Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Wellbeing Committee - Wednesday 25th January 2023 6.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Arun Civic Centre, Maltravers Road, Littlehampton, BN17 5LF. View directions

Contact: Carley Lavender 

Media

Items
No. Item

599.

Apologies

Minutes:

          There were no apologies.

600.

Declarations of Interest

Members and Officers are invited to make any declaration of pecuniary, personal and/or prejudicial interests that they may have in relation to items on this agenda, and are reminded that they should re-declare their interest before consideration of the items or as soon as the interest becomes apparent.

 

Members and Officers should make their declaration by stating:

 

a)             the item they have the interest in

b)             whether it is a pecuniary/personal interest and/or prejudicial interest

c)             the nature of the interest

 

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest made.

601.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 124 KB

The Committee will be asked to approve as a correct record the minutes of the Housing and Wellbeing Services Committee held on 6 December 2022.

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of the Housing & Wellbeing Committee held on 6 December 2022 were approved by the Committee as a correct record with the Chair confirming that she would sign these at the conclusion of the meeting.

602.

ITEMS NOT ON THE AGENDA THAT THE CHAIRMAN OF THE MEETING IS OF THE OPINION SHOULD BE CONSIDERED AS A MATTER OF URGENCY BY REASON OF SPECIAL CIRCUMSTANCES

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that there were no items for this meeting.

 

603.

Public Question Time

To receive questions from the public (for a period of up to 15 minutes).

Minutes:

The Chair confirmed that no questions had been submitted for this meeting.

 

604.

Artswork Project Update pdf icon PDF 109 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Wellbeing & Communities Manager introduced the report and Beccy East, Programme Manager from Arun Inspires who provided members with a detailed presentation.

 

          The Chair thanked Beccy for her interesting and exciting presentation and invited members to ask any questions they had.

 

It was commented that the report and presentation contained a lot of detail, which was a joy to hear and look at.  

 

One member queried the number of children that had access to the project and what was the advertisement plan and did this include reaching out to the wider community through parish councils. Beccy confirmed that in terms of promotion it was targeted towards those at risk through schools. Over the last 2 years they had worked 18 local primary schools across the district and the plan was to keep reaching out to new areas of the district. However, a high focus would remain with those who were vulnerable or classed as at risk. She explained that working with Care Council and other youth groups who specifically located in areas of high deprivation. It was confirmed that a target to reach 1,000 children locally year on year was in place. Alongside a further target to work with at least 100 children locally to help them achieve credited qualifications in addition to GCSEs. The aim was to spread this work over the entire district but with a priority to target those most at risk in the first instance.

 

The Chair stated that the work being completed through this project was really important for the young people of the district, especially after the pandemic. The work Beccy and the team were delivering was vital and she thanked them for it.

 

          The recommendation was then proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Thurston,

 

          The Committee

 

                     RESOLVED

 

That the funding of £30,000 per year to support the Arun Inspires Programme (phase two) in 2023/24, 2024/25 and 2025/26 subject to satisfactory reviews and the availability of Council resources be approved.

 

605.

Sussex Police Precept pdf icon PDF 88 KB

The Sussex Police and Crime Panel are meeting on the 27 January 2023 to consider the Sussex Police Precept for 2023 – 24.  This report provides the opportunity for Committee Members to express their views on the proposed precept. 

 

Minutes:

(Councillor Gregory arrived at the meeting during this item.)

 

The Wellbeing & Communities Manager introduced the report and advised members that the scheduled Police and Crime Panel meeting to be held on 27 January 2023 would consider the precept for 2023/24 and the proposed precept report was published on the Police & Crime Panel website on 20 January 2023, she confirmed that this was circulated to Members the same day. She then outlined some key findings from the public consultation as well as confirming that there was a proposed £15 per annum household increase on Band D property. She confirmed that the Chair (Cllr Pendleton) would be in attendance at the meeting to be held on 27 January 2023 and that this was the committee’s opportunity to express any views they had and provide feedback to the Chair ahead of the meeting.

