Bulwell council homes to be checked over as city council checks all 26,000 under it's control

All 26,000 Nottingham council homes are to be checked over in a bid to make sure they are up to new standards.
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New benchmarks have been set by the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH), which all landlords must now follow.

They come after a more effective regulatory regime was established under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023, created following the Grenfell Tower fire in 2017.

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A council report recently revealed ‘considerable work’ is needed for the authority’s housing stock to get it up to the new regulatory standards.

Nottingham City Council is checking all 26,000 properties in its housing stock. Photo: SubmittedNottingham City Council is checking all 26,000 properties in its housing stock. Photo: Submitted
Nottingham City Council is checking all 26,000 properties in its housing stock. Photo: Submitted

The council now directly manages social housing after winding up its arms-length management organisation, Nottingham City Homes (NCH).

During a housing and city development scrutiny committee meeting on April 15, councillors were told a full condition check had not been done by NCH for at least eight years.

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Geoff Wharton, consultant strategic director of housing, said: “We have now addressed that, we have put a full stock condition in, we are meeting the organisations doing that.

“There are going to be boots on the ground in the next few months and they are going to do a 100 per cent stock condition survey in the next year.”

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The HRA issue was uncovered in 2021 by then-corporate director of finance Clive Heaphy, who said the cost to put the problem right was in the region of £51m.

A report by Richard Penn, a local government expert, concluded it occurred due to poor governance practice, principally at the council but also NCH.

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It added there had been a serious failure of governance at NCH, where the chief executive and others had a sufficient knowledge of the HRA ring-fence to know that returning surpluses back to the council to help with general fund budget pressures ‘could not be justified but they went along with it’.

The report, alongside another investigation by the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy, concluded existing arrangements between NCH and the council did not allow for the money to be ‘adequately protected’ and changes needed to be made.

They both recommended NCH be brought in-house.

During the meeting Sajeeda Rose, corporate director for growth and city development, said councils typically conduct due-diligence tests before deciding to bring similar organisations in-house.

Leeds, for example, spent two years doing due-diligence before bringing its housing function in-house, whereas Nottingham did it in nine months.

She said: “We did a full lift and shift.

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“We are in a position where we are making those changes and those improvements at the same time.

“There are benefits and disadvantages to that.

"The benefits are actually we are improving as we go.

“The disadvantages are we are playing catch-up in terms of past policy changes.

“On behalf of the council the condition survey is a significant commitment.

"Very few councils do a full stock condition survey.”

The Regulator of Social Housing (RSH) now has a full year of inspections planned.

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Documents highlight that it expects ‘only a few’ housing services to achieve the highest rating.

If a service gets the lowest two ratings, the RSH will work with the provider to make sure critical changes are made.