Agenda and minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Housing
Tuesday, 18th September, 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room 1, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming

Contact: Kunwar Khan  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

20.

MINUTES pdf icon PDF 77 KB

The Minutes of the meeting of the Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 3 July 2018 are attached, and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 3 July 2018 were confirmed as a correct record and signed.

21.

APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTES

To receive apologies for absence and note any substitutions.

 

Members who are unable to attend this meeting must submit apologies by the end of 11 September 2018 to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Tony Gordon-Smith and Miss Brenda Greenslade.

22.

DECLARATIONS OF INTERESTS

To receive from Members declarations of interests in relation to any items included on the agenda for this meeting, in accordance with Waverley’s Code of Local Government Conduct.

Minutes:

There were no declarations in relation to items on the agenda.

23.

QUESTIONS BY MEMBERS OF THE PUBLIC

The Chairman to respond to any written questions received from members of the public in accordance with Procedure Rule 10.

 

The deadline for submission of written questions for this meeting is 11 September 2018.

Minutes:

There were no questions.

24.

QUESTIONS FROM MEMBERS

The Chairman to respond to any questions received from Members in accordance with Procedure Rule 11.

 

The deadline for submission of written questions for this meeting is 11 September 2018.

Minutes:

There were no questions.

25.

Tackling Housing Fraud Progress Report pdf icon PDF 76 KB

The report provides an update to the Committee on the progress made by Waverley Borough Council officers on the work being completed in investigating Housing Tenancy fraud.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Committee notes the success of the investigation activity and the results achieved.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee welcomed the report, appreciated the work carried out by the team and agreed the recommendations with the two additional comments:

 

·         The Committee wished to demonstrate its appreciation of the work carried out by the new dedicated post; and

 

·         Waverley’s determination and efforts in tackling housing fraud be highlighted and publicised.

26.

Ockford Ridge Update pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To receive and note an update on the Ockford Ridge regeneration project.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a detailed update on progress with the Ockford Ridge redevelopment. During the discussion, it was noted that the demolition was completed ahead of anticipated time; site D was the largest with 37 units; commendations from residents were received after the initial difficulties and some concerns; and a formal opening ceremony to be held on Thursday 20 September, with the Mayor.

 

It was put on record that the service and the committee were proud of the progress made while observing that the experiences and lessons learnt must be used to shape any outstanding issues and future work. There was a need to continue to improve consultation and identify more effective ways to engage with local residents and partners with a view to review the consultation/timings with a bigger sample in future.

 

The Committee understood that some of the earlier contractor related issues were beyond the Council’s direct control but all residents affected were personally visited by the Service Head, and a possible recompense option was being explored.

 

Following the discussion, the Committee agreed the recommendations set out in the report and praised the Council’s efforts in delivering the project.

 

27.

Annual Scrutiny Report pdf icon PDF 52 KB

The first Annual Scrutiny Report reflects on the progress of the new overview and scrutiny arrangements during the first full year of the committee cycle May 2017 – April 2018. It includes a summary of the work undertaken by the committees, an analysis of the O&S survey and reflections by Members and officers taking part in the overview and scrutiny work.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended the Overview and Scrutiny Committees endorse the Annual Report and agree any observations or recommendations they wish to make to the Executive.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee welcomed the first Annual Scrutiny Report (ASR) incorporating reflections, Members’ feedback and the foreword by the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Coordinating Board, Cllr John Ward.

 

The report identified that the new scrutiny arrangements, which came into effect in 2017, had been implemented effectively with constructive recommendations stemming from various Overview and Scrutiny (O&S) Committee meetings and Scrutiny reviews. The work had been welcomed by the Executive and all formal recommendations had been accepted, demonstrating the value Scrutiny had added to the work of the Council.

 

The ASR reviewed and reflected on the first year, invited further feedback and highlighted successes as well as areas that could be improved. The Committee noted that the ASR report was a result of an idea which originated from a previous working group and the first ASR demonstrated a robust and efficient follow-through. If any criticism, at all, was required, it was that reports could be shorter to focus minds.

