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Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 1, Town Hall, Upper Street, N1 2UD. View directions

Contact: Jonathan Moore  020 7527 3308

Items
No. Item

353.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Diner, Spall and Doolan.

354.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None.

355.

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.

356.

Minutes of Previous Meetings pdf icon PDF 87 KB

To agree the minutes of the previous meetings held on:

 

·         30 January 2018

·         6 February 2018

Additional documents:

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the minutes of the previous meetings held on 30 January 2018 and 6 February 2018 be agreed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

 

357.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair noted that it was the last Housing Scrutiny Committee meeting of the municipal year and thanked all members, officers and witnesses who had contributed to the work of the Committee.

 

The Chair reiterated the concerns expressed at the previous meeting on Partners’ approach to working with vulnerable people. The Chair requested that the Committee receive Partners’ policy on anti-social behaviour, and further information on how the organisation works with people with disabilities and mental health issues.

 

A member noted that he had not received an email inviting him to take part in Partners’ survey of councillors. It was also noted that Partners had not accepted the invitation to attend a meeting of the Islington Leaseholders’ Association. The Chair advised that these matters should be taken up with the Executive Member for Housing and Development.

 

358.

Order of Business

Minutes:

No changes were proposed to the order of business.

359.

Public Questions

Minutes:

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

360.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance (Q3 2017/18) & Annual Executive Member Presentation pdf icon PDF 116 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Diarmaid Ward, Executive Member for Housing and Development, presented his annual report to the Committee. Jo Murphy, Director of Homes and Communities, also contributed to the presentation and discussion.  

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         The Executive Member provided an update on the council’s work to replace flammable cladding on its housing blocks. The work to remove ACM3 cladding on Braithwaite House commenced three working days after it was identified, and the cladding was expected to be replaced in October 2018.

·         Work was underway to convert dry risers to wet risers in the council’s tallest blocks. The risers in Michael Cliffe House had been converted in August 2017, and the risers in Peregrine House would be converted in October 2018.

·         Although much of the media attention following the Grenfell Tower fire had focused on the safety of high-rise blocks, the safety of low-rise blocks was also a priority. The Executive Member advised that linked fire alarms would be installed in street properties, which did not have compartmentation to contain a fire to single unit. 

·         A member queried if works had been carried out to insulate street properties, and if not, would this work be carried out in future. Another member advised that insulation work was carried out to street properties some years ago, however it was not known how many properties had benefitted at that time. The Executive member advised that he would investigate this matter further.  

·         It was explained that the rebranding of the Housing Operations service to ‘Homes and Communities’ would better reflect the service’s work to support the communities living in the council’s homes, which was a priority of the council. The service was working with colleagues across the council to develop an early intervention approach which would support the wellbeing of Islington residents.

·         The Executive Member advised that the Homes and Communities leadership team had been restructured around the service’s priorities, and explained that further work to transform the service would take place throughout 2018. It was hoped that the service would develop a more trusting relationship with residents.

·         The Committee expressed concern about the roll out of Universal Credit. A total of 359 council tenants were in receipt of Universal Credit; the average rent debt of claimants was over six times the average debt. The council was holding bi-monthly meetings with the Department for Work and Pensions ahead of the full service being deployed in Islington in June 2018.

·         Islington Council would not evict anybody solely for arrears caused by their move to Universal Credit. It was emphasised that it was important for tenants struggling financially to engage with the council at the earliest possible opportunity. 

·         A member highlighted that he kept his rent account in credit to ensure that he had some security if his circumstances changed and he was unable to pay his rent. It was suggested that this approach could be promoted to tenants. It was also suggested that incentives to pay rent on time may result in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 360.

361.

How Islington Council works with Housing Associations pdf icon PDF 220 KB

A presentation will be given at the meeting.

Minutes:

Karen Lucas, Head of Housing Needs, made a presentation to the Committee on how Islington Council works with housing associations.

 

The following main points were noted in the discussion:

 

·         Housing associations were a varied group of organisations. Some were large regional or national organisations, whereas others were small local housing providers. For this reason it was difficult to categorise them in general terms. How Islington Council worked with each association varied depending on the type of organisation and their relationship with the council.

·         It was highlighted that several large housing associations had merged in recent years. Clarion, formerly Affinity and Circle, managed 125,000 homes.  Peabody and Family Mosaic were in the process of merging and managed 55,000 homes across London.

·         London’s largest housing associations formed the G15 Group, which collectively managed 550,000 homes across London, representing 21% of the housing stock, and housing 1 in 10 Londoners.

·         The Housing service focused on building relationships with the housing associations that managed the most amount of homes in the borough. Although it was good practice for local authorities and housing providers to work in partnership across a range of issues, it was explained that there was no legal duty that required housing associations to engage positively with local authorities.

·         32 housing associations operated in Islington managing 16,500 homes. Peabody managed 5,000 homes in Islington, Clarion managed 3,700. Hyde, Newlon and Southern also managed a significant number of properties. Some smaller providers managed fewer than 10 units in the borough.

·         Although some housing associations developed a significant number of homes nationally, the number of new housing association developments in Islington had decreased in recent years. It was thought that this was partially because the council was developing available sites in-house through its New Build Programme. However, the council was keen for housing associations to develop affordable housing in the borough, and a breakfast meeting was scheduled for the Executive Member for Housing and Development to meet with the finance leads of major housing associations to challenge them to develop more affordable housing in the borough.

·         The council facilitated the Islington Housing Association Group which was chaired by the Chief Executive of Islington and Shoreditch Housing Association. This group met quarterly to discuss local issues, including the impact of welfare reform, anti-social behaviour, and local environmental issues. Islington Council used the group to raise the profile of corporate priorities.

·         The Committee considered that further engagement, collaboration, and partnership work with housing associations would lead to more positive outcomes for residents. However, the Committee recognised that this could be challenging when the council and housing associations had competing priorities and different values.

·         Members expressed concern that some housing associations did not always respond positively to casework and highlighted several examples of housing associations providing inadequate services to Islington residents.

·         It was suggested that a local housing association pledge to adopt the council’s early intervention principles would be a positive development.

·         The Committee expressed concern that some housing associations acted primarily as commercial developers, rather than  ...  view the full minutes text for item 361.

362.

Housing Communications Scrutiny Review: Final Report pdf icon PDF 248 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

(i)            That the report of the Housing Communications scrutiny review be agreed;

(ii)           That authority be delegated to the Chair to approve minor amendments to the report, prior to the report being submitted to the Executive.

 

363.

The Council's New Build Programme Mini-Review: Final Report pdf icon PDF 204 KB

Minutes:

The Committee agreed that Recommendation 3 be amended to make reference to working with smaller housing associations that have surpluses and are based in the borough.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(i)            That the report of the Housing Communications scrutiny review be agreed; subject to an amendment to Recommendation 3 to make reference to working with smaller housing associations that have surpluses and are based in the borough;

(ii)           That authority be delegated to the Chair to approve minor and consequential amendments to the report, prior to the report being submitted to the Executive.

 

364.

Vote of Thanks

Minutes:

Members of the Committee thanked the Chair for his service to the Committee over the past year.  The Committee also thanked officers, resident observers, and all of those who had contributed to the work of the Committee.

 

RESOLVED:

 

That a vote of thanks be accorded to the Chair for the services rendered by him to the Committee during the current municipal year