Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Daniel Wilkinson  Email: daniel.wilkinson@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5102

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence for leaving early were given by Councillor Matthew Morrow.

 

It was noted that Councillor Mehboob Khan was no longer a Member of the Panel.

 

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 35 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:

With regard to the housing items, Councillor Bill Freeman stated that he was an employee of Lewisham Homes but that it did not constitute an interest.

 

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 46 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 12 September 2017.

 

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 12 September 2017 be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Families First update, including supporting adults into work pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To note the updates and developments of Families First and the changes to the National Troubled Families Programme

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Troubled Families Co-Ordinator.

 

In response to questions from the Panel the Troubled Families Co-Ordinator explained that “turn around” in the context of Families First programme meant that there was a 6-month tracker to see if progress was sustained against a number of identified problems and if they did then the team could not make a claim for them anymore, but that did not mean the authority was no longer working with that family. She confirmed that the financial support for Phase 2 had been lowered even though it was a more complicated Phase. She clarified that most of the Families First staff were not social work qualified. She replied that theirs was a persistent engagement service, and that most families eventually engaged. It was not thought that the geographical area model affected caseloads.

 

Statistics on caseloads by each geographical area to be circulated.

Action: DCS

 

There was a discussion of the matter. Members felt it was regretful that resources had been reduced for the service as it was felt that action taken did make useful change.

 

Resolved –

 

1.       That the updates and developments of Families First be noted.

 

2.       That the changes to the National Troubled Families Programme be noted.

 

6.

Asset Management & Repairs Services Update pdf icon PDF 69 KB

To note the contents of the report and comment on the on-going service improvement work of Asset Management & Repairs Services

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Head of Capital Programmes and the Quality & Monitoring Officer.

 

In response to questions from the Panel about voids, the Head of Capital Programmes explained that the management team reviewed progress on voids on a weekly basis, and they were expecting improvements to show end of Quarter 4 or beginning of Quarter 1.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing & Anti-Poverty commented that more work was needed to ensure that those relinquishing a tenancy were accountable for maintaining the property to a certain standard or that they be charged for any damages.

 

In response to questions from the Panel about damp the Head of Capital Programmes replied there were different problems with damp as to whether it was condensation or penetrative damp. First they had to monitor and evaluate the damp and the conclude what action they needed to do. The Housing Allocations Manager added overcrowding could be a factor with condensation damp.

 

In response to questions from the Panel about apprentices the Quality & Monitoring Officer made an amendment to the report at paragraph 3.3 and stated that it was 8 apprentices who have gained full time employment.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing & Anti-Poverty commented that the 8 who gained full time employment did so in asset management and represented a large percentage of the apprentices; the other apprentices were supported by Gllab. The Cabinet Member clarified that some apprentices undertook a long apprentice programme. The Cabinet Member commented that in considering social value impact they should include the number of jobs and apprenticeships created and it was expected that the principles of that would be in place shortly.

 

In response to a further question from the Panel the Head of Capital Programmes replied that the stock condition survey did not include properties that were being decommissioned.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.

7.

Quarter 1 Performance Reporting - Housing pdf icon PDF 89 KB

To receive information on the performance indicators for Housing

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The report was presented by the Housing Allocations Manager. The Housing Allocations Manager advised that the average time in temporary accommodation for a family was 7 months and for a single person 5 months.

 

In response to questions from the Panel the Housing Allocations Manager replied that the Homelessness Reduction Act would, from 2018, place new obligations on the authority, though the Royal Borough of Greenwich worked to a preventive ethos anyway. The new regulations were expected to be published by the end of the year. Council tenants were given priority when seeking to prevent homelessness but guardian tenants had the right to be assisted; the Council worked in partnership with Asra (or Paragon Asra as it was now called) to prevent homelessness. Though at almost full capacity it was not currently considered that the YMCA’s provision situation was unmanageable. The Housing Allocations Manager clarified that emergency housing was housing for a very short period, whereas temporary housing could be for up to six months.  The Housing Allocations Manager explained that generally mutual exchange of properties tended not to happen because though a possible exchange property may have a low rent it might have a high service change. The Under Occupation and Mutual Exchange event would be advertised in Greenwich Info, through the tenants’ newsletter and electronically. The Housing Allocations Manager said that the Landlord Business Club was the main vehicle used to locate landlords.

 

Information of what percentage of those on low income paying rent get discretionary payment to be circulated.  Officers to consider contacting National Landlord Association to help locate landlords.

Action: DHSC

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing & Anti-Poverty advised that there was no right to buy of the temporary accommodation. The Cabinet Member commented on how Advice and Benefits was preparing for introduction of Universal Credit, and emphasised that it was going to be a huge challenge; about half the Council’s tenants got housing benefit and so there was a potential huge threat to the HRA.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing & Anti-Poverty noted that Peabody did not tend to be interested in their tenants downscaling when they were in arrears.  The Panel commented that might be a contributory factor as to why some tenants remained in arrears.

 

There was a discussion on the formation of the Directorate of Housing and Safer Communities, and on what affordable housing actually meant in terms of Planning. The Cabinet Member for Housing & Anti-Poverty suggested as a possible item for next year’s scrutiny work programme to trace how the HRA budget was spent.

 

Resolved –

 

That the report be noted.