This update mainly focuses on measuring Camden Council’s performance. It offers you a chance to give your views on it to an external accreditation agency. There is also important news on a government proposal to cap major works bills, together with an update on our future meetings. As this update goes into more detail than normal, clicking on the underlined links will take you to other websites with more much in-depth information on the particular topic being discussed.
- Benchmarking Background
- Benchmarking Results
- Leaseholders wanted for one evening (31st October)
- Major Works Cap!
You may know that this government abolished the Audit Commission which used to inspect and report on council performance. The Commission had rated Camden very highly, which hardly helped leaseholders who thought it inefficient and spendthrift.
Although Camden publishes very little useful performance data, it does supply data to organisations for benchmarking against other councils and service providers. Some of that information is now being levered out into the light of day, notably through a small panel of councillors and a leaseholder who is co-opted to the Forum. The group are examining housing management performance.
Benchmarking data goes to CIPFA (the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy) and to Housemark. This data is not currently published on the Camden Council website, but you can get by making a Freedom of Information request. One result of this work should be benchmarking figures published regularly, and feeding into Camden’s service planning and delivery; as well being available for LVT cases.
During the summer the aforementioned panel got back its first benchmarking results comparing Camden with other inner London boroughs in 2012. We were sent a copy of the summary. It shows that Camden is one of the least efficient of the group when it comes tenancy and leaseholder issues and getting towards the most expensive for estate works. Whilst this won’t impact leaseholders immediately, it provides useful data to show Camden Council the areas where they need to improve and which other boroughs’ experiences they need to learn from.
Leaseholders wanted for one evening – is this the focus group for you?!
In parallel to benchmarking, Camden wants its services accredited by the Housing Quality Network. Accreditation identifies organisations with “a visible sign that your organisation not only meets or exceeds good practice standards, but is also proud to offer a best-in-class service to its tenants and residents”. As part of their assessment process, HQN could make a series of suggestions for improvement before awarding accreditation.
As part of the accreditation process, it is looking for both engaged and non-engaged leaseholders to join an HQN focus group; that is to say, both leaseholders that regularly become involved with leaseholder issues and those that don’t speak to the Council regularly. The HQN Focus Group is on 31st October at 6pm. If interested in attending please let firstname.lastname@example.org know by 21st October. Read more here. [editor’s note: old Discussion Board posts were not migrated when we changed sites in 2015]
Major Works Cap!
Back in 2006 the former London Leaseholders’ Networ (which Camden leaseholders were part of and supplied two Chairs) launched a manifesto demanding that social landlords should have similar obligations to private sector landlords. Although nothing happened at the time lobbying continued. Fast forward 7 years and the results have started to appear. Last week Eric Pickles, current Communities Secretary, announced plans to enforce a limit on council charges for major works (£15,000 in any 5 year period). If all goes well it is anticipated that this legislation will be in place before the next general election, but there are plenty of opportunities for alterations or hurdles in the meantime.
The next regular meeting will be at 6.45pm on Tuesday, 29th October at Camden Town Hall, Judd Street, Kings Cross, WC1H 9JE. The next open meeting will be next year.
That’s it for now!
on behalf of Camden Leaseholders’ Forum
More information available at: https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk
If you know of anyone who would like to receive updates from Camden Leaseholders’ Forum please direct them to https://www.leaseholdersforum.org.uk/mailing-list where they can sign up.
The Leaseholders’ Forum is a volunteer group representing all the leaseholders in Camden Council properties and freeholders paying service charges to Camden Council. We scrutinise Camden Council proposals, examine working practices and lobby on behalf of leaseholders to Camden Council.