 1* Star?

As a councillor don't you regard the changes the government is imposing an insult? The 3 options, ALMO, PFI and Stock Transfer imply the council are no good at providing social housing?

If the council doesn't reach 2* star status could you as a socialist councillor in a deprived borough support a government that refuses to fund repairs to properties in a poor state, housing some of the most needy in our community?
Ophelia
Joined 18-03-2005
Posted on Monday, 12 December, 2005 - 08:52 pm:   

Dear Loneranger, Lovely name but boring contributions here to the rest of us in this forum. It's a dialogue not a discussion. How about having a chat direct with Susan and telling us what comes out of it?
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 13 December, 2005 - 11:29 am:   

Hello Ophelia...err this is the "se23 discussion forum"...If I said I was naked when I wrote that message would that make it more interesting?

Unfortunately, I was in an internet cafe at the time... ;>)
Bowwow
Joined 08-12-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 04:37 pm:   

I agree with Ophelia on some points this maybe about se23 but i dont think this is the place to argue this point out even though i found it intresting to read as nobody else was adding things to it so it just looked like a arguement between the pair of you. Maybe you two should meet eachother and then tell us the results but to be on the safe side loneranger dont go naked...lol and if u can try to put it in plain english as it took me ages to findout what all the ALMOS and things ment..lol
Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Wednesday, 14 December, 2005 - 05:48 pm:   

This is for Bowwow-to say that there is no argument from my side within this "discussion".I now think that the road Loneranger has moved it down is not for dealing with here. And he/she still has not shared his identity with me. I am very happy to discuss this on a one to one basis when I know who he/she is.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Thursday, 15 December, 2005 - 11:31 pm:   

And finally...

So an ALMO does not guarantee funding for improvements unless it achieves 2* stars. Housing in Lewisham has been inspected 3 times since 2002 and each time was awarded 1* star.

The last inpection was of Housing's Repair & Maintenance. This week the local press carry reports that staffing of Repair & Maintenance is to be reduced from 156 to 88 and 29 staff are to be made redundant.

I suspect if the government was of a different colour the council would regard the Decent Homes Scheme as an attempt to blackmail the council into distancing itself from providing social housing.

Over 17,000 properties will form the ALMO, the concerns I have raised are probably relevant to them all. I don't see why there shouldn't be a public discussion, however boring.

Well I guess that's the end of the discussion then.
Roz
Joined 17-03-2005
Posted on Friday, 16 December, 2005 - 12:03 am:   

Loneranger, I am not sure what point you are trying to make - your arguments are a bit hard to follow. It is not up to the Council to decide whether or not to continue to provide social housing , but central government policy, which has been around since Thatcher. Councils lost the social housing battle years ago and there is no going back. Funding needs dictate strategy.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Tuesday, 20 December, 2005 - 12:22 am:   

Hello Roz...I was making a number of points, I'll express myself more crudely and maybe it will make things clearer.

Firstly councillors may have been better served if the council report in June on delivering the 'Decent Homes' scheme had there been reference to the Audit Commission report.

What evidence is there that housing will achieve 2* stars in a few months when it has remained with 1* star since 2002.

It is vital the council/ALMO achieves 2* stars or the government will leave tennants to suffer the consequences. If the funding isn't forthcoming will the council roll over or kick up a stink with the government?

If I were a councillor should I see the 'Decent Homes' scheme as an attack on my abilities to provide and improve social housing. Similar to education where the Government feels 'too many LEA's have let down students.'

Funding needs may dictate strategy but even politicians have principles?

On a fiery horse and in a cloud of dust, I'm out of here.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Friday, 29 September, 2006 - 11:28 pm:   

Update: Following the recent mock inspection of housing it is still considered a 1 star service.
Councillorsusanwise
Joined 20-03-2005
Posted on Sunday, 01 October, 2006 - 06:42 pm:   

Similar to my previous post on this subject dated 14/12/05, nearly a year ago,I am very happy to discuss this at any time with Loneranger on a one to one basis, should they be prepared to reveal their identity. I am still waiting.
Loneranger
Joined 29-10-2005
Posted on Monday, 02 October, 2006 - 11:41 pm:   

Susan, in May it was publicly announced to anyone who would listen that if elected you and the mayor, along with the governmemt were committed to raising all the council's housing stock to a decent standard by 2010.

Within 1 month of the local elections the 2010 committment was dropped.

I am unable to find any publicity regarding this change on the Lewisham website, the Decent Homes pages still refer to 2010 as did the recent article in Lewisham Life. Definately no publicity relating to the result of the recent inspection of housing.

I do not understand why the "Customer Services" Cabinet Member responsible for housing feels unable to discuss the Decent Homes Scheme in a open forum.


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