 

The Chair then invited members to make any comments they had a summary of the points raised by Councillor Haywood is below;

 

·                It was good to see priority 1 strengthened for local Policing most will agree it is local policing that people are worried about, particularly when it comes to youths in local areas. Parishes would welcome any physical presence of police that they can have. A local ballroom dancing club now had to lock itself in when it performs due to youth aggravation and anti-social behaviour in the area. More PCSOs to tackle this behaviour would also be welcomed.

·                Support for the £15 per annum for Band D properties as it was understood that local Policing was needed.

·                Overall the report contained great aspirations, however there was a fear these would not be achieved.

 

The Chair confirmed that Councillor Haywood had identified two important areas with her comments, and she would raise these at the meeting. She knows that more local Policing is what members and residents want, but this would be managed against the requirement to focus on national issues, eg. drug issues, it was important for the Police to break the county lines and stop cuckooing as well as being important for local residents that drug dealing in their local areas was also focused and minimised.  

 

Councillor Thurston advised the committee that the local PCSO in her area was doing a brilliant job and had been able to respond to community concerns very quickly. Because of this she was also supportive for an increase in Police Officers. She also commented that PCSOs noticed that the Community Engagement Strategy had been very much improved.

 

The Chair made comment on the importance of good communication with local Police Officers, in particular understanding where they are located and what they will be doing during their time in that location. However, Councillor Yeates highlighted that she was aware of the difficulties with the 101 service, from the length of time to answer an incoming call, to being cut off once through to an individual. It was felt that there needed to be a shift in the way people were able to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 605.

606.

Housing Revenue Account Business Plan (HRABP) pdf icon PDF 179 KB

This report provides the annual update on the baseline position for the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan projections. The HRA Business Plan forecasts income, expenditure, investment and borrowing in respect of council housing stock over a 30-year period.

 

Minutes:

The Interim Head of Housing introduced his report and advised members that the Housing Revenue Account Business Plan (HRABP) report was required to be updated annually and that the objective of the plan was to increase housing stock and ensure stock was fit for purpose. He confirmed that there were some challenges to overcome in terms of reducing cost while achieving efficiency gains. He informed members that a review of charging for services would be undertaken to increase cost recovery. He also advised that there was a need for a greater use of borrowed finance from the HRA capital programme.

 

The Chair then introduced Glenn Smith from Housing Finance Associates Ltd who stated that an annual update of the HRABP allowed for officers to take a longer-term view of pressures and opportunities facing the HRA. Confirming that the current position was presenting differently than previous years as the world had changed. Inflationary pressures had hit the HRA severely not just at this council but nationally. There had also been constraints placed on rents that could be charged, restricted authority ability to generate rent to pay for additional costs. There had been overspend against the budget and this had put the council in a challenging position. With all of this, it had meant that an in depth look at measures that could be taken in order to address the situation, in order to make things manageable.  

He then talked members through the graphs in the report and laid out each step that would be taken to ensure that the HRA was brought back to a more comfortable position.

 

The Chair asked for Glenn to elaborate on the overspend, she stated that the Committee understood the national situation, however more detail was needed regarding rent capping. Glenn then explained the percentage rent increase as detailed at paragraph 4.17 showed increases within the projections. A 7% increase was the maximum increase amount, an assumption had been made that the following year would see an increase of inflation plus 1% which had been based on the predicted inflation from the Bank of England. It was confirmed that if the rent cap was not in place, the council would be looking at an 11% maximum increase. He referred to graph at paragraph 4.5 in the report and explained that the bulge showed where the spare capital could be used for the reinstatement of a larger development programme. But that other pressure would also emerge and would require consideration.

 

It was then queried that the bulge on the graph starts in 2038 and it was clear that this was having to be done as a measure to keep the council afloat. Many members of the committee were not happy with this and wanted reassurance that the £3m spend allocated for the decarbonisation strategy would still be completed given the legal regulations that were attributed to this.  

 

The Head of Housing advised that an application for a grant had been completed and the council would be match  ...  view the full minutes text for item 606.

607.

Committee General Fund Revenue and Capital Budgets and Housing Revenue Account Budgets 2023/24 pdf icon PDF 168 KB

The purpose of the report is for this Committee to consider and recommend its revenue budget for inclusion in the 2023/24 revenue budget, which will be submitted to the Policy and Finance Committee on 9 February 2023.

