Leeds City Council’s housing chief has admitted that officials suspected former managers of Morrison FS did not understand the scale of the £175m contract they took over in 2011.
The admission from Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for housing, comes after the council agreed to take back work worth nearly £4m a year from the firm.
The move to return major adaptation services, which include works costing more than £1,000 such as the installation of wet floor showers and stair lifts, was initially confirmed by Morrison in September.
In February council contractors at East North East Homes Ltd (ENEH) will take over that portion of Morrison’s £35m-a-year five-year contract, which covers 37,000 council homes in south and west Leeds.
Coun Peter Gruen, the council’s executive member for housing, said: “Our suspicion from the beginning was that the former Morrison company didn’t really understand just how big both the jobs were in Leeds or what it entailed and once the backlog started it became increasingly more difficult for them.”
ENEH will take over that part of the maintenance for 12 months but it has already started working through some of Morrison’s backlog.
Morrison, which was taken over by rival firm Mears for £24m in November, has completed a second improvement plan.
That is aimed at bringing the housing maintenance contract up to standard by December 31.
Coun Gruen will meet Morrison bosses to discuss the results this month, when the contract’s future will be decided.
He said: “For them (new owners) coming in it is easier to make decisions, I would imagine they just want to clear away those areas where performance hasn’t been satisfactory and put a new effort into those areas they know they can make a difference.”
A spokeswoman for Morrison and Mears said: “Morrison and Mears remain committed to working in partnership with Leeds City Council and this transfer will enable us to make significant moves forwards in our other work streams.”