Agenda and minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny
Wednesday, 7th November, 2018 7.30 pm

Venue: Conference Room 2 - The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item



To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


There were no minutes for consideration; the Clerk to the meeting has unfortunately been absent due to sickness following the previous meeting.   The minutes of the Housing and Community OSC meeting on 10th October 2018 will be made available as soon as possible and brought for consideration at the next meeting.




Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies received from Cllrs PHearn and Mills



Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of interest


A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a personal interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered -


(i)            must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent


and, if the interest is a disclosable pecuniary interest, or a personal interest which is also prejudicial


(ii)           may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter (and must withdraw to the public seating area) unless they have been granted a dispensation.


A member who discloses at a meeting a disclosable pecuniary interest which is not registered in the Members’ Register of Interests, or is not the subject of a pending notification, must notify the Monitoring Officer of the interest within 28 days of the disclosure.


Disclosable pecuniary interests, personal and prejudicial interests are defined in Part 2 of the Code of Conduct For Members


[If a member is in any doubt as to whether they have an interest which should be declared they should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer before the start of the meeting]



There was no declaration of interest.



Public Participation

An opportunity for members of the public to make statements or ask questions in accordance with the rules as to public participation


There was no public participation.



Consideration of any matter referred to the committee in relation to call-in





Budget Monitoring Q2 Report pdf icon PDF 165 KB

Additional documents:


FJump introduced the report, explaining the purpose is to present the forecast financial position for the Council as at the end September 2018.


Section 2 (pg 4) contains summary table of areas of pressure for Council as a whole.


Overall position for the whole Council is summarised in Section 2.5 of the report.


Section 3 (pg 6) summaries pressures related to this Housing OSC area.


Detailed appendices refer; General Fund (Appendix A), HRA (Appendix B) and Capital Programme – Housing and Community (Appendix C).


Summary; overall pressure of £249k (£15k within H&C).  Pressure of £19k against HRA. Slippage £195k against Capital Programmes. 


FJump invited questions on the report.


Cllr England asked; is it correct to say there is a link between slippage on Capital Programme and the lost in rent revenue where builds are not completed?


F Williamson responded no, that is not the case.  Slippage is mainly attributed to the two garage sites (temp accommodation).  Initial discussions with Planning Dept identified there were potential issues with the original designs due to the proximity of Garages to local residents, and wanted to ensure these issues were addressed so the revised designs are sympathetic to nearby residents.  Also some party wall issues that have caused some delay.  Finally, programming of delivery meant work would start on site just before the Christmas shut down which would incur a 2 weeks delay in programming in various trades, so made decision to start at beginning of calendar year.  Those factors have impacted timeline so caused the slippage.


Cllr England asked; when that development is done it will bring in income?  So therefore the delay will cause slippage?  F Williamson advised the forecast for that rental income was not included for in this financial year so should not have any slippage impact. The rents were impacted by the timeline for the delivery of Kylna Court, which will be completed week commencing 10th December, so only the final quarter of the year will rental income be received.


Cllr Griffiths highlighted the point that the money from the Garage sites will go into General Fund account as this will be temporary accommodation.  Rents from Kylna Court will go into HRA as it is Housing Rental.


Cllr Bassadone asked, where did the name Kylna Court come from?


Cllr Griffiths responded that it came from historical data relating to Kilns in area, however we could not have that name due to it already being in use so this was selected from one of the other options put forward. 


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe raised a query regarding main sub contracts with Sunrealm and Osbornes, specifically the figures around gain share. 


F Williamson referred to the final Qtrs 3 & 4 for last year, commenting that by time gain share was audited we were already in next financial year.  Decision was therefore made with colleagues in finance that rather than accounting for it in year and trying to spend it in year, we instead forecast an accrual at the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 244.


Performance, People and Innovation Q2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Additional documents:


MRawdon introduced the paper which highlights achievements over Q2; overall a positive outturn.  Officer comments are contained within report. 


The 2 amber items relate to CSU and are caused by some staff turnover to other jobs within the Council.  To re-train a new starter can take up to 12 months for them to be fully up to speed on all services.


Achievements & updates also contained in report.


MRawdon invited questions on the report.


The Chair referred to item 7.3 – MASK programme, querying what is that?


MRawdon advised it is a youth programme for youngsters who maybe have some confidence or mild mental health issues.  This is the 4th cohort, working with a company using masks that builds to a performance at the Old town Hall at end of programme.


The Chair referred to summer grants, item 7.2 and asked; is that all we give out during the year? 


MRawdon advised that figure only refers to Qtr 2.  Overall the figure is in the region of £60k for grants, we ensure that by end of year all grants are allocated.  Grants are available to Community & Voluntary Groups.


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe referred to indicator CSU 11 on pg 17 and asked; can you explain what the numbers under RAG are?  This does not seem to equate correctly.


MRawdon advised that he would check and come back with the background figures.


Cllr England sympathised with difficulty around staffing and referred to the comment regarding 12 months for training, asking; in that space of time are some new starters are moving on to new roles?  Is there anything that can be done to keep people in the roles?


MRawdon responded that whilst it is good that staff are moving within Dacorum, it has a negative impact on the service.  Currently looking at introducing a longer notice period (currently 1 month).  The CSU staff are attractive to back offices as they are multi service skilled and have a lot of the background knowledge that helps them to gain roles in back office.  CSU is also a tough working environment due to the nature of the role.


Cllr England asked, could those staff that have moved on be kept in a ‘pool’ of draw down staff to help CSU?


MRawdon advised that it is difficult to work with the other managers to facilitate that as they have a service to deliver also.


