Agenda and minutes

Housing, Economy and Business Committee
Tuesday, 23rd January, 2018 7.30 pm

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

Contact: Davena Palmer, Committee Services Team Leader (Interim)  Tel.: 020 8770 4990, Email:  committeeservices@sutton.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

28.

Welcome and Introductions

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed all those present.

 

29.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Sangster for absence and Councillor Clifton for lateness.

 

30.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

3. Declarations of Interest.

 

Councillor Joyce Melican, Non Pecuniary, Member of the SHP Board and resident of Roundshaw Estate.

 

Councillor Nick Emmerson, Non Pecuniary, Member of the SHP Board.

 

31.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 147 KB

To approve as a correct record the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2017.

Minutes:

RESOLVED: that the minutes of the meeting held on 26 September 2017 be agreed as an accurate record.

 

32.

Metropolitan’s Management of Roundshaw – Annual Report to Sutton Council pdf icon PDF 100 KB

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

 

Indicative timing: 15 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Angelique Banton, Head of Housing Services at Metropolitan and Sandra Martin, Housing Services Manager at Metropolitan, to present the report.

 

Members queried the reasons for the high turnover of flat accommodation mentioned in Appendix A at 4.3.2. The Head of Housing Services explained it was due in part to

a number or residents passing away and some residents moving on to supported housing with other agencies.

 

Members discussed debt recovery and the positive performance of Metropolitan in that area. Members asked if they could share the keys to their success and any non-traditional forms of resident involvement they engage in. The Head of Housing Services said in relation to debt recovery Metropolitan have held action days, provided money and budgeting advice with an advisor in the office twice a week, go door-knocking, and have produced pamphlets for residents.

 

In regards to resident engagement the Head of Housing Services said they were looking at new methods and using existing forums and channels such as the breakfast club, appointing champions, and reopening a youth club on the estate.

 

Members asked if there was an update regarding Section 16 Freeholders. The Head of Housing Services explained at present they didn’t have an update, but agreed to respond to with an update to the committee following the meeting.

 

The Chair invited Pat Bridgeman, Local Resident, to address the Committee on the item. She highlighted that:

  • New staff starting at the Roundshaw Office are not trained on the unique promises made to Roundshaw by Metropolitan
  • The phone service is sending some calls straight to the Nottingham call centre and residents can be on hold for as long as 25 minutes.
  • Consultation on the gardening contracts was not transparent, many residents were not aware of who was in attendance, and the 72 pages of information provided was difficult to digest.

 

The Head of Housing Services responded to the points raised with the following:

  • Metropolitan is a large organisation whereby not all staff will be aware of the arrangements with Roundshaw but new employees are instructed on the arrangements.
  • The Roundshaw office has a direct number but if the line is busy calls are re-routed, but they will take back the concerns raised
  • The last contract was negotiated before Metropolitan took over so comments can’t be made on that, but they are looking at more ways to involve residents when they are putting new contracts out to tender.

 

Members commented on the success of debt advice helping debt collection and encouraged the initiative amongst all Sutton housing providers.

 

The Chair asked that Pat Bridgeman update the Committee in a few months on progress.

 

The Chair asked what changes Metropolitan had implemented in light of the Grenfell tragedy. The Head of Housing Services highlighted that Metropolitan had:

  • Created a new role and appointed a Fire Safety Manager
  • Committed an extra £2.2 million to fire safety and staff training
  • Increased fire risk assessments to tier 3, which includes spot checks inside people’s properties
  • Incorporating non-technical  ...  view the full minutes text for item 32.

33.

Review of the Housing Management Service pdf icon PDF 159 KB

This report provides an update on the commissioning review of the Council’s housing management service, provided by Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP).

 

Indicative timing: 30 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Simon Latham, Assistant Director for Housing, Planning and Regeneration, presented the report and introduced Steve Tucker, Chief Executive of Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) to address the Committee. He highlighted the key focuses for SHP were:

  • Repairs; Which are most important to residents
  • Modernisation of the service
  • Introduction of the ‘new deal’ setting out the basis of the partnership between residents and SHP.
  • Making resident involvement more inclusive with modern engagement

 

Members discussed modernisation and humanisation of SHP, the ‘new deal’ and the ‘commercial approach’ mentioned in the report. Steve Tucker expanded on those areas explaining that they had dismantled the contact centre so residents can speak directly to a housing manager, there had been positive feedback regarding the ‘new deal’, and in regard to the commercial approach they were setting the right priorities and stretching resources to create value.