Minutes:

The Interim Group Head of Finance and Section 151 Officer introduced the report and advised members that this was the second year of preparing the budget under the committee style of governance system.  The budgets from this committee plus any growth bids would be considered at the Policy and Finance Committee as part of the overall budget on 9 February 2023 before being considered at Full Council on 1 March 2023 for approval.  This committee being responsible for the General Fund and HRA.

 

Starting with the General Fund, it should be noted that the budget had been prepared against a backdrop of a significant budget gap for 2023/24.  Only essential growth bids for 2023/24 had been put forward for the committee to approve.  The growth bids listed in appendix B totalling £730k were: Support for Leisure Operator £580k (£265k current year); Events £100k and an Events Officer £50k.

 

The main year on year changes were: The most significant increase was in the net cost of Homelessness.  The net budget had increased to £2m from £810k, which was an increase of £1.19m. Leisure contract contribution had increased by £121k – however, this had to be seen in light of the bid for £580k (£265k current year) Housing Benefit had increased by £127k.  This was mainly due to assisted accommodation which attracted lower level of Housing Benefit and the move to Universal Credit

 

The Chair invited comments from the committee regarding the general fund where comments were made regarding funding support for the Leisure Operator and it was confirmed that an additional report on that topic would be brought to the committee at a later date. A short discussion regarding the success of recent events over the Christmas period was also had.

 

Turning to HRA, the revised budget for the HRA for 2022/23 was approved at Full Council on 18 January 2023. It approved changes to accounting policies had been reflected in the projected HRA balance in paragraph 3.15 which showed the HRA balance improving steadily, and it would reach a balance of £2m by 2027/28. The projected improvement in the HRA balance was a result of the delivery of savings as part of a recovery plan to address the growing revenue costs of repairs and supervision and management costs as well as changes in accounting policies mentioned previously. The budget for next year assumed a 7% increase in rent levels resulting in an average rent level of £102.34 per week. The capital programme shown in appendix E. Shows the budget reflected the £3m match funding for decarbonisation programme and £1.6m for the first part of the sheltered housing improvement scheme.

 

          The Chair then invited questions and comments on the HRA where more information was sought in relation to paragraph 3.9 where it referred to savings and what sought of savings would the council be expecting to receive. The Head of Housing explained that a lot is spent on emergency accommodation, however the councils recovery of funds for that income is low  ...  view the full minutes text for item 607.

608.

Arun Wellbeing Programme Update pdf icon PDF 760 KB

The West Sussex Wellbeing Programme is a partnership between West Sussex County Council Public Health Department and the seven District and Borough Councils of West Sussex. Since 2009, Arun District Council has delivered a prevention and wellbeing service (Arun Wellbeing) which provides a service that focuses on addressing local health inequalities. The Council entered into a new 5-year agreement with West Sussex Public Health from April 2022 and this report outlines progress in the first 6 months of year one. 

 

Minutes:

The Wellbeing & Communities Manager introduced the report and provided members with a brief update on the Arun Wellbeing Programme, where she advised that the team provided range of free adult health improvement programmes for residents and the wellbeing service helps people to stop smoking, reduce weight and reduce alcohol intake which is manage by the council and the service is funded through partnership agreement with West Sussex Health. In April 2022 a new 5 year partnership agreement has been entered in to and this report details the outlined progress first the first 6 months of year 1. She explained that the programme has a strong focus on supporting residents with greatest health needs, working in specific areas that had been identified as the most deprived wards and with high-risk groups such as those with serious mental health and carers.

 

          The Chair thanked Wellbeing & Communities Manager for her clear introduction and asked if members had any comments or questions.

 

As there were no questions from the Committee the recommendation was then proposed by Cooper and seconded by Yeates

 

          The Committee

 

                     RESOLVED

 

1)    the Arun Wellbeing Programme and support targeted work in Arun’s areas of significant health inequalities and need be endorsed.

 

609.

PUBLIC SPACES PROTECTION ORDER (ASB) pdf icon PDF 105 KB

The Council’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in relation to anti-social behaviour will expire at the end of March 2023.  This report sets out the options available to the Council in respect of this Order.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Community Safety Officer introduced the report and advised members that the Council’s Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in relation antisocial behaviour was due to expire at the end of March 2023. He confirmed that the report set out the options available to the Council in respect of the Order and that if the recommendation was accepted by committee it would be renewed for a further 3 years on the same terms as the current order.

