Venue: Committee Rooms 1-2, City Hall. View directions
Contact: Alison Hewson, Democratic Services Officer (01522 873370)
RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 2 February 2023 be confirmed.
An LTP member highlighted an issue with some of the compliance controllers on new heating systems which were too sensitive.
Matt Hillman, Assistant Director, Housing Investment advised that he had spoken to the gas servicing team regarding issues of sensitivity with new central heating controllers. Engineers had visited homes to give further advice and education on the correct operation of the units. Further enquiries were taking place to see if an alternative controller could be used which still met building regulations.
It was noted that a further report on progress with the Downsizing Policy would be incorporated into the work programme for Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee in the new Municipal Year as appropriate.
Fire Safety Update
The Chair highlighted that a performance measure would be required to monitor compliance with the new fire safety regulations.
Matt Hillman, Assistant Director, Housing Investment advised that fire safety compliance would form part of the Corporate Health and Safety Policy. Officers were in the process of creating some relevant performance indicators in relation to fire doors, compliance etc. The fire door inspection team would receive further training before the fire risk tests commenced. An update on fire assessments completed would be scheduled into the work programme for Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee for June 2023.
Scheduled Repairs Update
The Chair requested an explanation on the process manual for service consistency to be included in the scheduled repairs update due to be presented to the June meeting of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee.
Overview of ASB
The Chair requested that the ASB update in August 2023 included feedback available from LTP and the Housing Officers Working Party and also the ASB accreditation.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director, Housing Management confirmed that the initial ASB accreditation was given in 2017. Inspectors were due to return in 2020, however, due to Covid there was now a backlog of inspections and a revised date was awaited.
The Chair welcomed Sean Newton as a new LTP member to his first meeting.
Steven Bearder would take the role of substitute LTP member.
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.
Change to Order of Business
RESOLVED that the order of business be amended to allow the Fire Safety Update to be considered as the next agenda item.
Matt Hillman, Assistant Director, Investment:
a. updated Committee on City of Lincoln Council’s (CoLC) actions/progress on fire safety following recent and impending changes to fire legislation in England
b. reported on the background to relevant legislation on fire risk assessments and fire safety covering:
· The Fire Safety Act 2021
· The Fire Safety (England) Regulations 2022
· The Buildings Safety Act 2022-applicable to High rise buildings only
c. advised that all buildings in scope of the Buildings Safety Act would need to be registered with the Building Safety Regulator between April 2023 and October 2023; once registered, the Accountable Person(s) or landlord must apply for a Building Assessment Certificate, a process which was expected to begin April 2024 and would require information about the reasonable steps taken to prevent building safety risks
d. reported on progress to compliance with the new fire legislation in England as detailed at paragraph 3 of the officer’s report
e. requested that the content of the report be noted.
Members discussed the report in further detail.
Comments/questions were raised and responded to by officers as follows:
· Question: Was it possible for Elected members to receive a Fire safety briefing?
· Response: Officers would make arrangements to organise a briefing for members.
· Question: Were all fire safety doors being assessed?
· Response: Yes all communal doors would be checked for fire safety.
1. Officers to organise a fire safety briefing for members.
2. The fire safety update be noted.
Mick Barber, Chair of Lincoln Tenants Panel, provided a written report on the panel’s continued work on a variety of projects with tenancy services, fire safety assurance, maintenance, business management and resident involvement teams. The briefing note was designed as a regular update to members of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee, covering the following areas:
· Within tenancy services we were working with the Void Support Officer from the Voids Team and had agreed to change the format of inspecting voids – All LTP would attend a refresher voids inspection training programme on 1st March 2023 and attend a quarterly working group to review voids process to enhance the process and to put forward recommendations. All voids inspected were of high quality and met all requirements ready to let.
· We continued to review the complaints process and our third review would take place on 28th February 2023. We had requested recommendations be shared with relevant officers together with a request for further feedback relating to some complaints and the format used.
· LTP were working closely with the Interim Maintenance Manager on the schedule of repairs project. We were attending monthly meetings to review performance and were focusing on creating a marketing programme to deliver a consistent message and information to tenants on the benefits of the schedule of repairs project.
· We had posted on our Face Book Page eight schedule repairs posts to promote and encourage tenants to make an appointment. We were in the process of working with the Communications Manager and the Interim Maintenance Manager looking at how we could share information regarding damp and mould with our tenants.
· We continued to hold our monthly LTP meetings.
· Debbie Rousseau continued to represent City of Lincoln Council (COLC) on the Association of Retained Council Housing (ARCH) Committee.
· LTP members continued to work with the Tenancy Services Manager and Area Housing Managers on the ASB accreditation and had recommended quarterly meetings to review ASB cases – the first review would take place in March 2023.
