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Council division scores housing repairs hat-trick

BIRMINGHAM City Councils housing department has scooped around 100 million worth of work to carry out repairs to 33 per cent of the citys housing estates, beating the 14 outside contractors which made bids for the jobs.

This is the third time running that in-house teams have won this type of work against outside opposition.

In 1992 the authority put maintenance work on all 12 of its housing areas out to tender in one contract.

This was won by the housing department but the project was stopped by the government, which said the scheme was too large.

The authority then divided the housing repair stock into three separate areas and the latest contract is the second to be awarded.

The housing department also won phase one and is expected to take the last award, which is due to go out to tender next year.

The second phase involves four housing areas, each of which will require around 5 million worth of work a year for the next five years.

The contract includes every aspect of maintenance work including 24-hour call-out, urgent maintenance, preparing homes for new tenants and carrying out longer-term planned maintenance and upgrading work.

Birmingham City Council attributes its success in winning these contracts, which are largely based on a schedule of rates, to having the experience and a large enough labour force to cope with the work.

Outside contractors suffer by having to employ sub-contracted labour which affects their flexibility and ability to respond to situations quickly, said a council source.

The decision to award the contracts in-house has come as a blow to the Building Employers Confederation (BEC), which is campaigning to get a better deal for contractors trying to work on local authority housing maintenance schemes.

We have been able to tighten up legislation affecting this type of work considerably, but in this case it obviously was not enough to enable one of out members to win the work, said BEC spokesman Alan Hughes.