Angus housing chiefs are putting their foot on the accelerator of a Covid catch up programme for pandemic-delayed council house repairs.
The authority’s planned spending on its stock is more than £2 million behind schedule for the year.
Officials say that is largely due to lockdown preventing upgrade and repair projects going ahead as planned.
Monifieth and Sidlaws councillor Beth Whiteside highlighted the “quite significant underspend” in housing repairs and maintenance at the council’s policy and resources committee on Tuesday.
It was part of a wider revenues report which detailed Covid-related delays to other spending plans, ranging to children and families services to the dredging of Arbroath harbour.
The report revealed a £2.2m savings figure in respect of repair delays.
Return to work
The easing of coronavirus restrictions saw contractors allowed back into homes ten days ago and council finance director Ian Lorimer said getting work back on track is a priority.
But he warned the backlog will take time to clear.
“We are in discussion with contractors in trying to accelerate the programmes,” he said.
“But there has to be a degree of realism as to how far we can take that.”
Only emergency repairs and works such as gas servicing had previously been allowed to be carried out.
Infrastructure director Ian Cochrane said: “We were only allowed into people’s houses as of April 26.
“We are minded there is a backlog of repairs.”
Councillors heard that in some cases, handy tenants or their relatives had even carried out repairs.
“We are dealing with the remaining backlog and have a new contract which came into force on April 1.
“It will be a challenge,” said Mr Cochrane.
“We are absolutely up for that challenge and hopefully can bring residents’ homes back up to standard as soon as we can.”
The three-year responsive repairs and change of tenancy works contract involves two firms.
Arbroath-based Derek McNulty Joinery and Building Contractors will cover the Arbroath, Carnoustie and Monifieth areas.
MPS Housing Ltd, part of the nationwide Mears Group, won the contract for Montrose, Brechin, Forfar and Kirriemuir areas.
A dedicated housing repairs call centre has been set up by the council as part of the new arrangement.
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