Councils take back direct control of 17,000 homes

Councils take back direct control of 17,000 homes

Four east Kent councils have taken over the direct management of around 17,000 of their own homes.

Today (Thursday 1 October 2020), the services provided by East Kent Housing (EKH), along with almost all of its staff, will be taken over by Canterbury City Council, Dover District Council, Folkestone & Hythe District Council and Thanet District Council respectively. This was brought forward six months from an initial date of 1 April next year.

Each of the councils has created its own housing service for the tenants and leaseholders of council homes within its own district.

In a joint statement, Canterbury City Council Chief Executive Colin Carmichael, Dover District Council Chief Executive Nadeem Aziz, Folkestone & Hythe District Council Head of Paid Service Dr Susan Priest and Thanet District Council Chief Executive Madeline Homer said: “The idea of taking council housing back in house was overwhelmingly backed by those tenants and leaseholders who took part in a comprehensive consultation last year.

“All four councils are determined to put the needs of tenants and leaseholders at the heart of the four housing services that have been established as evidenced by the creation of an extra 70 frontline posts.

“We want them to see real improvements to the service they receive and the way their homes are managed.

“We realise this is not a magic wand and it will not solve every problem overnight. This incredibly complex project is just the start of the journey and there is a lot of hard work ahead of us.

“We would like to thank EKH and council staff for putting in an enormous amount of work behind the scenes to make this process run as smoothly as possible.

“The loyalty, professionalism and dedication of staff at all levels means EKH has been able to prepare its services and team for transfer to the councils while delivering an improving service to tenants day after day.

“We would also really like to thank the tenant and leaseholder consultative groups in each of the districts who have been an invaluable source of help and advice throughout this process.

“The fact they are volunteers who give up their time for free makes their input all the more impressive and each of us will need their support going forward.

“Finally, we would like to thank our tenants and leaseholders for their patience and support at a time when the world around us all has become more and more challenging not least because of the Covid-19 pandemic and the enormous upheavals in the way we all work and live our lives.”

The decision to break up EKH was prompted by a series of health and safety failings discovered at some of the properties that EKH was managing on behalf of the councils in May last year.

Since then an enormous amount of work has been undertaken to address those failings under the close supervision of the Regulator for Social Housing.

Published: 1 October 2020

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