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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 3

Contact: Roger Raymond (02083149976) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the Meeting Held on 28 January 2015 pdf icon PDF 57 KB

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2015 be signed as an accurate record of the meeting

 

Minutes:

1.1       RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 28 January 2015 be signed as an accurate record of the meeting

 

2.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 32 KB

Minutes:

2.1       Councillor Bell declared a non-prejudicial interest as a member of the board of Lewisham Homes.

 

3.

Invitation to Registered Housing Providers pdf icon PDF 44 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee:

 

a)    Would like to thank all the attendees for attending.

b)    Note the responses to the questions provided.

 

Minutes:

3.1      The representatives for each organisation were as follows:

 

§  David Montague (Chief Executive, L&Q)

§  David Westworth (Director of Customer Services, Phoenix)

§  Carol Carter (Group Director of Housing, Hyde)

§  Shaun Holdcroft, (Director of Resident Services for London, Hyde)

§  Tom McCormack (Chief Executive, Hexagon)

§  Brendan Sarsfield (Chief Executive, Family Mosaic)

 

 

All the witnesses gave a brief introduction about their organisation, as a housing provider operating in Lewisham, and responded to the following questions, as outlined in the agenda paper.

 

3.2       Their work to support eligible households to downsize

            In response to this question, and follow-up questions from the Committee, the following was noted:

 

§  None of the registered housing providers have evicted any residents due to the Bedroom Tax.

 

a)    David Montague (Chief Executive, L&Q):

 

§  L&Q have been working closely with their local authority partners to promote mutual exchange opportunities with residents. This includes three mutual exchange events undertaken in Lewisham. They also provide financial assistance to support residents with the associated costs of moving home, where a resident is downsizing through a transfer or mutual exchange to another L&Q home. Residents affected by the size criteria may be able to downsize with arrears on their account.

§  Presently 59 residents have been agreed for downsizing, and 14 more in the pipeline.

§  They spend approximately £2m a year across the organisation for support for welfare reform.

 

b)    David Westworth (Director of Customer Services, Phoenix):

 

§  Phoenix has a Trading Places project that they fund to help residents who want to downsize property, through mutual exchange.

§  They also run events to promote mutual exchange to their residents.

§  They are building an Extra Care Scheme at Hazelhurst Court which may free up more properties through downsizing.

§  They are currently reviewing their Incentive Scheme for downsizing properties to see how it can be more attractive to residents.

§  Officers attempt to identify residents that could be interested in downsizing through visits and events, amongst other things.

 

c)    Carol Carter (Group Director of Housing, Hyde) and Shaun Holdcroft, (Director of Resident Services for London, Hyde):

 

§  Hyde has been investing an additional approximately £500,000 a year across the organisation to support residents to manage the impact of welfare reform, this includes a specialist team of Housing Options advisors focused on helping residents to downsize.

§  Only a handful of families have moved so far; many families are reluctant to leave at the present time. 

§  The Specialist Housing Options Team have access to a flexible fund to provide practical and financial support to residents and spend a lot of time with older residents, to reassure them that if they would like to downsize, they would be supported to manage any health concerns and help in accessing services.

 

d)    Tom McCormack (Chief Executive, Hexagon):

 

§  Hexagon have provided direct one-to-one advice on how to downsize to affected residents using their own staff; and in the early days of the Bedroom Tax, they  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Private Rented Sector Update - Licensing Scheme pdf icon PDF 129 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee

 

a)    Support the business case as proposed to introduce licensing of flats over commercial property.

b)    Would like to receive further updates as part of its 2015-16 work programme.

 

Minutes:

4.1      Roz Spencer (Co-ordinator, Rogue Landlords Taskforce) gave a presentation to the meeting. The key points to note were:

 

§  The South East London Housing Partnership (SELHP) plus LB Lambeth have held their inaugural Licensing meeting.

§  LB Southwark are already out to consultation on their licensing scheme, whereas Greenwich and Lambeth have not yet reported to their Leader/Cabinet.

§  The report that came to the December 2014 meeting laid out the present situation, established the importance of evidence and asked the questions. Since that meeting, officers have begun to turn data into intelligence, and analysis into evidence

§  Across London, 5 boroughs have proceeded with an additional licensing scheme, focusing on small Homes with Multiple Occupation (HMOs); or localised selective scheme in anti-social behaviour (ASB) hotspots. Informally, SELHP and LB Lambeth are aligning around these two components.

§  Lewisham work:

o   Commissioned two new databases, by using statistical analysis undertaken by consultancy Mayhew Harper working for other London boroughs – this is expected to be ready in April 2015.

o   reviewed primary survey research commissioned by SELHP and LB Lambeth into the experiences and perceptions of private tenants and their landlords and agents which reported in October 2014.

o   Mapping of the poorest private rented sector (PRS)

§  The results have shown that:

o   ‘Continuing attrition’ of the Local Housing Allowance sector is expected to occur as landlords relet to higher income earners when those claiming some housing benefit leave. Non-mandatory HMOs are the poorest income earners.

o   People paying highest rents are less satisfied than median rent payers.

o   Those who are paying the highest rents are not necessarily on highest incomes.

