Agenda and minutes

Landlord Services Advisory Board - Friday, 28th January, 2022 10.30 am

Venue: Council Chamber, Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming. View directions

Contact: Fiona Cameron  Senior Governance Officer

Note: Zoom ID 851 1436 8296 Passcode 291148 

Items
No. Item

16.

Apologies for absence

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Councillor Paul Follows explained that Councillor Anne-Marie Rosoman, had stepped down as Portfolio Holder for Housing due to her health.  She will remain a Councillor.  He thanked her for the work she had done in the housing role over the last three years.  He stated that there was now Co-Portfolio Holders for Housing.  Councillor Nick Palmer had the role for developing new social housing and Councillor Paul Rivers had responsibility for the management and maintenance of homes and chairing the meeting.

 

The group introduced themselves.  There was Terry Daubney who was the chair of the Tenants Panel, Gillian Martin from the Tenants Panel, Hugh Wagstaff Head of Housing Operations, Annalisa Howson the Housing Service Improvement Manager, Danielle Sleighthome from the Tenants Panel, Jeanette Engelfield the Tenant Involvement Officer, Jacquie Keen councillor for Haselmere Critchmere and Shottermill, Councillor Paul Follows Leader of the Council and ward member for Godalming Central and Ockford,  Peter Vickers Head of Finance and Property, Andrew Smith Head of Housing Delivery and Communities. 

 

Apologies were received from Councillor Simon Dear.

 

 

17.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 1 MB

To agree the minutes of the previous meeting.

Minutes:

Regarding Paragraph 11, the Chairman wanted to check that the Affordable Homes Delivery Strategy consultation had started.  The Housing Service Improvement Manager confirmed that the consultation had been launched on 27 January and was available online.  Direct approaches had been made to various charities and stakeholders. 

 

Regarding item 12, board members were asked to feedback any other comments regarding the Tenant Satisfaction Measures Consultation to officers and a draft consultation response incorporating comments put forward to be circulated to board members for final comments.  Annalisa stated that they’d received further comments from Terry Daubney and they were having a focus group with tenants at the beginning of February 2022. The consultation responses were not due to be submitted till the 3 March so the documentation would be shared with the board mid to end of February.

 

Regarding item 13, it said they agreed that the Landlord Services Advisory Board would have the opportunity to meet with the new responsive repairs and voids contractor and with TFL who will carry out satisfaction.  Annalisa stated that she’d agreed with Heather Rigg, the Property Services Manager, that TFL would present to the Board on 31 March 2022 and the Responsive Repairs and Voids contractor would present on 28 April 2022. 

 

Regarding item 14, the work programme, Terry Daubney asked for a report back on the senior living consultation as a few issues had been raised with the panel.  Annalisa stated the report was on the Board’s agenda for the next meeting on 28 February. 

 

The minutes of the meeting from 10 January 2022 were then approved.

 

18.

Declarations of interest

To receive any declarations of interests under the Waverley Members’ Code of Conduct.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

 

19.

Service Plans 2022 - 2025 pdf icon PDF 215 KB

To consider the Service Plans for 2022 – 2025 and:

a)    Agree any observations to be passed to the Executive

b)    Confirm the reporting cycle to the LSAB

c)    Agree future LSAB agenda items

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Annalisa Howson outlined the service plans.  She said each service within the Council had an annual service plan that set out what they wanted to achieve in the coming year.  It was recognised that not everything was completed in a year so they were rolling programs for three years.  In the autumn the housing team reviewed the current service plan and did some horizon scanning about what issues were going to come up in the future.  They took feedback from the tenants panel at their partnership meetings.  They looked at tenants’ feedback from STAR(tenant satisfaction survey) and they looked at compliments and complaints they’d received.  This was all set within the wider context of the Charter for Social Housing Residents White Paper that was released in 2021.  They’d kept the same themes for the service plan. 

 

The first theme to ensure that the service was financially robust; to have at least two million pounds in reserve to deal with any natural disasters or unforeseen consequences. There were three actions to make sure they were financially robust and there are plans for a strategic review of the HRA Business Plan in the new financial year.  The Asset Management Strategy was in development and it was due to be presented to the board in March. 

 

The second theme was about meeting the needs of tenants.  That involved communication. They had received STAR results and the consultation feedback from the senior living scheme and wanted to make sure there were lots of opportunities for people to work with them and give feedback so they could make sure that the service met people's needs. 

 

The third theme was for the service to be professional and put residents at the heart of what they did; to have good retention of staff and make sure that they had the capacity within the team to deal with all the things that were arising.  Also working with the Chartered Institute of Housing looking at the professional attributes that a social housing officer should have and they were working with people to ensure they have access to ongoing learning and development and professionalism. 

 

The fourth theme for the service plan was to be a recognised partner as they needed to work with other organisations and statutory agencies to improve lives and seek opportunities to promote any initiatives. 