 

The Chair thanked the Community Safety Officer for his introduction and confirmed to members that on page 81 of the agenda they could see the specific area locations that were being referred to. She then invited members to make any comment or ask questions where it was queried how the PSPO would help those areas that are subject to large groups of people who drink in public. It was confirmed that it would create a threshold by which officers could then deal with. The Chair stated that the Police would be required to make a judgement call as to whether anti-social behaviour was occurring.

 

It was then asked what action would be taken specifically when ‘moving people’ on from areas. The Community Safety Officer provided an example of  feedback from Community Wardens. The Vice-Chair then commented that it was an extension of something members agreed and discussed at length in a member workshop not long after the 2019 Election where it was explained that managing this type of behaviour was a balancing act. The PSPO had worked for the purpose it was implemented for.

 

The recommendation was then proposed by Councillor Hughes and seconded by Councillor Yeates

 

The Committee

         

          RESOLVED

 

1)  the PSPO, as it is currently set out, be extended for a further three years with effect from April 2023.

 

610.

Home Energy Advisor Role pdf icon PDF 134 KB

At an Extraordinary meeting of the Housing and Wellbeing Committee held on 3 November 2022, members recommended to Policy and Finance Committee, also held on the same day, the approval of a virement of £180,000 to fund certain cost of living crisis initiatives detailed within the report and if there were any monies outstanding that it came back to the Housing and Wellbeing Committee for a decision on spending. This report is requesting to agree the use of the £40,000 unallocated budget for cost-of-living initiatives.

 

Minutes:

The Principal Environmental Health Officer to introduced the report and advised members that from the Extraordinary Committee meeting held on 3 November 2022 the decision was made that £180k be approved for a range of cost-of-living initiatives. However, £40k of that fund remained unallocated and the report and recommendations before members now proposed two options to use that £40k.

 

She confirmed that the role would provide direct support to residents and have a set criteria to work to alongside working with frontline staff to include consideration for referrals. This role would provide vital support to those who needed it and would assist with supporting a behavioural change. It was also explained that visiting residents in their homes would enable the council to see how people are living and would lead to being able to identify other issues where the council can also provide support.

 

The Chair stated that she thought this was a very proactive and useful initiative for residents and would help them to manage increasing living costs. She then invited the committee to make any comment or ask questions to the officer.

 

It was stated that this work and the role was crucially important and that the case studies referred to in the appendix were powerful and provided some depth to the differences that could be made.  It was also commented that it was hoped the role would be considered to continue for more than a year as currently planned. Further discussion was had on the skills and qualifications required for the individual who would be recruited and was a part time role going to attract the right individual. It was confirmed that the job description was looking for an individual who had an energy efficiency qualification, however there would also be training offered and that it was hoped that because the role was being advertised as part time, this would attract more applications rather than hinder. A concern was raised regarding the safety risks of sending an employee into residents homes. It was explained that  the council had robust risk assessments in place. It was also confirmed that initial contact with a resident would be via telephone along with additional information being shared from other sources such as GP’s before the individual would complete a home visit.

 

The recommendations were then proposed by Councillor Thurston and seconded by Councillor Needs

 

          The Committee

 

                     RESOLVED

 

1)  To agree to use the £40,000 unallocated budget for cost-of-living initiatives to:

a.    Recruit a Home Energy Advisor to be part of the Private Sector Housing and Public Health Team, part time (22 hours), on a one-year fixed term contract, at an annual cost of £21,890.

b.    Utilise the remaining budget to support the most vulnerable residents with minor repairs and energy efficiency measures and give the Group Head of Technical Services the delegated authority to determine the criteria for this assistance.

 

611.

Housing Ombudsman Complaint Handling Code & Self-Assessment pdf icon PDF 114 KB

This report is to present the results of our self-assessment against the Housing Ombudsman’s complaint handling code.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Housing introduced his report and drew members attention to published updated code, he advised that the council had to self- assess annually and the report before members sets out work that has been completed by officers in order to meet the regulations of the code.

