Debt write off for stat notices

Statutory noticesThe City of Edinburgh Council is set to write off £5.5m in debt associated with the statutory repairs scandal.

The sum is one quarter of the £22m that the Council is attempting to recover from home owners who have had repairs carried out on their homes but not been billed.

The outstanding sum relates to 446 statutory notice projects that remain to be finalised and the Council has appointed Deloitte to review and conclude the projects to allow billing.  To date, 351 of these projects have been concluded with many being funneled back into the Council’s complaints resolution process.

The details, contained in a report presented to the Finance and Resources Property Sub-Committee on Thursday 8 May, demonstrate a range of projections from Deloitte’s work to date.  It is anticipated that of those projects which will be billable, some 75% will require additional work from the Council including remedial works to repairs.  The remaining projects which are still to be reviewed are identified as some of the more complex cases with a total value of £10m.

The update is the latest indication of the challenges that the Council is still facing to draw a line under the debacle.   The inability of the Council to recover all of the money it is owed is a heavy blow at a time when finances are tight but the fact that these sums are not recoverable at all is a symptom of the mismanagement of the statutory repairs system in the first place.

There is an ongoing issue of developing a replacement statutory repairs service that both meets the needs of residents and ensures the safety of the city’s built environment.  Council officials have recently warned that the 15% administration fee previously charged on statutory repairs would have to more than double to 35% to make a replacement service financially viable.  I am continuing to ask questions to try and get to the bottom of this situation to deliver a robust new system that can command public confidence.

For the future I’m keen to see new legislation being considered by the Scottish Parliament enable residents to get on with managing their repairs with the council empowered to pay the missing shares of owners who are absent or will not pay their share.  This has been a problem which has prevented owners progressing communal works as builders will not commence work without confidence that bills will be paid.   My hope is that the new legislation will enable the council to claim back the shares of those owners who have not been prepared to pay up and remove a key obstacle to communal repairs in the city.