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Outsourcing of Slough Borough Council's Home Improvement Agency 'not off the table'

The potential outsourcing of Slough Borough Council’s Home Improvement Agency has not been ruled out by a housing officer.

HIAs provide advice, support and assistance to elderly, disabled and vulnerable people who own and live in their own property.

Typical services offered by an HIA include assessing resident’s problems relating to their property, helping to choose a reliable builder to carry out work and providing advice on the cost of any necessary improvements.

During a meeting of the council’s Neighbourhoods and Community Services Scrutiny Panel on Monday (Jun24), councillors were told that 61 council properties are waiting for help from the HIA with only five jobs in progress.

Colin Moone, SBC’s lead for housing services, told the meeting: “The funding model just isn’t conducive to how it should operate.

“You either hive it off to the private sector and get an HIA that’s in the private sector, not-for-profit, to deliver the services or you resource it properly.

“That’s the reality.”

The council’s HIA does not carry out enough work to pay for itself and therefore carries a budget pressure.

Last year, the budget pressure amounted to £157,000.

Mr Moone added: “I’d never advocate outsourcing services but you can’t take that off the table.

“You’ve got to look at everything and if an option to outsource a service, not necessarily just the HIA, is available and it’s in the council’s interests to do that then I won’t take it off the table.

“We’ll look at other HIAS and if there are better providers we’ll look at it.

“I’m convinced that we can fix this in house so I don’t believe it will go to that length but you can’t rule these things out.”

The council is planning to carry out a review of its HIA to determine its effectiveness and see if additional services such as a handy-man scheme are required.

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