Venue: Council Chamber - South Kesteven House, St. Peter's Hill, Grantham. NG31 6PZ. View directions
Contact: Democratic Services
Comments from Members of the Public
To receive comments or views from members of the public at the Committee’s discretion.
There were none.
Apologies for absence
Apologies for absence had been received from Councillor Richard Cleaver and Councillor Robert Reid.
Disclosure of Interest
Members are asked to disclose any interest in matters for consideration at the meeting.
There were none.
Members considered the minutes of the meeting held on 28 April 2022. It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED that the minutes were a true and accurate record on the basis that minor amendments be made to minute number 61, Regulatory Compliance.
To receive updates on actions agreed at the previous meeting.
One Member queried the status of an action from the previous meeting:
Whether the Grantham Charter Trustee had been contacted regarding Queen Jubilee activities. The Deputy Chief Executive would check as to whether they had been contacted or not.
The status of the action was unknown; however, the Chairman would follow it up and provide a response once known.
The Chairman provided an update on action 59 relating to the electronic agenda for the meeting of Lincolnshire Police and Crime Panel being sent to the Committee. It was confirmed that the meeting date had been postponed to the 24 June 2022. Once the electronic agenda was accessible, this would be forwarded onto the Committee.
Councillor Richard Cleaver requested a response from the Cabinet Member to the suggestion from Chief Inspector Vickers that South Kesteven could consider more proactive use of legal powers in relation to anti-social behaviour which is mentioned in item 60 in the minutes of the last meeting.
The Director of Housing and Property provided the Committee with a response on behalf of the Cabinet Member for Safer Communities:
The Neighbourhoods Team and CCTV had worked in partnership with the Police and been involved in a number of targeted operations, the most recent being a night of proactive activity aimed at disrupting antisocial behaviour associated with vehicles in the Grantham area. The operation saw one vehicle seized for having no valid insurance policy, a further two motorists reported for speeding, two more reported for having no MOT, and a further driver reported for driving without due care and attention. The operation also resulted in three people being issued £150 fines for littering, directly related to vehicle ASB.
Neighbourhoods Officers were also working with the police to use ANPR cameras to establish vehicle owner details and request vehicle stops as part of ongoing flytipping investigations and there are plans for a day of action with the Lincolnshire Police Rural Crime Team to tackle illegal waste sites and bogus waste carriers.
The team had also carried out patrols in the Council’s parks to engage with young people, dog owners and users and help prevent antisocial behaviour and worked as part of a wider team during the covid19 pandemic, ensuring restrictions were complied with.
Much of the work of the team was reacting to request for service from our residents. The team of 5 dealt with over 3,300 complaints in 2021, ranging from environmental crime, neighbour nuisance and pests. In many cases antisocial behaviour and neighbour nuisance complaints were resolved without the need for formal enforcement action, however, where this is necessary, legislation allows and evidence is available, action is taken.
The action sheet was noted.
One Member highlighted that an Officer from the Community Award group had confirmed attendance to regular Parish Council meetings.
Furthermore, it had been requested that a PCSO or a representative of Lincolnshire Police attended occasional Parish Council meetings in Bourne. However, no further communication had been heard.
ACTION: For the Chairman to query the ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
This year-end update report outlines South Kesteven District Councils performance against the Corporate Plan Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for the year of 2021/22.
The Organisational Development and Change Manager presented the report that outlined the end of year data performance for 2021/22.
It was noted that 11 actions were rated green, 2 were rated amber and 2 rated red.
The actions related to two corporate priorities: ‘Healthy and strong communities’ and ‘Housing that meets the needs of all residents. The actions were set out in the report, appendix 1.
One Member queried whether there was a benchmark in place for the status colours and at what point an action would move from amber to green for example.
The Organisational Development and Change Manager confirmed that actions rated amber were generally off-target from a green rating by 10% or were expected to meet milestones that were delayed. Actions rated red were falling significantly below or they were overdue and did not have an achievable timely target. Green actions had met their target or over-achieved.
A query was raised on the numerical order of the actions, as numbers appeared to be missing.
It was confirmed that some of the action responsibilities were reported to other Overview and Scrutiny Committees.
Concern was raised over the action rated red relating to partnership working with the housing market. A query was then raised on how many houses needed to be built per year in the district.
The Director of Housing and Property highlighted that the action related to delivery of housing across the district. Further work would be undertaken to benchmark the number of houses expected to be built per year.
ACTION: For the Director of Housing and Property to liaise with colleagues to establish and compare the action benchmark with other authorities on what is expected to achieve a green rated action.
Further information on the action relating to increasing the supply of high quality, sustainable Council houses was requested.
The Director of Housing and Property referred the Committee to the comments in the report from last year’s performance. Properties had been completed at Meadow Close in Bourne, and properties at Trinity Road, Stamford had been completed and allocated. The target of 15 new build Council houses had been achieved.