 

Following the discussion, the Committee endorsed the report and referred the report to the Coordinating Board.

28.

Rent Setting Policy pdf icon PDF 53 KB

Rent Setting Policy provides a clear framework for setting and reviewing rent levels for all Council homes. It ensures that the Council adheres to legislation and regulations when setting rents for Housing Revenue Account properties. This policy will run alongside the Council’s Housing Strategy.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee considers and supports the endorsement of the Rent Setting Policy and identify any areas for further scrutiny.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee welcomed the report providing a clear framework for setting and reviewing rent levels for all Council homes. The policy ensured that the Council adhered to the relevant legislation and regulations when setting rents for Housing Revenue Account properties and would run alongside the Council’s Housing Strategy.

 

During the discussion, it was noted that the mechanism and details to evaluate the ‘market rent’, and the details about ‘estate maintenance and improvements’ needed to be included in the final version of the report.

 

After the discussion, it was agreed that the revised version would be brought back to the Committee with the following changes:

 

·                     To add a technical glossary to explain various terms;

 

·                     To amend a phrase “may” to “flexibility” in relation to charging rents; and

 

·                     To explain what market values were the Council charging the residents and     how were they calculated.

 

29.

Tenancy and Estates Progress Update pdf icon PDF 66 KB

The report informs the committee of the progress of the Tenancy and Estates team and a number of changes regarding provision of service and team structure since 2017.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Committee considers and supports the direction of the team.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report highlighting progress of the Tenancy and Estates team following a number of changes regarding provision of service and team structure since 2017.

 

After a comprehensive briefing and discussion, the Committee noted the recommendation and highlighted that a new structure document with details about who does what under the new arrangements be sent to Committee; and a better way forward to deal with the cost and responsibilities associated with third party communal areas must be explored and reported back.

 

30.

Overview of Damp in Council Homes pdf icon PDF 63 KB

The report sets out the Housing Service’s draft strategy for responding to reports of damp, mould and condensation in Council homes.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee considers and supports the Housing Service’s draft strategy for responding to reports of damp, mould and condensation.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the report setting out the Housing Service’s draft strategy for responding to reports of damp, mould and condensation in Council homes supporting the corporate priorities of People, Place and Prosperity.

 

The Committee agreed that the final version be brought back to the Committee to include an action plan together with graphic/flash card element added with a  view to improve the impact and engagement aspects.

 

31.

Performance Management Report Q1 pdf icon PDF 64 KB

The Corporate Performance Report provides a quarterly analysis of the council’s performance. The Performance Report, providing performance analysis for the first quarter of 2018-19, is set out at Annexe 1. The report is being presented to each of the Overview and Scrutiny Committees for comment and any recommendations they may wish to make to the Executive.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Overview & Scrutiny Committee considers the performance of the service areas under the remit of the committee as set out in Annexe 1 to this report and makes any recommendations to senior management or the Executive as appropriate.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chief Executive, Tom Horwood, introduction the item. He highlighted that the new overarching performance report provided broader focus, covered a range of important Key Performance Indicators (KPIs), dataset and corporate snapshot that would be useful for the senior managers and the Overview and Scrutiny. He emphasised that this was a first version that could be tweaked in light of any feedback and suggestions and needed to be fit for purpose.

 

During a comprehensive, constructive and frank discussion, a range of views, underlying themes and comments were made. The Chairman invited the Committee members to cogitate over the new format – values, charts, colour, information provided and the ability to understand the material provided. For example, at a practical level, did the new formatting, colours, information and pie charts make sense to the Committee Members?

 

A Councillor stated that she was not happy with the new format of the report as the Committee used to receive such style of report many years ago, and had to ask to receive the kind of reports which was relevant to do their job - smaller focussed reports with more relevant information and details to avoid losing the emphasis on monitoring and overseeing the service delivery for the residents.

 

Pages 119, 101, 104 and 110 were cited as perhaps not being very clear and thus created many queries. For instance, what did the red actually mean in each area - bad, good or both depending on what and how was an area being measured? Did the Members and others fully understand what these values, colours and jargons were? Were up/down arrows good or bad? Should there not be a long term and short term comparison and trend?

