Housing repair firm loses Havering contract after months of 'poor performance'

Havering Town Hall. Picture: KEN MEARS

Havering Town Hall - Credit: Ken Mears

The company responsible for repairing Havering’s council homes has lost its contract after months of “poor performance”. 

A council report said Breyer Group, awarded the £35million contract in 2014, achieved a 12-month rolling performance of less than 80 per cent for routine repairs done on time as of May to September - the target was 95pc. 

The document, presented to Havering’s towns and communities committee on Monday, January 31, said Breyer’s “performance has dropped” over the past few months due to Covid delays, increased workload, labour and material shortages and the company knowing that their contract is “winding down”. 

It added: "There have been significant challenges throughout the term, some through poor performance by the contractor."

Housing repairs giant Mears will take over in April, having been awarded a ten-year contract. 

The decision to award Mears the £58million contract was recently called in by the council's overview and scrutiny committee, with opposition leader Ray Morgon accusing the borough of awarding it based on the “flimsiest of details”. 

The bid to force the decision to be reconsidered was narrowly rejected, with the committee chair using his second vote to tip the balance.  

Assistant director of housing property services Garry Knights told the committee that he was focusing on ensuring Breyer completes any emergency repairs before April. 

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He said “To be fair they have struggled with supply and labour and have had challenges with Covid… not everything is their fault.  

“Mears will be able to take it over and get us back to where we need to be… we know communication [with tenants] is not good at the moment.” 

He added that the penalties for failing to meet the target agreed in the current contract with Breyer “never really achieved the desired results”. 

Knights hopes that the new 10-year contract with Mears will be better managed, in part thanks to “incentives” to perform well and a new IT system. 

However, committee member Cllr Chris Wilkins warned: “Mears can talk a good show Garry, we all know we’ve all been burned. It’s about being robust, upfront, setting targets and standards. 

Knights replied: “The documents and requirements have been set really tight, there’s no wiggle room, from day one we’ve been clear.” 

Among the sanctions included in the new contract is a £20 charge for the company for an appointment missed. 

Breyer Group did not respond to a request for comment.