July marked the one-year anniversary of Barnet Homes ending its contract with Mears and bringing the repairs service in-house. By the time you read this in October, the one-year anniversary of our gas service coming in-house will have also arrived. Whilst there have been many positives about the changes we have made to these services, including lots of positive feedback from customers, we are currently experiencing some significant challenges that mean we are not providing the repairs service to customers that we want to at all times.

Some of you may have seen in the news that there is a nationwide shortage of trade-based labour such as plumbers, carpenters, plasterers and electricians. This has been caused by a combination of the impacts of Covid and other factors, and is making it challenging for Barnet Homes to recruit to vacant trades positions in the repairs service. Whilst we have tried to use agency tradespeople to cover vacancies, this has been challenging as they are in high demand so some have moved elsewhere at short notice. The subcontractors that we work with are facing the same labour challenges. These resourcing issues have resulted in a higher volume of ‘works in progress’ than expected and repair completion times for customers sometimes being longer than where we want them to be. It has also meant that some customers have had their repairs appointments moved or cancelled at short notice.

We are sorry if you have been affected by delayed repairs or moved appointments and for the inconvenience and difficulties that this has caused. We are doing what we can to address our resourcing challenges and reduce the volume of repairs that are in progress. We are also reviewing how we can better manage our communications with customers who report a repair during this period so that they are pro-actively updated as early as possible if there is going to be a delay or other issue with their repair. Those customers who are most affected by delayed repairs are being contacted with relevant updates and next steps where we have these.