Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Meeting will be held in accordance with SI 2020/392. Link to the live stream is found here: https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings

Contact: Keith Simmons Tel: 01255 686580 or by  Email:  democraticservices@tendringdc.gov.uk

Note: Link to the live stream is found here: https://www.tendringdc.gov.uk/livemeetings 

Items
No. Item

64.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

The Committee is asked to note any apologies for absence and substitutions received from Members.

 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor Bray (Councillor Amos substituting) and Councillor Harris (Councillor Skeels substituting).

 

65.

Minutes of the Last Meeting

To confirm as a correct record, the minutes of the last meeting of the Committee, held on Monday 22 June 2020.

 

(N.B. The Minutes are not included with this Agenda and will be forwarded to the members of the Committee in due course.)

Minutes:

The Minutes of the last meeting of the Committee held on Monday 22 June 2020 were approved as a correct record and were then signed by the Chairman.

66.

Declarations of Interest

Councillors are invited to declare any Disclosable Pecuniary Interests or Personal Interest, and the nature of it, in relation to any item on the agenda.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Allen declared an interest for the public record in regards to Private Sector Housing Financial Assistance Policy (Minute 68(A) refers) as the Disability Facilities Grants works were going to go to public tender and as a local contractor he could submit a bid.

 

67.

Questions on Notice pursuant to Council Procedure Rule 38 pdf icon PDF 164 KB

Subject to providing two working days' notice, a Member of the Committee may ask the Chairman of the Committee a question on any matter in relation to which the Council has powers or duties which affect the Tendring District and which falls within the terms of reference of the Committee.

 

Councillor Chris Griffiths will ask the Chairman of the Committee, Councillor Mark Stephenson:-

 

“In regard to the Spendells item on the agenda for Cabinet, Friday, 26, June:- 

  

  1. Can you clarify why we are showing a base budget for 20/21 of £187,030, which, according to one of the appendix documents excludes employee costs?  Given that there is a cost centre for employees' involvement in using Spendells as temporary accommodation,  why are direct  and  indirect  staff,  based,  or  providing  services  at the site, not included in the cost?

 

  1. I note the decision is to change this complex to emergency housing.  Given that the clientele  could range from homeless families, to single parents,  couples,  and single individuals,  with an element of  communal shower / washing facilities,  what provisions are in place to screen individuals  before  we  agree to accommodate them in Spendells?

 

How do we as an authority intend to safeguard the vulnerable to ensure that we do not have residents living next door to individuals who have the ability to have an adverse impact on their well-being?

   

For example, can we guarantee that we will not have an individual with an unhealthy interest in small children dwelling next door to a single mother, or those with a drug, alcohol or mental health issue living next to a family?” 

 

The Report and Appendices submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet held on 26 June 2020 are attached to this agenda.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Pursuant to the provisions of Council Procedure Rule 38, Councillor Griffiths asked the Chairman of the Committee:-

 

In regard to the Spendells item on the agenda for Cabinet, Friday, 26, June:-

 

1.    Can you clarify why we are showing a base budget for 20/21 of £187,030, which, according to one of the appendix documents excludes employee costs? Given that there is a cost centre for employees' involvement in using Spendells as temporary accommodation, why are direct and indirect staff, based, or providing services at the site, not included in the cost?

 

2.    I note the decision is to change this complex to emergency housing. Given that the clientele could range from homeless families, to single parents, couples, and single individuals, with an element of communal shower / washing facilities, what provisions are in place to screen individuals before we agree to accommodate them in Spendells?

 

How do we as an authority intend to safeguard the vulnerable to ensure that we do not have residents living next door to individuals who have the ability to have an adverse impact on their well-being?

 

For example, can we guarantee that we will not have an individual with an unhealthy interest in small children dwelling next door to a single mother, or those with a drug, alcohol or mental health issue living next to a family?”

 

The Report and Appendices submitted to the meeting of the Cabinet held on 26 June 2020 were attached to this Agenda for this meeting by way of general background for the other Members of the Committee.

 

 

The Chairman responded to Councillor Griffiths’ question as follows:-

In relation to the first question.

 

1.       “The £187k budget referred to in the report is the existing non-employee budget which establishes the base funding position that is available to support homeless accommodation and other initiatives.

 

The proposals set out in the report seek to establish Spendells House as temporary homeless accommodation, so from a budgetary perspective, the overall cost of the scheme (including employee and other costs) would need to be less than this existing base budget of £187k, otherwise it would present a cost pressure to the General Fund. The purpose of the analysis set out in Appendix A is to demonstrate that the full costs can be accommodated within this existing base budget of £187k.”

 

In relation to the second question.

 

2.       “Those who experience homelessness are in a vulnerable position already and we would not want their placement in temporary accommodation to increase their vulnerability. The arrangements for making placements will be no different to those we have in place currently. A homelessness application usually involves a thorough assessment of an individuals or families circumstances and past housing situation and nobody will be placed into accommodation where they are believed to pose a risk to others.