Cllr Griffiths commented that as a CSU manager in her day job, you have to be careful not to make it too onerous in terms of notice period; you don’t want people to be deterred from applying for roles because they will be tied in too tightly.


MRawdon advised that at this time CSU are also not able to work flexibly.  Have been trialling them working from home more, adding that it is easy to monitor performance but up until now technology has prevented work from home in this department.


Cllr England suggested overstaffing the CSU area to avoid the situation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 245.


Housing Q2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 95 KB

Additional documents:


F Williamson introduced the report.  Critical performance indicators are noted in Appendix A and each includes comments from the managers involved in those services.


With regard voids – have been looking into the reasons why we are exceeding the 0.8% void rate that the Finance Team had set out at beginning of year.  The report on this has not been finally concluded, but in terms of understanding detail around refusal rates, the report gives figures around number of applicants on active register and how many of those have bid for properties in the last 3, 6 and 12 months to understand association between housing need and frequency and type of bids.


Suffering pressures from staff being sick or on leave, which impacts allocations.


The trend is continuing on key to key times; doing everything we can to assess the evidence and target interventions.  Also looking to use some additional people from Housing to provide some support. 


In terms of other areas of performance; the % of dwellings with Gas Safety Certificate is amber because the target is set at 100%.  Access to properties is often down to issues such as tenants being in hospital etc.


Satisfaction with medium level ASB cases seems to be linked to the level of evidence we are actually able to obtain and often having to act in a mediatory capacity between neighbours.


In terms of positives; reassessed for ISO9001 accreditation, had some very positive feedback from auditor – awaiting final report but they are indicating that we will be recertified and we have met the new 2015 standards.


F Williamson invited questions on the report.


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe referred to pg 24 and asked for clarification in description of SH37 - number of rough sleepers approaching.  What does that mean?


F Williamson advised that we have a number of people that approach the Council as homeless.  There are a variety of circumstances that fulfil the homelessness criteria; rough sleeping is one of them.   Others could be parental eviction, sofa surfing, domestic violence or Landlords serving notice.  That indicator definition is the number of people that have identified by the Council as sleeping rough; they may have been picked up by DENS outreach but they still are recorded.


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe clarified; this is only those who have been identified as approaching us as a rough sleeper or DENS outreach workers have approached them and they have agreed to be classified as homeless?


F Williamson advised some rough sleepers are identified but do not have recourse to public funds. 


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe referred to voids and commented that he has found a lot of people who are on the housing list but do not know how bidding works.  Can we be more proactive in contacting people (be it a text or similar) to advise them that an available property meets their requirements and they may want to consider having a look?


F Williamson responded that Choice Based Lettings is predominantly online and some  ...  view the full minutes text for item 246.


Gas Servicing and Total Asset Management Contract Performance Year 4 pdf icon PDF 408 KB

Additional documents:


F Williamson apologised that the formatting of the report has overlapped on pages 89/90.  This is due to desktop refresh to new laptops in Housing but not in Member Support so some compatibility issues.  It has been agreed that Housing will provide PDF version of reports to Member Support to avoid this happening in future.


Appointed Alan Mortimer as new Group Manager of Property & Place; he will be presenting any detail around contracts moving forward.


Report refers to Sun Realm and Osbornes and relates to Yr 4 performance, so we are looking at last year’s performance.


Sun Realm continue to provide a good level of service.  They are proactive in installing new boilers before multiple repairs occur.  In previous contract running at 60% of our boilers being replaced due to category 1 breakdowns.  Now down to 16.61%.


Osborne performance overall against key performance indicators has remained strong.  In terms of key strategic indicators, there have been some areas of concern around two of the indicators. 


Transparency of cost and IT integration of systems are both to be discussed at the next Strategic Core Group meeting.  They need to satisfy all the key strategic indicators in order to be awarded contract extensions when reviewed moving forward.


Cllr Imarni referred to pg 94 – open book policy, commenting that in meetings she has been involved in, both in and out and about in Borough, Osbornes pricing doesn’t seem to be that competitive against private contractors.  When we are setting these contracts, who are we setting these against?  This comes up a lot at TLC meetings; leaseholders challenge the costs.  Are we getting the best for our money?


F Williamson advised there is an opportunity at Yr 5 of contract for a full benchmarking review, which has already commenced and we are compiling benchmarking information.  Met with Welwyn Hatfield Council recently, who have shared their costs for all their major planned work components.  It is more difficult in areas such as small works and ground works.  The schedule of rates provides the cost base for industry. 


The monthly invoices are scrutinised against prior year costs and any external pricing we have from framework agreements; there is a non-exclusivity clause in the contract.  We do continually market test. 


F Williamson suggested arranging a Member Training session to look at the contract framework and how it works.


Chair confirmed that would be a good idea.


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe supported what Cllr Imarni had said; it is a regular cause of complaint on costing.  Be interested to know how many such complaints come in from leaseholders. 


Cllr W Wyatt Lowe asked; could you please change the fonts on 67 and 68 of the report – difficult to read. 


F Williamson confirmed that it has distorted due to the computer compatibility and will be addressed by Housing providing reports in PDF in future.


Cllr England agreed with the frustrations around cost disparity.


The Chair referred to electrical checks and asked; who does that?


F Williamson  ...  view the full minutes text for item 247.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 112 KB


The Chair referred to the budget meeting on 4th December and asked that the committee please ensure that if they cannot make the meeting, apologies are tendered.  To that end, the Chair advised his apologies for the 4th December meeting. 


Cllr England requested that someone gives a report to this committee on Everyone Active and Sports & Leisure Contract on performance levels (service levels not financial).


The Chair confirmed he would need to speak to Cllr Harden, Cllr Collins & Linda Roberts who will need to advise on this.