East Suffolk Council is making progress with a detailed improvement programme following the authority’s decision earlier this year to report itself to the Regulator for Social Housing.
The Council’s review, which encompasses information dating back to East Suffolk’s predecessor authority Waveney District Council, is considering how we set our rental charges, to ensure we meet the requirements set out in the nationally recognised ‘Rent Standard’.
The Council previously explained that some tenants who moved in after 2014 may have been incorrectly charged a higher rent. An independent, external audit of every rent account is now underway, and this will identify which tenants have been affected and calculate any overpayments that should be credited back to the rent account.
The review is also looking at all aspects of Health and Safety related to our properties, including Fire Risk Assessments, Asbestos Management, Water Safety, Gas and Electrical Safety as well as the management and maintenance of equipment including Lifts and Stairlifts.
Following the Council’s decision to report itself, the Regulator has considered the information provided to them by East Suffolk and has now shared its findings. As anticipated, they confirm breaches of Housing Regulations, and their findings have been published in the form of a Regulatory Notice.
Cllr Steve Gallant, Leader of East Suffolk Council, said:
“Following a report provided to me earlier this year by the Council’s newly appointed Head of Housing I announced that an immediate and thorough review of issues dating back to the time of Waveney District Council was urgently needed. I am pleased that a wide-ranging programme of remedial work is now underway both in relation to the issue of rent setting and health and safety.
“The regulatory notices which have now been published are fair, and essentially present what we already knew, incorporating a range of issues which we are working hard to resolve. The work will continue and it will be completed as soon as possible.”
The Council has been engaging closely with tenants on these matters for several months, writing to each personally and setting up a web page which provides important information about who may be affected and what we are doing about it: www.eastsuffolk.gov.uk/housing2022. The Council is also writing to each tenant once again to provide an update.
Meanwhile, the Regulator for Social Housing acknowledged in its regulatory notice that: “The council has accepted the regulatory findings and is engaging positively with us, with support from external advisers, to take all steps necessary to resolve these issues.
“The Council has acted in an appropriate manner and understands the issues fully. It has taken appropriate advice and has developed a detailed plan to address all issues in a timely fashion.”