 

The Chair asked whether the changes would result in increased costs for leaseholders. Steve Tucker explained that they had consulted with Sutton Leaseholders Association, there was a small increase in cost a pound a week per leaseholder, but this would be offset by savings.

 

Members again discussed the benefits of providing debt advice and asked what measures SHP had in place. Steve Tucker responded that it was a top priority, they had imported best practice approaches from other social landlords, and they recently changed their letter language once someone falls into debt.

 

Members asked whether work had started on the management agreement. The Assistant Director said that work had already started, and officers want to make sure the Judith Hackett enquiry and building regulations review are taken into account, with an update back to the Committee probably in January 2019.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. The structural and operational changes to Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) (and accompanying financial plan) as detailed in the ‘SHP Prospectus’ at Appendix A, be noted.

 

  1. It be agreed formal co-opted roles for Sutton Federation of Tenant and Resident Associations (SFTRA), and Sutton Leaseholders’ Association (SLA) should be introduced to the SHP Board, with any further changes to Board membership held under review and subject to the approval of HEB Committee.

 

  1. That the strengthened clienting and performance management arrangements to be adopted, as set out in sections 4.8 - 4.11., be noted and endorsed.

 

  1. It be agreed the management agreement between the Council and SHP should be updated no later than April 2019. It should be noted that the expiry date of the current agreement is 31 March 2021. The updated version should reflect emerging best practice, particularly in relation to resident involvement (see paragraph 4.12). Changes to the management agreement may be subject to the agreement of the Homes and Communities Agency (HCA).

 

34.

Sutton Housing Partnership Delivery Plan 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 146 KB

On an annual basis, the Housing, Economy and Business Committee is invited to approve Sutton Housing Partnership’s (SHP) Delivery Plan, produced in accordance with the provisions of the Management Agreement between the Council and its Arms Length Management Organisation (ALMO).

 

Indicative timing: 15 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair invited Steve Tucker of Sutton Housing Partnership (SHP) to introduce the report.

 

Members praised the income performance of SHP and asked what their approach was to using bailiffs. Steve Tucker said that bailiffs are only an option when they could see no other way forward and that bailiffs are court appointed.

 

Members asked if they could be provided with a list of the community walkabouts so that members may also attend them. Steve Tucker confirmed this could be provided, they were still in the pilot phase, but they will have a schedule for the next financial year.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. The Sutton Housing Partnership Delivery Plan for 2018/19 be approved;

 

  1. The inclusion of the current service standards be noted and it be agreed that these may be revised from time to time as part of the process of producing updated delivery plans.

 

35.

Implications of the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 pdf icon PDF 225 KB

On 26 September 2017 a report was taken to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee setting out the new duties arising from the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017 (the Act) and drawing attention to the significant impact on resources. Members agreed that a further report should be brought to the Housing, Economy and Business Committee when the Council’s allocation from the Government to assist with implementing the new duties had been announced.  

 

Indicative timing: 15 minutes

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Helen Davies, Head of Housing Advice, Information and Assessment to introduce the report.

 

Members asked what would happen if Sutton did not meet the requirements the new act had set. The Head of Housing Advice responded that the Council would be open to legal challenge.

 

Members questioned what funds have been put aside to make provisions for the act, and what review process was in place. The Head of Housing Advice explained that there will be a corporate group set up to monitor the impact with a review scheduled in 6 months. The Assistant Director for Housing, Planning and Regeneration said that Officers can also report back to the committee on progress in the autumn.

 

The Strategic Director for Environment, Housing and Regeneration explained that they will be tracking resources and finance with the 151 officer, who if necessary will go through due process with Strategy and Resources Committee for additional funds.

 

Councillor Hicks motioned that recommendation 2.2 be amended to include that an update will come back to the committee in either October or November 2018

 

The motion was seconded by the Chair.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. The operating model as outlined in this report be agreed.

 

  1. It be noted that a corporate implementation group is being established to monitor the impact of the new duties, which will include colleagues from both the Finance service and the Chief Executive’s Directorate, and it be agreed that an update be reported back regularly to the committee beginning in Autumn 2018.

 

36.

Commissioning Strategy for Housing Support pdf icon PDF 239 KB

This report sets out proposals for the recommissioning of housing support services for a range of vulnerable people including care leavers, people with a learning disability, women at risk of domestic violence, people with mental health needs and/or substance misuse problems and ex-offenders.

