Tenants across Sheffield are set to get a service of their choice as Council leaders today unveil a new vision for managing council housing across the city which will also save rent-payers half a million pounds over the next five years.
Two years ago the vast majority of Sheffield City Council tenants voted in favour of housing management transferring from Sheffield Homes – the country’s largest arm’s-length management organisation (ALMO) – back into the Council.
Since then, thousands of tenants have been consulted about how they want to see services to be delivered in the future, and the Council today is revealing proposals based on these views.
The proposed “Housing+” Project, which is expected to be ratified by Cabinet next Wednesday (19 March), will deliver a value-for-money council housing service where customers will get a service tailored to meet their individual needs.
Under the proposals, key housing officers will be assigned directly to tenants, as part of their own “patch” of households. They will work with individual tenants and their families, visiting them in their homes to offer support and advice, including making sure they have access to any other specialist Council service they may also require.
These officers will also be part of eight neighbourhood teams delivering front-line services – all of which tenants told the Council they wanted to see as part of the new service.
It is hoped the targeted approach will reduce demand for other Council services, for example adult social care, while at the same time sustaining the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and protecting the long-term asset value of the council housing stock, which Council leaders have estimated will generate £0.5 million in HRA savings over the first 5 years. This includes additional one off costs to buy in mobile IT and provide additional training for staff to deliver a more efficient, streamlined service.
Councillor Harry Harpham, Sheffield City Council Cabinet member for Homes and Neighbourhoods, said:
“The tenants of Sheffield spoke loudly and clearly 2 years ago when they voted to bring the management of their homes back with Sheffield Council. Now we have to deliver on the promises we made and I am totally confident this new “Housing+” deal will meet tenants’ expectations and more. Tenants have told us they want a service of their choice which meets their individual needs. This scheme will deliver the changes they have asked for – while at the same time delivering value-for-money for tenants.
When we took back the management of council housing into the Council this was a big decision for the city. We now want to deliver a first-class housing service for our tenants.”
Following a consultation and ballot in February 2012, 88 per cent of the Sheffield City Council tenants who took part voted in favour of the Council managing their homes. Only 12 per cent voted to retain the ALMO, Sheffield Homes, which had managed the Council’s 42,000 homes since 2004, and completed £700 million of decent homes work.
The turnout was 55 per cent, with a total of 25,465 votes cast. Sheffield City Council took over direct responsibility for housing management in April 2013, at which point Sheffield Homes employees were transferred into the Council.