Agenda and minutes
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Contact: Susan Gardner Democratic Services (01254) 380184
Apologies for Absence and Substitutions
There were no apologies for absence or substitutions.
Declarations of Interest and Dispensations
There were no declarations of interest or dispensations.
To receive the Minutes of the Community and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on 5th October 2018 for approval as a correct record.
Recommended - That the Minutes of be received and approved as a correct record.
The Minutes of the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee held on Friday 5th October 2018 were submitted for approval as a correct record.
Resolved - That the Minutes be received and approved as a correct record.
To appoint a new Co-opted Member on to the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Recommended - That the Committee recommends to Council that Honorary Alderman Doug Hayes is appointed as Co-optee to the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
The Committee were requested to consider the appointment of Honorary Alderman Doug Hayes as a Co-optee to the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Resolved - That the Honorary Alderman Doug Hayes be appointed as Co-optee to the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
Presentation by David Maynard, Onward Homes.
Dave Mayner, Regional Director for Onward Homes and the Neighbourhood Manager gave a presentation to update Members on Onward Homes.
The Regional Director reported on the structure of the organisation and referred to the recent changes in the organisations structure. He reported that a significant proportion (54%) of their properties were located in Hyndburn. Members were informed that management services had been streamlined since April with the same service delivered throughout all areas in the North West to ensure consistency in service.
The Neighbourhood Manager provided further information on:
· the stock condition surveys that had been carried out to plan for the future
· improvements on the current allocations service
· 156 new customers signed up since April
· re-let times which were under target
· an improved overall service
The Regional Director reported that although improvements had been made in respect of income collection, the roll out of Universal Credit had had a significant impact.
The Neighbourhood Manager explained that housing maintenance issues were now dealt with by in-house repair specialists and targets for repair completion had improved in 2018 which a 80% satisfaction level. She pointed out that where there was dissatisfaction improvements were made. Further issues discussed included the impact of the right to buy scheme, the Syrian Refugee Programme, 1st Call to help and support customers and the role of the Environmental Services and the Wellbeing and Investment Teams. She informed the Committee that the organisation was centred in Accrington with all of its resources and had provided job opportunities for the local community.
Councillor Addison requested:
· the contact details of the Neighbourhood Teams for residents.
· improved communications with residents, especially, after concerns had arisen earlier in the year with regards to recycling bins.
· further information on how residents could get into arrears and what support Onward Homes offered to residents to resolve rent arrears.
She was informed that regular meetings would be held with Councillors throughout the year and information would be provided for neighbourhoods. The Committee was also informed that neighbourhood walkabouts would recommence and that they would be happy for Councillors to be involved. The Regional Director reported that there were various reasons for people getting into debt including employment, change of family circumstances and illness and that there were processes in place to deal with these issues with eviction only as a very last resort.
Councillor Cox requested further information on Onward Homes’ role in rehousing the homeless. She was informed that the organisation was a member of the Homeless Forum and homelessness was included within their allocations policy to provide priority to people who needed it the most.
Councillor Glen Harrison (Chair) referred to the Right to Buy Scheme and to the need to acquire more homes to replace those sold and asked what Onward Homes’ aspirations were in respect of the acquisition of properties. Councillor Bernadette Parkinson asked how many of their properties were currently empty in Hyndburn.
Members were informed that less than 1% of the stock in the Lancashire was ... view the full minutes text for item 199.
To update the Committee on the current activity in relation to homelessness in Hyndburn.
Recommended (1) That the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee note the activity taking place to tackle and relieve homelessness in Hyndburn; and
(2) That the Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee welcome the opportunity to be consulted on a new five year Homelessness Prevention Strategy and the consultation is added to the Committee’s programme for 2019.
The Housing Strategy & Policy Manager and the Housing Advice & Homelessness Manager submitted a report to update Communities and Wellbeing Overview and Scrutiny Committee on current activity in relation to homelessness in Hyndburn.
The Housing Advice & Homelessness Manager explained the changes implemented by the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act which came into force in April 2018. He reported on the Council’s role to prevent homelessness and their duty if this was not possible. He also pointed out that other organisations such as the Police and Social Services all had a duty to refer people faced with homelessness to the local authority. He provided figures for the number of people considered as homeless by the Council since April 2018 and those who had qualified as homeless.
The Housing Strategy & Policy Manager reported on other work taking place to prevent homelessness and youth homelessness and referred to the many organisations from the voluntary and charity sectors with which she regularly worked with. She referred to the growing problem of rough sleepers and reported that the actual number for Hyndburn in 2018 would be recorded during a count carried out in November 2018. Recent Government policy aimed to end rough sleeping by 2027 but she advised that the process of applying for Universal Credit was problematic for many people and this was adding to the problem of homelessness. She informed the Committee that the Council’s Homelessness Strategy would be reviewed in 2019 and consultations would begin soon. She explained that there was a multi-agency response to homelessness in the borough and that these agencies met regularly. She referred to Maundy Relief’s role in supporting provision for the homeless and advised that a number of agencies were involved to provide the additional support necessary for some people.
Members referred to the following matters:
· Landlords would be more inclined to provide housing to a homeless person/family if the rent was paid directly to the landlords.
· If the process of accessing Universal Credit would make it worse for families in this position.
· How could rough sleepers claim Universal Credit.
· What percentage of Hyndburn people could not afford affordable housing?
· The new Local Plan did not provide for half way housing.
· Other barriers to access housing other than IT?
The Head of Regeneration and Housing informed the Committee that the Council had a duty to maintain a housing register and monitor numbers. He reported that changes in the welfare system over recent years had contributed to the increase in rough sleeping and impacted upon vulnerable people in the community. In respect of adding to the Housing Association’s stock he advised that it would not be financially viable for an Association to purchase and improve empty properties and that new social housing had to be met through private sector development with a 20% affordable housing provision. He pointed out that the Government had recently made a number of announcements which meant that Housing Associations could access funding for social and affordable housing.
The Housing Advice and Homelessness Manager ... view the full minutes text for item 200.