 

It was mentioned that there needed to be a serious consideration of the target audiences - their needs, roles and aims (Would one identical report be suitable for Senior Managers, Executive as well as the Scrutiny that probably had different approaches, aims and priorities?). Could the competing priorities be realistically balanced and one report fit for purpose for all? A few Members felt that there was far too much jargon and the report needed to have fewer jargons in plain English wherever possible, e.g. what was E11/HA1 and was it the best way to explain?

 

Others felt that effective housing scrutiny might need more information to examine and keep track of performance/service delivery. Just by way of example, page 120 needed the cost, details and further commentary, and page 101 was mixed up. It was requested that if a table dropped, please repeat the headings on the next page and needed to explain what a particular value in tables was. It was added that a better, simpler and jargon-free set of keys/legends would be helpful and there was a need for long-term and short-term information.

 

A Member felt that it would be useful to know more about what was being done to address any highlighted issues/concerns instead of just raising these in the report. Others were of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 31.

32.

Government's Green Paper "A New Deal for Social Housing” pdf icon PDF 85 KB

A briefing paper about the Governments green paper “A New Deal for Social Housing”. The paper highlights five principles to improve social housing.  The Committee has the opportunity to feedback on the consultation themes and questions to inform future social housing legislation, regulation and standards.

 

This provides an opportunity for the committee to formulate and submit its own response to the Government.

 

The paper may also identify areas of interest and scrutiny for the Committee’s future workplan.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Housing Overview and Scrutiny Committee:

1.         notes the scope and themes of the consultation paper;

2.         provides feedback on the consultation questions; and

3.         considers and identifies suggested scrutiny areas for the Committee’s future         workplan.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report as well as the PowerPoint presentation about the Government’s green paper “A New Deal for Social Housing” which included the five principles to improve social housing. Tenants’ Panel representatives, along with other committee members, welcomed the Green Paper in principle.

 

It was noted that in order to underpin a new, fairer deal for social housing residents, the Government paper identified five principles outlined below:

 

  • Ensuring homes are safe and decent;

 

  • Effective resolution of complaints;

 

  • Empowering residents  and strengthening the Regulator;

 

  • Tackling stigma and celebrating thriving communities; and

 

  • Expanding supply and supporting home ownership.

 

The Committee agreed that this was a good opportunity to feedback on the consultation themes and questions to inform future social housing legislation, regulation and standards.

 

After discussion, the Committee agreed that:

 

  • A draft consultation response be circulated for their email feedback; and

 

  • A working group be set up about ‘stigma’ of social housing in Waverley.

 

33.

COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 99 KB

The Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee is responsible for managing its work programme.

 

The work programme (attached) takes account of items identified on the latest Executive Forward Programme (Annexe 2) as due to come forward for decision.

 

A Scrutiny Tracker has been produced to assist the Committee in monitoring the recommendations that have been agreed at its meetings. The Tracker details the latest position on the implementation of these recommendations and is attached as Part C of the work programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee noted the Work Programme and the made following observations:

 

           Affordable Housing item needed to include what was affordable, how many social housing units were there with a detailed background by wards and other details;

 

           Revised Rent Policy needed to come back with the changes;

 

           Revised Corporate Performance Report to come back in November;

 

           A new working group about social housing stigma now agreed; and

 

           An item about the renewal of contracts be added to the Work Programme.

34.

ANY ISSUES TO BE CONSIDERED IN EXEMPT SESSION

To consider any matters relating to aspects of any reports on this agenda which it is felt need to be considered in Exempt session.

Minutes:

There were none.

35.

EXCLUSION OF PRESS AND PUBLIC

To consider, if necessary, the following recommendation on the motion of the Chairman:

 

Recommendation

 

That pursuant to Procedure Rule 20 and in accordance with Section 100A(4) of the Local government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following items on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the public were present during the items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information (as defined by Section 100I of the Act) of the description specified in the appropriate paragraph(s) of the revised Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act (to be identified at the meeting).

Minutes:

Not applicable.