It was confirmed that a development at Swinegate in Grantham had been through the Planning process for development of Council properties. Flats had also been completed at Riverside in Grantham.
The Committee were reminded that the KPI’s around ‘Housing that meets the needs of all residents’ were set before the previous financial year, when there was limited certainty in terms of direction of travel within the Council’s housing service.
One Member congratulated all Officers involved within the Mental Health Group and works around looking after vulnerable residents.
It was highlighted that successes were notable where targets were subjective rather than specific.
Specific numerical targets were requested on what the Council should expect to achieve over the next 1,2 and 3 years in relation to affordable house building by the Council and by social housing.
The Director of Housing and Property confirmed that the requested figures would ... view the full minutes text for item 6.
Housing Allocation Policy
The Council is the strategic housing authority for the district; the Allocation Policy provides the Council with the framework to manage the allocation of social housing within the District and allows it to meet its legal duties in relation to its housing function. This report seeks Committee scrutiny and comment on a revised Allocations Policy prior to submission for Cabinet consideration.
The Director of Housing and Property presented the report that outlined the Draft Housing Allocation Policy. The policy was a priority in terms of the Council’s homelessness and housing option functions.
The existing policy was adopted in 2019, however, was not up to date in terms of legislation around domestic abuse and the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017. The existing policy was difficult to follow and in some cases contradictory around property bedroom eligibility.
The delivery mechanism of the existing policy was based on matching applicants from the housing register to void properties.
Workshops had taken place for Members to go through some issues and discuss case studies. Feedback had been captured from the workshops and the Council had consulted with registered social landlords and other stakeholders.
The newly refreshed and revised allocation policy had been made easier to follow, by reducing the number of bands to 4 for housing needs. The property eligibility had been refined. There had been a proposal to eventually utilise a choice-based letting system, where a vacant property is advertised, and applicants could bid for the property.
Concern was raised over the choice-based letting system and that some residents may struggle to access the system using technology. A query was raised on how the Council would keep in contact with residents that may not be familiar with technology.
Members sought clarity that the choice-based letting system would not increase void times and void rent loss. Officers confirmed this was not the case.
One Member welcomed the two-way communication improvement outlined within the report as communication in the past had been less than satisfactory.
The Chairman requested further information on the allocation policy timeline of implementation.
The Assistant Director of Housing confirmed that upon adoption of the new allocations policy, the choice-based letting system would then follow a procurement process. If the procurement process was completed by August/September 2022, the system would be live by the end of 2022.
The current system utilised impacted voids as there were a higher number of refusals due to the Council making the choice of a new tenant from the housing register rather than the incoming tenant chosing the property.
In terms of a new choice-based letting system, different suppliers were being explored on the market as part of a procurement exercise. The implementation of the new system would run alongside the current implementation of the Council’s housing management system.
One Member highlighted that the 90-day timeframe for voids between vacation of a property and new occupancy. A query was raised on whether the time of changing heat sources in the houses could be decreased in order to get the houses back on the market.
The Assistant Director of Housing reminded Members that a comprehensive Voids Policy was brought to the Committee at the previous meeting. Void performance in 2021 was just over 83 days, at present the void performance was at 59.02 days for the financial year.
One Member queried as to whether there was a notice period provided by ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
The Director of Housing and Property presented the report that had been a standing item at every Committee meeting during the period of the regulatory notice.
Key points were outlined as set out in the report:
· Conclusion of the full tenant consultation exercise, including ‘The Big Listen Survey’. The survey would feed into the financial figures and will build part of the Council’s HRA business plan.
· Completion of a full stock condition survey in 12 months. The survey would also feed into the financial figures and will build part of the Council’s HRA business plan.
· Tenant feedback (‘Rant and Rave’) had gone live and positive performance and feedback had been received from tenants.
· Aiming to overcome regulatory notice in late 2022 by completing an audit review process.
· The team had continued to meet monthly with the regulator. The previous meeting consisted of positive feedback in terms of progress.
Current figures from the compliance information summary showed improvement. Legionella, gas and electrical were rated amber. Asbestos (re-inspections), fire risk assessments and lift inspections were rated green, meaning they were 100% compliant.
One Member noted that the survey results presented that 25% of people were generally dissatisfied with one aspect. A query was raised on what expectation would be classed as reasonable on a satisfaction survey.
It was confirmed that the Council worked with House Mark, who provide benchmarking services. 85% satisfaction would be the top quartile of performance.
A query was raised on the electrical testing percentage of 86.58% and whether the Council had only tested that number of dwellings or whether that was the number of dwellings compliant.
The Assistant Director of Housing noted that the percentage meant that the Council did not have a valid current certificate, and some properties had not been re-visited within the five-year time scale. It was further reported that 5-10% of properties had access issues.
Legionella testing was carried out via a flushing regime on water taps in communal areas, where the frequency may be reduced. At present, all registered properties were audited and compliant. Legionella testing would be re-surveyed in November 2022.
