‘UNACCEPTABLE’ delays in repairing damaged council houses - which has resulted in some tenants waiting for more than a year for work to be carried out - will be prioritised after a huge spike in complaints.
The matter - discussed at last Thursday’s full council meeting - resulted in the council confirming that delays were known of.
It comes just three years after Wates Living Space were appointed as being responsible for delivering repairs, maintenance, gas servicing and electrical works across homes in Barnsley, in addition to works to refurbish void properties in the borough.
The previous provider, Kier, had held the contract for ten years but a decision was taken to end the agreement.
According to Berneslai Homes board meeting papers, a total of 1,434 complaints were received during 2022/23, which was an increase of 52 per cent per cent compared to the previous financial year.
The most prevalent issues relate to damp and mould, ill-fitting doors and windows, broken heating systems and cracks, holes, damaged plaster and leaks.
A report added: “The top category of disrepair claim relates to damp and mould - this is a common claim as causes and remedial work is complex and requires good interaction with tenants. In order to defend and resolve claims, it is very important that accurate and up to date property information and data is available.
“A number of recent claims have been settled with reduced offers of compensation and we have some which have been totally withdrawn when tenants have been visited by our teams.
“Once a letter of claim is received by Barnsley Council, we are notified, visit properties and try to gain access to carry out repairs as quickly as possible once a claim is received.
“This visit must take place within 20 working days of a response - we then have 90 working days, unless stipulated otherwise in the agreed settlement, to action and complete the agreed repairs.”
Coun Jake Lodge, who represents the Worsbrough ward, said: “Berneslai Homes’ tenants are consistently reporting in regular delays in repairs and maintenance of their properties, many of these residents have escalated their cases through complaints procedures.
“These delays are having a huge impact on their physical and mental health.
“Having delays of 12-plus months is unacceptable - Berneslai Homes need to make the repairs as soon as possible.”
The Chronicle can confirm that additional funding has been allocated in order to carry out work which had been missed in the last financial year.
Coun Robin Franklin, cabinet spokesperson for regeneration and culture, added: “The council is aware of some delays in the completion of planned works for Berneslai Homes’ tenants.
“These have been highlighted through elected members and the complaints process.
“The council is investigating this with Berneslai Homes and they are looking at their communication with tenants regarding these delays.
“Additional funding was allocated to Berneslai Homes at the start of the financial year to complete any outstanding planned works which had rolled over from the last financial year.
“The council is assured that all outstanding work is in the process of being prioritised with contractors.”