Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Housing & Community Safety Select Committee (ceased to operate 03/06/2015) Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 26th April, 2012
Time:
2.30pm
Place:
Jim Cooke Suite, Stockton Central Library, Church Road, Stockton-on-Tees, TS18 1AU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Derrick Brown, Cllr Julia Cherrett, Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Robert Gibson, Cllr Mohammed Javed
Officers:
Mike Batty, Jane Edmends, Julie Higgins, Melanie, Howard, Julie Nixon, Linda Stephenson, Caroline Wood(DNS) Graham Birtle, Sarah Whaley(LD)
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Tina Large, Cllr David Wilburn
Item Description Decision
Public
HCS
1/12
EVACUATION PROCEDURE
 
HCS
2/12
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
HCS
3/12
MINUTES FOR SIGNATURE - 5TH JANUARY 2012
AGREED that the minutes be signed.
HCS
4/12
DRAFT MINUTES - 16TH FEBRUARY 2012
AGREED that the minutes be approved.
HCS
5/12
EIT REVIEW OF COMMUNITY SAFETY AND SECURITY SERVICES - ACTION PLAN FOR AGREED RECOMMENDATIONS
AGREED the the Action Plan be approved.
HCS
6/12
HOUSING - SERVICE OVERVIEW
AGREED that the Overview be noted.
HCS
7/12
REVIEW OF TOBACCO CONTROL (PHASE 1)
AGREED that the draft scope and project plan of the review be approved.
HCS
8/12
WORK PROGRAMME
AGREED that

1) the information be noted.

2) the additional meetings be agreed.
HCS
9/12
CHAIR'S UPDATE
AGREED that the information be noted.
2.30pm - 3-40pm

Preamble

ItemPreamble
HCS
1/12
Procedure noted.
HCS
2/12
There were no declarations of interest.
HCS
3/12
Consideration was given to the minutes from the meeting which was held on the 5th January 2012 for signature.
HCS
4/12
Consideration was given to the minutes of the meeting which was held on the 16th February 2012 for approval.
HCS
5/12
Members were presented with the Action Plan setting out how the agreed recommendations from the Efficiency, Improvement & Transformation (EIT) Review would be implemented, and target dates for completion.
HCS
6/12
Members were presented with a Service Overview of Housing Services which focused on their latest achievements, past, present and future challenges, emerging issues and impacts to the service from previous scrutiny reviews.

The Head of Housing highlighted the main key areas as follows:

- Housing - the National Picture
Continuing to promote home ownership.

Supporting people to stay in their own homes.

- The Changing Housing Landscape
Understanding the impact of the Welfare Reform and the Housing Strategy for England.

- Housing Services, Service Area Responsibility
Regeneration schemes, Masterplanning with Victoria.

Successful first time buy initiatives held at Wynyard.

- Private Sector
Issues surrounding long term empty homes and the difficulties faced dealing with them.

Continuous and increasing advice and support given to private sector landlords due to the increased importance of the sector as it continued to grow.

Members were informed that property owners were offered financial incentives to get empty homes returned to occupation. However, owners who refused to work with the Council would be subject to enforcement action being taken against them to bring the properties back into occupation. In the last year, 53 properties were brought back into use.

Committee members heard that 732 privately rented houses had been accredited through the Landlord Accreditation Scheme and 52 Houses in Multiple Occupation (HMOs) had been licensed under the Council's mandatory HMO Licensing Scheme.

153,000 had been secured from the Department of Health to fund the Warm Homes Healthy People Project to prevent excess winter deaths, helping 646 people in 6 weeks.

Adaptations to homes for people with special physical needs are carried out each year, even though the demand continues to far outstrip the available resources.

- Housing Options

The Committee heard that the Housing Options Service had moved positively from a responsive service to a pro-active service helping people live independently.

A lot more clients were using the service who may not have in the past due to their homes being reposessed.

16 vulnerable households were receiving appropriate support and had managed to maintain living independently for a minimum of 6 months.

The service supported those with complex issues. A bespoke service was offered within Holme House prison helping agencies provide positive housing solutions for offenders.

Housing Options had been relocated recently in close proximity to the benefits service which had benefitted both departments. A new IT system was to be introduced in July 2012 which would cut down on paperwork allowing officers to spend more time with clients.

- Benefits Service

It was noted that the benefits service was a high performing low cost service and the target to process new claims was 9.6 days.

An increased number of requests for financial assistance had been received within the service as some residents were struggling to pay for housing which increased the demand for temporary accommodation.

The Service had recently undergone a major change by moving its front line officers to the new contact centre located in Stockton's central library. The move had been received positively and envied by neighbouring authorities.

A dedicated team to recover overpayment of housing benefit was being looked into as part of the recommendations from the EIT Gateway Review of Housing Benefit and Council Tax Benefit Service.

Welfare reform was a major priority. Stockton Borough Council had been highlighted as a possible frontline advice service however there had still been no legislation from the Department of Work and Pensions(DWP).

It was understood however that Universal Credit would be the first migration to DWP which was targeted for October 2013. The 'change of circumstances' process could take up until 2015, and the migration across remaining case loads could be between 2015-17, authority by authority.
It was noted however that the DWP had not yet stated what a 'change in circumstance' would be.

- Successes

The Committee heard that a 72 social rented property scheme had been fully occupied and members were welcome to visit the scheme.

Other schemes included Ingleby Barwick and White Water Glade.

Stockton Borough Council were the National Home Buy Agent for 'Time 2 Buy'.

45 Council residents had been helped onto the property ladder.

300 residents attended an open day at Wynyard showcasing various schemes for residents looking to buy.

Regeneration at Mandale was the most successful in the sub-region.

- Key funding achievements.

Bespoke funding would be continued to be bid for year on year.

The authority would continue to work closely with registered providers and other services within the authority so no funding opportunities were missed.
HCS
7/12
Consideration was given to the Scope and Project Plan of the review of Tobacco Control.

The main issues that would be covered by the review included:

Phase 1 - to examine the supply of tobacco

Phase 2 - health issues surrounding

Following the tripartite meeting it was agreed that the initial presentation would cover both aspects of the review.

Members were asked to consider a further 2 meetings prior to the August recess as follows:

21st June 2012 and 5th July 2012.
HCS
8/12
The Scrutiny Officer informed members that an overview of Community Safety would be presented at the next meeting. A police represeantative would also be present.
HCS
9/12
Following the presentation of the Community Safety Review at Cabinet it was highlighted that the review be considered at a future Executive Scrutiny meeting to be held in July 2012.

An additional piece of work would then be undertaken following the findings of Executive Scrutiny which would include the perception that the local communtiy had of the service.

Can't find it

Can't find what you're looking for? Let us know and we'll do our best to point you in the right direction