Venue: Council Chamber - Civic Offices. View directions
The Chairman will read the following announcement:
“I would like to remind everyone present that this meeting will be broadcast live to the internet (or filmed) and will be capable of repeated viewing (or another use by such third parties).
Therefore, by entering the Conference Suite and using the seating area, you are consenting to being filmed and to the possible use of those images and sound recordings for webcasting and/or training purposes.”
The Chairman reminded everyone present that this meeting would be broadcast live to the Internet, and that the Council had adopted a protocol for the webcasting of its meetings.
To report the appointment of any substitute members for the meeting.
The Committee noted that there were no substitute members.
Declarations of Interest
To declare interests in any item on the agenda.
There were no declarations of interest pursuant to the Council’s Members’ Code of Conduct.
To agree the notes of the meeting of the Select Committee held on 11 January 2022.
That the notes of the previous meeting held on 21 September 2021 were agreed as a correct record.
It was noted that a lead officer and list of Partnerships should be provided to the Committee, to ensure that the work programme for 2022/23 could be developed.
(Chairman/Lead Officer) The Overview and Scrutiny Committee have agreed the Terms of Reference and work programme for this Select Committee.
Members are invited at each meeting to review both documents.
The following updates have been given for items 18 Data Insight led review of customer service outlets and19 Digital Inclusion (attached).
S Lewis updated the Committee on the following items set out in the work programme, which were attached to the agenda;
· Data insight led review of customer service outlets
· Civic & Community Hub
· Digital Inclusion
It was noted that a report with regards to Cash payment solutions and Broadway office a report would be presented in-conjunction with a housing report in the new municipal year.
The Committee noted the Terms of reference and the Work Programme.
(J Gould) To consider the attached report regarding the Allocation Scheme Review.
The Community and Wellbeing Service Director, J Gould presented the revised Housing Allocations Scheme for 2022- 2027.
She advised the Committee that as a Local Housing Authority, Epping Forest District Council had a statutory duty to publish a Housing Allocations Scheme that would determine priorities and the procedure to be followed, when selecting a household to be offered a tenancy of Council owned accommodation or to be nominated for an offer of housing from another registered provider with stock in the District.
The Council was required to review the scheme at least once every five years and the current scheme was due for renewal by April 2022, along with the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy, the Tenancy Policy and the Overarching Housing Strategy.
A review of the policies commenced in May 2021 which included a co-ordinated 2-stage statutory consultation exercise.
There were 5 proposed major changes which could affect the relative priority of a large number of applicants or a significant alteration in the following areas;
· Medical priorities
· Under occupiers
· Homeless households
· Local lettings plans
· Serious unacceptable behaviour including rent arrears
In addition to the above, there were 11 minor changes recommended which either related to the major changes or were standalone proposals that may have not ordinarily warrant widescale public consultation but had been included for completeness, including;
· Priority Date
· Direct offers and auto-bidding for priority Band A
· Downsizers and the refusal of offers
· Domestic abuse
· Offer Policy
· Applications from staff or Members of the Council or their relatives
· Definition of Household
· Priority transfers and management transfers
· Priority Bands
· Data Protection and Sharing of Information
· Improving access to Social Housing for victims of Domestic Abuse
The Committee asked and made the following questions and remarks;
· Were two bed-homes mostly demanded?; and what were the possible reason for this? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that the demand for 2 bed homes had been quite high for a number of years and had been driven by the requirement for children sharing bedrooms and the housing benefits regulations.
The Annual Letting report 2021, demonstrated that the majority of EFDC lets were one and two bed properties and that the demand for two and three bedroom accommodation was fairly even.
· The inclusion of applications for staff or Members of the Council or their relatives to be included within the policy was noted.
· Would young people who had lived and studied in the District before leaving for other purposes such as education be affected by the 3.8.2 Residency criteria? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that there had been overwhelming support for the 7 year residency requirement. Although where people had no other local connection elsewhere and had a housing need where they were either homeless or threaten with homelessness they had protection under the homelessness legislation. The Housing Services Portfolio Holder advised that many students remained on the electoral register when at university and therefore would still be eligible to go onto the housing register. The Community and Wellbeing Service ... view the full minutes text for item 38.
The Community and Wellbeing Service Director, J Gould presented the revised Homelessness and Rough Sleepers Strategy 2022-2027 and the evidence base that supported the strategy which included the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping review and the Public Consultation Outcome Report. The current strategy had been published in August 2018 and was due for renewal in April 2022.
A review of all four strategies and policies commenced in May 2021 and this draft strategy was being presented to Cabinet along with the draft Allocations Scheme and draft Tenancy Policy for the same 5-year period.
The Committee asked and made the following questions and remarks;
· Do rough sleepers in the District have the right to refuse help? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that was correct, although officers would go back to the person to try and engage with them.
· How did the Council deal with a person who refused assistant, although it was felt that they required it? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that a multi-agency approach would be taken to produce an action plan for that person. In addition to this, a NHS Mental Health Navigator had been co-located within the Homelessness Team to assist with people with mental health issues. It was noted that any legal powers that involved the Police, would be a last resort.
· Did the Council still benefit from the Essex Countywide Traveller Unit services? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that she would find out and inform the Councillor via email.
· What measures were used to calculate deprivation? The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that the deprivation information would have come from the deprivation indices, which would be referenced in the final document.
· It was mentioned that there were many boat moorings situated around the District.
(1) That the Committee noted the five proposed priorities and associated themes within the draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2022 – 2027 at Appendix 1;
(2) That the Committee noted the findings and recommended the publication of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Review (Appendix 2) to Cabinet for approval;
(3) That the Committee noted the recommendation to delegate authority to the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Property to consider and approve the annual update of the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy Action Plan;
(4) That the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for 2022-2027 would be reviewed no later than 5 years after the date of publication; and
(5) That the Committee noted and praised the way Stakeholders and Members had been involved in the consultation and review of the all policies and strategies.
To consider the attached report regarding the Tenancy Policy Review.
The Community and Wellbeing Service Director, J Gould advised that as a stockholding Local Housing Authority, Epping Forest District Council had a statutory duty to publish both a Tenancy Strategy or framework. This set out the matters to which the registered providers of social housing within its district were to have regard to when formulating their tenancy policies, and a Tenancy Policy with regards to its own stock. The current Tenancy Policy was due for review by July 2022.
The draft Tenancy Policy had two proposed amendments to take account of legislative changes along with the draft Allocations Scheme and draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy for the same 5-year period.
The proposals for the overarching Housing Strategy were due to be presented to Committee in July 2022.
The Committee made the following comments;
· That although it was understood why flexible tenancies were put forward in the policy, it was felt that the advantages to secure tenancies would give tenants a certain degree of certainty and contribute to the community.
· Could clarity be given on what discretion there was for tenancy succession, if a succession had already taken place. The Community and Wellbeing Service Director advised that she would look at the wording and advise members if there were any changes made.
(1) That the Committee noted the reviewed Tenancy Policy;
(2) That the two amendments to the terms of the current policy which reflected the Council’s statutory obligations be recommended to Cabinet;
(3) That the Tenancy Policy for the period 2022-2027 be recommended to Cabinet;
(4) That the publication of the draft refreshed Tenancy Policy 2022 -2027 (Appendix 1) be recommended to Cabinet; and
(5) That the Committee noted and praised the way Stakeholders and Members had been involved in the consultation and review of all the policies and strategies.
DATES OF FUTURE MEETINGS
To note that the next meeting of the Select Committee will be held at 7.00pm on 22 March 2022.
The Committee noted that the date of the next meeting would be 22 March 2022.