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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 25 January 2021 be confirmed.
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 updated Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee on the activities of the Lincoln Tenants Panel, which included:
· Involvement in the new work programme for Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee 2021/22 which was in the process of being drafted.
· Work on scheduled repairs which was going well.
· Involvement in the new complaints procedure.
· Fire safety walks
· Regulators were due to attend the next LTP meeting.
· Inspections of communal areas had been carried out by Mick Barber with Keeley Johnson and Ben Jackson, housing officers in Moorland Ward which had proved most satisfactory. They had all been very impressed with the cleanliness of communal areas. The only issue seemed to be fly tipping. It was not just the case for the Council to take away the rubbish. It was for tenants to be educated of their responsibilities in disposing of unwanted waste carefully which had to be addressed.
· Estate inspections were being arranged. These were difficult times but we were getting there.
RESOLVED that the content of the verbal report be noted.
Councillor D Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing
a) presented his report regarding activity and the achievements within his portfolio
b) reported that the City of Lincoln Council Housing Strategy 2020-25had been approved by Executive and Council following a pleasing consultation process with the next step to be the implementation of the business plan
c) advised that his report covered the following main areas:
· Tenancy Services
· Housing Repairs
· Housing Investment
· New Build/Allocations
d) highlighted that the Scheduled Repairs Pilot Scheme had driven down carbon reduction with mileage by operatives having been reduced by 4,200 miles a month
e) reported that although the effect of Covid 19 had been quite severe, repairs were still ongoing with the percentage of repairs fixed first time at the end of quarter 2 standing at 90.11% and 99.95% of appointments kept
f) praised housing staff for their extreme flexibility during the pandemic being involved in jobs they had never known would be asked of them
g) thanked members of LTP for their involvement in the new complaints procedure
h) invited questions from Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee on the content of his report.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following comments/questions emerged:
· Question: Were we currently building more Council houses than we were losing through Right to Buy?
· Response: The cumulative net gain stood presently at 293. It was also a function for housing associations and other housing providers. From 2014 to date in terms of our own stock there had been an increase of 18 properties.
· Question: What were the plans to build more pure Council houses?
· Response: In terms of plans for the future:
Ø The scheme was on schedule at Dewint Court to build 70 units for tenants requiring different levels of care.
Ø A planning application would shortly be submitted for 40 new houses on Rookery Lane.
Ø There was further progress to be made at Queen Elizabeth Road.
Ø The Western Growth Corridor if it progressed forward would offer an element of social housing.
Ø The council was also buying flats under the Next Steps Programme having secured 5 already with another 10 still to come forward.
Ø Members of the public desired council houses as they offered security of tenure.
Ø The Authority would always look at ways forward to provide more council houses in the future.
· Comment: It must be careful not to attribute carbon reduction entirely to scheduled repairs. Once things were more back to normal in relation to the pandemic a measure could be taken.
· Comment: Repair times were at detriment to the tenants as there could be a 3 month wait for a leaky tap. Tenants were paying rent for this service.
· Response by Mick Barber, Chair of LTP: There was an update report to come forward on scheduled repairs which would highlight savings to the service and improvements going forward.
· Question: In respect of housing staff having been redeployed ... view the full minutes text for item 112.
(It was noted that Councillor Woolley had lost connectivity during the discussion of the last item.)
At the request of the Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee, Councillor Hewson, an extract from quarter three financial report presented to Performance Scrutiny Committee on 18 February 2021 in relation to the Housing Revenue Account was made available to give members an insight into expectations for losses on void properties.
RESOLVED that the content of the associated extract report be noted.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing:
a. presented a report to update Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee on the introduction of the Council’s amended Allocations Policy from January 2021
b. advised that an amended Policy was agreed by members in March 2020 with an initial target date for implementation of June 2020, however due to the outbreak of Covid 19, our IT suppliers were unable to complete the IT amendments and testing as anticipated which had resulted in slippage in the implementation of the new Policy until January 2021
c. reported on one of the main changes being the introduction of a 24 month residency qualification having taken advice from our MHCLG Homelessness Advisors and in line with the provisions of the Localism Act 2011
d. provided a summary of the current position including the number of active applicants allowed to bid on the Waiting List as at 23 February 2021 and details of 40 properties having been allocated to households with a local connection to the City as summarised at paragraph 3 of her report
e. reported that in total, we housed 28 households from Band 1, 11 from Band 2 and 1 from Band 3
f. noted that the majority of properties becoming available to let were 1 bed units as a result of the ongoing pandemic encouraging people to stay at home and only move in exceptional circumstances
g. added that customer enquiries continued to be high particularly from family households who would like to move but we continued to experience reduced turnover of stock particularly for 3 and 4 bed houses and it was difficult to predict when the supply of family accommodation would change
h. highlighted that we also continued to experience low demand for independent living properties, in part due to the reluctance of older people to move during the pandemic
i. requested members’ comments on the content of the report.
