We‘re expanding our repairs and maintenance team
We are expanding our Direct Services workforce in the second phase of a programme that has seen us improve our repairs and maintenance service to tenants and become more cost effective.
We are the only council in Kent with our own Direct Services Organisation, employing skilled workers to carry out repairs and maintenance to council-owned homes.
Since 2018 we have recruited an additional 14 members of staff allowing more repair and improvement works to be brought in-house.
A second phase of recruitment will see 23 additional workers taken on, allowing as much repair and maintenance work as possible to be retained in-house and bring our electrical test and upgrade programme in house as well.
Cllr Jenny Wallace, Cabinet Member for Housing Services, said: “At a time when the unemployment rate in the Borough is at a troubling high, this latest recruitment drive for skilled tradespeople couldn‘t be more important.
“By employing local people we can bring more work in-house and so are far less dependent on large national contractors.
“The benefits are many. The majority of recruits from our previous process had previously been self-employed and so came with a clear understanding of customer service and customer expectations. That is reflected in our customer satisfaction levels which are now running at 98%.
“They also brought with them more skills than we had anticipated, meaning we have been able to carry out a wider range of work in-house such as specialist flooring and locksmith work.”
The expansion of the DSO team has also had financial benefits, with the improvements enabling budgets to be reduced consistently since 2015/16. In the financial year 2019/20 the service came in £193,000 under budget, and this current year is expected to see savings of around £70,000 despite this year’s budget being decreased to reflect the savings made in the previous year.
The new recruitment drive will include the creation of less skilled roles to support the skilled craft workers, with a view to offering those in these roles training through specific trade courses.
Cllr Wallace added: “We can see only positives from expanding our DSO workforce, from quality of work, to customer satisfaction, increased cost efficiency, and creating local jobs for local people at a time when they are needed more than ever.”