Shropshire Star

£1.4 million to be moved to create 'area-focussed' housing maintenance teams across Powys

Nearly £1.4 million will be put towards creating dedicated teams of staff in each part of Powys to maintain and repair the council’s housing stock.

File picture of Councillor Beverley Baynham

The urgent item, added on to the council meeting agenda on Thursday, outlined the need for a virement, which means moving money from one account to another within Powys County Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA).

Council chairman, Councillor Beverley Baynham said she and the previous chairman, Councillor Gareth Ratcliffe had discussed allowing the item to be added to the meeting’s agenda with monitoring officer, Clive Pinney.

Councillor Baynham said: “We both agreed that the item is urgent enough to take on this agenda.

“If we do not accept this item on the agenda today, we do risk losing the ability to employ some members of staff.”

At the meeting, deputy council leader and cabinet member for housing, Labour councillor Matthew Dorrance, explained that the money is needed to create “area-focussed teams”.

Councillor Dorrance said: “It’s important for us to be able to continue to deliver quality services to our tenants and this virement will enable us to do that and improve the housing service.

“Council is being asked to make a virement of £1,394,719.

“It’s not asking for additional money, this has already been budgeted for, we’re simply moving it from third party spend to direct provision to enable us to build area-focussed teams within the housing quality area.

“The housing service has always aspired to directly provide this service with in-house teams.”

Councillor Dorrance explained that previous recruitment exercises had been fruitless, but a new approach had been tried by going out to builder’s merchants and to where tradespeople work.

Due to this, the council received 72 applications to work for the council, with 28 being successful and offered jobs.

“We should be proud of that as it shows a willingness in our communities that people want to work for the council,” said Councillor Dorrance,

He added that changes would also need to be made to the HRA business plan.

Four area teams will be created, and they will look after the maintenance of housing stock in Brecon and Ystradgynlais, Newtown and Llanidloes, Machynlleth and Welshpool and the Wye Valley.

The virement was approved unanimously.

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