Brockley PFI criticised by NAO

Lewisham Council has been criticised in a report by the National Audit Office for allowing the cost of the Brockley PFI scheme to improve the area's Council-owned housing stock to spiral out of control.

The Evening Standard reports that the Brockley scheme is one of six to be singled out, after the cost rose from £44.6 million to £115.91 million.

The Standard quotes a Lewisham spokesperson as saying:

“The change in cost was required because many of the properties in the Brockley PFI area required a high level of investment.”

Which is a pretty flimsy explanation, given that the condition of the stock would be one of the fundamental issues in pricing any contract.

The Brockley PFI scheme has been riddled with problems since it began and local resident Patrick McGinley has been leading a campaign to try and hold the Council more accountable for the way it manages the project. We've interviewed him on the subject but have been shamefully slack in publishing an article. More soon.

22 comments:

Bitter and Twisted said...

Good to see those who ripped off the rest of us tax and rate payers by buying their properties at enormous discounts are now being ripped off themselves.

Kharma does exist after all.

TJ said...

Bitter and twisted -

Many of us have bought our properties on the open market and have Lewisham as the landlords - we paid full market rates.

Of those that did buy via the Right to Buy scheme,many are pensioners who scraped together enough to buy the property and had no knowledge at the time that Lewisham would subcontract out their responsibilities to the PFI with no redress to the leaseholders. Can you not feel any compassion for pensioner leaseholders who now have to pay £10,000 to the PFi over 2 years for substandard and unnecessary works? This would be difficult for salaried people to achieve but as a pensioner....

I really do hope that a healthy does of kharma come your way.

Q said...

Now that's hard news. ABSOLUTLEY SHAMEFUL. And I second TJ's statement.

Anonymous said...

BTW to the Lewisham council spokesperson who talks about a higher level of investment needed: originally the PFI budgeted for replacing all the windows in all properties and the doors; in the conservation area they were not allowed to do this (savings) and they didnt go through with the doors in other areas (savings). Perhaps the real spiraling costs came thorugh the delay to start the project and some inept negotaitons at the council; but it didnt come from the work put into the homes.

TJ said...

Sorry - by 'landlords' I do, of course, mean freeholders

Q said...

All the doors and windows were replaced in the Conservation Area.

Q said...

Sadly, in some archaic twisted sense, the freeholder is the landlord. S/he/it owns the land leased to you for 99 or 125 years, after which the land reverts back.

Now Then said...

Is it not possible for the leaseholders to combine to buy out the freeholder council? especially if this expensive messing can by be avoided by doing so.

TJ said...

Yes, if all are leaseholders - then that would work well. But in block properties, and soemtimes street properties, there are sometimes council tenants in the other flats, which means the freehold can't be taken over.

Now Then said...

I see...awkward. Seems like a tidy sum though, was it a complete refurb on each flat and how many?

Anonymous said...

Something that puzzles me....would not tennants and Leaseholders have had agreements with the council regarding regular maintenence, painting & decorating?

If the additional work/cost was due to the council failing to comply with the agreement could they be taken to court?

There are some grand buildings near to me which were converted many years ago into flats by the council.

Despite leases for the properties stating painting & decorating will be carried out every 7 years, in the past 11 years only emergency work has been carried out.

Recently the flats transferred to Lewisham Homes, who butchered the balcony of one flat by hacking off cornicing rather than making a repair.

The flats are now to be taken over by L&Q and no doubt current tennants and leaseholders will be paying the price of the council's failure to comply with its own agreement.

Anonymous said...

Bitter & Twisted you realise as a "tax and rate payer" you are going to be ripped off to the tune of an additional £71.31m through this PFI?

Add the £28m debt the council picked up through an unpaid housing loan..that's nigh on £100m the borough's been burdened with.

Lewisham does seem to have a problem calculating costs..Haberdasher's Askes Knights Academy was originally costed at £25m, this eventual became £38m.

Headhunter said...

Councils all over London seem inept at keeping building costs down. They constantly seem to be taken for a ride by builders and repair people. Look at Clissold Leisure Centre in Hackney, it opened hugely over budget, massively late and then closed 2 years later because the roof was already leaking and the building was essentially falling apart!

Anonymous said...

so the lasts council massively ripped us off on housing costs. PFI was a new Labour idea so presumably it was led by the Labour councillors.

Tressilliana said...

PFI was already being used when Labour came to power in 97. So it must have started as a Tory idea, mustn't it? I think it may have been PPP first - public private partnership.

Anonymous said...

Indeed Tres but many people voted Labour in the hope they would get rid of such inefficient schemes HOWEVER NEW Labour in the shape of Tony and Gordon embraced it........

Tressilliana said...

Yes, I was amongst them, Anon! Last time I ever voted Labour.

Anonymous said...

PFI complete waste of money. it would have cost half as much if it had been done by the council. Tis like the PFI hospitals you pay a massive rent over twenty five years for hospitals which turns out more than it would have cost to build the hospital and at the end of the twenty five years you don't own anything and they can put a massive increase in the cost of renting the hopsital and you will have no choice but to take it.
complete rip off.

Anonymous said...

PFI complete waste of money. it would have cost half as much if it had been done by the council. Tis like the PFI hospitals you pay a massive rent over twenty five years for hospitals which turns out more than it would have cost to build the hospital and at the end of the twenty five years you don't own anything and they can put a massive increase in the cost of renting the hopsital and you will have no choice but to take it.
complete rip off.

Admin said...

None of this is news to Brockley leaseholders, who know only too well that the PFI is an absolute rip-off. It's true the tories started it, but the labour government took it to the next level, as it allowed Gordon Brown to hide the massive debt off the balance sheet and then claim he'd kept his 'golden rule' about borrowing.

For Lewisham council to claim that any of this was due to unforeseen circumstances is laughable. They took years trying to put it in place. The PFI is basically Lewisham selling off the right to exploit the leaseholders, doing work that isn't necessary and not doing work that is. The private companies are coining it in.

Hopefully the forthcoming leasehold valuation tribunal will defend our rights against these greedy bastards.

quartz said...

The doors and windows in the conservation area were not replaced, I am a tenant there.

quartz said...

The doors and windows in the conservation area were not replaced, I am a tenant there.

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