§  The results did not find  the following:

o   Housing Benefits claimants less likely to say there is ASB in there area.

o   No strong spatial pattern of poor standards except where damp and mould more prevalent close to border of inner/outer London benefit rates and in six secondary & tertiary shopping areas (Deptford, Lee, Hither Green, Brownhill Road, Sydenham and Brockley).

§  The key risks of licensing are that the current shortages of rented stock accessible to low income households gets worse; and skill shortages for low income jobs locally could be a problem. However, the risks with the status quo is that the worst private rented housing is not effectively regulated.

§  License fee income can only be used for the administration of a licensing scheme – including compliance monitoring - but must not be used to finance enforcement activity.

§  The early indications for costs from modelling for a licensing scheme are estimated at:       

o   Whole Borough Selective Scheme over five years: £4.2m

o   Localised additional licensing of private rented flats and HMOS over commercial premises over 5 years: £2.4m

§  Conclusions are:

o   The worst PRS is over commercial premises.

o   A licensing scheme can provide a portfolio solution for regulation.

o   The costs of running a selective scheme in comparison to an additional scheme seem to be quite variable.

o   The risk  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Annual Lettings Plan pdf icon PDF 227 KB

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

 

Minutes:

5.1      Madeleine Jeffery (Private Sector Housing Agency Manager), introduced the report to the meeting. The key points to note were:

 

§  Lewisham’s priorities best distributes to those in most need, reducing under occupation and severe overcrowding, moving single vulnerable households on from supported accommodation to independence, supporting the regeneration of designated housing estates, reducing the number of homeless households in unsuitable and costly temporary accommodation. 

§  Lewisham has increased the number of lettings to homeless households to keep pace with the increase in accepted homeless applications and reduced supply. The Allocation Policy must give preference to these groups above others.  There is no requirement to give an equal weighting to all of the reasonable preference categories.  However, from December 2013 to December 2014 Lewisham has seen a significant increase in households in temporary accommodation - 26% - reflecting a five year trend. Since 2010/11 numbers in nightly paid temporary accommodation has increased by 73%.  Therefore Lewisham has increased the percentage of lettings to this group: a target of 80% of all available two bedrooms and 70% of available three bedroom accommodation was introduced on 1st September 2014.

§  It is anticipated that there will be a reduction in lets and new supply; lets for 14/15 were expected to be 1384, however projections indicate that this figure will be closer to 1162 - a reduction of 18%. Again, this reflects a five year trend; overall lets have reduced by 38.5% since 2010 /11.

 

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

 

§  Stipulation for members of the Armed Forces is part of the allocations policy, and they usually have approximately two lets per year provided to the Veterans Association.

 

5.3      RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

 

6.

Key Housing Issues pdf icon PDF 51 KB

Decision:

RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

 

Minutes:

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

 

§  The Elphicke-House review looked at the role of local authorities in supporting the delivery of new homes, and was published on the 27th January 2015.

§  The key recommendations were:

o   Local authorities to become 'housing delivery enablers'.

o   To consult on extending the Transparency Code to cover all HRA land. The Transparency Code 2014 details information which must be made publically available.

o   Government to monitor schemes to support small builders to expand.

o   Government to consider strengthening advice to encourage councils to pro-actively support neighbourhood planning.

o   Councils to pro-actively use existing powers, levers and opportunities and to periodically test value for money of contracts.

o   Government to work with LGA to encourage councils to fulfil the role of 'housing delivery enablers'.

§  The ‘Church Grove Community Housing Development’ went to Mayor and Cabinet on 4 March 2015. The process will now begin to tender bids, and the successful bidder will be chosen in Autumn 2015.

 

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

 

§  Officers are compiling a list of organisations and community groups who have indicated they are interested in future self-builds. Members should notify officers if they know of anyone who is interested in this project.

§  The Mercator Road development received its first tenants on 12 March 2015 – the Council’s first new build housing in 30 years.

 

6.3       RESOLVED: That the Committee note the report.

 

7.

Communal Heating Systems Review - Report and Recommendations pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

The Chair reported that the report would be deferred to allow more time to obtain additional information from the Planning Service and Building Control, and the report would be re-submitted, including this new information, at the start of the 2015-16 year.        

 

Minutes:

7.1      The Chair reported that the report would be deferred to allow more time to obtain additional information from the Planning Service and Building Control, and the report would be re-submitted, including this new information, at the start of the 2015-16 year.           

 

8.

Select Committee Work Programme pdf icon PDF 28 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

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

 

  • The Committee has now concluded its work programme for 2014-15.
  • Some items that the Committee have indicated it wants to consider in 2015-16 are:

 

o   Private Rented Sector Licensing

o   New Homes Better Places

o   Self-build

o   Homelessness

o   Lewisham Housing Strategy (2015-20) – Update

o   Temporary Accommodation Pressures – Policy Options Update

 

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

 

  • Suggestions for the Committee’s work programme for 2015-16 should be sent via the Scrutiny Manager or Chair, and would be presented in a work programme report for the first meeting of 2015-16.
  • The Scrutiny Manager would also liaise with officers in relation to items for the 2015-16 work programme.

 

9.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

9.1      None.

 

 

 

The meeting ended at 10.05pm

 

Chair:

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Date:

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