Venue: Exe Room, Phoenix House, Tiverton
Contact: Sarah Lees Member Services Officer
Link: audio recording
Apologies and Substitute Members
To receive any apologies for absence and notice of appointment of substitutes.
Apologies were received from Cllr P Heal.
It was noted that Cllr G Barnell attended the meeting via Zoom and therefore did not take part in any voting.
Public Question Time
To receive any questions relating to items on the Agenda from members of the public and replies thereto.
No questions were received from members of the public.
Declaration of Interests under the Code of Conduct
To record any interests on agenda matters.
No interests were declared under this item.
To consider whether to approve the minutes as a correct record of the meeting held on 31 May 2022.
The minutes of the meeting held on 31 May 2022 were approved as a correct record of the meeting and signed by the Chairman.
To receive any announcements that the Chairman may wish to make.
The Chairman had no announcements to make.
To receive a report from the Interim Corporate Performance and Improvement Manager providing Members with an annual review of the Council’s performance against the Corporate Plan, service objectives and targets for 2021/2022.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a report * from the Interim Corporate Performance and Improvement Manager providing Members with an annual review of the Council’s performance against the Corporate Plan, service objectives and targets for 2021/2022.
Discussion took place regarding:
· Junction 27 and why it was still being referred to as the ‘Eden Project’? Government funding had been provided towards the site. There had never been any question of a Compulsory Purchase Order. A new planning application was being prepared.
· Officers should be congratulated for the exceptionally good rates of Business Rate collection.
· The Performance report was missing targets in relation to social and affordable rented housing. These had links to the Housing Strategy and needed to be reflected.
Note: * Report previously circulated and attached to the signed minutes.
To receive a report from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing. The landlord service, Mid Devon Housing (MDH), is currently reviewing previously adopted policies with the aim of rationalising them and ensuring that they support work to ensure regulatory compliance. To this end, policies are being more closely aligned with each of the core individual Standards within the regulatory framework. Having valid, clear adopted policies in place is a requirement of the Regulator for Social Housing.
The Group had before it a report * from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing. It was explained that all the policies falling under the umbrella of the Framework had been brought before the PDG previously and had been approved by the Cabinet. The Telecare Policy was a General Fund Policy and so was not included here.
Consideration was given as to whether there was a separate fund available in relation to the Decant Policy so that tenants did not incur any additional expense. It was confirmed that there was a budget set aside within the HRA.
RECOMMENDED to the Cabinet that:
The updated policies within the overarching Tenancy Standard Policy Framework as set out in Annex 1 be adopted.
(Proposed by Cllr S Clist and seconded by Cllr J Cairney)
Reason for the decision:
MDH is a social landlord and is registered with the Regulator for Social Housing (RSH), meaning that it is a Registered Provider (RP). The RSH sets consumer standards and the Tenancy Standard is one of these. The role of the regulator is to intervene where failure to meet the standards has caused, or could have caused, harm to tenants. Agreed housing policy provides a framework for decision making which ensures that customer-facing teams deliver consistency in the discharge of duties to support good housing management. This ensures that both properties and tenancies are managed effectively and reduces reputational risk.
Note: * Report previously circulated, copy attached to the minutes.
To receive a report from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing providing members of the PDG with the first update report on the Housing Strategy 2021-25.
The Group received, and NOTED, a report * from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing providing an update on the Housing Strategy 2021-25.
The following was highlighted within the report:
· The Strategy had now been approved and it had been agreed that regular updates would be supplied to the PDG.
· There would be an all Member Briefing on the Mid Devon Housing Development Plan in early September. A working group with multidisciplinary leads had been established to bring the plan forwards.
· 90% of the objectives within the Strategy were on track.
· A full update report would be brought to the November meeting of the PDG.
Discussion followed with regard to:
· Disappointment that the St. Andrews estate development, despite being given planning approval, had not progressed. Shapland Place also remained derelict. Conversations had been had with Homes England regarding funding previously and a lot of work had taken place to try to progress this but it appeared that no progress had been made. The following questions were asked in relation to this and answers provided:
a) Question: Why had there been no progress on the two applications?
Answer: All the units were being built in a factory elsewhere and were 50% complete. Delivery was expected by December 2022.
b) Question: Why had there been no additional planning applications in the last 4 month period despite funding being available?
Answer: More information would be provided at the all Member briefing on the Mid Devon Housing Development programme in early September.
c) Question: What progress had been made with Homes England?
Answer: The previous contact with Homes England had left, however, a new submission for funding would take place by the end of the week. The Council would need to wait 3 or 4 weeks for the result.
· Whether the target in relation to ‘The supply of new market homes in Mid Devon’ should be adjusted since current results were not on track to meet this? It was explained that the target of 393 homes had been derived from the adopted Local Plan and included all new homes across the district, not just the local authority. Investigations were being undertaken so as to establish the reason for this which might include factors such as shortage of labour, materials, Community Land Trusts and self builds. Benchmarking exercises were being undertaken to help understand the situation further. It was confirmed a considerable number of builds were in the pipeline.
· The need for this report to be cross referenced with the performance report since information in relation to affordable housing and social rented housing didn’t quite match up. An explanation from the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing needed to be given to the PDG.
· The report was also missing information on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme and the housing of refugees.
