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Agenda item

Programme of Portfolio Holder Attendance

Report of the Elections and Members’ Services Officer.

Minutes:

Councillor Henry Wheeler, Portfolio Holder for Housing, Health and Wellbeing attended the meeting to answer questions submitted in advance of the meeting.  David Wakelin, Director Health and Community Wellbeing and Alison Bennett, Service Manager Housing also attended the meeting.

 

Programme of Portfolio Holder Attendance

 

Councillor Wheeler delivered a comprehensive presentation covering all the questions received in advance.

 

Following questions from Members the following information was clarified:

 

·           The Homeless Reduction Bill will increase the number of people who the Council has a duty to assist.  The Bill proposes that the authority should provide temporary accommodation for 56 days an increase from the current 28 days.  The Government is allocating a national budget for the implementation of this. The Bill is currently at the Committee stage in the House of Commons.

·           The Housing Needs Team has seen an increase both in the number and complexity of cases, to support this increase approval has been given for the appointment of a full time Housing Needs Officer for one year.

·         With reference to accommodation for under people under 25 years old.  There is a supported lodgings scheme, were people, who have been checked, provide a room and some hospitality in their own homes, but these tend not to be too popular.

·         Issues around accessibility are considered when temporary accommodation is offered.

·           This week there is no one in bed and breakfast accommodation, typically there are between 1 and 4 most weeks.

·           When using bed and breakfast accommodation to house families we do have access to both family and adjoining rooms, and the most suitable B&B placement will be secured depending on availability.  However the priority is always to move them on as soon as possible into suitable accommodation.  The average time for a family or an individual is ten weeks. Members requested information on how much could be saved if bed and breakfast accommodation was not used.

·           There is a severe weather protocol which is used during the winter to house rough sleepers and those with no fixed address in bed and breakfast accommodation; this additional sever weather emergency protocol can lead to an increase in the usage of B&B during the time it runs from 01.12. until 31.03, however there is also provision to extend the service outside this dates dependent on the weather.

·           Moves to lease properties from private landlords have met with little success as landlords prefer to rent to private tenants and charge higher rents.

·           Work with the Fire Service, the CCG and Environmental Health helps maintain the condition of properties.

·           Work is undertaken to support families who have been affected by the bedroom tax and may be affected by the benefits cap, referrals are made to debt advice services to alleviate issues around poverty and debt.  Moves to more affordable housing are considered and the use of discretionary housing benefit for short term assistance.  Members requested additional information regarding cases.

 

Future Portfolio Holder Attendance

 

Members were informed that Councillor David Ellis, Portfolio Holder for Public Protection will be attending the next committee on the 23rd January.  Members will be contacted nearer the date to identify areas for examination.  Paddy Tipping the Police and Crime Commissioner would also be attending.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

1)    Note the information and thank Councillor Wheeler and the officers for their attendance; and

 

2)    Obtain additional information relating to

·         The cost of bed and breakfast accommodation

·         People referred to debt advice

·         Cases of families affected by changes in benefits.

 

Additional document: Housing, Health and Wellbeing presentation.

Supporting documents:

 


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