Wrexham Council homepage

Advertising

How We Will Achieve The Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS)

Improving Your Homes

What is the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS) and how does it affect council tenants?

One of the key aims of the Welsh Government is to ensure that all the people of Wales, including social housing tenants, have the opportunity to live in good quality homes, in safe and secure communities.

To ensure that all homes are brought up to an acceptable level, The Welsh Government have drawn up a document, the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS). This is a standard for the quality and condition of properties which lists a number of targets which all homes will need to meet.

The WHQS document requires all social housing to be:

  • In a good state of repair
  • Safe and secure
  • Adequately heated, fuel efficient and well insulated
  • Equipped with up to date kitchens and bathrooms
  • Located in safe and attractive environments
  • Well managed

Local authorities in Wales have until 2020 to ensure that all their social housing ticks these boxes and achieves the standard. This means improvement works will need to be carried out on all homes which do not currently meet this standard.

How is Wrexham Council Housing Service going to achieve the WHQS?

Wrexham Council’s Housing Service owns over 11,300 social housing properties, the largest number in any Welsh local authority apart from Cardiff and Swansea. This stock includes properties of various different ages, shapes and sizes, and built from all sorts of different materials. All of these properties will need to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020.

To ensure that this can be achieved, the Housing Service are now carrying out a comprehensive improvement works programme on Wrexham’s social housing. The works programme will be completed in time for the 2020 deadline.

How is the work being funded?

  • Each year, the Council sets out an annual budget for Housing improvement works
  • A record £54m was invested in carrying out the work in 2016/17.
  • In 2017/18 a further £56.4m will be invested - another new record for investment in housing improvement work for Wrexham Council.
  • The funding is provided by a combination of council house rent income, borrowed money (prudential borrowing) and income from the sale of Council owned land and properties
  • Wrexham Council also receives a Major Repairs Allowance. This is a grant of £7.6m which the Welsh Government awards to local authorities to support them achieving the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

What improvements will happen to my property?

  • Properties will be offered a new kitchen and bathroom, unless their current kitchen or bathroom already meets the standard.
  • All the other additional internal and external work will be carried out where required, to ensure the property meets the Welsh Housing Quality standard.
  • Some properties may already meet the standard and will not need any extra internal or external work, whereas some may require quite a lot.
  • You will receive plenty of notice to let you know when any of these works are being planned to be carried out on your property.

Here is a brief rundown of the other internal and external works:

Internal

  • Kitchens
    This includes replacing the kitchen units, wall units and sink unit, and the installation of safety floor finishes and extract fan, inclusive of associated works
  • Bathrooms
    The replacing/installation of bathroom suites- (inclusive of separate WC's), shower, floor finish, extract fan and associated works.
  • Electrical Rewires/Central Heating
    Replacement boilers, central heating systems and rewires. Where possible, this work will be carried out alongside the kitchen/bathroom work, to minimize disruption.

External Works

  • Asbestos Removal
  • External Fabric
    Includes re-pointing to the dwelling walls, repairing or replacing conventional render, replacing cladding and the pointing of or re-building of chimney stacks.
  • Non-Traditional House Repair
    Includes the installation of external wall insulation and any associated works. N.b- where properties receive external wall insulation they may also be subject to receiving a replacement roof as part of the scheme.
  • Communal External Works
    Includes replacement door entry systems, communal doors and lighting.
  • Other External Issues
    Includes strengthening or replacing masonry walls which are deemed defective, works to drainage systems and the repair of concrete elements that have become defective. Can also include Includes repairs, replacements or improvements to (where required and relevant)- footpaths, outhouses/sheds, clothes drying facilities, boundaries (fencing, walls etc)

When will work be carried out on my property?

  • The Housing Service have now produced a timetable which shows when work will be carried out in each community ward. You can view the timetable here.
  • If you don’t know which ward your property is in, take a look at the community ward map here.
  • All properties will receive written notice well in advance of any planned improvement works to give you time to prepare.

How is work progressing?

In 2017/18 The following work is planned to be carried out:

  • 2,000 properties to receive new kitchens
  • 2,400 properties to receive new bathrooms
  • 450 properties to receive new central heating systems
  • 700 properties to receive electrical rewires
  • 950 properties will be reroofed
  • 280 properties will receive External Wall Insulation

Who is carrying out the work?

The Housing Service are working in partnership with a number of contractors to ensure all aspects of the improvement works can be carried out to a high standard.

Will the work involve disruption to my home and is there any help and advice available?

  • Carrying out improvement works on this scale will inevitably involve some disruption for tenants and we realise the internal works, particularly replacing kitchens and bathrooms, can cause upheaval. We do hope that seeing the finished product will make it worthwhile, and there is help available:
  • The Housing Service has employed Tenant Liaison Officers’ who’s role is to stay in touch with you while a particular aspect of the work is being carried out, help answer any queries you may have, and act as a point of contact between you and the Housing Service.
  • Our contractors also have their own Resident Liaison Officers who have a similar role so there will always be a friendly face that you can contact while the work is going on, should any issues arise.

How is the Housing Service monitoring the quality of the work being carried out?

  • Each aspect of the work has to be inspected by one of the Housing Service’s Clerk of Works, before it can be signed off as ‘completed’. The Clerk must be satisfied that the work achieves the Welsh Housing Quality Standard before they can sign off.
  • The Housing Service uses Service Improvement Groups, made up of elected tenants, who regularly visit properties, speak to tenants, and perform ‘mystery shopper’ type inspections on properties where improvement work is taking place. Their findings are reported back to the Housing Service to help us maintain a high standard of work and address any issues which may arise.
  • Questionnaires are issued to tenants after each aspect of work has been completed. The results are then collected, compared and analysed so that a high standard of work can be maintained across the board.

What if the money runs out before work is carried out on my property?

Every social housing property in Wrexham County Borough must achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by the 2020 deadline. Our commitment and promise to you, the tenant, is that all your homes will achieve the standard in the next four years. No homes will be left behind.

What are ‘Community Benefit’ Schemes?

The Welsh Government and Wrexham Council’s Housing Service are committed to ensuring that the local economy sees the maximum value from every penny spent on the work to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

Clauses are now included in all major contracts, requiring contractors who work with the Housing Service to commit to ‘give something extra’ back to the local economy through Community Benefit schemes.

Schemes can include sponsoring local projects such as community gardens and sports teams, or refurbishing schools, village halls, community centres, etc.

Community Benefits can also include taking on local workers, setting up apprenticeship schemes and purchasing stock and supplies from local businesses.

Over the last 12 months Community Benefit Schemes have resulted in:

  • Over 60 modern apprentices employed
  • 114 weeks of work experience provided
  • 36 employees have been provided with short term employment
  • 34 employees have been given long term employment
  • £63,197 has been donated as cash or in-kind to organizations or projects within Wales