Councillor Donald Nannestad, Portfolio Holder for Quality Housing, presented his first report under this portfolio having taken over in May 2018. He highlighted that there had been some significant change in the Directorate since then, with the new Director of Housing and Investment commencing their role during October 2018.
Councillor Nannestad reported that housing was changing rapidly and that Council housing was no longer housing of last resort, with many private housing tenants in the city now aspiring to be tenants of the City Council. Over the last twelve months the Council had added to its housing stock with the biggest increase in houses for at least 40 years. He highlighted that next year, 2020, saw the centenary of the first Council housing built in Lincoln which provided an opportunity to celebrate council housing and the important part it had played in the lives of many Lincoln people over the years.
Updates on the following aspects of the Housing and Investment directorate and the services it provided were set out in the report:
· tenancy management;
· new build and allocations;
· housing improvement programme;
· housing repairs;
· supported housing;
· private sector housing;
In relation to the new build programme, Councillor Nannestad highlighted that 46 new Council houses on Westwick Drive had been completed, nearly all of which were let in the first day of availability.
He also highlighted that the Executive at its meeting on 25 February 2019 had approved the redevelopment of De Wint Court as an Extra Care facility which was the first of its kind in Lincoln.
Councillor Ronald Hills asked whether the proposal to establish a housing company in order to facilitate the construction of houses for let at market rate was still something that the Council was seeking to pursue. Councillor Nannestad said that it was necessary for him to prioritise upon taking over as Portfolio Holder the key projects and schemes within the directorate. Other projects and schemes, which he felt were more urgent, had taken priority. The principle of a housing company was still open for consideration, but it would need to be able to cover itself financially.
Councillor Christopher Burke congratulated the Portfolio Holder in relation to the team successfully preventing 159 cases of homelessness and relieving 134 cases since the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act. He also welcomed the addition of new Council houses in the city.
Councillor Jim Hanrahan asked whether any consideration had been given to areas of land currently occupied by garages which could be used for housing. Councillor Nannestad confirmed that a number of sites were being looked at for this purpose, however, they tended to be quite small in size with larger sites able to provide better economies of scale.
Councillor Jackie Kirk asked for some further explanation in relation to the £441,750 for 2019/20 that had been secured via a bid for funding from the Government relating to homelessness. Councillor Nannestad confirmed that this funding would be used to support an assessment hub together with two Support Planners, four Support Workers and additional temporary accommodation. The requirement for the bid to be submitted in the first place demonstrated how services had been deprived of money to address issues, particularly the health service.
Councillor Eddie Strengiel asked whether there had been an increase or decrease in the number of people who were ex-military being homeless or sleeping rough. Councillor Nannestad was unable to provide specific figures, however, he reported that ex-military personnel would have access to a range of support through agencies and organisations which other people would not necessary be able to access. In view of this, they may have sought help or support without needing to contact to local authority. In terms of the Council’s housing register, ex-military personnel did not have the meet the requirement of a local connection to Lincoln in order to qualify for housing in the city.
Councillor Nannestad reported that a Homelessness Conference would be held on 15 March 2019 involving a range of agencies and organisations in the city.
It was RESOLVED that the report be noted.