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‘Tsunami of festering’ housing works with PFI contract, says housing chief

“I know I personally have a big issue with the PFI system. I think everyone here does.”

21 September, 2018 — By Samantha Booth

Islington Town Hall 

THE Town Hall’s housing chief has blamed a controversial private finance initiative contract for a “tsunami” of “festering” repairs.

Islington Council holds two PFI contracts with Partners for Improvement to carry out repairs and maintain 6,440 council-owned street properties.

Labour councillor Diarmaid Ward has told a housing scrutiny committee meeting that, although Partners had a satisfaction rate of 96 per cent, it had too many long-term cases.

He said: “I think in-house we’ve got a bit of problem with complex cases festering, [for] Partners it’s a tsunami of cases that fester. That’s their biggest problem and in my view it’s a symptom of the PFI system.

“What I would say is that it’s very easy to get a satisfaction rating in the 90s if the vast majority of your work is routine jobs. The figure I give importance to is the 11 per cent of cases which go on for more than three months.

“That’s the figure we should be worried about and that’s what fills up [councillors’] inboxes.”

Councillor Diarmaid Ward

The Partners’ contracts, one for 30 years the other 16 years, were agreed by the council in 2003 and 2006. Four companies, including Hyde Housing and Rydon, deliver services as a consortium.

Cllr Ward added: “Certainly when the Partners contract does come to an end the default position, and the position that I want and I think most councillors want, right across all political parties, is let’s bring it back in-house.”

He added: “I know I personally have a big issue with the PFI system. I think everyone here does.”

A Partners spokeswoman said: “We welcome Cllr Ward’s ongoing commitment to working with us. We will follow up with him to ensure there is no misunderstanding about performance information, which is subject to regular checking and audit by council officers.

“During the last year we have completed over 99.5 per cent of all responsive repairs within target. For every 100 homes under our management we receive approximately one councillor inquiry every two months. About half of these relate to repairs and maintenance.”

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