Report reveals Lichfield District Council could outsource some housing services

Some of Lichfield District Council’s housing services could be provided by private companies in future.

The local authority made the admission in a document outlining plans to review possible cuts and changes as part of the Fit for the Future programme.

Lichfield District Council's offices. Pic: Lichfield District Council

Lichfield District Council’s offices. Pic: Lichfield District Council

The council is bidding to plug a multi-million pound hole in its budget and is examining where savings can be made.

In February it was revealed that £4.8million of cuts had already been identified, but the council warned a further £2.4million still needed to be found to balance the books over the next three years.

Now the spotlight is turning on the area of the local authority responsible for sectors such as homelessness services, energy efficiency in homes, carbon reduction, the delivery of disabled facilities grants and dealing with empty properties.

Among the options to be considered by the review – which will end in the autumn – include outsourcing, downsizing, sharing contracts with other councils and axing some services altogether.

The report, to be considered by the community, housing and health scrutiny committee on Monday (March 24), warns that there may be a need to “accept a lower standard of service delivery than is presently provided” and said the council would need to “consider alternative options for the delivery of each area of the service, including external provision, shared services with other local authorities, or ceasing activities”.

The report added: “We need to be mindful of the changing profile of our local community. Our population is growing and the average age is increasing. This means we have to consider how we can deliver our services to our more vulnerable residents, particularly elderly people.

“We do not know yet how welfare reform will affect us and the services we are responsible for, and we need to monitor this closely to ensure we are able to react to any changes in demand.

“As part of the Fit for the Future Programme, reviews of all service areas will be undertaken to identify the minimum outcomes we expect each service to deliver, and the costs of the various options available to us.

“A comprehensive review of housing services is therefore required to ensure that that an efficient, cost effective service can be provided that will deliver efficiencies and explore potential opportunities for savings, income generation or alternative delivery methods including shared services.”

The council will also be reviewing homelessness and housing options alongside other local authorities in Wolverhampton, Solihull and Dudley.

The report added that local authority was keen to ensure that “statutory” housing services need to be met: “Housing is very important as it is the foundation upon which we build our lives, and good quality housing is fundamental to the health and well being of members of our communities.

“As the strategic housing authority, the District Council places great priority on ensuring Lichfield District is a good place to live.

“Although most residents live in good quality housing, the cost of property makes it difficult for young people to stay here once they have grown up and the shortage of rented accommodation means that homelessness is relatively high.

“There is also a growing elderly population, whose needs for housing will change as they become older. The council therefore needs to work closely with a wide range of partners who share its goals and ambitions for developing and improving housing and housing options in the district.”

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2 Comments

  1. Cynic

    19th March, 2014 at 4:20 pm

    “explore potential opportunities for savings, income generation”

    How about charging ALL adults council tax ?

  2. Cynic

    19th March, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Thanks for the red mark.
    Why are you against paying towards the fabric of your local community?
    The majority should be willing to help the genuine needy in the area.