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RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 9 August 2021 be confirmed.
In relation to Minute No 18, ‘Other Matters’ Mick Barber, Chair of Lincoln Tenants Panel, asked whether there was any further update as to when Housing Appeals Panel hearings would recommence?
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing, confirmed as that as soon as there were appeals in the system to be heard a meeting of Housing Appeals Panel would be called.
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 reported as follows:
· LTP had undergone a great deal of restructuring over the last two-year period.
· LTP members had been involved in working groups together alongside officers to carry out this task; he gave thanks to the support given by officers especially in such difficult times.
· Chris Morton, Resident Involvement Manager was leaving the employment of the City of Lincoln Council on 26 November 2021. He had worked so hard for the LTP and expressed total respect for all his commitment and support.
Quarter 2 (2021/22) - Performance and Finance Report
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing:
a. provided Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee with a quarter two report on Performance Indicators for the 2021/22 financial year (April 2021- September 2021), as detailed at Appendix A of her report, which combined all performance relevant to Housing Landlord issues
b. advised that of the 21 measures, 7 were on or exceeding targets for the year (year-end), and 13 had not met the normal targets set
c. highlighted that of the 13 measures that did not meet the target, 6 of these were within 5% tolerance of their respective targets (Amber rating), 3 of the 6 were year-end targets (Decent Homes and 2 financial measures) and one measure did not have a target set (Complaints replied to in line with corporate policy)
d. reported that over the last eleven years the Council had been working with the Lincoln Tenants Panel to improve external scrutiny and to meet the standards implemented by the Tenant Services Authority
e. reported that from April 2010 all social landlords were required to have local offers in place alongside the national standards, as set out in the new Regulatory Framework for Social Housing, amended with effect from April 2012, although the principles remained the same
f. referred to Appendix A which attempted to simplify the overall analysis of the data by listing performance on a service functional basis (rents, repairs, etc) and then showing the source of the indicator (reason)
g. added that for comparison purposes each indicator showed last year’s performance against the target for the current year (where applicable) and progress made in the current year
h. referred to paragraph 4.3 of the report and highlighted areas of good performance:
· Anti-Social Behaviour
· % of Rent Collected as a % of Rent Due
· Repairs Indicators
i. reported at paragraph 4.4 of the report on reasons where we were close to achieving our targets (amber rating) as follows:
· Arrears as a % of Rent Debit
· % of Homes with Valid Gas Safety Certificate
· Housing Investment and Programmed Maintenance
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following key comments emerged:
· Current performance was promising to see with only a short dip due to circumstances surrounding COVID.
· There was currently a general shortage of staff across the country in all professions Hopefully the red rating in the area of urgent repairs carried out within 3 days would disappear in time.
· The average number of days to ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing:
a. presented Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee with a copy of the Council’s Mutual Exchange Policy and Procedures
b. advised that the policy had been amended during the COVID pandemic in line with the Governments directive not to allow any non-essential moves during lockdowns or at other times when the movement of people should be avoided
c. highlighted that the only discretion in respect of changes to the Mutual Exchange Policy related to repairs as the scheme was governed by statute
d. reported that a meeting had taken place with members of LTP to advise on the legal position in relation to mutual exchanges, after which LTP Members agreed to look at the repair’s procedure relating to mutual exchanges
e. highlighted that any proposed changes would need to be costed and their impact on the HRA considered before changes in policy could be recommended
f. welcomed a further report from LTP members with any recommendations for areas of review.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail.
Mick Barber, Chair of LTP summarised the following main points:
· A working group had been set up made up of officers and Members to review and make suggestions regarding tweaks to the Mutual Exchange Policy.
· The issues surrounded tenants undergoing mutual house exchanges and making requests for additional work to the new property.
· An annual Mutual Exchange Conference held annually in the City had encouraged a good response from tenants wishing to exchange.
Councillor Reid asked whether COVID measures to restrict the movement of tenants were still in place?
Yvonne Fox explained that when the country first went into lockdown non- essential moves were not allowed. These restrictions were no longer in place; however, the housing authority was still cautious in line with the amended policy.
Councillor Reid queried the legality of text within paragraph 2.2 and 3 of the amended policy to allow the Assistant Director of Housing/Tenancy Services Manager to defer any requests where the move was not ‘essential’; wording he felt needed clarification.
Daren Turner, Director of Housing clarified that the Government had made it clear that essential meant ‘high medical need’. This was not defined in law, but in terms of reasonableness/not to be detrimental to the health of the person in the household. Legal advice had been taken.
Councillor Vaughan, Chair, asked how many Mutual Exchanges had been deferred?
Yvonne Fox explained that the policy had been amended to reflect restrictions during the first and second COVID lockdowns. Tenants had cooperated with the housing service during this period and had been happy to wait.
Mick Barber, Chair of LTP highlighted that there was an agreed timescale for deferred mutual exchanges which could be appealed against if a specific request was prolonged further.
Councillor Strengiel referred to the ten grounds for refusal of a mutual exchange at paragraph 5.2 of the policy. He asked whether circumstances where one of the houses was in perfect condition but the other in need of refurbishment ... view the full minutes text for item 28.
Numbers of Properties Offered to People on Council Waiting List/Others
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director of Housing:
a. provided statistical data in respect of allocation of council properties April-September 2021 as detailed within her report
b. advised that at the end of Quarters 1 and 2, 200 properties had been allocated
c. referred to her allocations update which detailed types of applicant/banding successful bids were made to; broken down further by percentage property types across all properties
d. highlighted that the authority was still required by law to ensure that any household threatened by homelessness or being actually homeless were prioritised for accommodation
e. added that the Council also had a quota for transfer applicants to move into more suitable accommodation that met their changing needs, set at 25% of all lettings to ensure that local needs and Government priorities were met
f. welcomed comments on the content of her report.
Members raised questions as follows:
· Question: It would be useful to see a comparison against data for previous years, was the percentage number of homeless people higher now than pre COVID times?
· Response: Since legislation had changed a full year’s figures were not yet available. However, homelessness cases pre COVID were approximately 25% compared to a likely 40/45% at the end of the year.
· Question: Further information would be helpful on what types of property people had transferred from, whether homeless people had moved out of private sector housing, where they came from, who they were in terms of age/family situation. This would give a fuller picture over time.
· Response: This type of data could be brought to a future meeting of Hosing Scrutiny Sub Committee. The figures were available. There had been many changes over the years particularly post Homelessness Reduction Act legislation. People had complex needs, in difficult circumstances such as fleeing violence and rough sleeping was more prevalent. The profile was changing and would probably always do so.
RESOLVED that the content of the statistical report be noted with thanks.
a. presented the work programme for Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee for 2021/22 as detailed at Appendix A of the officer’s report
b. advised that this was an opportunity for committee to suggest other items to be included on the work programme.
RESOLVED that the content of the work programme be noted.
Councillor Vaughan, Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee extended his heartfelt thanks to Chris Morton, Resident Involvement Manager on behalf of all Members for his support to Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee and City of Lincoln Council tenants/LTP members over recent years. He wished Chris all the best in his new career as he left the employment of the City of Lincoln Council on 26 November 2021.