The Chair stated “following concerns raised nationally about ‘Large Panel System’ high-rise blocks, we’re commissioning new surveys to give us a general overview of our buildings and make sure records are up to date.”
Coalition Comment: Progress?
Item 38.8: In response to a question the Chair stated “the highest service charge contribution passed on for major works has been £30,500.”
Coalition Comment: Has this been confirmed as accurate?
Item 38.20: In response to a question concerning legal action by the council against tenants on the Bristol Estate the Chair claimed “The council’s total legal costs for legal arrears recovery, for advice, and for litigation, including tribunal costs, and expert witness costs, for 2018/19 to date are £83,875.
In terms of the specific costs for the Bristol Estate Phase 2 tribunal case the total cost of legal work on this was £126,996. This includes solicitors, counsel & expert witness. There were no internal charges.
Coalition Comment: How can there be no internal costs? Independent verification of costs is required. Charges refunded to residents amounted to a further £120,000+
Item 38.40: In response to a question on the Hyde/BHCC proposed property development the Chair said “Public consultation has taken place on all three sites with planning applications due by the end of this year.
Coalition Comment: Upon what basis was this claim made?
Item 38.48: In response to a question on “Seaside Homes” the Chair claimed “The 499 properties transferred to Seaside Homes on long leases and were also refurbished. The rents did move from HRA social rents to Local Housing Allowance rent levels.
These are higher than social housing rents because the landlord was no longer the council and for the financial model to work, rents needed to be at the higher rate”
Coalition Comment: As this appears to be an error of fact, the “financial model” needs to be published or accurate information provided
SUPPORT SERVICE FOR PEOPLE IN TEMPORARY ACCOMMODATION
Proposals were requested to look at how the council “can build on the support work that the Welfare Officers had been providing to help vulnerable homeless people living in temporary and emergency accommodation”
The report is remarkably insightful and points out that “Becoming homeless is very stressful“ and that “There is evidence to suggest that, over the past couple of years, there is an increase in the level of multiple and complex needs that people who are becoming homeless are experiencing.”
This is reflected in an increase in the number of people who have died while resident in emergency or temporary accommodation. There is a case to be made for increasing support for these households which would not only benefit them but may also reduce longer term demands on statutory services”
Coalition Comment: The report states there are just under 1700 households currently in emergency and temporary accommodation
The recommendation is “that £0.250m is added to the council’s 2019/20 budget proposals in order to expand the options for providing support for people in emergency and temporary accommodation for one year only.”
Coalition Comment: Pathetic! In other words; feeble, woeful, sorry, poor, pitiful, lamentable, deplorable, miserable, wretched, contemptible, despicable, inadequate, meagre, paltry, insufficient, negligible, insubstantial, unsatisfactory, worthless
SUPPORT FOR PEOPLE ACCOMMODATED AT KENDAL COURT, NEWHAVEN
Coalition Comment: It is surprising that such a report has been published as it answers none of the serious questions and ignores any attempt at finding ways to improve the situation. To repeat the Coalition comments from November 2018 “This “report” is unworthy of such a serious issue….it is impossible to know if the figures are accurate.
There has been no attempt to identify urgent changes required to protocols and procedures and no information on comparisons between the demographics of those who died and the wider population or those who are homeless in order to assess the seriousness of the situation.
The report should be referred back with professionals requested to provide guidelines for the production of a comprehensive and robust report
HOMELESS MOVE ON ACCOMMODATION
The proposed scheme is the development of the former Hollingbury Library to comprise 13 self-contained one person units for use as move-on accommodation for those ready for intermediate support
“The flats have been designed as self-contained accommodation, so that in the future they may be let to households on the Housing Register who require permanent accommodation which is in high demand.”
PROPOSAL FOR ENVIRONMENTAL IMPROVEMENT BUDGET
£500,000 per year over three years for improvements to communal areas.
HOUSING MANAGEMENT PERFORMANCE REPORT QUARTER 2 2018/19
In this period 285 tenants were served a Notice of Seeking Possession compared with 155 in the previous quarter
Universal Credit – affected tenants: 819 (699 previous quarter) Arrears due to Universal Credit – £367,000 (£260,000)
This report also contains information on the major projects programme as of 1 October 2018 covering;
Major works are mostly carried our by Mears.
Holmstead – structural repairs Tyson Place and St John’s Mount – structural repairs Wickhurst Rise – structural repairs Park Court – external repairs Ingram Crescent balconies – structural repairs Sylvan Hall – external repairs Ellen Street low rises – structural repairs Saxonbury – structural repairs 1-4 Hawkhurst Place Oxford Street – conversion St Aubyns Gardens – external repairs Unity Housing phase 1 (Condensation and damp works) Leach Court – structural repairs v St James’ House car park Holbrook and Downford – roofing Somerset Point – windows and external decoration – –
HOUSING REVENUE ACCOUNT BUDGET AND CAPITAL INVESTMENT PROGRAMME 2019/20 AND MEDIUM TERM FINANCIAL STRATEGY
It’s Budget time!
Coalition Comment: This will be subject to a separate and more detailed briefing. At this stage however the proposals are remarkable for their absence of innovation and lack of urgency in tackling our housing crisis in Brighton and Hove.
HOME PURCHASE POLICY OPPORTUNITY – APPROPRIATION OF 84 COOMBE ROAD, BRIGHTON
A property already owned by the Council requires a report to justify transfer of monies from one council account to another with added arguments as to why Social Rents are not possible! (worthy of yet another reference to Franz Kafka)
BRISTOL ESTATE PHASE 2 – FIRST TIER TRIBUNAL DECISION
It is to be welcomed that Councillors are to be officially informed of aggressive legal action taken in their name against residents of our City
It would be in the interests of residents and Councillors and of benefit to the finances of our local authority if this report is referred back with instructions to bring a report to the next Housing Committee that can be endorsed by officers, residents, and independent legal opinion.
PRIVATE RENTED SECTOR UPDATE
The purpose of this report is to update Housing & New Homes Committee on the following matters in relation to Private Rented Sector activity:
- Progress with current private rented sector licensing activity
- Recent legal rulings surrounding licence fees
- Progress with the Rent Smart initiative
HRA HOUSING CAP: EXTRACT FROM THE PROCEEDINGS OF THE COUNCIL MEETING HELD ON THE 13 DECEMBER 2018
“This council resolves:
- To call upon the Chair of Housing to bring a report to the next meeting of the Housing & New Homes Committee, on 16th January 2019, that details a revised policy in the light of changes to HRA Borrowing Cap and the failure of current policies to achieve replacement of truly affordable social rents lost under the ‘Right to Buy.’ (RTB);
- 2. Since LGA research reveals councils have only been able to replace 1 in 5 homes sold under the RTB since 2011/12, to ask that the Chief Executive writes to the Secretary of State, requesting the option for councils to suspend RTB sales in areas where there is a shortage of affordable homes;
- That the Chief Executive writes to the Secretary of State asking that the 30% limit on investment of RTB receipts in affordable housing be lifted; and that councils are able to include the full value of council land in the cost of building, thereby enabling scope for providing new homes at living and social rents.”
The Mayor confirmed that the motion had been carried by 28 votes to 18 with no abstentions.