· The importance of the Local Housing Needs Assessment (LHNA). Members had received a presentation on ... view the full minutes text for item 22.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme update (01:11:00)
To receive a verbal update regarding the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
The Group received, and NOTED, a verbal update on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme from the Operations Manager for Public Health and Housing Options. This included the following update:
Numbers and re-matching
· Numbers of hosts/properties matched to Ukrainian guests continues to rise – weekly DCC updates via national portal
· 97 hosts/properties matched to 195 guests as of 25 July – Not all have arrived yet.
· Guests have arrived at 66 properties so we have 155 guests hosted in Mid Devon at present.
· 96 of 97 properties inspected. The team have been working very hard to achieve this on top of the normal day job.
· Re-matching demand is relatively low (host/guest arrangements ending early) and single figures but we are starting to see an increase due to the rural location of some hosts. People want to be closer to employment, services and schools and on a bus route so they don’t have to rely on the host to drive them or find the money for a car.
· All unmatched hosts registered locally have been contacted as potential expressions of interest for-re-matching but responses have been low. Those that have responded are being reviewed in terms of the location of the property and the type of accommodation. Those in the most sustainable locations are being inspected first and we are trying to avoid the need for further rematches.
Commissioned support locally – external and internal
· Welcome visits and support/case management is in full swing via commissioned voluntary support - as previously reported CHAT are working with the Devon Ukraine Assoc. The number of guests needing a visit means we have expanded the contract to include additional resource for initial visits and follow-up visits
· Specialist CAB support is in place for benefits claims especially Universal Credit and housing law
· Reviewing additional, money management (Money Maze) support and training via the charity Navigate
· Pressure on internal teams has meant inspections and scheme administration has been impacting on other statutory service delivery – now utilising HfU scheme funding to recruit temporary business admin and technical housing posts
· Funding for Q1 of the scheme has been received from DCC under agreed financial arrangement based on numbers and payments out. Further Q2-Q4 returns and payments in due course
- 60% of £10.5k per refugee (DCC 25%, 15% contingency for all) which includes £200 subsistence payment per head
- 100% of monthly £350 host ‘thank you’ payments
- Q1 payment of £640K banked
- Committed spend to date inc. some Q2 expenditure and existing staff time is around one-third of funding received so far @ £235k
· The Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing continues to lead and provide support into Team Devon level work (DCC and all Districts):
- Fortnightly meetings to review delivery/risks and ensure consistent Devon approach – link back into MDDC delivery team
- Reviewing a Devon-wide exit strategy around pending housing/accommodation pressures once hosting ends – joint solutions (work in progress)
- Bus travel for HfU negotiated ... view the full minutes text for item 23.
To receive a report from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing seeking agreement to purchase either one or two houses in multiple occupation, currently in the private rented sector, for use as temporary accommodation and for rough sleepers.
The Group had before it a report * from the Corporate Manager for Public Health, Regulation and Housing seeking agreement to purchase either one or two houses in multiple occupation, currently in the private rented sector, for use as temporary accommodation and for rough sleepers.
It was agreed that discussion with regard to the report should take place in private session and it was therefore:
RESOLVED that under Section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972 the public be excluded on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 respectively of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act, namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information) and Part 5 - Information in respect of which a claim to legal professional privilege could be maintained in legal proceedings.
(Proposed by the Chairman)
Returning to open session it was:
RECOMMENDED to the Cabinet that:
a) Option 2 – to purchase one property – Scheme 1 - be approved as the preferred option in terms of size, location and ongoing maintenance.
b) That full funding is utilised from Earmarked reserves (EMRs) as set out in Section 3.3 of the report.
(Proposed by the Chairman)
Reason for the decision:
The project and its outcomes are supported by the current Housing Strategy 2021-25. In particular the aim of the project is to reduce the current spend on B&B as temporary accommodation and to provide accommodation with support for rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping. The project will be supported utilising external grant funding and earmarked reserves.
(i) * Report previously circulated; copy attached to the minutes.
(ii) Cllr S Clist declared a pecuniary interest as he owned a rented property and had business dealings with the agent who had valued the properties in question. He therefore left the meeting for the duration of the discussion and did not take part in the vote.
(iii) Councillors R J Dolley, S Pugh and R F Radford declared personal interests in that they also owned property that was rented out, either currently or in the past.
To receive a briefing paper from the Corporate Manager for Revenues, Benefits and Recovery.
The Group had before it, and NOTED, a briefing paper * from the Corporate Manager for Revenues, Benefits and Recovery providing information in relation to Council Tax and Second Homes and Long Term Empty Homes.
An updated paper had been provided and this would be attached to the minutes.
Consideration was given to:
· Whether Air B&B’s would be included as part of this? Dean – can you answer this please, I’m afraid I missed it – sorry!
· The number of holiday lets and the threshold for Business Rate relief meaning a potential loss of income to the Council.
· The difficulties involving in ‘policing’ this area.
· The current efforts being made to collate and track the data.
Note: * Briefing paper previously circulated; copy attached to the minutes.
Identification of items for the next meeting (02:58:00)
Members are asked to note that the following items are already identified in the work programme for the next meeting:
· Housing Service Fees and Charges
· Private Sector Housing Fees and Charges
· Housing Assistance Policy
· Asbestos Management Plan
· Mid Devon Housing Service Delivery Report
· Private Sector Housing and Homelessness (G/F) Update
· Briefing on the Social Housing White Paper
(Each of these items will be confirmed nearer the time).
Note: This item is limited to 10 minutes. There should be no discussion on the items raised.
In addition to the items already listed in the work programme for the next meeting the Group requested that it receive an update in relation to:
· The Home Share Scheme