Agenda and draft minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 4th November, 2020 6.30 pm

Venue: Microsoft Teams - Microsoft Teams. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item


Minutes and action points pdf icon PDF 392 KB

To confirm the minutes from the meetings held on 9th September and 7th October 2020.

Additional documents:


The minutes from 09 September 2020 were agreed as correct.  The minutes from 07 October 2020 received a number of amendments which had been sent via email but hadn’t been included in the published document.  The Chairman apologised for this oversight which was due to internet problems and agreed to take a look at these additions so that the minutes can be approved at the December meeting.


Concerns were raised regarding the accuracy of the minutes and The Chairman agreed to discuss with Member Support, although it was not thought to be a regular occurrence.


A statement was provided by Cllr Banks, Portfolio Holder for Community and Regulatory.


I have been made aware of a concern from a member of the committee that I should not have taken part in the discussion at the last meeting on the Active Dacorum Hub item due to my employment at the Grovehill Community Centre.


I have reflected on the concern raised and taken advice from the Monitoring Officer.  My employment is registered on my register of interests and is therefore a disclosable pecuniary interest.  I acknowledge that where such an interest arises a member should not take any part in a discussion or decision which relates to that interest.


When I considered this matter prior to the meeting, I was of the opinion that the impact would only have had a very minor impact, if any, on the community centre and that I could still take part if I limited my involvement to points of clarification. However, having considered this further I acknowledge that the right course of action would have been to not take any part at all in order to comply with the declaration rules and to avoid any perception that my views were influenced by my involvement in the community centre. 


I appreciate and remind members that the report is currently being reconsidered by officers and I will consider that report afresh once it is finalised. If the report involves the Grovehill Community Centre I will not take part in any discussion going forward on this item and will defer any related decisions to my Cabinet colleagues.


In addition to this over the past few weeks there has been some confusion over some projects within my portfolio and I would like to clarify this to the committee if I may Chair


The Youth Proposal Project was discussed at the last H&C OSC, DBC is looking to deliver a programme of youth physical activity events with a DBC reserve budget of £44k. After really useful feedback about the delivery areas and consultation, a further report will come back to OSC early next year, as agreed at the meeting.


The money held in reserves does not, does not include funding raised by the public.


Cllr Adeleke asked for clarification on the point which had concerned him regarding the funding and where it had come from.  The Chairman confirmed that the budget £44k, for Youth Provision was the Council’s reserves and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.


Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Cllr Bassadone sent her apologies for the meeting.



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]



Cllr Barry confirmed she worked for Children Services and this was included on the agenda.



Public Participation

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




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




Budget Monitoring Q2 pdf icon PDF 265 KB

Additional documents:


F Jump presented the report and asked Committee for any questions.


Cllr England mentioned point 3.4 where additional funding for Covid 19 of £2.5m that the council has had and £1.3m income guarantee support. He notes that additional premises insurance charges relating to HRA premises, which has arisen due to significant weather events and wanted to highlight that this is a prime example of rising costs to the council that we will increasingly face due to the climate emergency and that underlines the need for us to act quickly to reduce those effects.


Cllr Mahmood questioned the £3.1m and with another lockdown planned, will this mean an increase in costs.  F Jump confirmed this figure was from September and is therefore pre-lockdown but there is the potential that the position will worsen.  F Jump added she would not want to speculate at the moment but once we have more information of the impact over the next few weeks it will be incorporated into the forecasts.


Cllr Mahmood asked about point 5.6 the repairs and maintenance budget, the £2.1m HRA and the pressures were less than the £2.1m ‘savings’ by not being able to do the work, will the pressures elsewhere be relieved by the money that hasn’t been spent this year and there will come a time when it will be spent, but there will be a new budget next year.  F Jump confirmed that the work will be move further down the line and will be incorporated into the budget for next year.  F Williamson advised that in terms of the expectation we are not expecting to go back to emergency repairs during this lockdown, we have had feedback from tenants and in the main they would prefer to operate business as usual.  With regards to pressures elsewhere we will be looking to maintain a balanced budget.


