Sheffield tenants fear houses will never be improved

Gleadless Valley estate
Gleadless Valley estate
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Thousands of Sheffield Council tenants who were promised home improvements nearly a decade ago may now never have the work done, The Star can reveal.

The £670 million Decent Homes scheme – launched in 2004 – involved rewiring, new windows, doors, heating systems, kitchens and bathrooms.

Altogether, the work was worth around £16,000 per property.

But now it has emerged officials only ever budgeted for 32,300 of the city’s 42,000 council houses – because they thought the rest would be sold under the right to buy scheme.

But in fact house sales collapsed due to the recession and only around 1,000 homes were actually sold, which has meant less income from sales.

Around £10 million of work today still remains outstanding.

Council officials have never before revealed how few homes they had budgeted for in the first place.

The authority did make £90m of efficiency savings to help cover the cost of an extra 8,400 properties needing work.

But it has now run out of money – and 1,600 households where work is not finished by next March could miss out altogether.

The council has previously said although Decent Homes was in financial difficulty, and over-running by three years, it would ensure all renovations are complete.

Residents have accused the council of breaking its promise.

The council said it would look at obtaining cash from unspecified ‘future funding streams’ for the outstanding 1,600 homes.

The properties – which require an estimated £10 million of work – are dotted across the city and are houses where residents opted to have work deferred if they were too old or unwell for the disruption.

In some cases, new tenants have since moved in.

Mick Daniels, chairman of Brushes Tenants and Residents’ Association based at Firth Park, said: “At the start of the programme, people were promised the last homes would be completed to the same standard as the first.

“All the way through I kept asking why money wasn’t put aside.”

Plan being drawn up to see when work can be done

Sheffield Council assistant director for investment Iain Allott said: “The remaining 1,600 have been surveyed to identify what work is required to bring them up to standard.

“We will be planning how the remaining work is carried out.

“Almost 39,000 homes will have been improved by the end of March when the Decent Homes programme comes to an end.

“Sheffield Council remains fully committed to maintaining excellent homes and is in the process of developing a five-year investment strategy worth over £300m which forms part of a longer term 30-year business plan.”

Full improvements to the remaining 1,600 homes would cost £25.6m but the council says expensive work including new roofs and boilers has been done.