· In November, he attended the Social Housing Quality Register Panel (SHQR) launch event which highlighted how the Resident Panel would run over the next 12 months, providing the panel with opportunities to discuss topics. The SHQR panel would focus on one of the chosen topics, “how complaints are managed by landlords and the Housing Ombudsman” via the online community, this was a platform used to share experiences of social housing and thoughts about related government policies, ensuring and enabling us to have direct communication with the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and help drive change for the future. The online community would involve a mixture of activities, questions and discussions on an aspect of the social housing quality programme. Our next online panel meeting was in March 2023.
RESOLVED that the content of the written update from the Chair of LTP be noted with thanks, to be continued as a regular agenda item.
Moving on from Covid 19 pandemic and the lockdown periods, Lincoln Tenants Panel had strived to maintain and reintroduce business activities, and now had a mixture of face to face and virtual meetings. It held its three-year general meeting in November and attended a celebratory event at the Guildhall.
Members of Lincoln Tenants Panel (LTP) provided an overview of the activities and achievements of the LTP for the period from December 2021 to December 2022:
Members of LTP provided further an overview of their work plan and priorities for the next 12 months as follows:
· Complaints monitoring.
· Review of Tenant Involvement Strategy action plan matrix.
· Tenant inspection of void properties.
· Tenant estate inspections.
· Performance monitoring.
· Implementation of Tenant Satisfaction Measures.
· Review of tenancy services complaints.
· Continual review of schedule of repairs.
· Review and revision of Lincoln Standard.
· Review of communal door investment programme.
· Review and revision of communal area policy.
· Review and revision of repair policy.
· Continued development of the HRA Business Plan and Asset Management Strategy.
· Panel member of DLUHC Social Housing Quality Resident Panel
The Chair of LTP thanked our tenants’ representatives, councillors and officers for their work in supporting our panel.
The Chair of Housing Scrutiny Sub Committee enquired whether there had been much interest in the LTP facebook page.
The Chair of LTP advised that the Panel was working alongside Customer Services and was eager to embrace technology. Those members of the public who had difficulties with this method or did not wish to get in touch on-line could continue to use the telephone to contact City Hall, this was not a problem.
RESOLVED that the content of the report be noted.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director, Housing Management:
a) presented Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee with a quarter 3 report on Performance Indicators for the 2022/23 financial year (April 2022- December 2022), as detailed at Appendix A
b) explained that over the last 12 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
c) highlighted that in total there were 21 measures and of those, against agreed targets, 7 were on or exceeding targets for the year (year-end), and 13 had not met the normal targets set
d) reported that, of the 13 measures that did not meet target, 8 of these were within 5% tolerance of their respective targets (amber rating), and one measure didn’t have a target (complaints replied to in line with corporate policy)
e) referred to Appendix A of the report which attempted to simplify the overall analysis by listing performance on a service functional basis (rents, repairs etc) and then showing the source of the indicator (reason)
f) highlighted that Appendix A detailed which targets had been met and those where we had not achieved our target
g) provided the committee with some key figures in relation to performance targets as follows:
· % Rent Collection - Despite challenging times for tenants, at the end of quarter 3 the percentage of rent collected as a proportion of rent owed year to date achieved 100.46%. This was above the high target for the quarter of 96.5% and was in line with the collection rate seen in quarter 3 of 2021/22. It is important to note that in December 2022 there were 2 rent free weeks granted to residents. This took place annually in December. These rent free weeks resulted in there being a slightly lower amount of rent to be collected in the quarter, which was a contributing factor to this positive outturn. During the quarter, the addition of Sustainment Officers had ensured that vulnerable tenants were supported and income is maximised.
· Arrears as of % Rent Debit - The current tenant arrears as a percentage of the annual rent debit at the end of quarter 3 was 3.33%. This was below the high target for the quarter of 4.65% (low is good) and 1.43% less than the previous quarter. This latest outturn equated to the overall rent arrears at the end of December 2022 being £40,000 less that the same point the previous year. This was a significant improvement and was as a result of with the team working hard throughout the quarter to collect rent and push the rent first culture. During the quarter Sustainment Officers had continued to support tenants with significant benefit backdates and ensure enforcement action was avoided where possible.
· % of Non-Decent Homes - Although we continued to receive additional referrals for Doors and Windows, there had been continued progress in reducing overall failures via programmed works delivery. Also, despite 13 new failures for Electrics since October, there ... view the full minutes text for item 47.
