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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Contact: John Bardens (02083149976) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting held on 6 September 2017 pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Decision:

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

2.

Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 201 KB

3.

Responses from Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

There were none.

 

4.

Models of delivering new housing - evidence session pdf icon PDF 120 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the committee that this item would be postponed until the next meeting.

5.

Lewisham Future Programme pdf icon PDF 453 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved: the committee noted the proposed savings.

Minutes:

David Austin (Head of Corporate Resources) introduced the report. The following points were noted:

 

5.1       Since 2010, the council has agreed £160m of savings and delivered £153m. The council’s Medium Term Financial Strategy identifies the need for £22m of further savings in 2018/19, £11m 19/20, and £10m a year after that.This is on top of the need to address departmental overspends, which amount to £13m.

 

5.2       Officers have identified £4.85m savings for 2018/19.This means the council’s budget for 2018/19 would need to be set using £17.15m or reserves. The council is going to continue targeting the right areas and pursue undelivered savings of £7m.

 

5.3       There are £13m of general reserves and £149m of earmarked reserves. £79m of earmarked reserves are “hard” earmarked, for example, for school balances and PFI contracts.

 

5.4       The savings proposals specifically flagged for HSC are: E8, income from PRS (private rented sector) joint venture at Besson Street, and M8, reduced costs of providing nightly paid accommodation

 

5.6       On 6th December 2017, Mayor and Cabinet will be selecting a partner for Besson Street. Officers will then know how the deal might be structured and have enough certainty to put forward as a saving. The deal could be worth at least £0.5m every year.

 

5.7       The Council has been successful in its work to cap rents paid in nightly paid accommodation and will be able to deliver the proposed saving without changing in support for individuals.

 

Resolved: the committee noted the proposed savings.

6.

Developments in the private rented sector pdf icon PDF 329 KB

Decision:

Resolved: the committee noted the report.

Minutes:

Madeleine Jeffery (Private Sector Housing Agency Manager) introduced the report. The following points were noted:

6.1       The private rented sector (PRS) is increasing in size and importance. It’s becoming a long-term solution for an increasing number of people. Over half of renters are aged 35 or older. More than a third are families with children. And around a quarter have lived in the PRS for more than 10 years. There are currently around 33,000 in the PRS in Lewisham.

 

6.2       The conditions in the PRS can be worse than any other sector. More than a quarter didn’t meet the Government’s Decent Homes standard in 2015 – this compares with 3% in the social sector and 18% of owner occupiers. Most PRS tenants are, however, satisfied with their home, with over 70% describing the condition of their homes as good or very good.

 

6.3       A small proportion of private landlords treat their tenants badly. In such cases the council has the power to serve an improvement notice or, in the worst cases, a prohibition notice. The council have taken two landlords to court in the last two years. Since July this year, six cases have been referred to the legal team by the new Rogue Landlord Team.

 

6.4       Officers discussed the potential for using civil penalty notices (under the Housing and Planning Act 2016) as a new tool for tackling rogue landlords, as an alternative to prosecuting offences under the Housing Act 2004, which can be expensive and take a long time. The civil penalty notice process could be managed by the council, would be faster and would allow the council to retain financial penalties.

 

6.5       The Government also plans to extend mandatory licensing for houses in multiple occupation (HMOs) under three stories in April 2018. This would lead to around 500 additional licensable HMOs in Lewisham.

 

6.6       Officers are aware that some tenants of rogue landlords can be suspicious of people in authority. This is why the Council carries out street surveys and has set up an anonymous rogue landlord helpline.  Where they can, officers try to avoid getting the tenant involved in a rogue landlord case.

 

6.7       In the six month from April to October 2017, officers have increased the number of licensed properties by 43%. Of the 1,900 visits during July and August, officers found 118 potential HMOs – 99 of these are being disputed by the landlord.

 

6.8       Officers are looking into the business case for a “selective” licensing scheme in specific areas in Lewisham. This would mean that nearly all PRS homes in a specified area would be subject to a licence. But would need to show that an areas is experiencing persistent ASB and nuisance problems associated with PRS homes in the area.

 

6.9       Officers noted that hostels are exempt from licensing because they are not considered to be their residents’ principle home.

 

6.10    The committee agreed to support the recommendations to Mayor and Cabinet.

 

6.11    The committee was supportive of officers’ proposals to prepare  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Housing zones update pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the committee that this item would be postponed until the next meeting.

 

8.

Key housing issues pdf icon PDF 266 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair informed the committee that this item would be postponed until the next meeting.

 

9.

Select Committee work programme pdf icon PDF 29 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved: the committee agreed the work programme.

10.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

There were none.