Independent review recommends improvements for repairs partnership
Recommendations from an independent review into the council’s repairs and improvement partnership with Mears will be used to help improve services and future contract agreements.
The review was commissioned to look at what the council needs to consider in future repairs contracts and how the council and Mears can work together better through the remaining time of the current partnership. The findings of the review will be discussed at the Housing & New Homes Committee on 13 June.
The partnership with Mears began in 2010 and the report acknowledges that it worked well in the early years – bringing improvements to the repairs service, reducing costs and maintaining 100% of the council’s housing at Decent Homes Standard levels since the target was initially reached in December 2013.
The partnership delivered its main goals quickly and people interviewed for the review felt the contract worked well.
However, the review identifies that issues in the relationship between the council and Mears, initial oversights in the design of the contract, and individual contractual issues, have meant the partnership hasn’t always worked as well as it might have, especially in terms of the major improvement work required. This has led to a feeling that the overall opinion of the partnership is much less positive than it ought to be.
Councillor Anne Meadows, Chair of the Housing & New Homes Committee, said: “We commissioned this review to look at what we can do to improve working arrangements and processes around our housing repairs and improvement service both now and into the future.
“We have had problems with the partnership and acknowledge what we need to do to improve how we work with partners. We have worked with Mears to bring in improvements to the processes but there is more to do. This was an open review and we will look at all the issues and recommendations raised.
“However, it is also important to highlight the many successes of the partnership. It has delivered a good value repairs service and allowed us to achieve 100% Decent Homes across our housing in December 2013 from a starting point of 51% in 2009.”
A spokesperson for Mears said: “Mears directly employs more than 160 people in Brighton & Hove and it is testament to their hard work over the life of the contract that the main objectives of the contract have been achieved. The achievement of Decent Homes was a key milestone for the council and Mears was delighted to play its part in delivering it.
"The contract has continued to deliver significant cost savings to the council through its life as a result of Mears efficient and innovative working practices. At the same time, the level of customer satisfaction has been exceptionally high and all of the key measures of the success of the contract, as reported to members at recent committee meetings, have been outstanding.
“We look forward to continuing this great work in the last two years of the contract, as well as embracing the recommendations of this report to continue to make progress in areas in which the partnership still has room to improve.”