Agenda and minutes

Cabinet (Housing) Committee - Wednesday, 30th January, 2019 4.30 pm

Venue: King Charles Hall, Guildhall, Winchester

Contact: Nancy Graham, Senior Democratic Services Officer  Tel: 01962 848235 Email:  ngraham@winchester.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Election of Chairman for the Meeting

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

            That, in the absence of Councillor Horrill, Councillor Ashton be elected Chairman for the meeting.

 

2.

Minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 November 2018 pdf icon PDF 76 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

           

            That the minutes of the Cabinet (Housing) Committee held 21 November 2018 be approved and adopted.

3.

Public Participation

– to receive and note questions asked and statements made from members of the public on issues relating to the responsibility of this Committee (see note overleaf).

Minutes:

Ian Tait spoke regarding Report CAB3111(HSG) as summarised under the relevant minute below.

 

4.

Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budget 2019/20 & Business Plan pdf icon PDF 1 MB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Ian Tait addressed the Committee during public participation.  In summary, he requested clarification of the strategic land purchases referred to in the report as he believed that the Council should be seeking to purchase land for the purpose of building more affordable housing.  In addition, he requested further details about the reference to care provision in relation to Barton Farm in the Business Plan.

 

The Strategic Director - Services (Interim) and Head of Housing Finance introduced the report and responded to Members’ questions as summarised below.

 

In response to comments made by Mr Tait, the Strategic Director explained that the Government’s removal of the debt cap removed the requirement for the bid for additional headline borrowing referred to in the report.  At the current time, the Council did not have any specific proposals to purchase land but this was the intention in the future, subject to being able to demonstrate affordability and prudential borrowing. 

 

The Strategic Director advised that the report had been considered by The Overview and Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 28 January 2019 where Members had generally supported its contents, but had raised a number of matters they believed required further attention:

  • Increase in cost of voids;
  • Future use of garages and implications on availability of storage;
  • Requirement for rural housing.

 

In response to a query raised by Members of The Overview and Scrutiny Committee, the Strategic Director confirmed that the Council had built more new homes than had been sold under “right to buy” since 2012  and full details could be made available to Members.

 

The Head of Housing Finance highlighted that the report demonstrated that the Council could deliver 1000 new housing units over the next 10 years.  It also set aside additional funding for fire safety and to mitigate the impact of the roll out of universal credit.  He advised Members of a minor amendment required to the Capital Programme Funding table contained as Appendix 5 of the report as follows:

2018/19 Forecast column:

  • HRA Revenue Contributions to Capital - £2.343m (not £2.839m)
  • Major Repairs Reserve - £4.687m (not £4.191m)

 

 

 

On behalf of TACT, Monica Gill supported the report and thanked the Head of Housing Finance for attending a recent meeting of TACT to present its contents.

 

In response to questions, the Strategic Director acknowledged that building new homes on Council owned land was likely to offer best value.  However, it was possible to achieve good value on private land purchased by the Council and the Council would be examining different options to achieve this, for example including a mix of tenures.  The Strategic Director clarified that the target to provide 1000 new affordable homes by 2029 replaced the previous target to provide 600 new homes by 2020. 

 

The Strategic Director confirmed that the proposed housing numbers had been discussed with Officers in the Local Plan team who were content with its fitting with other housing targets within the Plan.  The exact mix of housing was likely to be a mixture of affordable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Tenancy Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 104 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Director: Services (Interim) and Head of Housing Options & Allocations (Interim) introduced the Report and emphasised it was a refresh of the previously agreed Strategy.  It was also noted that Registered Providers also refer to the Strategy.

 

On behalf of TACT, Monica Gill supported the report and thanked the Head of Housing Options & Allocations (Interim) for attending a recent meeting of TACT to present its contents.

 

The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above and set out in the report.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Tenancy Strategy be approved, as attached as Appendix 1 to the report.

 

6.

Tenancy Policy pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Strategic Director: Services (Interim) and Head of Housing Management introduced the report and responded to questions as summarised below.

