Council’s housing is ‘fair’

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A COUNCIL’S housing service has been rated “fair” with “promising” prospects for improvement, according to a watchdog.

Durham County Council’s strategic housing services were given the ratings in an independent report by the Audit Commission.

On a scale from zero to three stars, the Audit Commission inspection team gave the council a “fair”, one star rating.

Audit Commission senior manager Domini Gunn praised the council’s ability to meet housing needs of vulnerable people and improvements to private sector housing and successful licensing schemes.

The commission also said the council knows there is further work to do, including agreeing a county-wide strategic approach for some areas, particularly private sector housing, diversity and affordable warmth.

But weaknesses included service standards not being “challenging” enough and the council not having a thorough understanding of the costs for strategic housing services to ensure it is achieving value for money.

Recommendations include ensuring all households get the help they need to live in a properly heated home, aiming to increase the number of affordable homes in rural areas and increasing the number of empty homes brought back into use.