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New rating ensures homes' cash bonus

PUBLISHED: 15:56 01 April 2010 | UPDATED: 21:46 02 July 2010

MILLIONS of pounds to rejuvenate council housing could be on its way to the borough after inspectors gave Redbridge Homes the thumbs-up. Ten months ago the Audit Commission gave the organisation – which manages 7,000 council homes – a one star rating that

MILLIONS of pounds to rejuvenate council housing could be on its way to the borough after inspectors gave Redbridge Homes the thumbs-up.

Ten months ago the Audit Commission gave the organisation - which manages 7,000 council homes - a one star rating that criticised the quality of repairs, the level of complaints and rent collection issues.

Town hall bosses were hit with a double whammy when they were then informed of a change in government policy that meant their £39 million decent homes grant would not be available to failing authorities even if they improved standards.

But council leader Cllr Keith Prince welcomed news of a U-turn just before a re-assessment earlier this year, with the results announced last week - and a two star "good" rating being passed.

He said: "We took on board all the comments made by the inspectors and have changed a few members of staff and tightened up the systems and facilities in certain areas.

"We never thought the money was in jeopardy until the surprise government announcement, and I'm delighted they relented."

One action required was to increase service payments from leaseholders after years of under-charging for services such as cleaning and maintenance to former council properties.

Housing cabinet member Cllr Robin Turbefield held talks with the leaseholders' forum and outlined it was a "legal requirement" and a matter the Audit Commission insisted was addressed.

The new rating means Redbridge is back on track for the funding, and has already been given £3 million - with the rest depending on any cuts made by the new government after May's elections.

Tom Lewis, chairman of Redbridge Homes, Broadmead Road, Woodford Green said: "We are delighted with this judgement especially after the disappointment of last year."

The organisation's chief executive Sharon Standell said an action plan is being devised for improvements to properties and estates.


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