Council tenants unhappy with York Council as performance slips

Tenant satisfaction with the way that the Council runs its housing operation has fallen over the last year.

A report, produced by the newly-formed “Tenant Scrutiny Panel”, looks at how the council has performed in the previous 12 months.

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click to enlarge

On most measures the Councils performance has declined.

• The number of tenants satisfied with repairs and maintenance fell from 85% to 82% while satisfaction with “the general condition of their home” fell from 83% to 81%.

• Only 55% of tenant adaptations were completed on time compared to 85% the previous year.

• Tenants satisfied with the standard of their new homes fell from 66% to 60%.

• There was an improvement in the time taken to relet empty properties although at 25 days this was worse than is achieved by several other Councils.

• Tenants satisfied with ”involvement in management & decisions” fell from 53% to 51%

• Tenants satisfied with” the outcome of their complaint” was only 34% compared to a target of 70%

• It took longer to remove graffiti.

• Nine out of 10 tenants responding to the Tenant Satisfaction Survey were satisfied with their neighbourhood as a place to live.

The results mirror the growing dissatisfaction levels revealed by the Councils more general “big survey” the results of which were revealed last month.

To view the full report click here

Small Changes, Big Savings – Acomb Explore money event on Monday 14th October,

People across York are being invited to boost their financial know-how in a series of events designed to help people make savings, get more out of the internet and make the banks work better for them.

A series of seven Small Changes, Big Savings sessions are being held at different venues across the city during York’s Housing Week, from 14-18 October, which is looking at ways to overcome poverty.

The ‘Small Changes, Big Savings’ events held across the city will be at:

• •Acomb Explore on Monday 14 October, 9:30-11:30am

•Bell Farm Social Hall on Tuesday 15 October, 10am-12 noon when we’ll be launching our anti loan shark charter

• •Clements Hall on 15 October 1:30-3:30pm;

• •Sanderson Court on Wednesday 16 October, 9:30-11:30am

• •Foxwood Community Centre on Thursday 17 October, 9:30-11am

• •Tang Hall on 17 October, 2-4pm

• •Burton Stone Community Centre, on Friday 18 October, 1-3pm.


Only 53 new “affordable rent” properties in pipeline for York

The Council have admitted that only 53 new properties with “affordable rents” are likely to be constructed in the City during the next 3 years.

Of these, 35 are currently under construction

YMCA building site

YMCA building site

They are located at
• YWCA site, currently under construction: 23
• Elvington rural exception site, currently under construction: 12
• White Swan, to be started 2013-4, 18.

These will be the first affordable rent homes constructed since 2010.

This compares to the (cheaper) “social housing” rent programme which has seen 297 properties completed since 2010.

This total includes the additional Council houses which were given the go ahead by the last LibDem Council administration.

NB. The Council have been criticised for not publishing its Annual Monitor Report. Some data on the Council web site is now nearly 2 years out of date. Particular interest focuses around the progress being made by the Council in providing “affordable” homes against its targets. The lack of progress is likely to be raised at the Council meeting which is taking place on 10th October

Fewer York residents apply for housing payments.

The Council’s expenditure on discretionary housing payments has been below expected levels so far this year.

In York, the Council budgeted for payments of up to £286,409 for the current financial year.

So far only a little over £36,000 had been paid out to 209 applicants.

69 applicants were found not to qualify for the payments.

The figures – obtained in response to a Freedom of Information request – are at odds with the dire “gloom and doom” warnings issued by Labour Councillors to the media earlier in the summer.

Details of the York Councils housing benefits policy, together with an application form for DHP, can be read by clicking here

NB. Each local council is given a pot of money each year to help people who qualify for housing benefit (or similar help under universal credit) but are having trouble:

• paying their rent or

• finding enough money to pay for the start-up costs of a tenancy.

When the money for the year runs out, no more payments can be made.

The government has increased the amount of money available to help some people to adjust to cuts to benefits in recent years.

The council decides who should be given the payments, how much and how often they are paid. Discretionary housing payments (DHP) may be paid weekly or can be a lump sum. They can also be backdated.

Council house rent arrears

The York Council has published details of the rent arrears owed by its Council house tenants during this year.

• Jan-13 £631,225 (households in arrears 2785)

• Feb-13 £709,637 (3196)

• Mar-13 £491,835 (2142)

• Apr-13 £637,442 (2877)

• May-13 £697,883 (2958)

• Jun-13£741,570 (3090)

• Jul-13 £779,029 (3149)

Although arrears have increased since Labour took control of the Council there is little evidence to suggest that the spare room subsidy (sometimes referred to as the bedroom tax) has had a major effect on levels of rent arrears.

Oliver House – £30,000 taxpayers bill for property empty for 18 months

It has become clear why the Council’s leadership were so reluctant to answer questions about the future of the former elderly person’s home at Oliver House in Bishophill at the last council meeting.

Oliver House York

A Freedom of Information response has revealed that the building is costing taxpayers nearly £2000 a month to keep empty.

The building has been unused since April 2012.

The only “occupants” are a firm called “ad hoc property management” who – in return for access – offer a “free” security service.

No rent or other income has been received for the property.

Discussions with the York CVS, which might have led to the building being sold to them, started in May 2012. They stalled several months ago.

The value of the prime site has been put at over £1 million with offers having apparently already been made, to the Council, by housing developers.

The Council has spent £30,000 over the last 18 months paying rates and on maintaining the empty property.

There are currently over 4500 people on the waiting list for social accommodation in the City. Many of these require single person accommodation

NB. The Guildhall has also now been empty for 8 months and is costing Council taxpayers around £160,000 a year in maintenance, rates and other costs.

House sales in York picking up

There has been an increase in the number of properties sold in York over the last quarter.

In west York, a 1 bedroomed terraced property in Invicta Court sold for £103,000. A 2 bed semi in St Stephens Square fetched £116,000 while a 3 bedroomed semi in Thoresby Road went for £125,000. In Coeside £217,500 bought a 3 bedroomed detached.

Homes currently for sale include:

2 Bedroomed flat Helena Mews £110,000 click for more details

2 Bedroomed flat Helena Mews £110,000 click for more details

1 bed flats in Vyner House priced from £95,000

2 bed flat on St Stephens Square at £65,000

2 bed flat on Foxwood Lane for £110,000

2 Bed semi in Minter Close for £144,000

3 Bed house on Kingsway West for £135,000

• Those with a very large family might be interested in a £395,000 6/7 bedroomed property in Thanet Road

While at the other end of the price range a new 5 bedroomed property in Dalton Terrace will set you back £595,000

The cheapest property that we could find in York is a 1 Bedroomed flat in Buckingham Street currently advertised for £55,000

To Rent

Baker Street 3 bedroomed house £625 PCM click for more details

Baker Street 3 bedroomed house £625 PCM click for more details

2 bed terrace in Hanover Street is advertised at £575 pcm

3 bed in Baker Street is advertised at £625 PCM

4 Bed in Danebury Drive is advertised at £695

The cheapest (private sector) property available to rent in York at present is a 1 bedroomed end terrace in Eccles Close Rawcliffe available at £300 per month.