14 September 2018 | Herpreet Kaur Grewal
CityWest Homes - the arm's-length housing organisation for Westminster City Council - is set to return to council control, it was confirmed last week (20 September).
Following concerns about CityWest Homes' performance highlighted by both council tenants and ward councillors, the council commissioned an independent review into issues raised.
While this review was under way, the local authority introduced immediate improvement action to address failings, including changes to improve the customer contact centre and action to address problems with the repairs service such as a new team focused on fixing leaks.
A task group of the housing, finance and customer services policy and scrutiny committee also looked into the matter. Its report, published last week, further confirms the points raised by tenants at CityWest Homes, including the need for a culture change and reform of the management board so that residents are at the heart of the service.
Councillor Andrew Smith, the council's cabinet member for housing and customer service, said: "We're clear that our residents in council-owned housing deserve the best service. Concerns from residents and ward councillors, which have been confirmed by an independent review and now the latest findings from the task group, demonstrates CityWest Homes is failing to provide this, despite action we've taken to date.
"I believe there is no option now other than to bring the management of council housing under the council's direct control. We believe that this will be the most effective way of driving through the improvements.
"Working closely with resident groups and associations, we will now take the necessary steps to restore confidence. Whether renting or leasing a council property, we're determined to make sure our residents get the service they expect so that they have a safe and secure place they call their home."