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Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Ola Adeoye  020 7527 044

Items
No. Item

142.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

 

Apologies were received from Councillor Gallagher.

143.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None

144.

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.

145.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

 

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting held on 25 November 2019 be confirmed as an accurate record of proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them.

146.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair informed the meeting that Partners Improvement will be attending the meeting of 3 March, an opportunity for members to review performances of Partners in the last year.

The Executive Member for Housing, Councillor Ward informed members that Tom Irvine of Partners had been advised of the Committee’s expectation that the presentation should include specific examples of issues of disrepairs, and how it was resolved and not just statistics.

147.

Order of Business

Minutes:

The order of business would be B2, B1,B3 and B4.

148.

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.

 

Minutes:

None

149.

2018/19 Mini Scrutiny Review ( Homelessness) - Presentation and Draft Recommendations pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Minutes:

Karen Lucas, Director Housing Needs and Strategy provided members with a brief background on the mini review carried out about Homelessness and Rough Sleeping in the borough.  In addition a presentation highlighting the scope of the review, its findings and concerns was received.
Finally members were invited to consider and contribute to the draft recommendations.

The following issues were highlighted and discussed.

The Scrutiny Initiation Document was agreed on 14 January 2019 but due to time constraints; witness unavailability; a decision was taken for the review to be included in the work programme of the 2019/2020 municipal year.

The review considered how the Council’s Housing Services manages homelessness; the legislative frameworks; performances and outcomes related to homelessness; the use of temporary accommodation; rough sleeping and partnership working.

Members were reminded of their visits and meeting staff of Streets Kitchen, Solace, St Mungo’s, Glasshouse temporary shelter, Now Medical, the Streets Festival and Jubaa Somalia organisation. Also the Chair attended a seminar on homelessness and the committee had received a presentation from Islington Law Centre.

The Director of Housing Needs acknowledged the significant reductions in the number of homelessness decisions in the last 3 years especially when compared to other London boroughs. This was primarily due to the Services focus on engaging on more preventive activities.

Members were informed of strong partnership working across the public sector and the voluntary sector; Leadership officers attending Strategic Housing meetings across the North London sub-region and the pan London Councils meetings, all with a view to alleviating homelessness.

Data provided shows that in 2017/18, 2,504 households approached the Council’s Housing Team for advice and the reasons provided vary from family breakdown, domestic abuse and loss of private sector accommodation. In addition other reasons for seeking assistance included residents having children or expecting a child as a common category of priority need each year, making up 78% of all households accepted in 2017/18.

With regards to placing households in temporary accommodation, members were informed that although largely stable across London, it is noticeable that this has been on the increase in the last two years.

Members were informed that despite market challenges, the Council continues to experience reductions in out of borough placements, which indicates that a significant proportion of homeless households were still able to retain their social, family, educational and employment networks.

The meeting was informed of concerns raised Director highlighted concerns raised by voluntary organisations such as Solace and Islington Law Centre. This included vulnerable women finding it difficult to access services and the Council’s continued reliance on the services of its commissioned medical advice service for assessing applications for social housing applications. Other concerns raised was what role in particular do Housing Associations play with regards to preventing homelessness especially as they manage over 14,500 residents.

A street count exercise carried out by members and officers acknowledges an increasing number of rough sleeping on Islington Streets.


A copy of the draft recommendations was circulated at the meeting for consideration. The Chair informed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 149.

150.

2019/2020 Mini Scrutiny Review ( Private Rented Sector) - Presentation and witness evidence ( To Follow)

Minutes:

Members received a presentation from both Janice Gibbons, Service Manager (Environmental Health) and Karen Lucas (Director Housing Needs and Strategy) on the Private Rented Sector. A copy of both presentations is interleaved with the agenda.

The following main points were raised in the presentation and discussed:

·    Islington presently has over 25,217 privately rented properties which represents 27% of the total housing stock. It is noticeable that since 2011 that the private sector is experiencing the highest level of growth across all housing sectors.

·    Members were advised that in light of the shortage in social rented housing, properties in private accommodation attract rents of about £1752 rent per month and this remains a challenge especially for young private renters as this represents about 34% of their income.

·    The Council through Housing Services provides help and support for people who live in privately rented properties, signposting residents to accredited private landlords and liaises with landlords who provide temporary accommodation for people designated as homeless.

·    Other support includes a phone advice service, a drop in service at 222 Upper Street, funding organisations like the Citizen Advice Bureau which is located at 222 Upper Street and Islington Law centre. The Council offers monthly outreach surgeries for hard to reach communities in children centres, community centres, Finsbury Park Mosque and Job centres

·    Members were informed of the importance of the Trailblazer programme, the Early Homelessness Prevention Service in alleviating homelessness.

·    Meeting was informed that information such as Landlord Accreditation schemes; complaints procedure and a London rents map showing average rents is published on the council website.

·    Meeting was informed that staff are trained in negotiation skills when issues arise with landlords to resolve issues with their tenants.

·    With regard to Landlords forum, the Director acknowledged that in recent year the noticeable drop in attendance the Service will be looking at ways of raising its profile as it recognises their value and contribution in alleviating homelessness. Similarly the Council is keen to hear the views of private sector tenants about the advice and support available to them.

·    Figures provided show that of the 2,488 clients that sought advice from CAB, only 8% were identified as private sector clients. The Director acknowledged that more work will be required in this area as it is obvious that private renters were not accessing this valuable  resource.

·    Members were advised that as many residents were unlikely to be offered social housing, the private sector remains the only option to help prevent homelessness.

·    Islington Lettings and Islington Residential, the two letting schemes run by the Council, work in partnership with approximately 15 private sector landlords across London. The council pays the landlord either an incentive fee or a rent deposit fee. Most of the landlords offer a minimum tenancy term of 12 months with some exceptions of up to 2 years.

·    In response to a question about rents being charged for residents placed in private accommodation by the Council, Members were advised that market rates are being charged.

·   The Director advised  ...  view the full minutes text for item 150.

151.

Quarterly Review of Housing Performance ( Q2 - 2019/2020) pdf icon PDF 127 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 informed the meeting that in the last quarter the number of affordable homes built had fallen substantially.

·         Performance with repairs continues to improve, from 85.4% at the end of the previous quarter to 87.0% at the end of this quarter. The Executive Member acknowledged that issues with the dashboard remain and are IT related.

·         Rent arrears continues to increase and below the profiled target for the point in the year. This is driven by the continued roll-out of Universal Credit in the borough.

·         With regard to street homelessness, members were informed that 60 people were supported into accommodation in comparison to 8 in the previous year and this was due to a myriad of factors, in particular the austerity measures introduced by the present government.

·         The Executive Member advised members that the Council would no longer be using the services of Now Medical in assessing housing applications.

·         In response to a request that ward councillors be kept to date on changes in personnel within Housing Area offices, the Director Housing Needs acknowledged that although the restructuring is still ongoing, the Service will ensure that Councillors receive an updated contact details of personnel when in post.


RESOLVED:
That the report be noted

152.

Work Programme 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 37 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the work programme be noted.