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Agenda item

Programme of Holding the Portfolio Holder to Account.

Report of the Elections and Members’ Services Officer

 

Minutes:

The Chair welcomed Councillor Wheeler and invited him to discuss issues relating to his portfolio.

 

Councillor Wheeler informed Members about the areas of responsibility that fall within his portfolio which includes homelessness and housing needs, liaison with Public Health and the CCG, Housing and Council Tax Benefits, sports development and health promotion.  He is also the Gedling Borough Council representative on the County’s Health and Wellbeing Board.

 

He then addressed issues that had been identified in advance:

 

·         How will the new Housing Bill affect Gedling Borough Council and its residents?

·         Indicators below target in the Quarter 3 Performance Report.

 

The following points from the Housing and Planning Bill were highlighted:

 

Right to Buy for Housing Associations

·         Housing Association (HA) stock sales will be funded vis forced sale of low rent high value Council houses as soon as they become vacant

·         This will fund Right to Buy (RTB) discounts for HA tenants. Gedling Borough Council does not have any Council Housing.  There are over 20 housing associations operating in the Borough providing social housing; Gedling Homes is the biggest.

·         Right to Buy has no guarantee that Housing Associations will replace properties on like for like basis.  A three bedroom house could be replaced by a one bedroom flat or two bedroom house, they could also change tenure from rented to shared ownership occupancy

·         This will deplete the supply of social housing in the Borough unless replacement homes are built on a like for like basis.

Starter Homes

·         The Housing and Planning Bill makes provision for the delivery of 200,000 ‘starter homes’ for first time buyers under the age of 40 years. Sold at a discount of 20% market value at or below a cap of £250,000 outside London and £450,000 in London. The Treasury predicts that only 30% of the population earn more than the £50,000 the income estimated to be able to afford a starter home.

·         In Gedling the average salary is less than £26,000 resulting in many workers having insufficient income to buy a starter home.

 

Section 106

·         The Bill allows developers to provide ‘Starter Home’ instead of affordable housing on private sites to satisfy the 106 requirements. Developers are more likely to build houses to sell than for rent.  The Bill places a legal duty on Councils to promote the supply of ‘starter homes in their area.  This means that Councils will no longer have to insist on social or affordable rented properties in 106 planning agreements; developers can fulfil their Section 106 agreements by building starter homes for sale. Last Year nationally 40% of new Housing Association homes came from 106 agreements.

·         The loss of the obligation to build affordable homes could result in a decrease in homes available to rent

 

Pay to Stay

·         The Housing and Planning Bill also introduces a scheme called Pay to Stay.  Pay to safe tenants in social housing with a combined income of £30,000 (£40, 000 in London) will have to pay rents at full market prices or risk losing their home.

·         In Gedling rents could double and tenants may find themselves priced out of the market under this scheme.  A couple earning £15,000 each will have a combined income of £30,000, resulting in them having to pay much higher rent but unable to afford to buy a home.

Following questions from members additional points relating to housing issues were addressed:

 

·         The demographic of the Borough indicated the need to replace like for like housing in the Borough

·         The Housing Needs Team has made representations to the Housing Minister voicing concerns about the Housing and Planning Bill

·         Additional information regarding why it takes so long for new tenants to be put in empty properties will be available at the next meeting

·         Lack of housebuilding by Gedling Homes will be addressed at the next meeting

·         Reduction in Framework funding has increased incidents of homelessness.  15 supported accommodation facilities have closed making it more difficult to place homeless people locally, necessitating the use of and bed and breakfast facilities.  The Borough is currently looking at providing its own supported accommodation locally. Additional information would be made available at the next meeting

·         The building of affordable housing in the villages is not always the best place location as it can be more expensive to live there, have increased transport costs and limited employment opportunities. 

Members then requested information regarding other areas in the portfolio:

 

·         Mental health issues - Gedling has signed up to the Mental Health Challenge, which looks at and challenges issues associated with mental health for both young people and adults.  Mental health affects many areas of life housing, employment, health and the authority needs to challenge issues to make a difference in the community.

·         Use of leisure centre facilities – the authority is undertaking a range of activities to increase footfall. Looking to increase the corporate DNA offer, working with partners for example the Gedling Sports Partnership, introduced new ways of advertising. In addition there are plans to improve facilities , there has been a bid for new lighting at the Redhill Leisure Centre and plans for improvements at Carlton Forum Leisure Centre

·         Lack of public swimming opportunities as pool time tables were filled with lessons and other activities.  Additional information regarding this would be available at the next meeting.

Areas were identified for examination in the growth and Regeneration Portfolio at the next committee

 

RESOLVED:

 

                      I.        to thank Councillor Wheeler for his presentation

 

                    II.        request further information regarding

 

§  L1051 Average time to process homeless applications ( number of working days

§  L1046 Preventing Homelessness – number of households who considered themselves as homeless, who approached the Council, and for whom housing advice resolved their situation

§  homeless accommodation provision

§  information regarding why it takes so long for new tenants to be move in to empty properties

§  swimming pool timetables

 

                   III.        areas identified for examination in the Growth and Regeneration Portfolio:

 

§  Town centre regeneration, an update on Arnold market

§  NI 155 Number of affordable homes delivered

§  Nl 154 Net additional home provided

§  Lack of housebuilding by Gedling Homes.

Supporting documents:

 


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