Venue: Committee Room 1, City Hall
Contact: Democratic Services - 01522 873619
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 12 October 2020 be confirmed.
The Chair referred to Minute Number 84 and asked for an update on the cleansing of communal facilities within the Councils Sheltered Accommodation during Covid-19.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director – Housing advised that she had spoken to the Corporate Health and Safety Team responsible for carrying out risk assessments on the caretakers. She had been informed that the Council had a duty of care in terms of health and safety to its workforce going into unknown environments potentially to clear bodily fluids, and advised tenants to contact the caretakers of communal areas in circumstances where this type of cleansing regime was required. Tenants were being advised to make their own decision as to whether it was safe to carry out light cleaning as required.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director – Housing referred to previous advice given to keep staff safe that they were not allowed to brush or mop as Covid-19 was an airborne virus. The guidance would be closely monitored and the full cleaning regime would be resumed once allowed to do so.
The Chair asked whether tenants were being updated via social media of the need to be careful and to take precautions in any attempts to carry out light cleaning. It was felt that in circumstances where the Council withdrew normal services or altered services there should be a means put in place to make sure our tenants were made aware of this
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director – Housing agreed to re-consult with the Corporate Health and Safety Team as to a view on whether an announcement should be made on social media in this respect.
RESOLVED that a further verbal update on the regime for cleaning communal areas during COVID restrictions be given to the next scheduled meeting of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee.
Declarations of Interest
Please note that, in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, when declaring interests members must disclose the existence and nature of the interest, and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) or personal and/or pecuniary.
No declarations of interest were received.
Mick Barber, Chair of LTP discussed and requested clarification on procedure in relation to the following main areas:
· Mutual exchanges
· Sustainability of tenancies.
Officers offered advice as follows:
Mutual Exchanges – The authority continued to follow guidance in relation to mutual exchanges and non-essential moves. At this time it would consider requests for mutual exchanges on a case by case basis and emergency or essential moves would be approved subject to the tenants’ agreement to comply with guidance. If we were able to offer alternative housing advice or solutions then we would explore this with the tenant at this time.
Sustainability of Tenancies - At present, the focus for Tenancy Services was on sustainment and the Team had identified tenants who needed additional support at this difficult time. A job evaluation decision on grading was awaited after which time it was possible that a team of a Team Leader and two sustainment officers would be recruited to enhance the work that Housing Officers had already been doing.
RESOLVED that the content of the verbal report be noted.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director – Housing;
a. presented Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee with a report and supporting data outlining information relating to homelessness and rough sleeping issues within the City
b. reported that preventing homelessness and rough sleeping were key priorities both locally and nationally, and that the Council received significant funding from MHCLG to address the issues of rough sleeping together with annual funding for initiatives to assist the Council with the delivery of its statutory functions outlined in legislation and the Code of Guidance
c. stated that the Council delivered statutory homelessness services via the Council’s Homelessness Team and provided a 24/7 service, 365 days per year
d. reported that all policies and procedures fully complied with the relevant legislation, (Housing Act 1985, Homelessness Act 2002, Localism Act 2011 and Homelessness Reduction Act 2017) the code of Guidance, Statutory guidance and advice and Case Law
e. highlighted with regard to the prevention and response to rough sleeping in the City, the Council had received significant funding from the MHCLG’s Rough Sleeper Initiative Funding (RSI), being the first of 11 local authorities to receive funding, together with additional funding received year on year to fund the Councils Rough Sleeper Team, support services such as the Cornerhouse Project, specialist support workers and move-on accommodation
f. reported further on the work of the Council in relation to homelessness and rough sleeping, covering the following main areas:
· Homelessness Team
· Rough Sleeping Team
· Temporary Accommodation
g. requested feedback from members on the content of the report.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following comments/questions emerged:
· Comment: Officers were commended for the work done within their teams to deal with homelessness and rough sleeping in such difficult times. Joint working arrangements were making a huge difference in the City.
· Question: Why had there been a reduction in costs for bed and breakfast accommodation which came to £132,404.74 during the period April-September 2019 reducing to £109,113.99 in the period April to September 2020?
