Friday, 24 April 2009

Freedom of information

Apologies for the long silence. This is partly due to very little happening apart from the stuff I'm not allowed to write about. Hopefully, I should have more in the way of updates in the coming weeks.

Meanwhile, last month I submitted a couple of Freedom of Information requests via WhatDoTheyKnow; one regarding the number of complaints received by each area team in Wandsworth's Housing Department in the past two years, the other asking for details of the contract between Ashfords Solicitors and the council including the fee scale. I now have the information.

1. The total number of staff in the Housing Department is 410, and there are four area teams - Central, Southern, Eastern and Western - each comprising between 19-22 staff members. I'm not sure what they do apart from managing leasehold properties.

In the years 06/07 & 07/08, these are the figures for Step 1 complaints received by each area team:

  • Central Team: 59 complaints in 06/07; 45 in 07/08
  • Southern Team: 49 complaints in 06/07; 39 in 07/08
  • Eastern Team: 44 complaints in 06/07; 55 in 07/08
  • Western Team: 57 complaints in 06/07; 33 in 07/08

It is interesting that the Eastern Team is the only one in which complaints levels increased in this two year period. Could be a statistical blip but it did rather fulfill my expectations.

2. Ashfords Solicitors' contract with Wandsworth contains a schedule of "notional assessed workload hours" totalling 4,233 hours. If you divide this number by the number of working days per annum - approx. 250 - this is equivalent to 16 hours per day. The total payment for this notional workload is £550,077. 

Anyway, based on these figures, Ashfords' hourly rate is approximately £130. Quite reasonable, really; at least, compared to what my solicitor charges. But it's like going to a wholesaler and buying 10,000 bog rolls. This makes me wonder, if I got 100 friends together, we could merge to become a single buyer of professional services such as accountants and solicitors - one could probably negotiate some great deals.

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