Talking West Cheshire

Multi-skilling agreement to secure improvements to housing repairs

1 September 2010

Cheshire West and Chester Council tenants in Ellesmere Port and Neston are to see repairs to their homes completed much quicker thanks to a new agreement to train council workers in additional trade skills.

The new multi-skilling working agreement between Cheshire West and Chester Council and trades unions aims to secure improvements in the time it takes to carry out repairs to council housing.

The 55-strong repairs and maintenance team is being trained to work flexibly across a range of different skill sets so that that jobs can be completed more quickly. The changes should also mean better value for money for tenants.

After consultation with the trades unions, Unite and Ucatt, all labourers are receiving vocational and NVQ training, and skilled workers are being assessed to undertake a wider range of duties.

Under the new right first time system, pressure will also be taken off back office staff in the housing service, as a repair will be completed in one visit where previously it may have taken more.

Councillor Herbert Manley, Executive Member for Prosperity, which includes Housing, said: “The way things worked previously meant that a plumber might be sent out for a bathroom repair, which would then be followed by a tiler and then a joiner. Now the plumber will be able to carry out the whole job in one visit. Our labourers will take responsibility for repairs such as fencing, concreting and paving.

“This is very much about a change of culture as well as a change in working practices. From our employees’ point of view, it gives them access to training which will develop their capabilities and competencies, and thereby enhance their current and future employability.

“We see this agreement as delivering greater customer satisfaction for tenants, and a commitment to the security and future of our repairs workforce.”