Overview & Scrutiny Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 19th January, 2017
Time:
7.30 pm
Place:
New Council Chamber, Town Hall, Reigate
 

Attendance Details

Present:
Councillors B.A. Stead (Chairman), Mrs R.H. Absalom, R. Ashford, M. Blacker, R. Coad, J.M. Ellacott*, J.C.S Essex, J.S. Godden, Dr Z. Grant-Duff, N.D. Harrison, R.S. Mantle, S. Parnall, Mrs D.A. Ross-Tomlin, J.M. Stephenson and C. Stevens.

*Substitute
Also Present:
Councillor R. Renton.
Min NoDescriptionResolution
Part I
40 MINUTES

A correction was agreed to the minutes of the last meeting and it was agreed to change the final sentence of the first paragraph on page 6 to read “”reformulated as a request to the Chief Executive”.


In respect of the report referred to in the minutes, the Chairman confirmed that he, the Leader of the Council, the Leader of the Conservative Group, and the Chief Executive had agreed that the issues raised in the requested report were beyond the remit of the Overview & Scrutiny Committee and that the appropriate course of action was to circulate a report directly to all Members, which had been done.


RESOLVED that the amended Minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2016 be approved as a correct record.
 

41 APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE AND SUBSTITUTIONS

Committee Members: Cllr J. Clarke (substituted by Cllr J.M. Ellacott)


Other Members: None
 

42 DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST

None.

43 PORTFOLIO HOLDER BRIEFING

The Committee received a presentation from Councillor Mrs R. Renton, Executive Member for Housing, which addressed each workstream in the portfolio and noted in particular:


• Sustaining the increase in homelessness preventions for the year to date as compared to last year;


• Addressing challenges anticipated when the Homelessness Reduction Bill comes into force, in particular budget pressures;


• The work of the Family Support Team and the recognition of the high quality of work undertaken and changes achieved by the team;


• Revenues, Benefits & Fraud Service work internally and their revenue generating external work; and


• Raven Housing Trust’s Strategic Partnership Agreement with the Council and the changes to the relationship and governance as a result of this arrangement.


Questions and comments related to:


• Raven Housing Trust’s affordable home building commitment and confirmation that the 75% nomination rights held by the Council were being retained;


• The availability of comparative data available regarding length of stay in Emergency and Temporary Accommodation for homeless residents in this borough, in the county and nationally. National data was not available but officers would look into the availability of data held by the Council and other Surrey local authorities;


• The reasons for homelessness and how the Council provides support to address the different needs of residents at risk of homelessness;


• The reasons for which homelessness applications are rejected and the assistance, beyond statutory obligations, provided by the Council to those individuals whose applications had been rejected;


• The reasons for which families were housed in emergency accommodation outside the borough and how the Council was working to find solutions that avoided families being placed outside the borough whenever possible;


• Action being taken to mitigate, so far as possible, the effects of the Homelessness Reduction Bill, Universal Credit, and the benefits cap; and


• Details of the current welfare, social and employment situation and future prospects for the Syrian families living in the borough.


The Committee thanked the Portfolio Holder for the presentation and for responding to its questions. The Chairman particularly congratulated Cllr Mrs Renton and the Housing team for its achievements to date and for an excellent presentation which covered the most complicated portfolio.


RESOLVED that the presentation be noted.
 

44 HOMELESSNESS STRATEGY 2017

The Committee noted the significant work that had been carried out to produce the Homelessness Strategy 2017-2021 including the Homelessness Review work. The Committee agreed to focus upon the provisions of the Homelessness Strategy 2017-2021document.


Questions and comments related to:


• How an increase in supply of affordable private rented accommodation available to people at risk of homelessness would be achieved;


• Future reviews of the Homelessness Strategy, which it was confirmed would occur after the Homelessness Reduction Bill came into force and annually;


• The high number of single male homelessness applicants, which was a new theme that was emerging due to family breakdowns leading to the homelessness of the male;


• The intention the recruit a member of staff to manage the Emergency Accommodation being developed by the Council and the methods to minimise the impact, if any, upon any residents already living in the vicinity of the Emergency Accommodation;


• How the Council would work with external providers, such as Community Debt Advice, to educate residents in respect of personal finance management, especially those affected by the benefits cap and/or Universal Credit; and


• How having a substantial number of Stakeholders resulted in a better service for residents because each had particular expertise that could be harnessed, which was more efficient than a small number of agencies or the Council itself attempting to offer advice and resources on wide-ranging subjects.


The Chairman thanked the Portfolio Holder and the Officers for producing an excellent and thorough report.


RESOLVED that the Homelessness Strategy Review 2017-2021 be noted.
 

45 EXECUTIVE

It was reported that there were no items arising from the Executive that might be subject to the ‘call-in’ procedure in accordance with the provisions of the Overview and Scrutiny Procedure Rules.

46 ANY OTHER URGENT BUSINESS

The Chairman noted that there had been two Overview and Scrutiny Committee meetings added to the Schedule of Meetings and advised that the additional dates were 15 February 2018 and 19 April 2018.

The meeting closed at 9:32 p.m.