Agenda item

Housing Repairs - Update

1.  Interview with Mears and SBS.

2.  Update on scrutiny from the chair.




7.1  The chair introduced the item of business and stated that the sub-committee were interested in reviewing housing repairs, the new working arrangements and to inquire how the statistical information was collected. The chair welcomed the opportunity to speak directly to representatives of both Mears and SBS (Southwark Building Services).


7.2  The chair suggested a short introduction from each contractor followed by members’ questions.


7.3  The sub-committee were addressed by David Lewis (Head of Maintenance and Compliance), Christian Mahoney (SBS), Gary McFarland (Mears) and Mr Leicester (Mears).


7.4  The SBS representative reported that there had been a steady improvement, but that there was some way to go before achieving the high standards expected by the council. There were several areas which needed improvement - roofing was highlighted as an example due to the specialist requirement.


7.5  Members were informed that staff management was under control and that operatives were being held to account for work undertaken. The representative reported that follow up to jobs were now done quickly after the job was completed.


7.6  The Mears representative stated that they were experiencing steady improvement, but there was still space for improvement. The company was working well with the council. Mears were also working well with SBS and were providing healthy competition for each other.


7.7  The representative pointed out that the company were very focused and ready to provide a good local experience and produce excellent service delivery. 


7.8  The chair asked the contractors if they trusted their key performance indicators? The representatives stated yes they did and the performance indicators were transparent. The information was gathered through the customer experience captured by the council.


7.9  Members were also informed that the test of customer satisfaction was demanding and the contractor had increased the number of call backs to tenants who had had repairs.


7.10  The chair asked if appointments made are kept? The representatives stated yes, they believed they were kept.


7.11  The chair said that in the past Morrison’s and SBS repair operatives were observed sitting in their vans completing work sheets for work completed, when in fact the work had not be done, was that possible now? The representatives stated this could not happen now, as when work is completed there is a call back to check client satisfaction. Members were also informed that the level of missed appointments was now very low and this was reflected by the low level of payout for missed appointments, records show that 97% of appointments made were now kept.


7.12  The chair continued, does that mean if a job is not completed there is no call back? The representative explained that every job will get a call back at some point. The sub-committee were also informed that if follow up work was required a card would be left with a contact number and a clear instructions on what would happen next. 


7.13  A member stated that there were stories about incidents, where a repair was reported and the operative said that someone would come back, but no one ever did respond -  are some cases falling aside? The representative reported that he would not say that had never happened, but assured members that the company were working towards 100% completion. A scheduling system check list was in place so that no one could be missed.


7.14  The Head of Maintenance and Compliance reported that there was now an 80% satisfaction response to repairs undertaken of jobs being completed 1st time, but that still left 20% which was still a large figure which needs to be bought down. The bar is set very high and there is a lot of work ahead to make a marked improvement on the figure.


7.15  A member of the sub-committee reported that members hear of the worse cases where appointments are not met and that they were not convinced by the figures contained in the graphs. The representative assured members that there had been a marked improvement in service across the board, and there was a growing confidence in the workforce.


7.16  The chair reported that he had collected 10 cases which had been received by members of the council and he would wish to review these with officers and the contractors, all parties involved were in agreement to this taking place. The contractors were willing to look at the addresses for these jobs to see what the problems were with these repairs.


7.17  The chair stated that contract managers need to see the cases that members of the council have to deal with on a regular basis.


7.18  A member reported that a case of repair had gone on for more than a year, operatives keep calling and the client was not happy with the outcome. The representative stated that if a job was not completed it would be picked up by the contractor to be resolved. The sub-committee was informed that calls are made whether a job is completed or not as a means of monitoring repairs. When a operative reports a job completed this is backed up by call to the customer to check satisfaction.


7.19  A member stated that councillors hear of the worse cases and reported that there were a lot of complaints. It was reported that a majority of repairs were completed on the 1st visit, how long did it take to complete the remaining work? The representative reported that 91% of repairs were completed within the timescale, which was 20 working days for non-urgent and 3 working day for urgent works.


7.20  A member of the sub-committee stated that there were issues regarding workmen appearing on site, not being respectful and leaving a mess after they had finished working, are the operatives monitored? The representative reported that they were monitored and the contractor needs to be informed of any incidents so that the appropriate action can be taken.


7.21  The sub-committee were informed by the contractor that toolbox training is given to all operatives covering aspects such as customer services and  health and safety.


7.22  A member asked, if some parts of the repair job  are done and another part  needs to be completed by someone else, what happens? The representative replied this should not happen - the job should be resolved in one appointment by the operative.


7.23  Councillor Nelson expressed concern over leaks in blocks of flats (plumbing), she explained there is usually more than one leak causing the problem but workmen would only repair the specific example, which meant that a workman would have to return to the job every six weeks. Councillor Nelson undertook to pass this information to the chair to raise to the contractor.


7.24  The representative responded to a question from a member of the sub-committee regarding the arbitration unit. It was reported that officers did work with and have regular communication with the arbitration unit to resolve problems.


7.25  The Chair stated that members understand that there is a  lot of good work going on, but there are some nightmares also and these need to be addressed, sooner rather than later.


7.26  The vice-chair asked the representative of Mears how the internal restructuring was progressing? Members were informed that the process started in November 2013 and will be completed by February 2014. This is due to the new demands on Mears to revamp the service  and to make it fit for purpose for at least the next five years.


7.27  The sub-committee were informed that restructuring of senior management is presently being undertaken to provide better overall support to operatives. There were a number of transfers from Morrison’s when the contract was taken over by Mears, and a level playing field is required to motivate all operatives to do their best.


7.28  Members were informed that the contractor wished to provide a high quality service where operatives provided good customer service, showed ID passes and cleaned up after work was completed.


7.29  The representative reported that there had been a increased level of sickness with some operatives and briefly outlined that the bonus scheme that had been in operation appeared to be out of date and benefitted only some operatives and not others. He went on to explain that whoever had taken over the contract would needed to address these points for the future. A number of Morrison’s workers have now left the company.


7.30  The Chair thanked the representatives of Mears and SBS and Head of Maintenance and Compliance for attending the meeting and informed them that the information provided at the meeting would be included in the chair’s report.






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