The Council are set to review of the Delivery of the Housing Management Service, as they gain ‘increasing understanding of the Welfare Reform’ that is occurring nationally.
Wrexham Council are proposing to maintain all six ‘Estate Offices’, but increase Estate Managers from four to six, so a manager for each office. The six Estate Offices are located at Plas Madoc, Rhos, Caia, Broughton, Gwersyllt and Wrexham Central (Lambpit Street). Estate staff deliver the major part of the Housing Management function and management of the Gypsy and Travellers Sites.
In practical terms they handle everything from letting properties, managing tenancy’s, solving breech of tenancy issues such as rubbish in gardens to anti social behaviour, collecting rent payments and recovery of non payments.
Chief Executive Helen Paterson said “This shows how we are flexible in how we manage and place our staff as we know this is going to happen”.
There is a change in place that current council rents are going to change to a system currently in operation with private landlords, instead of the landlord (in this case the council) being paid rent direct, the tenant themselves will get the rent to then pay on to the council. Concern was voiced from the council that this could create “difficulty in collecting rent” , which could then impact wider as if rent is not paid it could increase homelessness.
The change in the system is likely to raise collection costs, as payments using the Post Office or PayPoints are likely to incur a fee for the council, thus lowering overall take.
Cllr Rodgers, the leader of the council, likened the impact to the poll tax and called it a “potential time bomb”. He raised concerns that “vulnerable families will be hit by a range of issues and changes at the same time”.
The Council are trying to be proactive and encourage people to get in touch if worried, saying “If tenants are concerned come and talk with managers in Estate Offices”. They also intend to write and visit all ‘under occupied’ properties, as they are likely to be affected.
Helen Paterson said “Its very easy for people to slip into arrears” referring to “added money management stress” and went on to explain challenges faced, and how the council could help referring to “pots and jars” style household budget management tips that could be offered. Such help would not be offered in just a single manner but a “holistic way” from all areas of the council.
You can view the fuller report on this PDF on the council’s website.