A disastrous failings within Ealing Homes have left the borough with more sub-standard housing than before the housing organisation was set up, a report this week claims.
Unaccountable managers awarded themselves inflated salaries for overseeing home improvement work that failed to meet required standards despite £132million of government cash being spent, according to Ealing Council housing leader Will Brooks.
Costly work was agreed to without contracts being signed, breaching national and European rules, he said, while unpaid maintenance bills were allowed to run to £6million.
The £3,400 cost of replacing a bathroom was almost twice the £2,000 west London average, and flats have been left without gas safety certificates and without fire safety checks being carried out.
Cllr Brooks used a council meeting on Wednesday to sharply criticise the past performance of Ealing Homes, which was set up in 2004 to take over the management of the council's housing stock and oversee the national Decent Homes programme, which aims to bring 95 per cent of properties up to scratch by 2010. Ealing is now expected to miss that target by at least two years.
"It is safe to say that at the very least there has been very poor practice in the management of contracts for Decent Homes works," he said.
"Reports were coming back from residents that the quality of work was of a very poor standard and further investigation shows that some of this work may not be to the proper specification, and will not last the specified period of time."
Failings in the programme have resulted in an overall two per cent increase in the number of homes now classed as 'non-decent', which means they do not meet guidelines for being warm, weatherproof and equipped with modern facilities.
In April this year 3,785 tenanted homes - more than a quarter of the council's stock - were classed as non-decent.
All home improvement work stalled earlier this year while the council launched an investigation into the organisation.
Previous boss Su Gomer has now been replaced by Susmita Sen, and it is hoped improvements in the
organisation will mean work towards the Decent Homes target will be able to restart in April.
Cllr Brooks said: "Both sides are building a constructive relationship and embracing the spirit of partner-ship working. I support and believe that Susmita Sen is committed to making Ealing Homes the organisation it should have been from the beginning."
Labour leader Julian Bell said: "It's absolutely vital for our tenants that this happens and I welcome the approach of working together."
And an Ealing Homes spokesman said: "We are committed to improving services for residents. We fully recognises this can only be done through a constructive working relationship with Ealing Council."