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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2

Contact: Roger Raymond (02083149976) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2014 pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2014 be

signed as an accurate record of the meeting after the following amendment at 3.7:

 

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2014 be

signed as an accurate record of the meeting subject to the amendments.

 

Minutes:

1.1      RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 December 2014 be signed as an accurate record of the meeting after the following amendment at 3.7:

 

§  d) The Committee welcomed the approach of the Council in respect of discretionary licensing on flats over shops. The Committee would support a trial of discretionary licensing on flats over shops and would like an update on this specific proposal in 2015-16.

 

1.2      The Chair also asked the Committee to amend the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2014. Amendments were received by the Chair before the meeting,  but due to an administrative error, were not presented at the meeting. The amendments were:

 

§  5.6: There are two different Code of Practice schemes being delivered in 2015. There is the Code of Practice, developed jointly by CHPA and CIBSE, and there is the Independent Heat Customer Protection Scheme, which will be an independently operated scheme.

§  5.7: GLA has previously published that 500 (not 5,000 in the minutes) is the minimum amount of units to make a system viable.

 

1.3      RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 11 November 2014 be signed as an accurate record of the meeting subject to the amendments.

 

2.

Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 33 KB

Minutes:

2.1      There were no declarations of interest.

 

3.

Communal Heating Systems - Evidence Session pdf icon PDF 105 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

 

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

a)    Note the evidence presented.

b)    Consider the evidence as part of its Communal Heating Systems Review Report.

 

Minutes:

3.1      Councillor Hilton addressed the meeting about her visit to Bunhill Heat and Power. The key points to note were:

 

§  Islington Council’s approach was to look at the borough’s heat-map and then plan its communal heating accordingly.

§  There were 720 council homes, 162 private homes and 2 leisure centres connected to the Bunhill Power centre.

§  Bunhill Power Centre is owned and managed by Islington Council, with a back-up generator system available if necessary.

§  Phrase 2 of the project will look to connect the heating system to other parts of the borough, and also try to utilise other power sources in the borough.

§  Unused electricity generated is sold back to the National Grid.

§  The price is set by the Council through a service charge; there is no individual metering of properties.

 

3.2       Councillor Hooks addressed the meeting about his visit to Pimlico District Housing Unit (PDHU). The key points to note were:

 

§  The PDHU has been in existence since the early 1950s and originally used waste heat from Battersea Power Station to supply housing. The system was upgraded in 2006 with a £6.9million boiler plant being added to the system, able to heat an additional 1,400 homes.

§  The system provides heating and hot water services to 3,256 homes, 50 commercial premises and three schools in the area.

§  The system is owned by Westminster Council and managed by CityWest Homes.

§  It is priced by a service charge; there is no individual metering of properties.

§  Those who manage the system work closely with a User Group to keep prices low and manageable.

§  They are able to store water overnight to manage the use of heat and power and on the rare occasions when there are problems with the system.

§  There is an approximate 7% loss of heat in the residential blocks.

§  Individuals are able to leave the heating system if they so wish; however no-one has requested to leave as yet.

 

3.3       Councillor De Ryk addressed the meeting about her visit to SELCHP. The key points to note were:

 

  • The waste from Lewisham and other boroughs contracted to SELCHP is converted to heat and power.
  • Communal Heating is used to power approximately 2,500 Southwark properties, across a number of estates in Southwark, a leisure centre and a number of businesses.
  • There is a back-up system of boilers on each estate in case there is a failure in the communal heating system.
  • The use of heat exchanges to convert energy for use in a communal heating system has led to more much more energy being used than previously.
  • The system should be sustainable over a period of time and the potential to expand to cover more properties.

 

.

3.4       In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:

 

  • The Committee would like to know more about the pricing system at Bunhill and PDHU.
  • There could be potential to expand the communal heating system operated from SELCHP’s waste energy  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Lewisham Housing Strategy (2015-20) pdf icon PDF 18 KB

-       To Follow

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED: That

 

a)    A presentation from the Single Homeless Intervention and Prevention (SHIP) to be added to the Committee’s 2015-16 work programme.

b)    The Committee to receive an update on the Housing Strategy early in the 2015-16 work programme.

 

Minutes:

4.1      Jeff Endean (Housing Programmes and Strategy Team Manager), gave a presentation to the meeting. The key points to note were:

 

§  The four key themes that emerged throughout the consultation period, where respondents felt we should build in to, or strengthen in, the final strategy, were as follows:

o   Affordability

o   Sustainability, energy and climate change

o   Involving communities

o   Delivering the Housing Strategy.

§  The consultation consisted of the following:

o   Online consultation from 3 December 2014 – 19 January 2015

o   Lewisham Housing Summit held on 22 January 2015

o   housingstrategy@lewisham.gov.uk mailbox was open throughout the consultation process

o   A Homelessness Forum

o   Lewisham Affordable Housing Group (LewAHG).

§  The Online consultation had a small take-up, but results were overwhelmingly positive/majority in agreement. Some examples of the online consultation consisted of:

o   94% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘building the homes our residents need’

o   92% of respondents agreed or strongly agreed with the statement ‘helping residents in severe and urgent housing need’.

§  In terms of feedback from the Housing Summit, there were eight tables for group discussion, with each table with a key topic for discussion

o   New build and regeneration

o   Private rental sector

o   Affordability

o   Housing tenures

o   Homelessness and temporary accommodation

o   Housing conditions and standards.

