Westminster Council publishes independent review of CityWest Homes

Mon, 30/03/2015

CityWest Homes, which manages 21,000 properties on behalf of Westminster City Council, has been given a vote of approval by housing consultancy Altair following an independent review.

Altair’s report will be used by Westminster City Council to inform a decision on the future of its housing management model later this year.

CityWest Homes has managed properties for Westminster City Council tenants and leaseholders since it was established in 2002.

Last year saw satisfaction amongst tenants and leaseholders reach a record high.

The review was commissioned by the council three years into its current contract with CityWest Homes as part of an ongoing drive to deliver continuous improvements in the management of its housing stock and ensure value for money for Westminster’s residents.

The review was carried out by a team of independent experts from Altair, a leading consulting company which specialises in housing.

The overarching recommendation in the report is that CityWest Homes should continue to deliver its existing responsibilities managing 21,000 properties on behalf of Westminster City Council and providing services and support to its customers.

Basing its findings on recognised independent benchmarking, Altair’s report concludes that CityWest Homes provides a first class service to its customers and is amongst the best in its sector. 

The key findings of the report include;

  • CityWest Homes has very high customer satisfaction ratings at 88%
  • people whose properties are managed by CityWest Homes are highly satisfied with the quality of their homes (82%)
  • CityWest Homes has continuously delivered on council performance targets contained within the management agreement with the council
  • the arms length management model is an efficient and effective one, and should continue to form the basis of the arrangement between the council and CityWest Homes

The review also identifies opportunities for improvement in order for CityWest Homes to continue to enhance the services it provides. These areas include;

  • value for money in terms of management, overheads and repairs costs
  • contribution to the council’s wider corporate and civic agenda
  • communications with residents and councillors, particularly on major works

Altair found that activities in all these areas were underway, with CityWest Homes on track to achieve the improvements identified in the report by 2018/19.

In its drive to promote more efficient processes, CityWest Homes has developed a new Value for Money strategy which has helped achieve savings of over £3m per annum over the past four years.

The relatively high costs were in part attributed to the fact that Westminster’s housing stock is expensive to maintain due to the age and architectural merit of the properties. Altair also identified the model of housing management and repairs services as contributing to CityWest Homes’ management costs. 

Westminster City Council will now consider the options set out the review before making a final decision on the future shape of its housing management arrangements in the Summer.

Cllr Daniel Astaire, Cabinet Member for Housing, said “This council is first and foremost dedicated to achieving high standards and value for money for our residents. This ambition was behind our decision to commission an independent report, and we are pleased with Altair’s positive assessment of CityWest Homes and the current direction of travel. Nevertheless, there is always room to improve, and the report highlights opportunities for CityWest Homes to lift standards further, drive value for residents and show greater leadership in local communities.

Value for money is a top priority, and we are committed to working with CityWest Homes to help them deliver significant savings while ensuring they continue to offer a top quality service to our residents. This is the start of a new phase in our relationship with CityWest Homes, and we will continue to work together to deliver our vision of a city where everyone can share in Westminster’s opportunities and successes.”

Adam Humphryes, Chair of CityWest Homes’ board, said “This is an extremely timely report and one that we have received positively. Having now commenced the delivery of our transformation plans this report has provided useful direction in particular around the areas identified for improvement. We also recognise our role in continuing to support WCC in delivering its longer term priorities and we will ensure we continue to contribute strongly in all areas.”

Read the full report

Last updated: 5 August 2016