 

          The Committee noted the contents of the self-assessment completed in accordance with the requirements with the Housing Ombudsman complaint handling code and note that the self-assessment will be published on the council’s website in accordance with the requirements of the Housing Ombudsman complaint handling code.

 

612.

Quarter 3 Key Performance Indicators Report pdf icon PDF 99 KB

This report sets out the performance of the Key Performance indicators at Quarter 3 for the period 1 April 2022 to 31 December 2022.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

          The Chair advised members that the report was to be taken as read and advised that if they had any questions these could be asked of the officers in attendance.

 

          As there were no questions, the committee noted the report.

 

 

613.

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for April 2023- March 2024 (Year 11) pdf icon PDF 102 KB

The purpose of this report is to update Members on the Working Age Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022/23 and to consider options for the scheme for 2023/24 (Year11).

 

Minutes:

The Benefits Team Leader presented the report to members and explained that the purpose of the report was to gain approval for a minor change to current local scheme that had been previously agreed. She provided members with some background information where she referred to the previous members Working Party who had developed the scheme and updated its roll out with Universal Credit (UC) which was very complicated for customers. In 2019 a banded scheme was implemented for simplicity and the report before members was asking for the committees agreement to increase the income bands in line with September 2022’s inflation increase. This would enable customers to have a bit more income and would assist those that were considered most vulnerable and on low incomes. In summing up she advised that the financial impact was £230k for the year, however this had already been budgeted and accounted for.

 

The Chair then asked for member to make any comments on the report, where it was asked how many people in the District were affected by this scheme. It was confirmed that the scheme had 4,342 claimants and these numbers do see regular increases and decreases as it is impacted by those eligible for UC. Clarity was sought regarding the council’s share of the cost documented within the report. It was confirmed that £23,000 was the correct figure.

 

The recommendations was then proposed by Thurston and seconded by Gregory

 

          The Committee

 

                     RESOLVED

 

1)    Approve the increase in the income banding widths of the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme in line with the Consumer Prices Index inflation. (Year 11)

 

614.

Outside Bodies - Feedback from Meetings

Minutes:

The Committee received and noted a feedback report from a meeting of West Sussex County Council’s Health and Adult Social Care Committee held on 11 January 2023 attended by the Chair. This was circulated to members for information purposes and would be uploaded to the Committee’s web pages following the meeting.

 

The Vice-Chair also confirmed that at this meeting regarding the stroke services item she asked specifically that members be consulted as Arun was  on the cusp of the area affecting travel times.

 

No questions were raised, and no other updates were shared at the meeting.

 

615.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 102 KB

For information only.

Minutes:

The Chair invited members and officers to make comment on the work programme as there were no comments the Committee then noted its work programme.

 

The Chair then took this opportunity to express her thanks to the Wellbeing and Community Manager who was after 17 years leaving Arun District Council. She and the Vice-Chair stated they had both enjoyed working with her and wished her well with her new role.

 

616.

Exempt Information

The Committee is asked to consider passing the following resolution: -

 

          That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the item.

 

Minutes:

The recommendation was proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Hughes

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

That under Section 100a (4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the public and accredited representatives of newspapers be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that they involve the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act by virtue of the paragraph specified against the item.

 

617.

Housing Benefit Over Payments

This report seeks Members’ approval to write off outstanding council tax Housing Benefit Overpayments where the total debt is over £5,000 and requires committee authorisation.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that the report should be taken as read and any questions could be asked to officers in attendance.

 

The recommendation was then proposed by Councillor Cooper and seconded by Councillor Gregory

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

1)    To write off the outstanding Housing Benefit Overpayments totalling £42,045.02 where despite pursuing outstanding amounts, the Council has been unable to collect the debt.

 

618.

Council Tax Insolvency

This report seeks Members’ approval to write off outstanding council tax charges which are subject to insolvency action and the total debt is over £5,000 and requires committee authorisation.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair advised that the report should be taken as read and any questions could be asked to officers in attendance.

 

The recommendation was then proposed by Councillor Madeley and seconded by Councillor Cooper.

 

The Committee

 

RESOLVED

 

1)    To write off the outstanding council tax charges totalling £18,957.01 which are subject to insolvency action, preventing the Council from pursuing the debtor for payment.