As much as £90 million of Lambeth’s £430 million housing budget could be being wasted.
Antony Wynn of Larkhall estate residents association said leaseholders on the estate had got together and commissioned a firm of independent consultants to look at a project on the estate, which is near Wandsworth Road railway station.
“Their findings were that the project was overscoped (gold-plated) and that a much cheaper and simpler solution could have been found. “They also found the quoted prices for the job were way above what one would expect if the job had been properly tendered.
“Major works contracts, each worth a few million pounds, are being awarded without tender to favoured contractors whose scope and prices are accepted without question or negotiation.
“The result is that unnecessary and overpriced work is being given out. “On top of that proper auditing of invoices, inspection of the works, quality control – all normal parts of the process in any other sphere of business – are conspicuously lacking.
“We are talking about a good 20 per cent – or about £3 million – £600,000 of unnecessary expenditure on one contract.
“The leaseholders on the estate would be hit by £200,000. “The taxpayer would be hit by the rest. “That is just on one estate. “If you extrapolate these figures on the back of an envelope to the whole of Lambeth’s housing budget of about £430 million you get close on £90 million or so of waste.
“This is mismanagement on a colossal scale.
“When we complain to Lambeth about the excessive costs of these projects they tell us we can always take the case to a tribunal who will award us a refund out of council funds if we can prove our case.
“Well that’s fine but the contractors have already been paid their money and gone. “Why should the taxpayer have to pay us our refund?”
“No wonder Lambeth say they cannot afford to pay for desperately needed repairs and services – the money has gone. “We have to ask ourselves where it is going and why?
“Unless, and until, Lambeth’s procurement processes and contract management systems are cleaned up, this mess will never be voted out. “This is not a party political matter. “Some Tory and Lib Dem councils are just as bad. “It requires a new collective will.”
Mr Wynn thanked Kate Hoey “who encouraged, supported and guided us in all this”