· Officer Response: The authority had procured a number of temporary accommodation units in the private sector and had also used its own properties to house homeless people using MHCLG funding.
· Question: Was there any further funding forthcoming to help with homelessness in the second lockdown?
· Officer Response: There was no further funding available at this stage which was disappointing. The authority had received a sum of £62,000 for ongoing support. It also received funding from the MHCLG Rough Sleeping Initiative until April 2021.It was possible for capital funding to be used in the future for move on accommodation, however, this did not help with day to day costs. There had been no receipt to date of monies from the County Council from the funding allocated to them by the Government.
· Comment by LTP Member: The council had accommodated a homeless man who couldn’t read or write and his son in a property within three days of presenting themselves which was very ... view the full minutes text for item 94.
Matt Hillman, Assistant Director, Housing:
a. provided a report giving an interim review on the implementation of the Scheduled Repairs Pilot within the Housing Repairs Service
b. reported that the Housing Repairs Service had recently begun a pilot of a new way of managing housing repairs for scheduled repairs that needed to be completed although not urgent and unlikely to cause risk to our customers, their home or belongings, carried out at set times of the year across set areas of the City
c. advised that the City had been divided into four areas for this purpose; North- Ermine East, West and Newport, East-St Giles and Monks Road, Central- Boultham Moor, Bracebridge, Manse, City Centre, South- Birchwood and Hartsholme, with repairs for each of these areas scheduled in every 12 weeks over a three week period
d. emphasised that priority repairs would continue to be prioritised within 24 hours and urgent repairs within 3 days
e. reported that based on previous feedback, our customers had said they would like fewer appointments and follow on work, less missed appointments, minimal disruption and more flexibility in appointment time slots
f. added that scheduled repairs allowed the service to plan all the work in each area to ensure the correct resources and materials were in the right place to complete any repairs reported in the one visit, which gave customers more certainty that the repair would be carried out on the expected date
g. reported further on the background to the pilot scheme in relation to the following:
· Repairs Data
· Vehicle Data
· Travis Perkins Data
· Customer Survey
· HRS Staff Survey
· Welfare Unit
h. gave a power point presentation to members on the background to the new way of working to illustrate his report covering the following main areas:
· Repairs Data
· Fuel Expenditure
· Operative Visits to Stores
· Social Media Reach
· Productivity North (9-27 November)
· Customer Survey Responses
i. requested members’ feedback on the content of the report.
Chris Morton, Resident Involvement Manager and Rachel Jackson, Resident Involvement Officer presented a power point presentation to members on the responses received as a result of the customer survey, covering the following areas:
· Uncompleted surveys- 40% responded out of 186 properties surveyed.
· Complaints before August-majority of tenants said they were happy before the new pilot began.
· Disruption due to scheduled repairs- most reported less disruption.
· Fewer repair appointments-55 responses said there were fewer repair appointments.
· Repairs carried out in one visit-most tenants responded agreed.
· Completed by repair date-most responses agreed with this.
· Flexibility in time slots-51 people felt there was greater flexibility.
· Difficulty in receiving different trade repairs-69 tenants responded they had no difficulty in receiving all different types of trade repairs.
· Scheduled repairs within timeframe- the majority of responses received said they either always or very often received appointments within the timeframe.
· Scheduled repairs accessibility-most responses answered accessibility was easier or no difference.
· Weekdays or weekend repairs-more than half of respondents requested evening or weekend repairs.
· Literature on scheduled repairs-most people happy with ... view the full minutes text for item 95.
Daren Turner, Director of Housing provided a verbal update to the Sub-Committee following on from a report to Audit Committee which highlighted that the number of housing repair complaints received had increased. He offered the following points of clarification:
· The report to Audit Committee covered the years 2018/19 and 2019/20.
· In terms of where we were now between April to the end of September 2019 there had been 105 complaints received regarding repairs compared to 74 for the same period April to the end of September 2020.
· Repairs were now being completed in 6 working days.
· There was no corporate policy target for responding to complaints due to the complexity of the types of complaints received.
· All complaints were dealt with as quickly as possible as a matter of course.
RESOLVED that the verbal update be noted.