Plans to boost the standard of 217,000 council properties

Veronica Seeney

Veronica Seeney

First published in News Oxford Mail: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

THOUSANDS of council tenants across Oxford could benefit from improved housing as part of a scheme of improved standards.

Oxford City Council is currently putting together a series of standards for council housing which will go above and beyond the existing government guidelines.

It is not yet clear how much money will be set aside for the scheme but it could mean improvements to kitchens, bathrooms, security and heating in the 7,000-odd homes which the city council owns.

City councillor Scott Seamons, the executive board member for housing, said: “The formulation of the Oxford Standard is an exciting project. It will set the investment priorities for our council housing into the next generation.

“Improving standards in our homes is very important as quality housing has an enormously positive impact on people’s standard of living.”

Government guidelines set out four criteria that social housing must meet. These are that it must be free of health and safety hazards, in a reasonable state of repair, be reasonably insulated and have reasonably modern kitchens, bathrooms and boilers.

As of early April 2011 there were 217,000 council homes across the UK that didn’t meet this standard.

Council tenant and Littlemore resident Veronica Seeney, 78, has had problems with her boiler in the past which meant that she didn’t have any heating or hot water. The great-grandmother of 21 said: “The council has been very good to me and if you phone them up and want something done they do it.

“I have not had any faults lately. They are re-doing my roof at the moment and I am very pleased about that.”

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said there is not yet a set budget for the scheme.

She said: “Central government introduced the Decent Homes Standard in 2000 to ensure that all social housing stock met a specific standard. Oxford City Council are planning to enhance this standard by including more works to our tenants’ homes.

“The Housing Panel and Tenant Scrutiny Panel are carrying out a joint review to set out the recommendation for this standard. We have carried out two sets of consultation to ensure that our tenants voices are heard, this has included door step surveys, the tenant satisfaction survey which was posted to all tenants and events at the Town Hall.

“This information is currently being collated and panel members are considering what the Oxford Standard will look like. The budget and the Oxford Standard will then be approved by councillors.”

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