Agenda and draft minutes

Overview & Scrutiny Committee - Housing - Tuesday, 8th June, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber

Contact: Georgina Hall  Democratic Services Officer

Items
No. Item

60.

CONFIRMATION OF CHAIRMAN AND VICE CHAIRMAN

To confirm the Chairman and Vice Chairman at the start of the new council year.

Minutes:

Councillor Richard Seaborne was confirmed as Chairman of the Committee for the forthcoming municipal year with Councillor Peter Marriott as Vice Chairman.

61.

MINUTES

The Minutes of the meeting of the Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 9 March 2021 are available on the Council’s website, and Members are asked to confirm them as a correct record.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9 March 2021 were confirmed as a correct record and signed.

62.

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 1 June 2021to enable a substitute to be arranged, if applicable.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Peter Marriott who was substituted by Councillor Jerry Hyman and from Tenants Panel representative Dennis Smith who was substituted by Gillian Martin.

 

The Chairman also enquired whether a replacement to former Councillor Cole had been selected from the Liberal Democrat Group and he was informed by the Leader that this had not yet been decided on.

63.

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.

64.

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 5pm on Tuesday 1 June 2021.

Minutes:

There were no questions from members of the public.

65.

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 5pm on Tuesday 1 June 2021.

 

 

Minutes:

There were no questions from Members.

66.

CORPORATE PERFORMANCE REPORT QUARTER 4 pdf icon PDF 149 KB

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Housing Overview & Scrutiny Committee:

1) Considers the performance of the service areas under its remit, as set out

in Annexe 1 to this report, and makes any recommendations to senior

management or the Executive as appropriate, and

2) considers the Annual Review of Performance Indicators, as set out in the

table below, and makes any comments or recommendations to the

Executive.

 

The Policy and Performance Officer will lead on this item

 

The section of the performance information relating to Housing Delivery and Communities starts on page 39 of the document pack and the section relating to Housing Operations starts on page 46 of the document pack.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Service Improvement Manager presented the Quarter 4 report as the Head of Housing Delivery had given his apologies for the meeting.  She explained that the performance information was for January, February and March 2021 so that was for the end of the financial year 2020 – 2021.

 

Highlights included:

 

·         37 new homes had been built by the Council at Site A at Ockford Ridge.

·         Planning permission was gained for 6 further WBC homes in Chiddingfold

·         Next Step funding has been secured for two new modular Passivhaus homes in Farncombe, and supported with WBC Commuted Sums Council funding.

·         3 new homes had been acquired on a developer site through S106 agreement as well.

·         The Housing Strategy Enabling Team supported the delivery of 130 new homes throughout the financial year (37 by WBC, 93 by other providers).

·         They also worked on the Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document which was adopted 27.04.21.  It gives clear affordable housing guidelines for developers, agents and planners when assessing development opportunities.

·         The Commuted Sums Fund has also been used to provide 2 x social rented homes in Cranleigh (Southern).

·         Rough Sleeper Funding was secured for an Outreach Worker and a Tenancy Support Officer and some bed spaces were provided.  The service were preparing for an expected increase in homelessness as the eviction rules for private rented accommodation were changed.

·         The Private Sector team have seen a reduction in requests for inspections due to covid restrictions, but there have been more requests for public funeral and disabled facilities grants.

 

There was a question about when the Supplementary Planning Document would be in place and the Committee was told that it was adopted at the Annual Council Meeting on 27 April 2021.

 

It was suggested that there should be a target for maximising the number of social rent affordable social housing homes delivered.  The Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager said this would be picked up in the new Housing Strategy and it could be monitored going forward.

 

There was a question regarding the independent viability consultants mentioned on page 41 of the performance report, the committee wanted to know how this would be set up and whether there would be a scale of fees.  Viability fees are paid for by the developer.  The Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager stated that these issues were being worked on with the Procurement Officer.  Four consultants have been secured to set up a viability panel and where an applicant for a planning application submitted a planning viability case, work could now be rotated fairly and the Council were less likely to encounter conflict of interest issues and challenges when developers said affordable housing wasn’t viable on a particular site.

