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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 4, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  020 7527 3308

Items
No. Item

227.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Gary Doolan and Angela Picknell.

228.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

Councillor Olly Parker for Councillor Gary Doolan.

229.

Declarations of Interests

If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a)     Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b) Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d)      Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f) Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

Minutes:

None.

230.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 158 KB

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:
That the minutes of the meeting held on 17 October 2016 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised sign them.

231.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair was pleased to report that the Government had decided not to implement the Tenant Tax, however expressed his concern that key elements of the Housing and Planning Act were still to be implemented. The Committee noted that the Act would likely lead to a decrease in social housing provision in Islington.

 

The Chair invited Mr Tim Baster, a Genesis Housing Association tenant, to address the Committee. Mr Baster reported that Genesis tenants across London were dissatisfied with the housing association’s approach to rent increases and its apparent support for the de-regulation of social housing. It was reported that Genesis residents on secure tenancies paying less than target rent on their homes were facing rent increases of up to 60% and the housing association had refused to meet with tenants on this matter. It was explained that the housing association’s internal complaints procedures and resident representation forums were not able to address this matter and Genesis tenants were asking local authority scrutiny committees across London to support their cause.

 

The Committee acknowledged that Genesis had few secure tenants in Islington. It was commented that it was understandable for the housing association to seek target rent levels as social housing had to be sustainable; however the Committee did consider that implementing such large rent increases without a phasing-in period and refusing to engage with the affected residents was unreasonable. It was agreed that the Chair would write to Genesis Housing Association to make representations on this matter.

 

 

232.

Order of Business

Minutes:

No changes were proposed to the order of business.

233.

Public Questions

Minutes:

The Chair outlined the procedure for public questions and the filming of meetings.

234.

Housing Services for Vulnerable People: Witness Evidence pdf icon PDF 148 KB

To include:

 

a.    Representatives of Peter Bedford Housing Association

b.    Representatives of Notting Hill Housing Association (TBC)

c.    Glenn McCorkindale, Property Services Programme Manager

d.    Jon Farrant, Head of Tenancy and Estate Services

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

a)    Evidence from Peter Bedford Housing Association

 

The Committee received a presentation from Clare Norton, Chief Executive Officer, and Pat Yesufu, Supported Housing Manager, of Peter Bedford Housing Association, on best practice in delivering housing services for vulnerable people. 

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Peter Bedford Housing Association was a small, community housing association for vulnerable and excluded people. The housing association had 275 tenants across Islington and Hackney who were supported to live, work and learn together.

·         Peter Bedford HA provided integrated and holistic support alongside housing services. Its residents were supported in making personal progress and taking responsibility as a means of empowering them to live independently.  The organisation had high aspirations for its tenants and provided a range of support intended to develop employability and life skills. Referrals were also made to other support agencies as appropriate.

·         The organisation valued inclusivity and emphasised the importance of building trust with residents. It was important for staff to empathise with tenants and have strong interpersonal skills. 

·         Peter Bedford HA had regular meetings with its tenants. Residents were able to choose how they were communicated with, either by letter, text, email or telephone. 

·         The housing association produced a handbook for tenants which provided tenancy information in an easy to read format.

·         Peter Bedford HA had a person-centred approach and tailored support to their residents’ needs. Older tenants were visited regularly as it was recognised that their needs may change over time.

·         All staff had received fire safety training and specific evacuation procedures had been produced for disabled tenants.

·         The organisation’s contractors were encouraged to report any concerns they had for residents’ welfare, including issues related to antisocial behaviour and hygiene.

·         Peter Bedford HA encouraged a strong community ethos by arranging resident meetings and local events. Tenants were supported in developing relationships with their neighbours and taking up local volunteering opportunities.

·         The housing association provided a range of tenures, the minimum being two years. Those ending their tenancies were found suitable alternative accommodation and continued to receive support for six months. Higher-risk tenants were provided with a licence as a ‘starter tenancy’ before progressing to an assured shorthold tenancy.

·         It was reported that vulnerable people found it particularly difficult to move into private sector accommodation as they faced difficulties in saving for deposits. It was noted that the London Borough of Hackney offered loans and grants to vulnerable residents for this purpose. It was commented that some vulnerable tenants would be able to maintain a private tenancy with appropriate support, and supporting vulnerable people to rent in the private sector reduced the demand for specialist housing provision.

·         The organisation recognised the impact that working with vulnerable people can have on its staff and discussed wellbeing issues at monthly all staff meetings. A wellbeing programme for staff had also been introduced. 

·         It was advised that Peter Bedford HA would soon come to the end of its contractual arrangement with Islington Council.

·         The Committee asked how Islington Council could  ...  view the full minutes text for item 234.

235.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance (Q2 2016/17) pdf icon PDF 397 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, introduced the quarterly performance report.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Executive Member was pleased that 94 new affordable homes were built during the quarter.

·         It was reiterated that the Partners’ repairs backlog applied to major works only and not routine repairs. It was advised that the latest delays had been due to ongoing legal processes in relation to leaseholder properties.

·         The Committee noted the significant increase in the number of homeless people nationwide, and that homelessness was increasingly caused by assured shorthold tenancies ending. The Executive Member commented that this was attributable to the Government’s welfare reform measures.

·         It was noted that the Government had decided not to implement the Tenant Tax, however other aspects of the Housing and Planning Act, including the sale of council houses, were still proposed to be implemented. The Executive Member encouraged those present to keep campaigning against the changes and to make representations to Gavin Barwell MP, Minister of State for Housing and Planning.

·         A member queried how many people had been made homeless following eviction by the Council. The Executive Member advised that he did not have figures to hand; however eviction was only used as a last resort following continued disengagement from housing services.

·         A member queried if the Council housed residents outside of the borough. In response, it was advised that those in need of temporary accommodation sometimes had to be located outside of the borough due to a lack of available provision in Islington. It was also noted that those seeking private rented accommodation were presented with options outside of the borough as rent levels were more affordable elsewhere.

 

RESOLVED:
That the progress against key performance indicators in Quarter 2 be noted.

236.

Estate Services Review - Caretaking Recommendations Update pdf icon PDF 98 KB

Minutes:

Jon Farrant, Head of Tenancy and Estate Services, introduced the item on changes to the caretaking service following the Committee’s review of estate services management.

 

The Executive had accepted the Committee’s recommendation of moving to a simpler, more direct management structure. As a result, the number of Estate Services Co-ordinators had increased and the number of Quality Assurance Officers had decreased, with the role of the retained Quality Assurance Officers being amended to provide greater support to caretaking staff. This was intended to ensure greater clarity around caretaking management arrangements.

 

It was queried if proposals for increased holiday cover for caretakers had been implemented. In response, it was advised that 12 relief caretakers were now available to provide full cover if a caretaker was absent for more than 10 days.

 

The Committee thanked Jon Farrant for his contribution.