Kingston's Housing Challenges

Recent Case Studies

The affordable housing sector in England is going through the biggest legislative and financial changes since the mid 1980's.  The Coalition government is changing benefit and subsidy rules dramatically.  Individual families must make different choices, while all landlords and developers must rethink their business model.  Policies also free up local authorities to rethink access to secure housing.In this context one London borough stands out.  The nuances of the subsidy system mean that for the first time in two decades Kingston upon Thames (RBK) can afford to invest in its 5000-strong housing stock and consider developing more homes.  The council needed a long, cool look at its housing department.  The corporate director, Roy Thompson, asked Sarah Tanburn to carry out a health check and see if the service ended reorganising to make it fit for purpose.

    Sarah agreed the scope and project plan with Roy, a deadline of the end of April and the maximum number of days.  There were four main elements to the work: reviewing the changes and specific implications for RBK, interviewing stakeholders, running workshops and writing the report.  Sarah spoke to about forty stakeholders, including elected politicians, representatives of tenants and leaseholders and staff.  This gave a useful, three-dimensional view of the service, highlighting strengths and weaknesses.  Two workshops looked in more detail at procedures around rent collection and responsive repairs, resulting in some proposals for immediate improvements.

  Sarah's report for Roy gave a 'warts and all' picture of the housing service, and made a wide range of specifics proposals for changes.  Key recommendations include confirming the management team, strengthening the strategic capacity in the service, and making housing management roles more generic and highly skilled.  The Council has since moved on to the next stage of reorganisation, including staff consultation.

  Roy said, "I was very pleased with Sarah's contribution.  She has focused our minds and given us a clear route to creating a fitter, high-performing service.  She listened carefully to what I wanted and delivered it on time and to budget.  The report is worth its weight in gold."