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Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Apologies for Absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Spall and Hamitouche.


Declaration of Substitute Members




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 of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 94 KB



That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 3 March 2020 be confirmed as a correct record and the Chair be authorised to sign them.


Chair's Report


The Chair stated that Councillor Hamitouche was unwell and would not be attending the meeting that evening. The Chair added that on behalf of the Committee he would like to extend his best wishes for a speedy recovery, and thank her for the outstanding contribution she has made to the work of the Committee


The Chair also stated that this was the first virtual meeting of the Housing Scrutiny Committee, and that with regard to the future draft work programme, which would be considered later in the agenda he would like to propose the following –


·       Additional scrutiny evidence to be received by the Chair/Vice Chair on the Capital Works and the Private Rented sector scrutiny reviews, and a written report be presented to the Committee thereon, summarising such evidence, with a view to reporting recommendations on these reviews at the next meeting;

·       Consideration be given to a scrutiny review on Partners, especially in relation to the end of PFI2 and the possible arrangements for the properties coming back ‘in house’, and consideration be given to additional items on the work programme on Housing Associations and Homelessness. The Chair also stated that there is a Task and Finish Group being established on how the Council’s Housing stock can be made carbon neutral by 2030, and he felt that consideration should be given to this early next year by the Committee





(a)  That a vote of thanks be accorded to Councillor Hamitouche for her work on the Committee, and to wish her a speedy recovery from her illness


(b)That the additional items raised by the Chair above, and the proposal for additional evidence in relation to the Capital Works and Private Rented sector be agreed


(c)  That it be noted that  the proposals by the Chair in respect of a new Scrutiny topic, and additional items for agendas, as referred to above, be considered at the meeting in September


Order of Business


The Chair stated that the order of business would be as per the agenda.


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.



The Chair outlined the procedure for public questions


Impacts and Adjustments to Housing Services during the Pandemic - Presentation


The Corporate Director of Housing, Maxine Holdsworth, was present for discussion of this item and made a presentation to the Committee, copy interleaved.


During consideration of the presentation on COVID 19 the following main points were made –

·       Staffing – the first 2 weeks of lockdown coincided with the last 2 weeks of the annual leave year.  This reduced staffing levels to 70% but by mid-April this had risen to 85%. During May/June staff levels have remained stable at around 90% each working day. Only 13 staff have required a COVID 19 test since testing was made available to Council staff. Around 500 staff are working from home and there are just over 400 staff are on site or in the office (the vast majority in Estate Services, Repairs, and Tenancy Management).

·       Maintaining Caretaking services – Caretaking service able to deliver service business as usual. Cleaning and disinfection increased in frequency to reduce virus spread risk. Staff require PPE to continue to work safely on estates. Staff adapted to new ways of working. Repairs staff redeployed to communal areas team to carry out communal work and support, whilst demand for repairs decreased

·       Day to day repairs – Staff require PPE to work safely, and are amending procedures to keep themselves/residents safe. Council teams and contractors continued to deliver gas and heating repairs during lockdown. Staffing levels had been good throughout. The service was now reopening to dealing with non-urgent repairs as residents are starting to report these.

·       Continuing challenge to Gas compliance – Gas compliance was dropping due to lack of access. Some residents did not want to allow access to Gas Engineers in their home. Without means of enforcement persuasion is the only tool available.

·       Income collection – Rent arrears have risen sharply. Some tenants had cancelled direct debits. The Government has suspended evictions and notice periods have been extended.

·       Tenancy Management – Services have been adapted to enable home working for some staff whilst an office presence is maintained. Processes have been adapted to ensure safety. Property viewings are being conducted through video, and sign-ups over the telephone. Home visits were only arranged in an urgent situation.

·       Continuing challenges – Collection of rent was an ongoing challenge. The Council had lobbied Government for an end to No Recourse to Public Funds. Individual debt was increasing quickly and HRA income loss will mean compensatory savings will need to be made elsewhere.

·       Homelessness – There had been a surge in temporary accommodation placements, with an additional 250 singles accommodated. There was also increased demand for supported housing and support services. Services had moved to largely remote delivery, with a core team at 222 Upper Street and at reception centres. Temporary accommodation had to be accessed quickly and costs were higher than normal. Funding provided by the Government was inadequate to fully cover the council’s costs. Exit strategies had been developed for each individual. The Council was lobbying government over clarity and further support for roughsleepers, and for those with No  ...  view the full minutes text for item 172.


Work Programme 2020/2021 pdf icon PDF 27 KB


It was stated that the draft work programme for the next two meetings could be agreed however, due to the ongoing COVID 19 situation, and Annual Council now not being held until September, with the appointment of new Membership to the Committee, the consideration of a scrutiny review topic, and the future meetings work programme should be deferred until the September meeting



That the work programme be agreed, as stated above, and further considered at the September meeting