Hackney Homes ALMO gets one star and has promising prospects


[full report on Audit Commission web site, extract from Society of Procurement Officers]

The housing management service provided by Hackney Homes ALMO (Arms Length Management Organisation) are ‘fair’ and have ‘promising’ prospects to improve, according to an independent report released by the Audit Commission.

The Audit Commission inspection team gave the service one star out of a possible three because there are customer-focussed access arrangements, including positive engagement with traditionally hard-to-reach groups, effective processes and partnerships to tackle anti-social behaviour; and well-maintained estates.

However there are weaknesses that the organisation needs to address: asset management and responsive repairs; the quality of empty properties offered to let; resident involvement where there are low levels of customer satisfaction; and high levels of rent arrears. Significantly there are low levels of customer profile information.

Adrian Brown, Audit Commission Lead Housing Inspector for London (East) said:
‘Hackney Homes has made progress since the establishment of the ALMO in April 2006, effectively managing change whilst demonstrating a track record of improvements that customers have noticed. The organisation is also striving to achieve value for money in its services and has achieved demonstrable efficiency gains. This combined with robust performance management are all drivers for further improvement. However, service planning needs further improvement.’

The inspectors found:

– Effective and interactive website, electronic kiosks and telephony systems that support a customer focussed service;
– a robust approach to dealing with racial harassment including using local offices as ‘race hate’ reporting centres as well as effective partnership working;
– diversity beginning to be addressed more effectively after the introduction of a new equalities and diversity strategy and impact assessments that have been carried out on all services;
– increasing numbers of homes being made decent through partnered capital programmes with good customer consultation and engagement;
– improving empty property performance with significantly reduced turnaround times for maintenance and allocations; and
– a proactive approach to dealing with anti-social behaviour with evidence of strong action and enforcement and prevention work.

To help the service improve further, inspectors made a number of recommendations. These include:

– To produce a revised asset management strategy to reflect the changes in their financial profile up to 2013 which is their revised timescale for delivering Decent Homes standards; to Implement a responsive repairs strategy by: reducing the types of repairs which are currently listed as the responsibility of tenants in their handbook, such as glazing of internal doors, and have these carried out by Hackney Homes; and
– making it easier for vulnerable residents to have repairs carried out which they need but cannot do themselves; re-charging residents for repairs that are their responsibility but which Hackney Homes carry out for them or those caused by such tenants’ neglect or deliberate damage; and reducing the variations of works orders to agreed falling targets.

Hackney Homes was formed in April 2006, managing and employing 780 staff across all of its services. In addition, housing management services to tenants and leaseholders are carried out by three housing management partners (Pinnacle, Pathmeads and Mouchel Parkman), operating from five neighbourhoods. The budget for 2007/08 has been agreed with London Borough of Hackney Council and is composed of revenue expenditure of £116.8 million and income of £106 million. The capital budget is £82.9 million. This includes £45 million for Decent Homes works.

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