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Agenda and minutes

Contact: John Bardens (02083149976) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2016 pdf icon PDF 393 KB

Minutes:

Resolved: the Committee agreed the minutes of the last meeting as a true record.

 

2.

Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 200 KB

Minutes:

·         Councillor Slater is a member of the board of Phoenix Community Housing.

 

3.

Responses from Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

There were no responses for this meeting.

 

4.

Housing and mental health - evidence session pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Rupert Bateson (Shelter) and Emily Bird (National Housing Federation) introduced themselves and gave evidence to the committee.

Rupert Bateson (Shelter) spoke. The following key points were noted:

·         Shelter have a lot of experience of helping people in both social housing and the private rented sector. They provide floating support, but also specialist housing and therefore take a keen interest in what housing-related support and advice can best support people with mental health and housing related problems.

·         Shelter have focused much of their housing and mental health work on two areas: maintaining tenancies and helping rough sleepers (who are more likely to have mental health issues) to secure tenancies for the first time.

·         Shelter are interested in developing closer links between mental and general health, and multi-agency responses to people’s needs. Shelter have seen the benefits of linking housing advice to healthcare settings, such as GP surgeries and community health teams.

·         Shelter new ‘Welcome Home Service’ in Birmingham is an example of good multi-agency working. This is a partnership between Shelter and Birmingham Mind focused on people who are in hospital either because of a mental health problem or who have developed a mental health problem while they’ve been in hospital. Specialist staff from both Shelter and Mind are located on site in hospitals, with Mind looking at issues like access to counselling and Shelter looking at problems with landlords, benefits and rent deposits.

·         Shelter’s work as part of the Manchester Advice Alliance is a good example of housing working closely with GPs. The Manchester Advice Alliance includes social housing providers, local Citizens Advice Bureaus, local CCGs, and GPs. It involves an “advice on prescription approach” – instead of handing out leaflets and signposting – where a GP is able to write a prescription for advice based on their conversations in the surgery.

·         The individual can then take their advice prescription to advice agencies, giving them control, and the advice agencies can take into account the recommendations in the prescription. People who have used this service say that they value the ability to access independent agencies, that they feel listened to and understood, and that this in itself can be beneficial.  

·         Shelter run a mortgage debt helpline, which receives contact from a large number of people with mental health problems. They can help people deal with mortgage providers and set up arrangements like debt plans and payment holidays. Shelter have found that most mortgage providers are willing to set up such arrangements to avoid the eviction process.

·         Shelter are currently looking at how to make advice more efficient. There’s evidence that phone advice can be as effective as face-to-face. Phone advice can also provide people with immediate help at crisis stage – although it won’t necessarily be appropriate with more complex problems.

Emily Bird (National Housing Federation) spoke. The following key points were made:

·         Housing associations across the country provide a range of effective interventions for a range of needs, including mental health needs, to help people live more independently and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Proposed rent and service charge increases pdf icon PDF 247 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Genevieve Macklin (Head of Strategic Housing) introduced the report and the Committee made a number of comments. The following key points were noted:

·         This is the second year of the government’s policy to reduce social rents by 1% for four years. For 2017/18, it will mean an average rent reduction of £0.97 and will result in a loss of £0.722 of rental income to the Housing Revenue Account.

·         Residents of Lewisham Homes and RB3 have been consulted about the changes and there was very little response.

·         This report will also go to Mayor and Cabinet in February as part of budget setting process.

·         The number of right to buy sales has remained stable over the last year, at about 100.

·         The council’s programme to build 500 new council homes aims to have all 500 homes either completed or started by March 2018.

 

Resolved: the Committee noted the report.

 

6.

New build update pdf icon PDF 526 KB

Minutes:

Jeff Endean (Housing Strategy and Programmes Manager) introduced the report and the Committee made a number of comments. The following key points were noted:

·         In working towards the council’s programme to build 500 new council homes, 196 are completed or currently underway, and 330 have been identified that could be start by March 2018. The target is to have 500 homes started by March 2018. The council will still need to build some homes to sell (around 125) to fund the build costs of the 500 new council homes.

·         The 500 new council home target doesn’t currently include new homes through the Lewisham Homes Acquisition Programme, the new temporary accommodation at PLACE/Ladywell, or any of the estate regeneration schemes in the borough.

·         500 is a realistic target. The main obstacle to building more homes is the availability of land, particularly easy to develop land. Right to buy is also factor, but current market values mean numbers have steadied.

·         A significant number of homes towards the 500 target will be built this year. The redevelopment of Catford town centre and Ladywell will provide a substantial number of homes in the future.

·         Officers are always looking at the possibility of alternative models of housing management – from cooperatives to mutual – but it is a long process.

·         The committee suggested that officers compile and share a register of lessons learned from sites that have fallen through so that this knowledge isn’t lost.

 

Resolved: the Committee noted the update.

 

7.

Communal Heating Systems review update pdf icon PDF 336 KB

Minutes:

Martin O'Brien (Asset Management Planning Manager) introduced the report and the Committee made a number of comments. The following key points were noted:

·         The officer provided a short recap of the committee’s review of communal heating systems in 2014/15, its scope, and its findings.

·         The review intended to look at how the council can help to ensure the effective deployment of communal heating systems in the borough. It identified, among other things, problems with over-sized heat sources generating excessive heat, problems with billing, and lack of consumer protection.

·         Since the review published its findings there have been a number of developments. The Chartered Institute of Building Services Engineers published the UK Heat Networks Code of Practice, intended to raise standards in communal heating systems. The Heat Trust was launched, offering a free and independent customer complaints resolution services. The Government began consultation on amendments to the Standard Assessment Procedure for building energy performance, proposing changes relevant to communal heating systems. 

·         In January 2016 the council published the finding of a feasibility study on the potential for a heat network connecting SELCHP and Goldsmiths. A potential route was identified, but the economic viability of the route was assessed as low.

·         The council is carrying out another feasibility study of a network extending to Convoys Wharf and other development sites in the north of borough. The findings are expected to be published before April 2017.

 

Resolved: the Committee noted the update.

 

8.

Key housing issues pdf icon PDF 360 KB

Minutes:

Michael Westbrook (Housing Policy and Partnerships Manager) introduced the report and the Committee made a number of comments. The following key points were noted:

·         Several parts of the Housing and Planning act have either been dropped or postponed. “Pay to stay”, for example, will not be going ahead and extending the right to buy to housing associations has been pushed back. The introduction of fixed-term tenancies is still set to go ahead, but no regulations have been published yet.

·         The government announced in the Autumn Statement that letting fees would be banned. DCLG will be consulting on the detailed proposals soon. This could save private renters in Lewisham a considerable amount of money.

·         The Mayor’s affordable housing programme, Homes for Londoners, has also been published. This included £3.15bn funding and aims to achieve 90,000 home starts by 2021.

·         There will be a mixture of tenures – including London affordable rent, London living rent, London shared ownership. London living rent will be set at one third of borough median income. For Lewisham, this will be £34,895 a year. The London living rent model is very similar to that used at the Besson Street project in Lewisham.

 

Resolved: the Committee noted the report.

 

9.

Select Committee work programme pdf icon PDF 188 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

John Bardens (Scrutiny Manager) introduced the report.

·         To make the next meeting more manageable, the Scrutiny Manager suggested moving the Lewisham Homes and RB3 mid-year reviews to April.

 

Resolved: the Committee agreed the work programme.  

 

10.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

There were no referrals at this meeting.