Council Tenants Invited To Reconsider Housing Improvement Refusals

Wrexham council tenants who have previously opted out of the installation of new kitchens and bathrooms will be offered a second chance to take part in the improvements programme.

Upgrade work on the kitchens and bathrooms across Wrexham Council’s housing stock began in 2013 as part of the requirement to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) by 2020.

All local authorities in Wales are required to achieve this standard by a 2020 deadline.

Across Wrexham 11,300 homes are set to benefit from the improvement works, which also include internal and external improvements such as electrical rewiring, central heating, external insulation and roofing.

Details of the spend on the improvement works for the last financial year are detailed within Wrexham Council’s Capital Programme 2016/17 – 2020/21, which was presented before the Executive Board earlier this week.

Within the report it is noted that there is just over a £2.7 million underspend on the kitchens and bathrooms programme, with the meeting told that the past 12 months there were 767 tenant refusals for the new kitchens and 781 tenants who have refused the bathroom installations.

The report presented to councillors noted that refusals have taken place for a variety of reasons, including tenants not wanting the disturbance or having previously replaced the kitchen themselves.

Council Leader Mark Pritchard explained the local authority had ‘aspirations to fit every kitchen and bathroom’ in its stock, and that tenants who had previously refused upgrades will receive another opportunity to take part in the programme.

However Wrexham Council’s HRA also benefited by half a million pounds on ‘roofs and structures’ due to ‘extremely competitive tender rates’ meaning more roofs replaced at a lower cost.

Cllr Pritchard said: “In respect of the Housing Capital programme changes the spend was around £2.7 million less than planned. The majority of the underspend was due to tenants refusing kitchen and bathroom upgrades.

“Just to touch a little more on this as I wouldn’t want anyone to think we’re not going to go back. What we do is we have a £2.7 million underspend on kitchens and bathroom programme and we will be going back to the tenants who refused. We have aspirations to fit every kitchen and bathroom within our council stock.

“Sometimes its difficult because we have tenants who have been there a long time who don’t want the changes and the kitchens and bathrooms because they’re fearful and scared of the upheaval and the mess it will make.

“We will endeavour to go back and complete the programme so we have 100% uptake in it. If we do get 100% I will be delighted. But we also have to remember that we have to respect the rights of our sitting tenants.”

Lead member for housing Cllr David Griffiths added: “To reaffirm what the Leader has said, we will be going back to tenants who are refusing for whatever reasons.

“We have to respect their wishes but we might have to go back and their views might have changed, so not the end of it, it will to carry on until we hopefully get everyone.”

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