Members discussed the report in further detail. Questions and comments were made as follows:
· Question: There was a long waiting list for four bed accommodation with ground floor bedrooms. Did we have any at all?
· Response: There were very few properties in this category. This type of accommodation would probably be required for families with disabled children. Workable solutions could involve creating downstairs bedroom/bathroom space and/or installing adaptations to the property.
· Comment: It was noted that 21 people were homeless at Band 1 and 6 at Band 2, this amounted to 27 people associated with the City which was disappointing.
· Response: The Authority did everything it could to try to prevent homelessness. There was the option of utilising other accommodation projects/private rented sector accommodation. The majority of homeless people were currently single people having been successfully removed from the streets. This may change as we moved out of the pandemic. In those circumstances where the authority had a statutory duty to homeless people it could not refuse to provide accommodation. Band 1 housing criteria required people to be statutorily homeless ... view the full minutes text for item 114.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director, Housing:
a. provided a report to advise Members of the proposed performance indicator targets normally reported to Scrutiny for 2021/22, to agree the targets and consider how performance information could be monitored and reported throughout the year as Covid restrictions eased
b. reported that performance information was reported to the Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee on a quarterly basis, and targets reviewed on an annual basis with both tenants and the Committee at the March meeting
c. highlighted that throughout the lock down period normal management information had been collated however performance against targets had not been formally reported as this had not always been possible due to changes in service delivery, although management information had been provided wherever practically possible and members made aware of reasons for any changes to service and performance during this challenging year
d. noted that as it was likely that Covid restrictions should be lifted at the end of June 2021, we were now considering how this may impact on our services
e. reported that throughout 2020/21 there had been delays in repairing and allocating empty properties due to the pandemic and Government restrictions on non-essential moves and holding properties for homeless households, therefore the council was currently reviewing voids performance and procedure considering these measures against external restrictions on performance
f. added that discussions with the Portfolio Holder regarding Scheduled Repairs had taken place to allow amended performance measures to be brought forward once the Working Group had concluded its work
g. referred to proposed realistic targets for 2021/22 based on current performance, national guidance and benchmarking with similar authorities as detailed at Appendix A to her report for members consideration
h. reported that LTP members had also been consulted on the proposed indicators, expressing some concerns regarding changes to the voids target and the requirement to ensure the complaints response target fell in line with the new national ombudsman target for complaints resolution, as a result of which the Director of Housing had given assurances that the voids target would be reviewed at 3 and 6 months and if required would be brought down
i. highlighted that the Portfolio for Quality Housing had agreed the proposed targets and the review of targets after quarter 2
j. requested members’ feedback on the content of the report.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following questions, comments emerged:
The Chair commented that he was happy with the input given by LTP in respect of the proposed targets. He noted that LTP had raised concerns regarding the voids target and the requirement to ensure the complaints response target fell in line with the new national ombudsman target for complaints resolution. He also noted assurances received from the Director of Housing that the voids target would be reviewed at 3 and 6 months and brought down if necessary. The Tenants Panel represented the rent payers and we must be realistic.
The Chair continued by saying that the situation of ... view the full minutes text for item 115.
a. advised members that a draft work programme for 2021/22 had been circulated to officers for comments and had been forwarded to the Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee and the Chair/Vice Chair of Lincoln Tenant’s Panel today for individual input/comments ready for use as a working document at the first meeting of the new Municipal Year
b. reported that the work programme 2021/21 would be regularly updated in consultation with the Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee and Chair/Vice Chair of Lincoln Tenants Panel
c. highlighted that the work programme included those areas for scrutiny linked to the strategic priorities of the Council and housing matters, to ensure that the work of this committee remained relevant and proportionate
RESOLVED that the circulation of a work programme for 2021/22 to officers, Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee and the Chair/Vice Chair of Lincoln Tenant’s Panel for individual input/comments ready for use as a working document at the first meeting of the new Municipal Year be noted.