GYBC and the Regulator of Social Housing
Great Yarmouth Borough Council (GYBC) recently became aware of a potential failure to meet health and safety requirements on some of its properties and, as a result, reported these issues to the Regulator of Social Housing (RSH).
The RSH today issued a notice around those failings, concluding that the council had breached the regulator's Homes Standard, potentially putting at risk tenants of the homes affected.
Carl Smith, leader of GYBC, said: ''We take the maintenance of our housing stock and the safety of our tenants and leaseholders extremely seriously. We also always aim to be upfront and transparent about any problems we discover. That's why we voluntarily reported these issues - and our action plan to fix them - to the RSH in August.''
After carrying out a review of the work carried out by Great Yarmouth Norse (GYN) - which does most of the maintenance on behalf of the council - a number of problems were identified.
The review found checks for water hygiene were not always fully completed or marked as completed in records. Asbestos surveys for some properties were incomplete. About 180 properties had not had electrical inspections within the target date of every five years. The fire safety policy was not comprehensive enough and fire risk assessments were not always compliant with the most recent regulations. And record keeping was not robust enough to manage safety checks, with information held in too many different systems.
GYBC chief executive Sheila Oxtoby said: ''I am very disappointed our contractor failed to address these issues sooner. However, the most important thing is that as soon as the problems came to light we alerted the regulator and the failings are now being addressed as quickly as possible.''
An action plan has now been put in place to tackle the issues and some work has already been done. All of the work should be completed by the summer of 2023.
Councillor Smith said: ''Not every issue affects every property. We are putting in extra investment to get this right and we are working very closely with GYN to fix the gaps, with work prioritised on the most urgent tasks.''
The RSH said complying with statutory health and safety requirements is a fundamental responsibility for homes providers because of the potential for serious harm to tenants.
However, the regulator said that, because the council has put in place a programme to rectify the failures, it will not be taking statutory action and will be working with the council as it addresses the issues raised.
Councillor Emma Flaxman-Taylor, chair of GYBC's housing and neighbourhoods committee, said: ''It is very disappointing that we have had to report ourselves to the RSH, but I would like to reassure tenants who have any questions that they can contact the council via a dedicated telephone number or visit our website for more information. Tenants are our top priority and we are taking this very seriously.
''We have written to all tenants to make them aware the council is acting swiftly to develop a robust plan to manage this situation now and moving forward.''