The Committee is requested to consider the draft Housing strategy and makes any recommendations prior to its presentation to Cabinet and Council.
Mr Ivan Western, Housing Delivery Manager presented the report. Mrs Linda Grange, Divisional Manager for Housing to the Committee was also present to answer questions.
As an overview Mr Western explained that the strategy has been developed in four parts;
· Scene setting
· Overview of the Local Housing Market
· Corporate Plan Objectives – there are three in relation to housing
· The Matrix – this takes the three corporate plan objectives and identifies under each objective a further eight separate strategic housing objectives.
The Committee asked the following questions;
· How is the benchmark for the annual rough sleeper count calculated? Mr Western explained that the figure used was from the annual count conducted in November; this is a verified count with agreed criteria.
· Why has the number of rough sleepers increased? Mrs Grange informed the Committee that the number of rough sleepers varies between 12 and 20. She advised the Committee that a significant amount of action was been taken to address the issue. The aspirations and figures cited in the report are from the Governments National Strategy.
· What can be done to eliminate rough sleeping within the District? Mrs Bushby, Divisional Manager, Communities, explained that unfortunately rough sleeping is not something that can be eliminated, work is been done to reduce the number of rough sleepers to the minimum. However, there are some individuals who choose to live this way and do not engage with the services available.
· During the cold weather how many rough sleepers made use of the accommodation offered? Mrs Grange was unable to give exact figures, but informed the Committee that 10 individuals could be accommodated in an emergency.
· Why has a comparison been made with other counties? Mr Western informed the Committee that the comparison was referring to the number of homes developed through community based organisations. In Chichester a specific target has been identified to support community led housing within the district. Mr Western highlighted that within the UK this type of development is quite radical.
· What work has been done to ensure tenants experience a consistent and adequate level of service from Hyde? Mr Western informed the Committee that work had been undertaken to improve the way members can assist residents experiencing difficulties with Hyde. However, Mr Western highlighted that the purpose of the strategy was not to set out a mandate for how Hyde (and other service providers) maintain their properties.
In addition to Mr Western’s answer, Mr Moss reminded that Committee that Hyde were attending a future Overview and Scrutiny meeting and that the concerns raised could be put directly to them at that meeting.
· Affordable housing within the District is 80% of rent, this is not affordable, is it not possible to deliver more social affordable homes? Mr Western explained that the definition used for Affordable Housing is set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Going forward the aspiration is to deliver a greater number of social affordable homes
· How are the issues surrounding welfare reform and universal credits being managed? Mr Western assured the Committee that this was a key issue for social landlords and had been addressed within the Housing Strategy, under the prevention of Homelessness.
· Could further detail be provided on the services being jointly commissioned with WSCC? Mr Western explained that the WSCC budget has been reduced from £6 million to £2 million, with the service reductions coming into effect this year. CDC has worked with both WSCC and other District and Borough Councils to identify and RAG rate services. CDC is looking to co-commission services such as; the support offered to high risk offenders and the independent living scheme. Mr Western agreed that a summary document could be included within the strategy outlining what the changes mean to CDC and where there are key differences.
· Is Homemove an outsourced provider and what IT support is there for users? Mr Western confirmed that Homemove is managed by an outside agency, it is internet based and help can be provided to users if required.
· How does the Affordable Housing Grant work? Mr Western explained that the affordable housing grant is a payment made by developers in lieu of developing affordable housing. This money is held in a ring fenced account and is used only for the delivery of affordable housing.
· Is there an opportunity that specific ‘skills sets’ could be added to the housing register in order to encourage people to the area? Mr Western explained that to be on the housing register there must be a local connection.
· Is it possible to encourage the development of Extra Care Housing schemes at large development sites? Mr Western agreed that Extra Care housing could be delivered at a number of the larger development sites, however, there would need to be support from the developers.
· How easy is it to introduce adaptions to old housing stock, in order for individuals to remain at an address? Mr Western explained that Hyde have proposed an Investment Strategy to audit existing stock which will look to address this question.
· On page 12 should there not be a tick in the Crime and Disorder box? Mr Western confirmed that they could tick the Crime and Disorder box on page 12.
· On page 15 could higher density be included as a recommendation? Mr Western explained that this is a planning policy issue and not addressed through housing strategy.
· Does CDC have an empty homes policy? Mr Western informed the Committee that there was no current policy, but there is a preferred approach and funding is available to assist in bringing empty homes back on the market.
· On page 24 have excess summer mortality rates be considered? Mr Western was unable to comment on heat related deaths, figures cited in the report are provided by Public Health.
· Can Community Land Trusts be developed in urban sites? Mr Western advised that there was no reason Community Land Trusts not to be developed in urban areas.
· Why is the desired number of affordable homes so low? Mr Western explained that the Housing Strategy target is 1000 homes over five years (167 per annum). Mrs Grange added that there can be a delay in the delivery of affordable housing therefore when assessing what future targets should be an account must be taken of what sites are due to come forward and what sites are identified within the Local Plan. There are currently 732 affordable units due to be delivered, therefore an extra 268 units need to be found.
· How are ‘genuinely’ affordable homes assessed? Mr Western explained that these are the homes that are let on social rents. Mr Western offered to provide a more detailed written response to the question due to its complex nature.
Mr Moss thanked Mr Western and Mrs Grange.
That Overview and Scrutiny make any comments on the draft Housing Strategy and recommend it to Cabinet and Council for adoption.