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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Ola Adeoye  020 7527 3044

Items
No. Item

51.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Debono.

52.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

There were no declarations of substitute members.

53.

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:

There were no declarations of interest.

54.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 111 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

1.    That Clarion’s suggestion that their offer of fixed terms rather than life tenancies was due to government policy was inaccurate as this was housing guidance to housing providers which could be ignored.

2.    That the minutes of the meeting held on 19 November 2018 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

55.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair informed the meeting that he attended Haringey Housing Scrutiny Committee to give evidence on issues around the Committee’s recent review into cladding concerns and Fire Safety on Friday 14 December 2018.

The meeting was advised that Partners Improvement had been invited to the next meeting and all efforts would be made via a press release to publicise the meeting so that it will attract the public and in particular the residents.

The Chair on behalf of the Committee expressed their thanks to the current Principal New Homes Development Project Manager, Rosemarie Jenkins who was leaving Islington Council especially with her input to scrutiny reviews.

The Chair also informed the Committee that with regards the current review of responsive repairs, he along with the Council will be considering evidence gathered with a view to drafting a number of recommendations. Members were invited to feed into the process by emailing the Chair or the clerk their contributions.  

56.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The order of business would be as per the agenda.

57.

Public Questions

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

58.

Scrutiny Review : SID and Introductory Presentation ( Homelessness) pdf icon PDF 46 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a presentation from Ramesh Logeswaran, the Interim Head of Housing Needs regarding Homelessness and Rough Sleeping in Islington. A copy of the presentation is interleaved with the agenda.

The following points were noted in the discussion:

·         Islington Council’s overriding approach to the issue of homelessness is to help people build resilience through prevention and early intervention. As the reasons for homelessness varies, the council endeavours to provide practical assistance such as being able to access rent deposit schemes and signposting residents to organisations such as Home finder UK, Sanctuary scheme and Islington Lettings where alternative and affordable accommodation can be offered.

·         Housing officers intervene on behalf of tenants with landlords in the private sector so as to alleviate homelessness by guaranteeing rental income especially if they are willing to offer discounted market rents.

·         Members were informed that for those already homeless, the service makes decisions in line with the Housing Act and support remains in place until a decision is made.

·         Collaborative and strong partnership across the public sector and ideas shared at the Islington Homelessness Forum and Lead officers at strategic housing needs across the North London sub region has resulted in a different approach to addressing homelessness.

·         In comparison with neighbouring authorities, Islington has had a significant reduction in the number of homelessness decisions due to its approach and has therefore exceeded the Council’s Corporate target of 400 over the last three years. Meeting was informed that between 2016 and 2017, 1173 households were prevented from becoming homeless.

·         Islington has one of the lowest numbers of households in temporary accommodation in London and 60% of temporary accommodation is within the borough. Islington will continue to purchase properties to use as temporary accommodation, minimising the use of private sector accommodation and also ensuring that those who are homelessness are still able to retain their social, educational and family networks.

·         Collaborative and strong partnership across the public sector and ideas shared at the Islington Homelessness Forum and Lead officers at strategic housing needs across the North London sub region has resulted in a different approach to addressing homelessness.

·         The Lead Officer acknowledged that the increase in homelessness was due to insufficient supply of affordable housing and the removal of assured short-hold tenancies in the private sector such as housing associations. In addition, the introduction of housing benefit restrictions in 2010 and the governments welfare reform has worsened the situation.

·         2,504 households approached Islington Council’s Housing Aid Team and sought advice in 2017/18 a fall from 2014/15. The meeting was informed that a common reason for homelessness is parents, family or friends not willing to accommodate and having children within the family or expecting a child.

·         In terms of breakdown, the meeting was advised that two thirds of accepted cases are between 20 and 40 years old and about two thirds of accepted cases tend to be female with a small majority of accepted cases being lone parents.

·         Members were advised that the Homeless Reduction Act has introduced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 58.

59.

Scrutiny Review: Witness Evidence ( Hackney Council)

Minutes:

The Chair invited Mr Rick Snow, a leaseholder to give evidence to the Committee on his experience with the Council’s responsive service

·         Mr Snow had reported in February 2018 a water leak coming through his hall way ceiling which was coming from a flat occupied by a council tenant.

·         Mr Snow informed the meeting of his daily interactions with numerous council officers over a long period and his frustration in getting the Council to acknowledge that the damage was from the flat above.

·         An independent surveyor was employed to identify the cause of the leak and despite evidence provided to Council, Mr Snow was referred to different personnel and sections and at a point was informed that works could not be done as a result of possible asbestos and miscommunication with the tenant in the above flat. This was very time consuming for Mr Snow and he is concerned that despite the delays his service charges had increased.

·         The meeting was informed that repair was completed after a 10 month delay in December 2018.

·         In response to Mr Snow’s complaints, the Group Leader Repairs expressed his apologies and acknowledged that this was a case where there was failure from the onset and throughout.  With regard to the staff involved, the Group Leader indicated that this was being looked at with the view that there may be a training requirement for staff involved to ensure that this does not occur again.

·         With regards to leaks, the Officer agreed that in this instance this was mistakenly diagnosed however in some properties most delays are caused by access issues. Meeting was advised that Council will be more active in gaining access to resolve leaks and that in the future when leaseholder’s report a repair, officers would be looking to improve the interaction with the call centre advisers.

·         Members were disappointed with the level of service received by Mr Snow and requested a breakdown of the Council’s cost and the cost involved in restoring the property and the cost that the leasehold incurred especially having undertaken a survey to identify the leak.

The Chair thanked Mr Snow for his evidence to the Committee and invited Steve Platt, Head of Building Maintenance and Estate Environment, Hackney Council to give his presentation and the following main points were raised and discussed -

·         Members were informed that the decision to bring Hackney Homes back in house happened in April 2016 and the department was renamed Housing Services

·         Housing Service directly manages 31,000 properties of which 9,000 are leaseholders and that in 2017/18, Housing Services carried out 85,000 responsive repairs which included cyclical works.

·         Hackney Council operates an in-house Repairs Call Centre along with an on line offer. The intention is to expand the on line offer to communal repairs.

·         The Responsive repairs are delivered by Building Maintenance along with a number of cyclical work streams. The Building Maintenance group is split between the Repairs Team (Client) and the Direct Labour Organisation (DLO). The repairs 'client' side is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 59.

60.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 39 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the work programme be noted