Karen Talbot, Assistant Director of Housing:
· Percentage of rents collected and the arrears always followed seasonal trends and at the end of quarter one there was no reason for concern.
· The re-let period was off target - out of 146 properties 76 required major works and 54 were the result of evictions. There had been an issue with the asbestos contract which had been cancelled and a new one started on 1 July 2017. Available property was being re-let as quickly as possible and the work in progress team met every Wednesday.
· Allocations were below target and the main reason was that people often changed their minds after they had bid for a property.
· The team was focussed on getting repairs right first time and improving performance.
Members were asked for any comments or questions.
Question: What were the major works that were causing the delays? Could earlier visits to the property be arranged to save time with the major works?
Response: Wherever possible properties would be inspected before vacated but often tenants who had lived in their properties for years would not let anyone in to carry out repairs. Karen Talbot agreed to provide a list of the types of works carried out to members.
Comment: The allocations figure appeared disappointing.
Response: It was reassuring that all properties ready for letting had got tenants allocated to them.
Question: What happened when someone didn't like the area?
Response: This was a tricky situation to handle as the housing needs didn't change and often people made a bid for a property and then turned it down because they did not like the area.
Question: Did the homeless clients ever turn down a property and if they did what did they do?
Response: Yes they did and sometimes they would prefer to sleep rough as they might have mental health issues or addiction to drugs/alcohol. They were always directed to other agencies and partners to try and get them the help they needed.
Question: A white paper was due to come out about homelessness - would this affect the council?
Response: The paper referred to was the Homelessness Reduction Act - which would come into effect next year. The main duty by the Local Authority would be to provide or secure the provision of free advisory services. These services would provide information and advice on:
· Preventing homelessness
· Securing accommodation when homeless
· The rights of people who are homeless or threatened with homelessness
· How to access help and point in right direction
The council would be working with other agencies and this would include developing money management skills and work towards helping people to help themselves.
Question: Was there any funding available?
Response: There would be some funding for the first 2 years which would help to pay for resources however the main concern was that there would be nothing after the initial 2 years.
Question: Would the individual still be paid direct by benefits rather than the landlord?
Response: In Lincolnshire Universal Credit was only being rolled out to single people. As stated earlier, advice would be made available for the individual to get help in money management. When tenants were in arrears by a certain amount of weeks the landlord could apply to the DWP for the payments to be made direct to the landlord.
Members thanked Karen Talbot for the report and for answering the questions.
RESOLVED that the contents of the report be noted.