Yvonne Fox, Assistant Director, Housing:
a. provided a report to advise Members of the proposed performance indicator targets normally reported to Scrutiny for 2023/24, to agree the targets against which performance information could be monitored and reported throughout the year
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. advised that following the Covid-19 pandemic, normal management information had been collated as well as reporting performance against targets; management information had been provided wherever practically possible and members were aware of reasons for any changes to service and performance over the last few years
d. reported that throughout 2022/23 there had been challenges in repairing and allocating empty properties due to the shortage of available workforce, supply chain issues and the increase in price of raw materials and services; new ways of delivering non-urgent repairs had been trialled and introduced and new sub-contracting arrangements were now in place
e. highlighted that around 50% of all voids were currently resulting from the death of a tenant unfortunately, the number of tenancies becoming void had increased and the delivery of new housing developments had put further pressure on the time taken to repair a void property, particularly in cases of the death of a tenant without an executor or will which resulted in the need to apply to the Public Trustee before a tenancy could be legally terminated after 28 days
f. added that we continued to encounter a small number of properties each month, which did not allow access for the annual gas service/safety inspection and this number was on the increase; robust processes were followed, and these failed access addresses were referred to legal services to seek an injunction from the county court in order to obtain access
g. stated that:
· Rent collection had continued to be challenging but the focus on early help and support had seen collection rates broadly in line with targets throughout this year.
· Members and tenants agreed not to change targets relating to rent collection for a period of 2 years in 2022 due to financial uncertainties post-covid.
· Tenancy Services had placed significant emphasis on contact through calls and visits, with new targets in place for staff.
· Universal Credit (UC) claims had continued to increase. As the number of tenants moving on to UC increased, the proportion of tenancies in arrears would increase as UC was paid in arrears.
h. referred to proposed realistic targets for 2023/24 based on current performance, national guidance and benchmarking with similar authorities as detailed at Appendix A to her report, for members consideration
i. reported that the targets would be reviewed in six months’ time when the operating climate was clearer.
Members discussed the content of the report in further detail. The following questions, comments emerged:
The Chair referred to opportunities having been made available to make adjustments to the targets and he ... view the full minutes text for item 48.
Councillor D Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing:
a) presented his report regarding activity and achievements within his portfolio, which included a revised schedule of Landlord Service Performance 2022/23 in number format as well as in percentage terms
b) added that his report was similar to that presented to Performance Scrutiny Committee previously, without the information on health and private sector housing which was not within this Committee’s remit
c) highlighted two issues facing the Housing Service:
· New fire safety regulations which came into force later this month following on from Phase 1 of the Grenfell Tower Enquiry, which applied to all buildings containing two or more sets of domestic premises with common areas to evacuate in the event of an emergency. Buildings which were seven storeys or more were in a higher category i.e. Shuttleworth House, Jarvis House and Trent View. We had dedicated a small team to this issue, which had enabled us to respond to the changes to date. If resources allowed, we would look to make this team permanent in the new financial year.
· The issue of mould and damp. The Rochdale inquest held in November into the death of two year old Awaab Ishak and the Coroner’s findings had highlighted the dangers presented by mould and damp. We had since received a significant increase in complaints about mould and damp both in our Council stock and in the private sector. During the current Council year, we received an average of 8 inquiries a week up to the date of the inquest findings being published. In the two weeks after the Rochdale inquest was reported we received 95 inquiries. On many occasions more than one visit was needed and more than one repair was raised. In just one week in December 121 repairs were raised. We currently had a team of four operatives specifically dealing with mould and damp and if the current volume of repairs related to mould and damp continued, we would seek to make this team permanent in the new financial year.
d) advised that his report covered the following main areas:
· Tenancy Services
· Housing Repairs
· Housing Investment
· New Build
e) highlighted that we had invested significantly in our housing stock and were planning to spend £66.7m on improvements over the next five years
f) reported also on progress with a housing development on Rookery Lane to add 42 new homes to the Council’s housing stock due to be handed over to us at the end of March 2023, together with work anticipated to start later this calendar year to remodel existing properties at Hermit Street to provide additional flats for 2/3 people and a number of new-build homes
g) further reported on De Wint Court now open, our first extra care home adding 70 additional homes to our stock
h) praised housing staff for their tremendous support and the Lincoln Tenants Panel for their valuable work which continued to help improve the satisfaction of tenants
i) invited questions from ... view the full minutes text for item 49.
The Democratic Services Officer:
a. advised members that a draft work programme for 2023/24 had been circulated to the Chair and Vice/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 from the first meeting of the new Municipal Year
b. reported that the work programme 2023/24 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.
1. Further items to be added to the 2023/24 work programme on the following topics:
· Downsizing Policy -June 2023
· Update on Fire Assessments – June 2023
· Anti-Social Behaviour Accreditation- August 2023
· Lincoln Standard
2. The work programme for 2023/24 be noted for use as a working document from the first meeting of the new Municipal Year.