Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Clare Chapman  Email: clare.chapman@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 6160

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor May.  The Panel wished her a speedy recovery.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies is noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Members of the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2016.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel held on 8 December 2016 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

 

5.

Cabinet Member for Housing and Anti-Poverty: Priorities and Achievements pdf icon PDF 105 KB

To update the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel on their agreed priorities, achievements and the actions taken in response to the challenges and pressures faced by the Housing Service.

 

Minutes:

The reports were introduced by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Anti-Poverty and the Assistant Director Housing. 

 

The Panel felt that encouraging tenants to spend service charges was a helpful way of engaging them.  The Assistant Director Housing explained that the Royal Borough was considering ways to give tenants the freedom to highlight priorities but that the results from the stock condition survey were needed before proceeding with this.  The results would be available once the call-in period for the Capital Programme had expired and would be broken down by ward before being circulated to Members.  

 

The Panel enquired as to whether there was a timescale for the postponement of the Higher Value Property Levy.  The Assistant Director Housing reported that this was still a commitment of the Government’s manifesto and that the Royal Borough was waiting for confirmation of the timescale.

 

In response to a question from the Panel regarding rough sleepers, the Assistant Director Housing confirmed that the annual survey had been carried out, however the classification of rough sleepers was not clear-cut.  He would provide the Panel with details of the demographic breakdown of the 258 households accepted by RBG as homeless including details of any groups disproportionately affected and the total of non-accepted households.

                                                              Action: Community Services     

With regard to the Woolwich decant, the Assistant Director Housing confirmed that the Woolwich Regeneration Scheme would complete in 2023.  He advised that fifty properties were currently being used for temporary accommodation and 300 for private sector housing.  The Cabinet Member would be seeking an increase in the number of properties used for temporary accommodation. 

 

Resolved –

 

That the reports be noted.

 

 

 

 

6.

Quarter 2 Performance Reporting - Housing pdf icon PDF 100 KB

To provide information on the performance indicators for Housing, and present data relating to the second quarter of 2016/17. 

 

Additional documents:

7.

Review of Affordable Housing in the Royal Borough of Greenwich pdf icon PDF 195 KB

To consider the information gathered during the four stages of evidence gathering and collate findings as set out in the attached report.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Strategic Housing Investment Manager. 

 

The Panel was supportive of Build to Rent (BTR) and felt that the tenancies pertaining to these properties would offer better and longer tenancies, and better conditions.  The Panel enquired as to what made these projects attractive to developers.  The Strategic Housing Investment Manager replied that renting properties provided a steady income.  With regard to the tenancies for tenants in BTR properties, she had not seen any evidence that these offered more favourable conditions but would explore this further.

                                                                                         Action: DRES

 

With regard to Empty Homes, the Strategic Housing Investment Manager reported that the Greater London Authority would be commissioning research into new build property purchases and empty homes. 

 

In response to a question from the Panel, the Strategic Housing Investment Manager would produce an action plan as part of the Royal Borough’s Housing Strategy to address the issues raised in the Government's Housing White Paper.  She would also circulate the White Paper to Members. 

                                                                                         Action: DRES

 

The Panel enquired as to the sites identified by the Royal Borough for transfer to Meridian Home Start and what would happen to the five that had not yet been granted planning approval.  Councillor Offord was able to confirm that all sites had been programmed for development and would circulate a development site timeline to Members.

                                                                    Action: Councillor Offord

 

The Chair invited Ms Eileen Glover to address the Panel.

 

Ms Glover was positive about the scope of the report and felt it was well laid out in terms of how the Royal Borough delivered affordable housing.  However, she felt that some areas were not sufficiently addressed including the definition of affordable housing in the context of Greenwich, the impact of Right to Buy on the Council's housing stock, the development of Meridian Home Start which she believed did not offer affordable homes to residents on the waiting list, and the impact of transferring the six sites with no option to build council housing. 

 

Ms Glover would have liked more in depth analysis on these issues.

 

She asked that the Royal Borough give consideration to setting up an independent working party to find a solution to delivering council housing that was exempt from Right to Buy.  She added that building council houses would impact on the current waiting list and provide good quality, low rent homes for residents in greatest need. 

 

The Chair thanked Ms Glover for her address and would ask colleagues in the Directorate for Regeneration, Enterprise and Skills (DRES) to consider her statement.

                                                                Action: Councillor Ashikodi

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

 

8.

Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Programme Update pdf icon PDF 74 KB

To provide updates on work to tackle poor standards through the Environmental Health Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Programme (PRSHEP), progress with proposals to introduce additional licensing of Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs), and progress with landlord support initiatives.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was introduced by the Assistant Director Community Safety and the Environmental Health Team Manager, and was accompanied by an illustrated presentation.

 

Overall, the Panel was impressed with the report and the work carried out as part of the Private Rented Sector Housing Enforcement Programme.  The Panel was concerned about the possible resource implications arising from the increased volume of work that the possible expansion in Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing outlined in the report might bring about.  The Assistant Director Community Safety advised that rates had been calculated based on a cost recovery basis. The online application had also been maximised to reduce costs.  He confirmed they would try to minimise the use of agency staff.

 

In response to a question from the Panel, the Assistant Director Community Safety explained what attracted landlords to the Landlord Business Club.  Reasons included access to information, guidance and training.  The philosophy behind the scheme was to promote good standards and not just offer incentives. 

 

The Assistant Director Community Safety confirmed that consultation was currently taking place to address the issue of landlords who passed properties on to relatives. 

 

In response to a question from the Panel, the Assistant Director Community Safety advised that tenants were moved out of problem properties as a last resort and only when absolutely essential.  These tenants were then assessed by Housing Options in order to ensure the appropriate provision of support.   

 

The Assistant Director Community Safety confirmed that consultation was currently taking place on proposals to introduce an additional Houses in Multiple Occupation Licensing scheme.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted. 

 

 

9.

Commissioning Future Reports – Specification of Requirements pdf icon PDF 57 KB

To note the work items that are scheduled to be presented to the meeting of the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel on 11 April 2017.

Minutes:

Resolved –


That the report be noted.