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Exeter's housing action plan aims to save money after £1m overspend

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Exeter's housing action plan aims to save money after £1m overspend

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Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Housing and also in Local Government

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Exeter City Council has an action plan for "a more cost effective approach" to managing its housing properties after spending £1 million more than expected.

Rob Hannaford, lead councillor for housing and customer access, said the plan would save the authority money in the long-run.

"We are looking at carrying out more regular visits to properties in an attempt to nip problems in the bud," Hannaford said. "If repairs need to be carried out, it is better that they are identified early on.

"We have learnt from the past and must now move forward. Yes, there are things that we can do better and those things have now been included in an action plan that the city council is now implementing," Hannaford said.

One of the wettest winters on record produced more repairs to leaks and damp problems than usual. This, along with factors like welfare reform, resulted in the council's housing revenue account, which is wholly funded by the rents paid, spending £1 million more than anticipated. However, the council said "there is more than enough money in the HRA" to meet this additional spending.

The action plan sets out 11 ways of better managing its stock and dealing with maintenance issues. These include:

• Setting up a dedicated team to deal with properties that are becoming empty, keeping a close eye on costs

• Inspecting all properties when notice is received and advising the tenant on the work they need to complete at the property before moving. People will not be able to transfer to another Exeter City Council property if their current home is in a poor state of repair

• Work has been done to understand the reasons behind the overspend. The results are being used to plan a major restructure of housing, which will take place later in the year

• All homes will be visited more frequently and tenants advised what they need to do if they have not looked after their property well. Checks will be made to make sure the work is done and, if it hasn’t been, then tenants run the risk of eviction

• Where tenants cause damage and don’t put it right, follow up action will be taken to recover the money the council has to spend. Recently an outgoing tenant received a bill for £2,336 following unauthorised work to their kitchen.

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