Changes to the way Harrogate Borough Council carries out repairs to its vacated council homes is set to create a huge boost to the local economy and job prospects.
The proposals to create 11 new jobs by transferring this work to the in-house maintenance team, which also include opportunities for an apprenticeship scheme, have already been approved by Cabinet and just need final confirmation from the full council. Under this new scheme it will also be easier to make sure that local companies benefit from the council’s spending power.
The in-house maintenance team was created in 2011 after the council’s external contractor when into liquidation. Since then the team has produced savings to the council of £268,000.
Whilst the team carried out repair works on occupied council homes, an interim arrangement was entered into with the Leeds branch of Help Link Limited to carry out repairs on homes that are between tenancies until a review of the new team was carried out.
Mike Stack, the council’s housing operations manager, said this has worked well but by bringing this work in house will remove the need to procure a contract and the use of directly employed staff to carry out all housing maintenance work will give greater control of the works. He added:
It should also reduce the time properties remain unoccupied. We have consistently ranked highly in a national league for the speed of bringing vacated homes back into use and these new arrangements will help keep us in poll position.
Councillor Mike Chambers, Cabinet Member for Housing, is supporting this proposal:
Anything that can be done to save money and support those in need of homes and jobs has to be a win win situation. On top of the savings already realised by the in house team, we can expect a further saving annually of around £112,000.
The team is doing a fantastic job and has only recently taken on other maintenance and repair work for our public buildings. The team currently consists of 16 staff. Under these proposals, a further 11 will be recruited within current budgets and will leave us about £35k to create an apprenticeship scheme.
Help Link Limited, as a nationwide company, purchase materials central to the whole of their business and not simply to facilitate work in the Harrogate district.
Cllr Chambers added:
One of the over-arching principles of the in house maintenance team is to keep expenditure within the district so that every pound spent increases the benefits to the local economy
Under this new initiative the council will be increasing spending of around £174,000 on materials and waste disposal and as much of that spend as possible will be local.
Even where this expenditure is with merchants who are based nationally, they are still employing staff locally, who in turn spend locally.
The council will be looking to employ multi-skilled joiners, plumbers, electricians, plasterers and plasterers.
Anyone interested is invited to an open day being held on 22 November 2013.
For more information and to book a place call 01423 556083/556708/ 556817/or 556955 or go to www.harrogate.gov.uk and click on the jobs@harrogate button.