Council breaks Kier repairs contract
Published by Jon Land for 24dash.com in Local Government and also in Housing
Union welcomes council's move to break repairs contractImage: Tools via Shutterstock
Islington Council has announced that it is to bring its housing repairs service back in house.
The council has decided to break the existing contract with Kier after 14 years. The 140 staff currently employed by Kier to run the service will now become council employees.
In July 2013, the current council administration agreed to exercise a break clause in the contract and to run the service as an in-house operation.
The contract was worth £16.5 million a year to Kier.
Islington manages approximately 30,000 homes, meaning its repairs service will become one of the largest in-house operations in London.
Union Unite hailed the move as a "significant step forward in the campaign to clean up construction" and has called on other councils to follow suit.
Kier is one of several companies that have been accused of being involved in blacklisting.
Unite called has called on local authorities across the country to audit their contracts for blacklisting and rogue practices.
Unite's assistant general secretary, Gail Cartmail, said: “Today’s move by Islington council is extremely significant. Residents of that borough can now look forward to a housing repair service that is publicly run with no profit-motive.
“Taxpayers are not only getting the best level of service and value for money, but they can have the peace of mind that their council is preventing their taxes going towards the funding of illegal practices.
“Companies involved in the despicable practice of blacklisting have ruined lives through their actions over decades, and it should not ever be acceptable for blacklisters to profit from public contracts.
“We call on other councils and public bodies to follow Islington’s lead and look at ways of bringing services in-house from blacklisters.”
After the council’s decision about the repairs contract, Kier’s gas servicing contract with the council was terminated too.
The council decided to bring that service in-house rather than re-tender for another private contractor. It has been directly managing the gas servicing formerly run by Kier since 1 June.
Cllr James Murray, the council's executive member for housing, said: “This is an important milestone for Islington’s council housing. At the same time as building a new generation of council housing we want to provide a high-quality service for our residents.
“Two years ago we brought housing management back in-house – and now our decision to bringing the repairs service in-house too shows how important it is for us to get it right.
“By running the repairs service directly, we can ensure resident satisfaction is a priority over profit. Over time, we want to maximise local employment and apprenticeships, alongside supporting the workforce and reducing dependence on sub-contractors.”
In a statement, Kier said: "The Islington contract has ended for operational reasons, it is nothing to do with this historical issue that at its most recent affected the industry back in 2009. Kier is committed to fair and transparent recruitment of employees, and to ensuring that pre-employment vetting processes are not only legal, but follow industry best practice.
“It is disappointing that Unite would try to confuse this issue because the industry would benefit from clarity and union support to engage with those people who were working in the construction industry up to 2009, who might have been affected by having their name on the database held by The Consulting Association (TCA), but may not even be aware of it.
“Major contractors in the industry are addressing this historical issue by launching The Construction Workers Compensation Scheme (TCWCS) to provide compensation to anyone whose details were held by TCA.
"We would welcome any support to help raise awareness of the scheme to give anyone affected choice about seeking compensation. Full information is available at www.tcwcs.co.uk”