Venue: Concorde Room, Council Offices, Farnborough
Contact: Lauren Harvey 01252 398827 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 9th June, 2016 (copy attached).
The Minutes of the Meeting held on 9th June, 2016 were approved and signed by the Chairman.
Proposed Merger - First Wessex and Sentinel Housing Association
Peter Walters, Chief Executive of First Wessex, will be attending the meeting to discuss the proposed merger between the two housing associations.
The Panel welcomed Mr. Peter
Walters, Chief Executive of First Wessex, to the meeting, who had been invited to attend to explain the reasons behind the
planned merger between First Wessex and Sentinel Housing Association.
wanted to assure Members that, essentially, the merged association aimed to use
their combined strength to improve services and build more homes. It was the
intention for the two housing associations to be one association by April, 2017. It was noted that Government policy had had an
impact on housing associations due to the introduction of the 1% rent reduction
scheme over a four year period. The merger was aiming
to make significant cost reductions and also enable
the new association to borrow funding for new developments.
reasons for the proposal included the geographical location of the housing
stock held by the associations; First Wessex had stock in northern and southern
Hampshire, including Portsmouth and Southampton, and Sentinel’s stock covered
most of the middle of Hampshire. The Panel was shown a
map of the First Wessex and Sentinel stock, which covered their main areas of
operation. This showed Members that the combined stock left no gaps and
totalled 30,000 homes in and just outside the County. Both housing associations
had been known for providing ‘top performing’ services
and the larger footprint would result in the association being closer to their
customers, therefore minimising travel. It was noted
that the intention was to remain as local to Hampshire as possible and not
exceed 30,000 homes.
around other mergers was raised, as some had not been
successful. Mr. Walters expressed the opinion that the merger between First
Wessex and Sentinel was one of equal partners. Both had successfully increased
their own stock over the years and were of the view that it was important to
continue to build low-cost housing.
noted what the new association would aim to achieve:
Financial strength to build more homes and
provide better services
Maintain a high level of expertise
Keep to 20 local authority areas
Be an influential partner of choice
Deliver at least 1,250 new homes per year of
Social purpose and customer focus as the core
First class repairs service
Value for money
Fast forward to digital shift
Questions were raised concerning the locality of the new association and whether this would impact customers. However, it was confirmed that the new association aimed to maintain a local presence and would expect staff to spend more time out in the community.
conclude, it was noted that the due diligence process was scheduled to be
completed by the end of October, 2016, provided no issues were found, consent
would be sought from funders to vary the covenants attached to borrowing
arrangements with a view for the organisation to take effect from April, 2017.
Mr. Walters answered Member questions and the Panel NOTED the presentation.
Sally Ravenhill and Zoe Paine, Strategy and Enabling Managers, have been invited to the Panel to discuss Report No. EHH 1623, which will advise Members on the progress made on the development of the Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2017-2021 (copy attached).
The Panel welcomed Ms. Zoe Paine and Ms. Sally Ravenhill, Strategy and Enabling Managers, who had been invited to the meeting to update the Panel on the progress made on the development of the Housing and Homelessness Strategy. It was noted that the strategy was required to fulfil the statutory obligation to have a Homelessness and Tenancy Strategy in place. The 2017-2021 strategy would be a continuation of the work from the previous strategy.
It was noted that homelessness had risen in the Borough by 58% since 2010/11, which had had an impact on the local community, residents service providers and the Council’s housing staff. The reduction in housing support services had led to loss of accommodation for a number of people, which was one of the reasons for the increase in homelessness. Other reasons included parental eviction and loss of private sector accommodation. Key housing issues in the Borough included welfare reform, the high housing demand and affordability issues, housing conditions and the pressure on social rented housing stock.
Members heard that before drafting the strategy, a number of consultations had been carried out:
· Partner consultation – April 2016
· Online consultation – June 2016
· Cabinet Member for Health and Housing and the Housing Strategy Standing Group – July 2016
· Homelessness Review – Summer 2016
The Panel discussed the outcomes of the online consultation, which had received 222 responses. It was noted that the Housing Strategy Standing Group had met and discussed the proposed structure, raised some of the challenges and agreed the proposed objectives and actions.
It was noted that the strategy aimed to tackle the key issues through four strategic themes:
· The right homes in the right place
· Making best use of the housing stock
· Helping people to solve their housing problems and provide a suitable home when needed
· Enabling people to live in good quality accommodation appropriate for their needs
These themes were discussed in more detail with the Panel, including what they aimed to achieve and the challenges that they were likely to face. It was noted the draft was due to be completed by 14th October, 2016. The next stage would then be to present the draft to the Housing Strategy Standing Group. In addition, Members requested that a draft should also be taken to a full Panel meeting before seeking Cabinet approval in December.
The Panel NOTED the Report and AGREED that an update on the draft of the strategy be brought to the Panel before Cabinet approval is sought.
To note the Community Policy and Review Panel’s work programme for 2016/17 (copy attached).
The Panel noted the work programme for the 2016/17 Municipal Year.