Agenda item

Housing Services Presentation

To receive a presentation which will provide an update on progress against key areas of the Housing and Homelessness Strategy.  This will include the following items:


(i)            Housing Strategy Overview

(ii)           Registered Providers Review Report (copy attached)

(iii)         Private Sector Housing Survey Report (copy attached)

(iv)         North Lane Lodge


(1)       Housing Strategy Overview


The Panel welcomed Ms Qamer Yasin, Head of Environmental Health and Housing, who introduced the presentation on Housing Service and explained that the other elements to the presentation were all linked to the Council’s overall Housing and Homelessness Strategy.


(2)       Housing and Homelessness Strategy


The Panel welcomed Ms Sally Ravenhill, Strategy and Enabling Manager, who provided an interim update on the Housing and Homelessness Strategy which had been adopted by the Council in February 2017, subject to the Panel considering changes in two areas:


·         Housing and Income Data

·         Definition of Affordable Housing


The Panel considered and provided comment on the Housing and Income Data supplied, noting that recently published data would form part of the next update.  It was noted that using official figures provided by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG), Valuation Office Agency (VOA) and the Office for National Statistics (ONS) ensured consistency and allowed comparisons over time, whilst local figures helped to provide context.


The Panel asked that the presentation be circulated to them after the meeting.  Comments made at the meeting would be taken on board for consideration at the next Panel meeting in September 2017, when the Housing and Homelessness Strategy would be discussed in more detail as part of one of two scheduled progress and update sessions on the Strategy to come to the Panel during the Municipal Year.


(3)       Registered Providers’ Review Report


The Panel welcomed Ms Zoe Paine, Strategy and Enabling Manager, who gave a presentation on the Review of Registered Providers (RPs) in 2016/17, to complement Report No. EHH1714 which was circulated as part of the agenda papers.  The presentation and Report covered:


·         Purpose of the Annual Reviews

·         Process undertaken

·         Key issues identified during neighbourhood visits


The Panel provided feedback on the issues identified in respect of the four Housing Providers reviewed during 2016/17: Society of St James (SSJ); Sanctuary Housing; Thames Valley Housing; and Ministry of Defence.


The Panel was advised that, where the Council was aware of complaints against an RP, it could assist by guiding residents on what avenues were open to them to resolve these complaints.  The Council could also raise issues directly with the RP, with serious, unresolved complaints being referred to the Homes and Communities Agency, which regulated RPs. 


(4)       Private Sector Housing Survey Report


The Panel welcomed Ms Hilary Smith, Private Sector Housing Manager, who gave a presentation on the Private Sector Housing Survey, to complement Report No. EHH1715 which was circulated as part of the agenda papers. 


The Panel noted the background to and aim of the survey, as well as the findings and remedial actions taken to improve problem areas.  The Panel was pleased to note that the original aims of the survey had been met, and information gathered would help to improve housing standards and safety for residents.  It also noted that, whilst follow-up work was scheduled, it was not necessary for further survey work to be carried out at this time. 


The Panel was advised that further resources might be required in order to develop policies and processes to implement the Housing and Planning Act 2016 once guidance was received on its implementation. 


(5)       North Lane Lodge


Ms Qamer Yasin then gave a presentation on North Lane Lodge.  The Panel noted and provided feedback on the background to and implementation of this supported accommodation project for vulnerable homeless people. 


The Panel was pleased to note the success of this pilot project in terms of engaging with the nine previously identified rough sleepers, with the aim of using the lessons learned to help to develop a future resource to meet the complex needs of the street homeless people in the Borough.


The Chairman thanked the Officers for a comprehensive and professional presentation.

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