Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Contact: Jasmine Kassim  Email: jasmine.kassim@royalgreenwich.gov.uk or tel: 020 8921 5146

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence pdf icon PDF 274 KB

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The meeting received and noted apologies for absence on behalf of Councillors Tonia Ashikodi and Leo Fletcher.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There was no urgent business.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies is noted.

4.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 150 KB

Members of the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel are requested to confirm as an accurate record the Minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2019.

 

No motion or discussion may take place upon the Minutes except as to their accuracy, and any question on this point will be determined by a majority of the Members of the body attending who were present when the matter in question was decided.  Once confirmed, with or without amendment, the person presiding will sign the Minutes.

Minutes:

Resolved -

 

That the minutes of the meeting of the Housing and Anti-Poverty Scrutiny Panel held on 31 January 2019, be agreed and signed as a true and accurate record.

5.

Social Mobility Delivery Plan pdf icon PDF 81 KB

The Panel to note the content of the Social Mobility Delivery Plan and associated documentation (as agreed at Cabinet on 20 March 2019) in so far as it fits with its terms of reference.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Averil Lekau, Cabinet Member for Adults, Social Care, Health and Anti-Poverty presented the report to the Panel in relation to the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s (Royal Borough) Social Mobility Delivery Plan (SMDP).

 

The Panel noted the report, and that the Royal Borough was committed to improving the Social Mobility of its residents. 

 

In response to questions raised, the Cabinet Member advised the Panel that the Royal Borough’s Social Mobility Strategy sets out the very broad vision for the Royal Borough’s approach to social mobility, and builds on work undertaken by the Fairness Commission of 2017.  Thus, efforts would not be limited to the remit of the SMDP recommendations, but would extend further to identify additional innovations to further alleviate and remove barriers faced by individuals in reaching their full potential.

 

The Cabinet Member continued by advising the Panel that she was confident that implementation of the SMDP’s recommendations would help to demonstrate the Royal Borough’s commitment to social mobility, as efforts would focus on highlighting gaps in health, education, employment and at home, with a view to improving access to opportunities across the multifaceted nature of people’s lives.  Thus, to ensure that the SMDP reflects the Royal Borough’s intentions, inputs and comments were collated from departments across the Council, and processed to complement existing and developing strategies geared towards:

 

·                Improving the Financial Resilience of Families and Individuals

·                Supporting the Unemployed and Underemployed

·                Improving Opportunities and Skills for Children and Young People

·                Supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises

·                Digital Inclusion

·                Help at Home

·                Building more Social and Affordable Homes and Improve the Quality of Homes

·                Improving Health and Wellbeing and Build Community Networks

 

The Panel also noted representations made by the Chief Executive of Greenwich Inclusion Project (GRiP) in relation to social mobility issues.  A written submission from HER Centre on social mobility issues was also circulated at the meeting.  The representations, together with the Cabinet Member’s response to each are attached to these Minutes as Annex 1 and Annex 2 respectively.

 

The Cabinet Member also pointed out to the Panel that the Social Mobility Board would oversee implementation and monitoring of the SMDP recommendations, and chaired by the Leader of the Council.

 

On behalf of the Panel, the Chair, Councillor Clive Mardner thanked the Cabinet Member and the Chief Executive of Grip for their contributions at the meeting.

 

On behalf of the Panel, the Chair, Councillor Clive Mardner, thanked the Cabinet Member and Chief Executive of Grip for their contributions at the meeting.  The Panel

 

Resolved

 

That the report relating to the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s Social Mobility Delivery Plan, be noted.

6.

Right to Buy Receipts: Progress Report on Expenditure pdf icon PDF 181 KB

The Panel to note the update on expenditure of Right to Buy Receipts.

Minutes:

The Assistant Director (Regeneration and Property) presented the report, highlighting expenditure of the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s (Royal Borough) Right to Buy (RTB) receipts.

 

The Panel noted that report, and that since January 2018, the Royal Borough had spent RTB receipts on:

 

·                A property acquisition programme funded by the General Fund to provide temporary accommodation

·                A property acquisition programme funded by the Housing Revenue Account to provide permanent new homes within the Council’s stock

·                Local Authority New Build to provide permanent new homes within the Council’s stock

·                Development funding for Registered Providers to build new affordable rent accommodation in the Borough

·                Development funding for Meridian Home Start to provide affordable homes at 65% blended rent levels.

 

In response to questions raised, the Assistant Director reiterated that the Royal Borough entered into an agreement with the Government, with a view to retain additional receipts and invest in the delivery of new affordable homes.  However, the retention agreement required that the Royal Borough should return the receipts to the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government if not spent within three years, with a potential for interest charges to be added. 

