Agenda item

Verbal Update from Cabinet Members

Verbal updates throughout Covid-19 pandemic, on the current situation:

·       Garden Maintenance

·       Frozen Pipes

·       Disabled Facilities Grants

·       Housing Repairs

·       Homelessness

·       Local Lessons from Covid-19

·       Stop the Knock

Minutes:

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Planning delivered updates on the following subjects to the Committee.

 

Garden Maintenance Scheme

The draft garden maintenance scheme for 2020/21 was almost complete and would be brought to the committee for scrutiny at the meeting on the 11 September 2020. Garden maintenance works had been interrupted due to staff being seconded to critical roles during Covid-19 and this had resulted in a backlog of work that was to be completed as staff returned to their substantive roles. The Cabinet Member wished to convey his thoughts to the wellbeing of residents who may have been affected by the suspension of garden maintenance.  

 

Frozen Pipes

Frozen pipes occur at temperatures below -11°c and the council had identified 200 properties that were at risk. Work had been completed to remedy this issue in all but 27 properties. The work to resolve these issues had been suspended during Covid-19 and would be restarting on 1 July 2020.

 

Disabled Facilities Grants

Work had been suspended for all but the most critical cases during lockdown. The Cabinet Member informed the committee that there were twenty cases ready for site work to be completed. However, processing of applications continued in preparation for the restarting of works.  The installation of stairlifts and external works had now resumed (following Covid-19 risk assessments for each case and then only with the full agreement of the applicant).  Other works were expected to re-commence from 29 June.  20 cases were ready for works to be started on site and it was expected that Occupational Therapists would re-start assessments shortly.  The demand for Disabled Facilities Grants had not reduced, however, there would be a “lag” as Occupational Therapy assessments started to come through and contractors returned to work.  Members thanked the staff who facilitated disabled facilities grants and installed equipment and thanked them for the excellent work that they carry out for South Kesteven residents.

 

Housing Repairs

Members were informed that the focus remained on conducting urgent repairs. These were repairs which must be completed within twenty-four hours of being reported. Some external non-urgent repairs had started from 1 June 2020 and it was planned to start some internal routine repairs from 1 July 2020. There was a backlog of repairs and work had started to prioritize the backlog and in doing so to consider the individual needs and vulnerabilities of residents. A member asked if dangerous cladding was an issue within the district and the Cabinet Member stated that any issues with cladding had been resolved in a previous project.

 

Homelessness

All approaches for accommodation as a result of homelessness made to the council during lockdown had been offered accommodation and put into some form of temporary housing. This had incurred additional costs as the council’s supply of temporary accommodation had initially been exceeded in a three-week spike in demand at the beginning of April. At that point, alternative accommodation options such as bed and breakfasts had been used. Minor voids had been used as accommodation and this had required additional work to bring these properties back to a fit for purpose state after being used. This was due in part to recycling centres and charity shops having been closed during lockdown, resulting in some residents leaving items behind which required disposal. Members enquired about the work to offer permanent housing to the homeless. The Cabinet Member explained that often demand for housing decreased during the warmer summer months, as for various reasons some homeless people either are unable to, or do not wish to enter permanent accommodation. He went on to mention the work of the Housing Solutions team in preventative measures to avoid rough sleeping for those at risk of becoming homeless. The committee also heard that the district has been asked to take in a number of early release prisoners and were working closely with Lincolnshire County Council in creating solutions for these cases.

The Cabinet Member for Finance and Resources was unable to attend the Committee meeting, and the following update was provided on his behalf:

 

Stop the Knock

The committee heard that work on this project had been suspended during the Covid-19 pandemic, but it was believed that a report was due to be considered by the Cabinet in September 2020.

 

The Cabinet Member for Communities provided updates on the following areas:

 

Local Lessons Learned from Covid-19

Members heard of the work undertaken by the Communications team in using social media to spread government guidance on staying safe. The Committee wished to ensure that citizens did not become complacent or underestimate the dangers posed by Covid-19.

 

The Assistant Chief Executive – Housing Delivery went on to talk about the lessons learned from working in the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum and the advantages that such a partnership gave in information and experience sharing across the region. As time progressed system changes took place within the forum which had increased understanding and better differentiated areas of responsibility between the organisations involved. Members heard that the Lincolnshire Resilience Forum continued to work together and meet on a weekly basis which allowed for lessons learned to be shared between authorities. 

 

Members were informed that the Deputy Leader was overseeing the councils work to provide support, information and marshalling to assist businesses and help them comply with social distancing rules. The Chair asked for a verbal update on this work from the Deputy Leader at a future meeting. The committee asked if the reduced presence of marshals in recent weeks could have led to members of the public not following the two-metre distancing guidance while queuing for shops within the district. The Cabinet Member agreed that it was concerning that residents were not following the guidance. The committee heard that the approach of Lincolnshire Police had continued unchanged, and that they were now starting to adapt their response as government guidance was updated. The CCTV (Closed Circuit Television) team had been working closely with Lincolnshire Police to identify areas where social distancing rules were not being adhered to. A member spoke of their concerns that residents were not taking suitable precautions such as wearing face coverings and gloves. Committee members expressed their thanks to officers of the council for their hard work during the restrictions and also thanked key workers such as those working in the NHS. 

 

ACTIONS

 

The draft 2020/21 Garden Maintenance scheme to be considered at the meeting on 10 September 2020.

 

The Deputy Leader to provide a verbal update at the meeting on 10 September 2020 on the work to support local businesses