Nottingham City Council spending another £120,000 to help transform housing department

Loxley House
Loxley House
By Joe Locker, Local Democracy Reporter

A further £120,000 will be spent by Nottingham City Council to hire a temporary housing director for six months.

The latest decision means just under £360,000 has now been allocated to funding temporary housing roles in just over a year.

The interim director will help the council in its ongoing transformation work, particularly to make sure the authority is providing housing and homelessness support in a way that proves good value for the taxpayer.

It comes as the authority remains under the close scrutiny of a Government-appointed improvement board, and if the council fails to prove it is providing best value, it could result in stricter intervention.

An interim housing director was first appointed back in March last year.

It came in response to the discovery of the wrongly spent Housing Revenue Account (HRA) millions, the cost of which now totals up to £51m if including inflation.

The money, which was intended for improvements to housing for Nottingham City Homes’ (NCH) tenants, had been wrongly transferred to the council’s general fund.

At the time up to £140,000 was allocated to fund the role, as set out in a delegated decision, meaning it was made outside of a council meeting.

The interim post, which was held by Kevin Lowry, was then extended until the end of April this year at an additional cost of up to £100,000, while the council sought permanent employment.

Mr Lowry has since become the council’s strategic director of housing on a permanent basis.

The permanent position at the time was advertised with a salary of £118,000.

However, more resources are now required to help the authority continue to transform its housing department as part of ongoing improvement work.

In a separate delegated decision, published on June 1, the city council has allocated a further £119,600 to hire another interim housing director for six months.

Documents say: “A recruitment exercise has taken place to bring in an interim housing director into the housing division.

“Housing and homelessness is one of the core best value reviews being undertaken within the council and the post holder will manage the landlord, housing management, including reviewing current performance and approaches, and assisting the transformation project as required.”

Documents state the council only needs the additional role temporarily, and as such interim resource is again needed, rather than permanent employment.

Speaking of the need for temporary resources council leader, Cllr David Mellen (Lab), previously said: “The council is in a position where it needs to urgently make significant changes and improvements to the way we operate.

“Where this work is specialised or we don’t have the necessary capacity within the council, we need to bring in external expertise.

“Often this work is for shorter periods only so it makes more economic sense to have people working on these specific projects with temporary contracts rather than as permanent staff so they can drive and direct the required changes which will leave us a better, more efficient council.”

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