§   Some examples of the key issues were:

o   New build and regeneration: there should be a levy on empty land and support innovative models of development and scaling up, ensure you get the supply chain right.

o   Affordability: defining ‘affordability’ as there’s a difference between the 80% that GLA advocate and ‘truly affordable’; and more solutions needed for those in the ‘middle’.

o   Homelessness and Temporary accommodation: outreach to schools and young people; fighting zero-hour contracts and ensuring a living wage; and services need to be flexible to be accessible.

§  There was also written feedback to the consultation, for example from the Lewisham Green, Public Health and the Youth Offending Service.

§  The final draft will consist of sections on:

o   Helping residents at times of severe and urgent housing need

o   Building the homes our residents need

o   Greater security and quality for private renters

o   Promoting health and wellbeing by improving our resident’s homes.

§  It will also set out ‘housing affordability’ as a key theme throughout. It will also include a final section on delivery. This will set out Strategic Housing’s approach to involving our communities and working with partners, as well as our annual action plans.

 

4.2      In response to questions from the Committee, the following was noted:

 

§  Housing Options were working closely with schools in respect of young people and homelessness and this would be captured as part of the Housing Strategy.

§  Leaseholders are always given the option of staying in their property before any compulsory tender takes place.

§  The Committee is happy with the focus on homelessness in the Housing Strategy.

§  Strategic Housing and Planning work closely  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Temporary Accommodation Pressures (Information Item) pdf icon PDF 16 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED: That:

           

            A referral be sent to Mayor and Cabinet with the following:

           

The Committee recommends that:

a)    It supports the policy option to change the local connection policy, from two years to five years

b)    It supports the policy option to discharge the Council’s homeless duty into the private rented sector – in or out of borough. However, the Committee would like the policy to be reviewed annually. In addition, with regards to the list of exclusions from this approach recommended by Housing officers, the Committee would like the following exclusions to be added:

i)             Certain specified medical conditions

ii)            Those with disabilities

iii)           Members of the Armed Forces, in line with the Council’s commitment to the Armed Forces Community Covenant.

 

Minutes:

5.1      Genevieve Macklin (Head of Strategic Housing) gave a presentation to the meeting. The key points to note were:

 

  • The Council is using a number of strategies to manage the individuals and families that are currently in temporary accommodation, and this is causing budgetary pressures.
  • Homelessness applications have gone up by 50% in less than three years. Acceptances on a homeless duty have gone up by 20% in the same period. About 50% of these have lost their accommodation in the private sector (for a number of reasons) and that is the growing trend across London.
  • Lewisham are in the top 3rd of London Borough in Homeless Acceptances for 2013-14 and 2014-15 (April-September).
  • One of the issues that has also caused the growing trend in those presenting as homeless has been the Welfare Reform changes brought in by the Coalition Government and this is causing added pressure on resources. The cap on welfare benefits means that the Council still has to cover the shortfall on temporary accommodation and this has led to an overspend of £1.1m in 2013-14, and a projected overspend of £2.5m in 2014-15. Further overspends of £2.4m in 2015/16 and £1.9m in 2016/17 are projected.
  • To alleviate the budgetary pressures, officers presented three policy options for the Committee to consider:
    • Changing the local connection policy, from two years to five years
    • Suspending choice based lettings and making direct allocations to homeless households
    • Discharging our homeless duty into the private rented sector   in or out of borough.
  • A number of London Boroughs have already changed their local connections policy to five years such as Greenwich, Southwark and Bromley. Changing the policy would mean that Lewisham would fall in line with fellow local boroughs. However there is a risk of a perverse incentive:  if you don’t have five years local connection then homelessness is the only route into social housing.
  • There are a number of benefits to suspending the choice based lettings, such as it has the potential to reduce backlog and expense, reduce the length of time individuals and families spend in temporary accommodation, and more Council control over the “queue”. However it removes choice, and may lead to more challenges and complaints. It also may be more complicated and costly to administer, especially considering welfare reform and affordable rents for example. There is no certainty this policy would do much more than now (80% of lets to homeless) and there is no precedent
  • With discharging into the private rented sector in or out of the borough, half of all homeless households were previously PRS tenants, so the PRS would not be new to them. Also, other boroughs are already using the power, so the precedent exists and there is risk from us not being in line with neighbouring boroughs.A well-managed approach would offer a new policy tool to be used only in certain circumstances, which could send a message to decouple homelessness and social housing. There would also be an extensive number of exclusions  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Select Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      Roger Raymond (Scrutiny Manager) introduced the report. The key points to note were:

 

  • The items scheduled for the March meeting were as follows:
    • Invitation to Registered Providers
    • New Homes Better Places: phases 2, 3 and 4
    • Annual Lettings Plan
    • Key Housing Issues (if necessary)
    • Communal Heating Review: Draft Report.

 

6.2      In response to questions the Committee, the following was noted:

 

  • Members should send suggestions for next year’s Work Programme to the Scrutiny Manager for collation.       

 

7.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Decision:

There was a referral in relation to item 5 - Temporary Accommodation Pressures – as outlined above.

 

 

 

Minutes:

 

7.1      There was a referral in relation to item 5 - Temporary Accommodation Pressures – as outlined above.

 

 

 

 

 

The meeting ended at 10.10pm

 

Chair:

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Date:

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