By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter
Up to £100,000 will be paid to an interim housing director at Nottingham City Council for just under four months of work.
A delegated decision, made outside a public council meeting, was first detailed back in March last year (2022) to appoint a housing director on a temporary basis.
The role was created in response to the discovery of the wrongly spent Housing Revenue Account (HRA) millions, and at the time up to £140,000 was allocated to fund the role.
The interim post, held by Kevin Lowry, has now been extended until the end of April this year at a cost of up to £100,000, while the authority looks to hire for a permanent post.
This means at least £240,000 will have been spent on the role.
Delegated decision documents from January 16 say: “Following the conclusion of the organisational review a permanent post for a Director of Housing has now been confirmed and that post is out to advert.
“However, that process is still under-way and will take several months to conclude and a permanent candidate in post.”
The Labour-run authority has put out a job advert for a permanent housing director, which offers a salary “up to £118,000”.
The council first decided to appoint an interim housing director last year, at the cost of up to £140,000 for six months of work.
A review of the organisation’s senior management structure is currently taking place, and it was during this process it was highlighted there was a need to strengthen the council’s housing function, including the appointment of a housing director.
Mr Lowry has been overseeing transformational work in the council’s housing department, with Nottingham City Homes (NCH) being brought in-house and under the full control of the authority.
Bringing NCH in-house was recommended by independent investigators in two reports following the discovery of the HRA misspends in 2021, and the council served NCH a 12-month contract termination notice back in around April last year.
The council said it hopes the move, similar in that to bringing Enviroenergy in-house, will allow it to “put right” the wrongly-spent millions and make necessary changes.
It has just this year been revealed the wrongful spending of Housing Revenue Account (HRA) money had cost the authority up to £51m in total.
The total amount of money misspent is estimated at around £44.42m, with the remaining understood to be down to inflationary costs on repayments.
Mr Lowry has previously worked for housing associations and as housing director at Manchester City Council.
It is not yet known who will be awarded the permanent position, and applications for the role close on January 27.
The council remains under the close watch of the Government, with an improvement board overseeing progress.
Delegated decision documents add: “In the meantime the extension to the current interim Director of Housing will provide continuity and much needed capacity and capability in relation to the councils housing functions, in particular overseeing the Housing Transition Project relating to the return of housing management back in to the council from April 1, 2023.”