 

The Committee Chairman commented that the performance information had no mention of improving energy efficiency and reducing carbon dioxide emissions and he wanted to see that in future reports including in the commentary section.

 

There was a question regarding the low number of affordable homes granted planning consent and whether it was because  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

ANNUAL KPI REVIEW

To consider any additional KPI’s the Committee would like reported on or changes to existing KPI’s relating to this committee’s remit of Housing Delivery and Housing Operations.  Please refer to the report attached to agenda item 7.

 

The Policy and Performance Officer will lead on this item

Minutes:

There were currently no new indicators for Housing Delivery and Communities although there might be some in the new Housing Strategy.  There were some new indicators proposed and some changes to the targets for Housing Operations:

 

HO1 - rent arrears as a percentage of total established gross debit.  It was proposed to change this target from 0.7% to 1%.

HO4 – average number of days to complete a repair.

-       Average number of days to complete a repair

HO5 – Percentage of jobs not completed within 28 days

 

There was a discussion around whether the target for HO1 should be increased, with some of the Committee being unhappy with making a target easier to achieve.  It was stated that nationally the average rent arrears were 3.68%.  The Head of Housing Operations stated that with an increase in Universal Credit claims the service may not return to pre COVID 19 collection rates.  Universal Credit payments take longer to reach peoples’ accounts, rent arrears were going to be higher going forward.

 

There was a further discussion around the first part of indicator HO5 which was “Was the repair completed right first time?”.  Some of the Committee felt this was too vague.  The Head of Housing Operations said that the definition of first time was from the tenant’s point of view.  The Chief Executive suggested making the definition slightly longer and clearer regarding what was being measured.

 

The Service Improvement Manager stated that they would reinstate the independent survey of tenants regarding their experience of responsive repairs when a new contractor starts.

 

It was suggested regarding HD4 that the indicator should show the number of affordable homes delivered by Waverley and those delivered by others separately.  The Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager said this was already recorded so the information could be given to the Committee.

 

The Chairman wanted to see an indicator on energy efficiency and the reduction of carbon dioxide emissions in Waverley’s properties.

 

RESOLVED

 

That:

 

Housing Delivery and Communities (Housing Delivery only) – The Committee agreed to no changes to indicators HD1 (NI), HD2, HD3. The Committee suggested a split of the indicator HD4 to sub indicators showing exact numbers of affordable homes delivered by Waverley Borough Council and those delivered by other providers. The officers accepted the suggestions and new indicators HD4a (WBC) and HD4b (other providers) will be introduced from Q1 2021/22.

 

Housing Operations – The Committee agreed to no changes to indicators HO2, HO3, HO6 and to endorse a change of target for the HO1 from 0.7% to 1%. The officers also proposed introduction of two new interim indicators to replace existing indicators HO4 (rate of the service received) and HO5 (repair completed right first time), and these are HO4b (average number of days to complete the repair) and HO5b (% of jobs not completed within 28 days). The Committee endorsed the introduction of these new indicators from Q1 2021/22.

 

HO5 would be re-worded to provide more clarity

 

The Asset Management Strategy would include new indicator(s) to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.

68.

HOUSING STRATEGY UPDATE REPORT pdf icon PDF 181 KB

The Housing Strategy / Enabling Manager will lead on this item

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Committee:

i. reviews this report and agrees any observations or comments it wishes to pass to the Executive

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Housing Strategy and Enabling Manager explained that they dealt with new affordable housing from pre-application to delivery.  A lot of work was with housing associations, during the planning process.  An Affordable Housing Supplementary Planning Document has been adopted at Annual Council on 27 April 2021 to support this process. 

 

The current Housing Strategy was originally written to cover 2018 to 2023.  However, the Executive has requested a new strategy to reflect the new Corporate Plan and declaration of a Climate Emergency.  The current strategy is quite broad and includes private sector housing and homelessness.  Although at an early stage, the new strategy will have a stronger focus on Council and Housing Association new build and the affordability and sustainability of these homes.  For example, affordable rents, set at 80% are not actually affordable to some in housing need.  The team are commissioning new research into what is affordable to the end user.

