COUNCIL house tenants’ rising complaints over what they deem to be essential repair work in their homes will be handled better thanks to the implementation of two key policies which have been shaped with their help.

Ruling cabinet members will discuss Berneslai Homes’ new repairs and maintenance policy and its updated complaints policy on Wednesday.

The former covers different types of repairs including responsive, out of hours, programmed, planned and rechargeable repairs, also outlining the permissions and approvals required for tenants to carry out improvements, alterations or additions to their homes.

An updated complaints policy is designed to enhance the complaint-handling process for the council’s 18,000-strong housing stock, ‘ensuring transparency and tenant satisfaction’.( Both policies have been written in collaboration with engaged tenants and approved by Berneslai Homes’ board members, bosses said this week.

Amanda Garrard, chief executive of Berneslai Homes, said: “We want to deliver the best possible service to tenants and listen to them to understand their needs.

“Our new policies have both been written with helpful input from tenants and will help to make sure we’re responsive, accountable and proactive in meeting the needs of our community.

“They set out how we’ll deliver a high-quality repairs service and how we’ll deal with complaints to put things right as soon as possible.”

Once a letter of claim is received by Barnsley Council, Berneslai Homes’ relevant staff members are notified and properties are visited.

This visit must take place within 20 working days of a response and there is a 90-day period to action and complete the agreed repairs.

Wates - the firm responsible for carrying out repair work - signed a ten-year, £100m deal with the council in 2020.

The previous provider, Kier, had held the contract for ten years but a decision was taken to end the agreement following a tender process.

However, the council previously confirmed that some tenants had endured year-long waits, which prompted a probe into why some delays had been encountered.

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.

Formal complaints have rocketed from just 14 in the financial year to March 2021 to 69 two years later.

The most prevalent issues relate to damp and mould, ill-fitting doors and windows, broken heating systems and cracks, holes, damaged plaster and leaks.( Matt O’Neill, executive director for growth and sustainability at the council, added: “We’re committed to making sure our tenants get the support they need and receive a high-quality repairs service and complaint handling.

“These two policies provide a clear framework to help us achieve this goal and reflect our commitment to transparency, efficiency and continuous improvement in our services.”