 

On behalf of TACT, Monica Gill supported the report and thanked the Head of Housing Management for attending a recent meeting of TACT to present its contents.  She welcomed the decision not to introduce either flexible fixed term tenancies or “pay to stay” provisions.

 

The Head of Housing Management confirmed that the Council had an incentive scheme to encourage tenants to downsize and approximately 50 households took this option each year.  The Council would continue to work with TACT to promote the downsizing option in order to free up larger homes.  The Strategic Director: Services advised that the provision of new alternative smaller dwellings was an important consideration for the Council in deciding on its new affordable home provision. 

 

The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above and set out in the report.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the Tenancy Policy 2018-2023 be approved as set out in Appendix 1 of the report.

7.

Rental Exchange Initiative pdf icon PDF 85 KB

Minutes:

The Strategic Director: Services (Interim) and Income Services Manager introduced the report and responded to questions as summarised below.

 

On behalf of TACT, Michael Fawcitt supported the report and thanked the Income Services Manager for attending a recent meeting of TACT to present its contents.

 

The Income Services Manager confirmed that Experian do have the highest level of data security.  A tenant would have to be at least two months in arrears before it was flagged up on the Rental Exchange system but tenants in arrears would not be automatically excluded.  The Strategic Director emphasised that the Council had a robust approach to arrears with tenants being contacted at an early stage. 

 

The Income Services Manager confirmed that tenants would automatically be enrolled into the scheme unless they decided to opt out.  Officers would work with the Council’s Communications Team to maximise awareness amongst tenants.

 

The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above and set out in the report.

 

RESOLVED:

1.         That the Council’s Housing Services participate in the Rental Exchange.

 

2.         That the Council set up a regular data feed with Experian as managers of the Rental Exchange thereby improving the housing circumstances of vulnerable and excluded households and supporting our residents with the impact of welfare reform.

 

 

8.

Tenant Involvement - Appreciation and Incentive Scheme pdf icon PDF 121 KB

Minutes:

The Strategic Director: Services (Interim) and Head of Housing Policy and Projects introduced the report and responded to questions as summarised below.

 

The Head of Housing Policy and Projects emphasised that the Council continued to appreciate the input from TACT, but the scheme was intended to encourage other tenants, including those from younger households to participate in consultation.  In response to concerns that tenants who were not able to access the internet would be excluded, she confirmed that in most cases, digital surveys would be used in addition to other methods of consultation.  Similarly, the Digital Readers’ Panel would operate alongside the existing Readers’ Panel.

 

On behalf of TACT, Michael Fawcitt supported the report and thanked the Head of Housing Policy and Projects for attending a recent meeting of TACT to present its contents.

 

The Committee agreed to the following for the reasons outlined above and set out in the report.

 

RESOLVED:

            That the incentive scheme be approved as set out in the report.

Registering to speak at this meeting:

The information below relates to the majority of meetings of the council but please note that different rules do apply for registering to speak at meetings of Full Council, Licensing Sub Committees, Planning Committees, Open Forums, the Winchester Sports & Leisure Park (WSLP) Advisory Board and the Standards Hearing and Human Resources Sub Committees and the Appointments Panel. Further information can be obtained using the contact details above.

Members of the public may speak at this meeting, provided they have registered to speak three working days in advance. Please contact Democratic Services via democracy@winchester.gov.uk or (01962) 848 264 to register to speak and for further details - which can also be found on the individual meeting agenda front sheets.

With the exception of the WSLP Advisory Board, members of the public should note that a live audio feed of the meeting will be available from the council's website (www.winchester.gov.uk ) and the video recording will be publicly available shortly after the meeting. For members of the public who are unable to utilise this facility a limited number of seats will be made available at the above named location however attendance must be notified to the council at least 3 working days before the meeting. Please note that priority will be given to those wishing to attend and address the meeting over those wishing to attend and observe.

 

Cabinet (Housing) Committee on Wednesday, 30th January, 2019, 4.30 pm{sidenav}{content}