1. That the Committee notes the latest compliance position following the ongoing meetings with the Regulator of Social Housing.
2. That the Committee receives a further update report at its next scheduled meeting.
Fuel Poverty Update
This report seeks to inform the Committee on current issues in relation to fuel poverty within the district and to advise on current actions and projects being run to address this issue in the housing stock of the district, including within the Council’s own social housing stock.
The Assistant Director of Housing presented the report that outlined current pressures regarding fuel prices and inflation. The government data set out in the report were from 2019/20 and had been set on a regional basis.
The total proportion of fuel per household in East Midlands was 9.2% compared with the highest in the northwest of 14.7% and the lowest in the northeast of 5.5%. The data outlined how fuel poverty was addressed and how it would be quantified around energy efficiency of properties, the income level of households, energy prices and the disposable income available to a household following the costings.
The overall level of fuel poverty in England in 2020 was 13.2%, based on 3.16 million households. Due to the current increase of energy prices, the percentage would have excessively increased.
As a Council and a social landlord with a large stock, the aim would be to help owners and occupiers to access funding available to enhance their properties. Any national funding would be utilised to deliver energy efficiency projects.
Two projects were currently undergoing within the Council: Green Homes Local Authority Delivery (phase 2) and the Sustainable Warmth Fund. A new boiler upgrade scheme was in the process of roll-out.
The second wave of the social housing decarbonisation fund was currently actively being explored.
A query was raised as to why solar energy was not explored when taking into consideration fuel poverty.
It was clarified that solar energy had been referred to as PV (Photovoltaics).
The Chairman queried the timescale of the installation process of new heat pumps.
The Assistant Director of Housing highlighted that it may differ between properties. The replacement of an existing oil-fired system in a serviceable condition would take 2-5 days maximum. However, replacing a storage heating unit or electrical heating would include undertaking works with pipes in the property and would therefore take 2-3 weeks maximum.
It was highlighted that installation of an air source heat pump required an external wall in the property not in contact with habitable space.
Assurance was requested that residents would not be without a source of heating through the colder months.
The Assistant Director of housing reassured the Committee that funding deadlines had been extended for completion until the 31 August 2022, therefore, all eligible properties should be completed by the end of August 2022. The properties with the lowest performance at present had been targeted.
A query was raised in relation to efficiency of various types of heating technologies.
ACTION: For the Assistant Director of Housing to provide data to the Committee on efficiency of various types of heating technologies.
1. Notes the position and current projects ongoing to address this issue.
2. Supports the Council seeking any future additional funding streams and grants to help address this matter.
Homes for Ukraine Scheme Verbal Update
The Committee to receive a verbal update on the Homes for Ukraine Scheme.
The Head of Housing Services provided the Committee with a verbal update in relation to the crisis in Ukraine and the support the Council were offering Ukrainian families.
At the time of the meeting, the Council had 132 hosts that had been identified across the district. 85 families had been accommodated as part of the scheme.
South Kesteven District Council’s responsibilities:
· Ensure that accommodation checks were undertaken.
· Collect information for DBS checks.
· Processing payments for guest arrivals and the hosts.
Lincolnshire County Council’s responsibilities:
· Well-being services.
· Health and education provision.
· DBS check completion.
· Ensuring that families arriving from Ukraine were accessing the appropriate services offered.
The voluntary sector had been supporting host placements as part of the scheme.
It was highlighted that the Council had an internal operational group as part of the district’s offer to address any problems and proactively maintain the placement.
The Chairman thanked host families and all Officers involved for the commitment and hard work on the scheme.
A query was raised on whether the correct paperwork was being sent in efficiently.
It was confirmed that challenges were still faced regarding duplication of information. The Council had a robust processes in place to ensure duplication of information was identified. It was noted that operational issues arose at the beginning of the scheme that had been resolved.
The Chairman queried as to whether the Ukrainian families were being encouraged to become involved in local communities.
The Head of Housing Services assured that there had been a strong community response and voluntary work taking place. It was suggested that more good news stories should be advertised.
ACTION: For the Head of Housing Services to link into community groups to gather and forward positive examples onto the Committee.
One Member noted that he had received an invitation to the Jubilee Church, where 49 Ukrainian residents were due to attend in traditional costumes and perform a dance routine. The event was due to take place on Saturday 25 June between 2pm and 5pm.
To receive the Work Programme 2022-23.
The Committee noted the Work Programme 2022-23.
The Committee requested that the following item be added to the Work Programme:
· Regulatory Compliance (September 2022).
· Capital programme – heating (September 2022).
· Progress report on Housing Allocation Policy and Choice-based lettings (December 2022).
· Communication with tenants across the Council.
The Director of Housing and Property suggested that an item be brought to Committee on the communication with tenants across the Council; including telephone services, out of hours and the new housing management system that had been implemented.
Any other business which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent
There were none.
Close of meeting
The Chairman closed the meeting at 3:54pm.