Kirklees Council fails to meet Regulator of Social Housing’s consumer standards

ACCORDING TO a regulatory notice published on 6 March, the Regulator of Social Housing concludes that Kirklees Council has failed to deliver the outcomes of the existing consumer standards. Following a self-referral, the Regulator of Social Housing found that, although Kirklees Council had carried out fire risk assessments for all relevant residential housing blocks, no fewer than 20,000 fire safety-related actions were found to be overdue.

In addition, the Regulator of Social Housing discovered that Kirklees Council – the local authority providing most local Government services for the metropolitan borough of Kirklees in West Yorkshire – had not completed over 1,500 damp and mould repairs in tenants’ homes.

The Regulator of Social Housing asserts that Kirklees Council has “demonstrated that it now understands its responsibilities” and is taking steps to address and complete the overdue fire safety actions, while also investigating reports of damp and mould.

Kate Dodsworth, chief of regulatory engagement at the Regulator of Social Housing, explained: “All landlords must meet stated Health and Safety requirements and provide an effective repairs service for tenants. Kirklees Council failed to do this and is now working to put things right.”

Dodsworth added: “Kirklees Council referred itself to us and has engaged constructively. We expect all other social landlords to do the same when they find or otherwise suspect a problem such that issues can be resolved promptly.”

Detailed response

On behalf of Kirklees Council, councillor Moses Crook (Cabinet member for housing) has responded in some detail to the regulatory notice.

“Tenant safety is our top priority,” affirmed Cook, “which is why we referred ourselves to the regulator for these issues. We are aware that we need to engage with a considerable number of works and want to assure tenants that they remain safe because of the risk management procedures we already have in place. We will be working with the Regulator of Social Housing to tackle the issues raised in its notice and address concerns around the number of outstanding fire risk actions in addition to the levels of damp, mould and condensation cases.”

Over the next few months, Kirklees Council will be recruiting more staff to help increase the pace of delivery across fire safety improvements and the issues concentrated on damp, mould and condensation.”

Crook continued: “We have several programmes of work already in delivery to resolve actions identified through fire risk assessments and we’re developing further schemes to address the remainder. For some blocks, this means we will be undertaking large-scale refurbishment works, while for others it means renewals and small-scale improvements to homes and communal areas. We continue to prioritise actions and work based on the level of risk posed to tenants and the wider public.”

Further, Crook noted: Our safety measures are robust and include 24/7 ‘Waking Watch’ and CCTV monitoring in high-rise developments, prompt repairs and up-to-date alarm systems. In all homes, from six-storey buildings through to low-rises, we reinforce safety measures with regular checks and immediate actions after any fire incident. We will be investing over £117 million on fire safety improvements across Kirklees Council between now and 2031.”

Existing consumer standards

The regulatory notice is published in relation to the Regulator of Social Housing’s existing consumer standards. From 1 April, the regulator will introduce new consumer standards that all landlords must meet.

This is a direct result of the landmark Social Housing Regulation Act that affords the Regulator of Social Housing a wider remit and powers to hold landlords to account. From April, the regulator will begin transacting regulatory inspections of social landlords.

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