The scheme will be operated on a zero tolerance basis with regard to alcohol and drug use and other unacceptable behaviour.”

 

 

68.

Overview and Scrutiny of Housing Issues pdf icon PDF 141 KB

The Committee will conduct overview and scrutiny on the theme of Housing with particular emphasis on service delivery and performance in relation to:-

 

(a)    Private Sector Housing Financial Assistance Policy

 

The Committee will look specifically at Disabled Facilities Grants: the processes, the timescales, any obstacles to delivery and options for solutions (and whether those options have been pursued) and the relative advantages of pooling.

 

The report and the appendix to that report submitted to Cabinet at its meeting held on 26 June 2020 are attached to this agenda.

 

(b)    Vacated/Empty Council Housing (‘Voids’)

 

The Committee intends to look at the numbers of empty properties there have been over the past year, the proportion that those represent of the entire Council housing estate, expectations on standards of vacated properties, the extent to which the vacated properties were subject to major/minor repair works, the target times for inspecting vacated properties once they are empty and for repairs to be conducted, the periods of time properties were empty, the lost rental income during the period it was empty and the cost of housing homeless persons in the same period.  It is envisaged that the enquiry will also cover the situation one year on from the Council taking back the ROALCO Ltd contract (following the company being placed in administration), the transfer of staff to the Council and responding to the immediate issue this posed and planning for sustaining the work now and in the future.

 

If the above enquiry is not feasible at the meeting it may be that arrangements for it are agreed at the meeting.

 

(c)    Council Housing Tenant Satisfaction and Involvement

 

The Committee will look at the measurement processes in relation to tenant satisfaction levels and tenant participation arrangements.

 

(d)    New Build of 10 Council Houses in Jaywick Sands

 

The Committee will look at the project and delivery of those 10 houses and whether there are lessons for further development there and for the emerging Acquisitions and Development Strategy of the Council.

 

The Performance Report for 2019/20 as presented to Cabinet at its meeting held on 29 May 2020 included this project at Page 10 of the above report. Page 21 of that report also references Council House Building and the emerging Acquisitions and Development Strategy.

 

The aforementioned Pages 10 and 21 are attached to this agenda.

 

A report(s) of the Assistant Director (Housing and Environment) in respect of the above items will be produced and circulated to the members of the Committee in due course.

 

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee conducted overview and scrutiny on the theme of Housing. A report of the Assistant Director (Housing and Environment) in respect of the items to be considered had been produced and circulated to the members of the Committee prior to the commencement of the meeting. Members paid particular emphasis to service delivery and performance in relation to:-

 

(a)   Private Sector Housing Financial Assistance Policy

 

The Committee was provided with the report on the Private Sector Housing Financial Assistance Policy as approved by the Cabinet on 26 June 2020 (Minute 24 of that meeting refers).

 

The Committee’s consideration of the policy focussed on Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs): the processes, the timescales, any obstacles to delivery and options for solutions (and whether those options hadbeen pursued) and the relative advantages of pooling.

 

It was explained to the Members that the DFGs were mandatory grants for those in owner occupied, private rented or housing association properties to provide disabled adaptations and werethe only grant left from the Housing Grants, Construction and Regeneration Act 1996. Funding for the DFG camefrom the Better Care Fund.

 

Grant applicants were encouraged to make their own decisions about how the process would work best for them and the Council did not control who they employed to undertake the works.

 

DFGs involved a number of stages, the first of which was an assessment by an occupational therapist from Essex County Council (ECC) which might follow on from a GP or a self-referral. The occupational therapist would make a referral to this Council recommending certain necessary and appropriate adaptations. It was the Council’s role to then inspect and decide whether those adaptations were reasonable and practical before offering funding towards them.

 

The Committee was told that once the Council had agreed that works were reasonable and practical a grant application had to be made by the person benefitting from the works or their family. All applications were means tested and that determined whether they should contribute anything towards the cost of the work.

 

Applicants could choose to make the application and find builders themselves or they could employ an agency, commonly known as a home improvement agency, to help them. The agency’s fees could be included in the grant.

 

Once an application had been made along with submission of builder estimates the Council had a statutory six month period in which to approve it. Once a grant had been approved the applicant was formally notified and could go ahead and start the work.

On completion of the work the Council would conduct a final inspection and if everything was satisfactory it would release the grant money, often paying the contractor directly. At no point did the Council have any contractual relationship with any builders or an agency.

 

Members were informed that in 2019/20, 352 referrals had been received from ECC with 270 of those resulting in formal recommendations for adaptations being sent to thisCouncil. 175 grants had been completed in 2019/20 totalling £1,558,797. A  ...  view the full minutes text for item 68.