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2 December 2015

Local employment receives further boost from Housing Service improvement works

A national contractor working in partnership with Wrexham Council’s Housing Service have been taking on local staff and apprentices after opening a new office branch in the Wrexham area.

Top Notch Contractors Ltd opened their new branch on the Alyn Industrial Estate, Cefn y Bedd in August, after being appointed by the Housing Service to provide major property renovation programmes to the County Borough’s social housing stock.

Some of the work Top Notch will be involved with will include installing new kitchens and bathrooms for over 60 properties in the Bradley area.

This is part of the Housing Service’s comprehensive improvement works programme to ensure all its social housing achieves the Welsh Housing Quality Standard by 2020.

Since opening the new branch, Top Notch have already employed several Wrexham based staff, including two plasterers, a Customer Liaison Officer, and two young apprentices, Kerim Ozdemir (plumbing) and Chris Haughton (joiner), who both studied at Coleg Cambria.

Gary Robinson, Regional Operations Manager for Top Notch, commented, “We are delighted to have been chosen by Wrexham County Borough Council to work closely with them in delivering their ambitious programme of renovation of their housing stock.

"Our company’s decision to open a new Wrexham based branch office, is another sign of our commitment to our core values of delivering long term employment opportunities to local people and returning prosperity within the regions in which we operate.

"We also felt it was important on a communications level to employ staff who are familiar with the places and people of Wrexham. We are delighted to have been able to recruit both trades operatives from the local area as well as making key managerial appointments such as Leah Evans Customer Liaison Officer who is also a local resident. Leah will be the key point of contact for tenants as we commence work on their homes.”

Local employment has already seen a number of benefits from the Housing Service improvement works, with at least 42 apprentices now employed across all the Housing Service’s contractors, 36 employees provided with short term employment, and 34 employees provided with long term employment. £63,197 has been donated as cash or in-kind to organizations or projects within Wales.

Employing a quota of locally based staff is one of the ‘Community Benefit’ requirements which are now built into all the Housing Service’s contracts.

Community Benefit schemes were introduced by the Welsh Government as a way of ensuring that local economies are able to benefit from the money being spent on housing improvement work to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

As well as taking on local staff and trainees, Community Benefits can also include contractors committing to using local suppliers and businesses, sponsoring local groups, and refurbishing community facilities.

Lead Member for Housing, Cllr Ian Roberts commented: “The work to ensure our social housing stock achieves the Welsh Housing Quality Standard requires a massive investment. We are committed to ensuring that as much of this money as possible is pumped back into the local economy for the benefit of local businesses, community schemes and to create jobs and apprenticeships for our young people.”

In total Wrexham Housing Service will be spending £38m on external and internal improvement work to its social housing stock in 2015/16. This includes a £7.5m grant from the Welsh Government, the Major Repairs Allowance, which supports the work to achieve the Welsh Housing Quality Standard and is awarded to Local Authorities who have retained their social housing stock.’