 

Fifthly they wanted to make sure that our customer experience was good for our residents so they would continue to monitor satisfaction and develop performance management.

 

The sixth element which was in the Housing Delivery and Community Service Plan was about delivering new homes. 

 

Overall the team’s priority was to improve responsive repairs.  They had a new contractor starting in April and improve communications

 

ACTION - The Board would receive service plan updates in the quarterly performance reports but also a more detailed update in six months’ time on progress with all the service plan actions in October

 

Councillors wanted to know if there was any money in the budget for all  ...  view the full minutes text for item 19.

20.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Business Plan - Revenue Budget and Capital Programme 2022/23 pdf icon PDF 539 KB

To consider the proposes HRA Business Plan – Revenue Budget and Capital Programme 2022/23 and agree comments to be passed to the Executive on:

i.              Proposed rent increase

ii.             Proposed weekly charge for garage rents

iii.            Proposed service charges in senior living accommodation

iv.           Proposed recharge for energy costs in senior living accommodation

v.             The revised HRA Business Plan for 2022/23 to 2025/26

vi.           Proposed fees and charges

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Hugh acknowledged that two meetings previously the Head of Finance and Property Peter Vickers gave an in-depth analysis of the housing accounts and the challenges

 

Peter Vickers stated that it was a budget that looked to the long term.  There was a 30-year business plan.

 

Waverley had to take a mortgage out of £189 million paid to the government to free themselves from the government's financing system.  The business plan was designed to mitigate against moderate shocks, but had to be reprofiled due to the four years of rent reduction.  This really hit the business plan because not only did the rents reduce but the plan had assumed rent rises above inflation which was what the government promised. 

 

Rather than review the numbers, Hugh explained what the budgets would deliver and the challenges to the service.  Covid had impacted on the service causing a lost rental income as homes were unable to be let during lockdown and had impacted resources and capacity .  They also had issues with contractors, inflating costs and resources.  The budget also supported the net zero decarbonisation agenda. 

 

There was huge investment in the next year's budget to run a pilot at Ockford Ridge to retrofit seven homes, to assess green initiatives.  For most homes insulation is the most effective way to reduce carbon and use the fabric first approach. The service has 800 properties that were pre-second world war, that are not possible or practicable to make zero carbon. 

 

The budget has additional money to do works at one of the senior schemes to complete works required to meet new building standards.  Work required would be identified through fire risk assessments.  £0.75m has been allocated over three years to complete that work.  . 

 

The budget proposes a rent increase of up to 4.1%.  The rent rise equated to £1.61 per week.  This is necessary to resource this year’s projects and services but also support future investment in the homes services. Hugh acknowledged current challenges following the pandemic and increasing cost of living.  He noted that there was a Government Household Support Fund distributed by Waverley to assist those facing money problems.  A letter was being sent to all their tenants promoting the scheme and letting everyone know help is available to pay for heating, food and other essentials.  The rent team had also been proactive in looking at records of everyone who had gone on to universal credit during the pandemic. 

 

The government household support fund finishes in March 2022.  To support tenants who may be financially challenged by the rent increase a new Hardship fund has been created within the HRA.  The board thought the hardship fund needed to be ongoing and not just for one year as cost of living rises were increasing with food and fuel and National Insurance going up.  They also felt the fund needed to not be stigmatised and eligibility criteria needed to be clear.  It was noted that the Tenants Panel already met with the Rents Team regularly  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Work programme pdf icon PDF 417 KB

Minutes:

It was stated that the O&S group wanted to do a joint working group regarding the Housing Revenue Account which was subsequently articulated as housing.  The group asked that when they established it that its terms of reference did not clash with the Landlord Services Advisory Board. 

 

There was also one item on the work programme against 10 January that Councillor Keen and Terry Daubney were to meet with Alice Lean and Esther Lyons, the Housing Strategy and Enabling Managers to review the consultation documentation and feedback on behalf of the Board.  That was happening on 8 February.

 

The Chairman was asked when the contractors representative was to come in to talk to the Board.  It was confirmed that the contractors who were doing the responsive repairs feedback survey were coming on 31 March and the responsive repairs and voids contractor was coming on 28 April meeting.

 

The board confirmed that there would now be more than five meeting a year, as previously planned.  The Board meetings are planned for the last Thursday of the month, but no meetings in August or December.  It was also agreed that the Board would look at no more than three or four items per meeting so they had a chance to look at things in depth.

 

It was stated that the Asset Management Strategy was coming to the Board in March.  It would look at how Waverley managed its homes into the future to make sure they were safe, warm and greener and more efficient and a good place to live.  It was not just about decarbonisation, it was also about recognising the rising cost of energy and the cost of living for tenants and that needed to be given a lot of weight too.

 

 

22.

Date of next meeting

Thursday 24 February at 10am.

Minutes:

The next meeting would take place at 10am on 24 February.