Agenda and minutes

Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Tuesday, 31st January, 2017 7.30 pm

Venue: Civic Offices, St Nicholas Way, Sutton SM1 1EA

Contact: Fiona Bywaters, Committee Services Team Leader  Tel: 020 8770 5122 | Email:  fiona.bywaters@sutton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

35.

Welcome and introductions

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all those present to the meeting.

36.

Apologies and Substitutes

Minutes:

No apologies were given.

37.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

5. Roundshaw - Annual Report to Sutton Council

Councillor Joyce Melican, Non Pecuniary, Board Member of Sutton Housing Partnership.

 

Councillor Joyce Melican, Non Pecuniary, Member of the Roundshaw Performance Group.

 

Councillor Joyce Melican, Non Pecuniary, Resident of the Roundshaw Estate.

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson, Non Pecuniary, Board Member of Sutton Housing Partnership.

 

38.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 150 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2016.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2016 be agreed as an accurate record.

39.

Roundshaw - Annual Report to Sutton Council pdf icon PDF 94 KB

Following the decision of the Committee at its meeting of 9 December 2014, this report provides an update for Members on Metropolitan’s management of the Roundshaw estate, the sole ownership of which was transferred to Metropolitan under a compact (agreement) in July 2015.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed the representatives there present of Metropolitan and Trevor Hart, Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager, briefly presented the report.

 

Member discussion focussed on comparative figures to Sutton Housing Partnership in respect of alternative payment arrangements for tenants on Universal Credit. Members also enquired as to information provided in the report relating to responsive repairs and planned maintenance, particularly with regards to the age of the housing stock.

 

Further discussion ensued on the subjects of turnaround time per void, the complaints resolution process, leaseholder meetings and the impact of Universal Credit.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    The progress in delivering on the compact be noted.

40.

Shared Service Business Case - Revenues and Benefits pdf icon PDF 147 KB

This report details the outcome of the work undertaken to establish if there is a business case to form a shared Revenues and Benefits Service with the Royal Borough of Kingston.

 

Indicative Timing: 15mins

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Julie Turner, Executive Head of Business Services (Interim), presented the report with Paul Garlick, Head of Revenues, Benefits, Insurance and Pensions.

 

Members commented on the sensible nature of the proposal having explored the options available. Queries were raised as to the response of the Royal Borough of Kingston to which Gerald Almeroth, Strategic Director of Resources, answered that this had been a mutual conclusion. It was also enquired as to whether savings could be made elsewhere instead, to which the Executive Head responded that the savings target for 2017/18 had been achieved and a detailed expenditure review had been undertaken.

 

The Chair enquired as to that it would be helpful to revisit progress on the collaborative work at a future meeting, which the Executive Head agreed.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    The work undertaken was considered and it be agreed not to proceed with a shared service arrangement for the Revenue and Benefits Service with Kingston.

2.    The recommendation be endorsed that the two Councils’ Revenues and Benefits Services continue to work collaboratively by sharing good practice and taking advantage of joint working and procurement opportunities as these arise.

41.

Collection of Water and Sewerage Charges from Council Tenants pdf icon PDF 101 KB

The report recommends that the water and sewerage charge collection arrangements the Council has with Sutton & East Surrey Water and Thames Water Utilities be brought to an end and that tenants are informed of the decision and the reasons for it.  It also advises of an outstanding legal issue in relation to the role of local authorities in collecting these charges on behalf of the water companies.

 

Indicative Timing: 15 minutes

Minutes:

Trevor Hart, Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager, presented the report, drawing particular attention to Paragraph 4.1.

 

Members enquired as to whether the water companies had accepted any responsibility for this situation. Robert Baxendale, South London Legal Partnership, responded that it was difficult to comment on whether liability had been established, or not, at the present time and responsibility had not been accepted as such.

 

Members also sought clarification on the arrangements between the water companies and local authorities. Simon Latham, Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration, commented that this arrangement pre-dated the privatisation of water and was a national issue. It was emphasised that no resident had paid more than they would have done under a direct arrangement but that there was an administrative cost to the Council.

 

Finally, the subjects of water meters and assessed charges were also discussed by Members, as well as timelines with regards to the proposed changes and billing cycles. The Chair requested that the Executive Head distribute further information to Members post-committee in relation to the timeline and any communication of it.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    It be agreed that Officers should bring the arrangements for the collection of water and sewerage charges to an end, and inform tenants of the decision and reasons for it.

42.

Rent Setting - Housing Rents and Related Charges 2017/18 pdf icon PDF 151 KB

This report advises the Housing, Economy and Business Committee of government-determined decreases in council tenants’ rent to be applied from April 2017.

 

The report also proposes changes to rents and other charges for dwellings held outside of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA), these being mainly properties used by services such as Parks and Education, garages and other ancillary facilities.

 

Finally, this report proposes changes to the license fees for pitches at the Council’s Travellers site, The Pastures, and rents for temporary accommodation, both of which are accounted for within the General Fund.

 

Indicative Timing: 20 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Trevor Hart, Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager, presented the report.

 

Members sought further detail on the Housing Management Plus Service which was explained to consist of practical support to older tenants by Simon Latham, Executive Head of Housing and Regeneration. It was confirmed that this was an existing service.

 

Members also enquired as to how many self-funding sheltered tenants existed and any mitigation which could be offered to them. The figure was confirmed to be 83 by the Executive Head and that there would be a phased introduction of any increased charge.

 

It was asked by Members whether rents in Sutton were lower than elsewhere. The Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager could not confirm the detail at Committee.

 

Colin Hawkins, Sutton Federation of Tenant and Resident Associations (SFTRA) was then invited by the Chair to make comments to the Committee. The representative complimented the cooperation, coworking and dialogue with SFTRA, particularly with regards to the table included in the report under Paragraph 4.10. The representative also provided reassurance to Members in respect of the sheltered housing issues there raised.

 

Following the intervention, Members debated the fluctuation of energy prices. The Executive Head responded that there was an annual review of purchasing energy supplies.

 

Finally, Members discussed Estate Service Charges, their value-for-money and fly-tipping costs. The Executive Head responded with comparative figures to other London authorities.

 

RESOLVED: that

1.    Council dwelling rents be decreased by 1%, in line with the Government’s social rent policy.

2.    Garage rents be increased by 2.5% (30 p/w) to £11.95p/w.

3.    Charges for heating and hot water be reduced by 20% in line with costs of supply.

4.    Charges for estate services be increased by a maximum of 2.5% per property until they have reached an amount at which full cost recovery is achieved.

5.    Tenants of sheltered housing affected by the proposed introduction of the new Housing Management Plus Service be consulted by SHP and their view reported back to the Strategic Director of Environment,  Housing and Regeneration who will liaise with the Chair regarding the feedback.

6.    Rents for the units at Hillcroome Road and Harrow Road be increased by 2.5%.

7.    It be recommended by the Council to the Carshalton Coronation Commemoration Trust that the rents of the properties leased to it are reduced by 1% in line with the position for Council housing rents.

8.    The proposed increases in rents for other non-HRA properties, as set out in Paragraph 4.12, be approved.

9.    Charges for the pitches at the Pastures Traveller site be increased by 2.46%.

10.Rents for new lettings of permanent stock used as temporary accommodation be set at 10% below the Local Housing Allowance level that applies to private sector lettings in the area.

11.Charges for ancillary services provided to occupants of non-HRA temporary accommodation be increased as set out in the table under Paragraph 4.16.

43.

Any urgent business brought forward at the direction of the chair

Minutes:

No urgent business was raised.

44.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting will take place on 21 March 2017.

Minutes:

The next meeting will take place on 21 March 2017.