 

Indicative timing: 30 minutes

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Simon Latham, Assistant Director for Housing, Planning and Regeneration presented the report

 

Members welcomed the detailed impact assessments attached to the reports and questioned whether the people directorate had the skills to deliver the commissioning strategy with the transfer of funds detailed in the report. The Assistant Director explained that the same category management team will remain responsible for commissioning, with no transfer of staff just funding.

 

Members asked if there were any organisations looking into the service for the needs of care leavers. The Assistant Director said there are some organisations and they are reasonably optimistic there will be a field of potential providers following tender.

 

The Chair motioned that an additional recommendation that having gone through the procurement process the committee be updated on progress in the autumn 2018 and one year on from the establishment of the service.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Hicks.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. The commissioning model set out in this report, including the award of a new single contract be approved.

 

  1. It be agreed to delegate authority to the Strategic Director, Environment Housing and Regeneration to implement the recommended option (option 4) for commissioning housing support and award of the contract, as mentioned in para 2.1.

 

  1. The award or extension of short term contracts as necessary, to ensure the continuation of current arrangements until the new housing support model is implemented and services recommissioned (anticipated to be by 1 April 2019, but this may be achieved earlier), be approved.

 

  1. Following the procurement process the committee be updated in the autumn and following the new model being in place for one year an update be brought back to the committee.

 

37.

Housing Rents and Related Charges 2018/19 pdf icon PDF 137 KB

This report advises the Housing, Economy and Business (HEB) Committee of the continuing government-determined decreases in council tenants’ rent applied from April 2017. These will inform the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) estimates for 2018/19.

 

Indicative timing: 20 minutes

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

Members asked if the fees consultation been done with SFTRA. The Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager explained that every year Sutton Housing Partnership consults with SFTRA but they don’t engage with residents on dwelling rent levels as the Council doesn’t set them.

 

Members commented regarding 5.2 of the report, that the Council has garages that they can’t let. The Assistant Director said that Sutton Housing Partnership are negotiating with leaseholders for garages and trying to make best use of them, such as converting them to parking spaces.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. A decrease in council dwelling rents by 1%, in line with the Government’s social rent legislation be agreed.

 

  1. An increase in garage rents by 55p pw (4.6%) to £12.50 pw and parking space rents by 13p pw (4.6%) to £2.85 pw, be agreed.

 

  1. A decrease in charges for heating and hot water by 3%, to reflect anticipated future costs of supply, be agreed.

 

  1. An increase in charges for estate services by a maximum of ?2.9% (CPI at August 2017) per property until they have reached an amount at which full cost recovery is achieved, be agreed.

 

  1. An increase in rents for the units at Hillcroome Road and Harrow Road by 2.9%, be agreed.

 

  1. An increase in rents for other non-HRA properties as proposed in paragraph 4.13, be agreed

 

  1. It be agreed to recommend 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 rent.

 

  1. A decrease in charges for the pitches at The Pastures Traveller site by 0.89%, be agreed.

 

  1. It be agreed to delegate authority to the Strategic Director of Environment, Housing and Regeneration to set the charges for ancillary services provided to occupants of non-HRA temporary accommodation.

38.

Property Acquisition Programme pdf icon PDF 124 KB

This report provides Members with an update on progress of the delivery of the property acquisition programme, considered by the Committee at its meetings in March and June 2017.

 

Indicative timing: 15 minutes

Minutes:

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

 

Members commented that it would be useful in the future to know whether the savings are coming in above or below where it was predicted. The Housing Strategy and Commissioning Manager said it would be included in a report coming back to the Committee in November.

 

RESOLVED that:

  1. Progress to date with the property acquisition programme be noted.

 

  1. It be agreed to authorise expenditure on property acquisitions in line with the projected resource availability as set out in the HRA Business Plan (September 2017 update).

 

39.

Performance Challenge

A verbal update on performance and financial data to the Housing Economy and Business Committee from the Council’s performance management system (Pentana).

 

Indicative timing: 5 minutes

Minutes:

The Chair thanked members that attended the performance briefing. It was said in regards to Planning that they were exceeding targets with requests for pre-application advice and with the impact of moving between housing benefit and universal credit.

 

The Assistant Director said there would be a further bulletin on the performance indicators.

 

40.

Any Urgent Business

The Chair must approve the reason for urgency.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

 

41.

Date of next meeting

The next meeting of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee will take place on 13 February 2018 at 7:30pm.

Minutes:

The next meeting of the Housing, Economy and Business Committee will take place on 13 February 2018 at 7:30pm.