Help shape the future of Kingston’s housing services
The council has identified two potential ways of providing housing services in the future. Before making any decisions the Council wants to learn the views of leaseholders and tenants.
Kingston Council needs to continue improve and modernise housing services in the borough to help bridge a substantial funding gap in the housing budget. Increasing demand for social housing, and budget changes mean the service needs to change to achieve the savings it needs. The council has identified two potential ways of providing housing services in the future. Before making any decisions the Council wants to learn the views of leaseholders and tenants.
Councillor Cathy Roberts, Cabinet Member with responsibility for Housing at Kingston Council, said:
“Kingston Council provides good quality homes and customer services to council leaseholders and tenants. But we face a very large gap in our budget if we don’t change the way we provide our services. We want to continue providing the homes and quality of service people expect, which is why we are now considering the future of housing services. Before we make any changes we want residents to let us know what they think of our plans. Please take this opportunity to consider our plans and share your views, to help us secure the future of Kingston’s housing services for future generations.”
The Council’s Housing Revenue Account faces a major budget gap due to funding a one percent annual rent reduction over the next four years, further cuts to Government funding, extension of the right to buy scheme and changes to housing benefits. To respond to these budget pressures Kingston Council is suggesting two ways of providing future housing services:
Option 1 - owned and managed by the Council
The Council will continue to manage housing services and staff, but will have to introduce new ways of working to meet the budget gap, whilst striving to maintain a high quality of customer service. To deliver housing services on a smaller and more efficient budget, the Council will consider all areas of how it manages services. This may include office accommodation, staffing levels and the terms and conditions of its maintenance contracts.
Option 2 - owned by the Council but managed by a different organisation
An external organisation will manage some or all housing services with their own staff, but the Council will continue to act as landlord. Staff currently employed by the Council could transfer into the employment of the new organisation. Specifications for the new housing service will be developed and managed by the Council according to the needs of the service.
The legal rights of residents (as set in their tenancy agreements) will remain unchanged, regardless of the way future housing services are provided. This means residents:
- Remain a Kingston Council tenant and their tenancy will continue as is;
- Benefit from the same right to buy privileges (dependent on their tenancy);
- Continue to have access to housing advice, support and services such as repairs and maintenance.
The Council will continue to own the housing stock and act as Landlord under both options.
To hear the views of Council leaseholders and tenants, the Council has sent an information brochure and survey that can be returned by freepost. To further encourage participation from as many residents as possible, Council representatives will be visiting residents in their homes to discuss the options, and will be on hand for additional consultation at three drop-in sessions across the borough. Further details and a link to the survey are available at: www.kingston.gov.uk/
The closing date for receiving consultation responses is 26 August 2016. The results of the consultation will be analysed and will inform a report to be considered by councillors at a committee meeting in November 2016.