Posted by: Alex Wellman01/02/2012
I have had the joyful tones of Jimmy Cliff reverberating around my head all day.
Unfortunately this is not due to the radio implanting ‘You Can Get It If You Really Want’ in my brain on the way to work this morning.
Had that been the case, I dare say I would have been much more productive today – like watching ‘Rocky’ before setting out on a 10 mile run.
No, Mr Cliff has been ever present in my conscious today thanks to Inside Housing’s focus on the tenant cashback scheme.
Darrin Gamble, head of neighbourhoods for the west midlands at Bromford Living (which is running a pilot), is a big supporter of the scheme. So much so that he uses the song as inspiration for the landlords attitude to ensuring it succeeds.
Mr Gamble says that the tenant cashback scheme fitted in with the group’s approach in the housing sector and its thoughts on innovation.
The aims of the group’s pilot are to reduce the cost of housing management, reward customers and discover what opportunities the scheme presents.
The landlord is also keen to see improved behaviour in some tenants too. Mr Gamble said in our Focus discussion that a customer who had damage to doors and boards came to them asking to be part of the pilot.
The tenant was told that they could not take part until the damage had been repaired. This was done and the tenant signed up to the scheme.
So far, it seems the scheme has been going well but one problem it has thrown up is tenants claiming cash for repairs that previously they would have done themselves.
Mr Gamble has admitted that this is an area which the group is looking at as the current amount of £300 for repairs is too high and would eat into any savings made. There is, however, no solution given.
On the other side of the fence sits Kevin Lowry, head of housing services at Northumberland Council, who argues that a failing repairs service should not be fragmented and replaced with more emphasis on tenants taking responsibility, but to ‘consolidate and make the service tenant driven and accountable’.
He argues that there is little evidence showing tenants’ desire to do their own repairs.
This is an intriguing point and if we take it further we could ask what will happen to the service once it is two, three or four years old?
Will tenants still be so keen to do repairs in their own home in return for cash? I’m sure we can all recall a point in our life when we have put off painting the garage or putting together the new desk from Ikea for a number of weeks.
Could it be that the novelty soon wears off and a number of homes begin spiralling into disrepair as tenants do not bother to report and undertake repairs?
The health and safety concerns aside, what about the effect on the actual house and the monetary value of it?
These are but a few of the considerations which came up in the debate this morning and there are sure to be a few more that crop up as the pilots rumble on.
From Can we fix it?
Alex Wellman takes a look at what’s going on in the social housing contracting sector