MORE than 2,000 council homes have been renovated in the first year of the local authority's most ambitious house improvement scheme ever.

And 83 local jobs and 14 apprenticeships have been created by the five-year programme so far, which has seen £15million spent in its first year.

A review carried out in June found that 80 per cent of residents have said the £68million programme to renovate 10,300 council homes is good or excellent, while 13 per cent have said it is fair.

Lynn Worrall, the council's portfolio holder for housing, said: "This is the most ambitious housing improvement programme in Thurrock’s history.

"I doubt there are many councils in the country with such comprehensive plans for improving thousands of homes while benefitting the wider community.

"To ensure the widest possible community benefit, our contractors agreed to improve local community halls and refurbish local war memorial sites for free as part of their contracts.

"It is also heartening to see the figures show we are keeping our pledge to create jobs and apprenticeships for local people – especially the young and the long-term unemployed."

Both the inside and outside of homes are being assessed and improved on a neighbourhood-by-neighbourhood basis. Priority is being given to those judged most in need of refurbishment.

Many homes have received new bathrooms or kitchens – often both.

In addition, the companies carrying out the works have paid to restore eight war memorials and improve three community halls.

Around £2million had been set aside to tackle and remove damp and mould.