 

The Assistant Director further advised the Panel that the Royal Borough had a policy for managing RTB applications, and was delivering housing across the band, to include provision for disabled and older residents.  The Panel however requested further information on

·         Private sales – to provide percentage

·         where properties are selling – to provide details/figures on a ward basis

·         additional information on temporary accommodation – to provide waiting times for the different bands; and

·         the Royal Borough’s strategy for moving families from temporary accommodation to permanent dwelling

 

Action: Asst. Director (Regeneration & Property)

The Cabinet Member for Housing commented that the Panel should welcome information that housing provision in the Royal Borough was improving, as there had been a significant increase in RTB through Meridian Home Start.  In particular, the Royal Borough was taking steps not to return money to the Government under the RTB arrangements by targeting resources to meet the housing need of residents, including its work with registered housing providers.

 

The Panel noted submissions made at the meeting and

 

Resolved –

That the update report on expenditure of Right-To-Buy receipts, be noted.

7.

Housing Revenue Account Expenditure Report pdf icon PDF 104 KB

The Panel to identify the framework and processes around Housing Revenue Account budget setting and subsequent actions taken to address budget pressures.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Accountancy and Business Change (A&BC) introduced the report to the Panel, highlighting the framework and processes in regard to the Royal Borough of Greenwich’s (Royal Borough) Housing Revenue Account, and subsequent actions taken to address budget pressures.

 

In response to a question, the Head of A&BC clarified to the Panel that the administrative fee in relation to Right to Buy sales outlined in the report represented a one-off cost paid to the Royal Borough, and not charged to it.  It was stated the money from that transaction was allocated to the Council’s Home Ownership Team to spend for the benefit of residents.

 

The Head of A&BC continued by advising the Panel that the Council was not allowed to overspend on balances in the HRA. Thus, a decision setting rents and service charges had to made annually in the February preceding the start of the financial year on the 1st April to ensure compliance.

 

The Panel noted submissions made at the meeting, and it requested for additional information as follows:

·         a report outlining the outcomes from the proposed review of HRA Account (feedback on overall position in the Autumn)

·         service charges for street properties - to clarify the concept of “double pay”

·         Universal Credit – to clarify how this was reflected on rent and service charge

·         additional detail on what the full recovery cost  in relation to right-to-buy fees

·         details of the “spend” under each heading in the table under paragraph 3.2 of the report

 

Resolved –

 

That the report outlining the framework and processes around Housing Revenue Account budget setting and subsequent actions taken to address budget pressures, be noted.

8.

Update on tenant engagement pdf icon PDF 77 KB

The Panel to note an update on the progress that Tenancy Services has made in implementing the recommendations following the review of Tenant Engagement in 2017.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received and considered a report introduced by the Assistant Director (Housing Services) about progress made by the Tenancy Services in implementing the recommendations following the review of Tenant Engagement in 2017.

 

It was the view of Members that:

·         the Panel should undertake quarterly review of the recommendations, with a view at improving engagement practice within Tenancy Service; and

·         officers should undertake a full review of the housing panels and provide the Panel with recommendations for a way forward, with a view to increase participation and enhance monitoring activities.

Action: Asst. Director

(Housing Services)/

CGO

 

Resolved

 

That the update report on progress that Tenancy Services had made in implementing the recommendations following the review of Tenant Engagement in 2017, be noted.

9.

Housing Repairs In-Depth Scrutiny - Update Report pdf icon PDF 90 KB

The Panel to note a summary of activities undertaken in relation to the Housing Repairs In-Depth Scrutiny during 2018/19 municipal year.  To agree a way forward towards the conclusion of the review, with a view to making recommendations.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Panel received and considered the report as read.  It was agreed that the review on housing repairs should continue into 2019/20, with a view to making recommendations for improvement.  It was suggested that Members of the Task Group should formulate a Repairs’ Service Improvement Plan for monitoring by the Panel on a quarterly basis.

 

Action: Task Group/CGO

 

The Panel also requested:

·                 an analysis on call-backs on repairs

·                 update on working arrangements in relation to care-taking teams, specifically on how communal repairs are reported and serviced

·                 detailed response on measures and timescales in regards to service standard with Contact Centre for monitoring by Members

·                 analysis on call-backs on repairs

·                 update on mobile tablets and complaints

 

Action: Snr. Asst. Director

(Repairs & Investment)

 

Resolved –

 

That the update report in relation to the 2018/19 Housing Repairs In-Depth review, be noted.