 

In 2020-21 130 new affordable homes had been provided.  This was not as high as the 150 completed In 2019-20, but higher than the average for the past ten years (81 per annum). 

 

In 2019-20 5% of new homes were developed by the Council.  In 2020-21, this has increased to 37%, largely due to the development at Ockford Ridge.  Last year only 1% of new affordable homes completed were for social rent, this year 28%; again due to the Ockford Ridge but also 2 homes at Horsham Road.

 

Most of the houses developed in the last financial year were two or three bedroom houses.  This will differ each year, depending on the tenure / bed size mix of schemes which complete.  For example, Brightwells will start to complete this financial year and the scheme is all shared ownership /  one and two bedroom flats.

 

There was a question about the net gain of houses at Ockford Ridge (Site A) and the Housing Development Manager stated that for this site the gain was 15 houses.

 

It was stated that the modular homes to be delivered at Badgers Close were to be  delivered to Passivhaus standards and the Council had obtained grant funding from MHCLG to fund part of the cost of the scheme with additional funding secured from Commuted Sums. 

 

There was a question about whether the private sector housing survey would involve going into peoples’ homes and it was stated that it was a desktop exercise.

 

The Chairman asked for it to be recorded that the Committee looked forward to the next strategy and thanked officers.

69.

REPORT FROM THE HOUSING DESIGN STANDARDS TASK AND FINISH GROUP pdf icon PDF 207 KB

The Chairman of the Housing Design Standards Task and Finish Group will lead this item.

 

This item will follow as a supplement.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor David Else who had been the Chairman of the Housing Design Task and Finish Group introduced this agenda item and stated that there had been a review of the 2018 standards in order to design improved environmentally friendly and affordable homes.

 

The Committee thought the report was very good.

 

There was a discussion around the design of letterboxes and methods for storing parcels with the Committee wanting to know what was behind that recommendation.  It was explained that the Task and Finish Group were not providing a solution, they were setting a challenge for architects and builders.

 

There was further discussion regarding recommendation 17 about electric vehicle charging points.  It was stated that after 2030 it would be illegal to sell fossil fuelled vehicles.  The recommendation was about making sure the infrastructure was there.

 

There was further discussion regarding recommendation 18 about improving walkways and cycle routes with a view to designing out crime.

 

It was explained that the standards would be updated every few years.

 

It was noted that there were no female councillors on task and finish group.  It was stated that a the Community and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been approached so that there would be links to their work but the person from that group who put themselves forward was also a male councillor.

 

The Housing Development Manager gave a brief explanation of the Passivhaus standard.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the Committee were happy for the report to go forward to the Executive.

70.

HOUSING MAINTENANCE - RESPONSE, REPAIRS AND VOIDS CONTRACT

The Head of Housing Operations will lead this item.  It will be a verbal update.

Minutes:

It was reported that the service were on target for a new contract to start around March 2022.

71.

HOUSING - RELATED COMPLAINTS 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 150 KB

The Housing Service Improvement Manager will lead on this agenda item.

 

Recommendation

 

It is recommended that the Committee

i reviews this report and identifies any areas of further scrutiny and / or

ii agrees any observations or comments it wishes to pass to the Executive

 

The Housing Service Improvement Manager will lead this item.

Minutes:

There were no questions regarding the report which had been provided to the committee by the Service Improvement Manager.

72.

COMMITTEE WORK PROGRAMME pdf icon PDF 194 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.

 

The Scrutiny Officer will lead this item.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Officer stated that the future of the four Overview and Scrutiny Committees was in flux.  The Asset Management Strategy and the Mental Health Strategy would come to the committee in September 2021.

 

Officers were actioned to bring a scoping report for a task and finish group on the allocations policy to the September meeting.  A number of members expressed an interest in working on the review.