Cllr Mahmood queried the restrictions this time round and asked how it works going into other people’s houses to do the repair of the work.  F Williamson said that some works are going ahead this lockdown and that the guidance that has come out from the Construction Council and Central Government allows for workplace activities within residential properties, but obviously there is some heightened concern over any people who are in the clinically vulnerable groups, therefore we will be continuing with the triage questions that were used throughout the whole of this pandemic to ensure that there is no additional risk being introduced.


Cllr Mahmood asked for clarification on point 4.1 and 4.2 as it appears there’s an underspend on garages maintenance and a pressure of £65k on emergency Bed and Breakfast, there is also a pressure on garage income.  F Jump confirmed that 4.1 shows that there is an overall pressure on progress budgets within Housing and Communities, within that there is a separate pressure on emergency accommodation, so the net of those two give the overall pressure within premises.


Cllr Mahmood mentioned that there is no reduction in garages uptake,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 77.


Children Services and Community Safety Partnership, Customer Services, The Old Town Hall, Communications and Community Partnerships Q2 Performance Report pdf icon PDF 528 KB


M Rawdon introduced the report and asked the Committee for any questions.


Cllr Barry asked if there is a breakdown per venue of the attendance at Adventure Playgrounds.  M Rawdon confirmed there would be and he will circulate the details.

Action M Rawdon


Cllr England mentioned that on Page 39 Communications, he wanted to say thank you and appreciation to the Team, we do appreciate how challenging it is at this time, also the web statistics, which he had asked for previously so wanted to say thank you for providing them.  These will prove useful to see trends over a period of time and hopes it will continue as it’s helps to understand what’s being done.


Cllr England asked what the Council’s Policy is and what it might be in terms of supporting the local community with information about the incidents of Covid locally.  Cllr England mentioned that he had been copied into correspondence, from Jo Bullen who is posting information on Facebook daily, which asks if the Council can amplify the output that she is producing.  Cllr England wanted to know if we can do that.  M Rawdon will raise with the Incident Management Team. 

Action: M Rawdon


L Roberts advised that we need to be very careful of the information provided due to confidentiality.  Cllr England will the request as he does not think it contains personal information, it’s Government information and just a case of amplifying it as it’s already in the public domain.  L Roberts confirmed it would be helpful if Cllr England could forward the information.

Action: Cllr England


Cllr Pringle raised concerns about public perception on Covid at the moment, there is a sense that people are consciously challenging the risk despite the Governments advice, which people are not trusting.  There is more trust at a local level and Cllr Pringle would like Dacorum Borough Council to take stock and reflect on the vital role we can play, a granular approach is needed, working very closely with schools, which is a trusted community network.  Cllr Pringle had raised previously about a communications strategy, people need to know what’s happening in their community because it’s vital that people understand the facts.  Consideration should be given to a granular breakdown being published daily, with perhaps inclusion in weekly newsletters in schools and education facilities that are already being sent out, which sets out the details in the Borough to ensure that the public are fully aware of the risks and the actions they can take.  M Rawdon confirmed he would raise it at Incident Management Team.

Action: M Rawdon


Cllr Mahmood had thought that reporting on Covid was the responsibility of the County Council.  M Rawdon confirmed this was the case, they have a Communications Cell that we piggy back on, that’s doesn’t mean that we can’t issue our own messages, but in the main we will be led them. 


Cllr Mahmood mentioned that we rely more on IT could there be a ticker  ...  view the full minutes text for item 78.


Housing Q2 Performance pdf icon PDF 230 KB

Additional documents:


F Williamson introduced the report and asked if Committee had any questions.


Cllr Adeleke commended Fiona’s team for the work they are doing at this very difficult time and requested that Fiona passed the good recommendations and thanks to her team.


Cllr Mahmood asked three questions; 1, what are the implications for Dacorum’s performance of the new Building Safety Bill, 2, is there a risk assessment for Covid for everything Housing does and 3, clarification on the table on page 100 garages figures in red.  F Williamson advised that that the new Building Safety Bill has not been passed through parliament and reached Royal Assent yet, there will be a period for compliance for the statutory compliance and building regulations that will create the framework for which we will need to work.  It’s focussed on the high rise, high risk buildings and we have six in that category, we have undertaken preparative work through fire risk assessments and we have all that data on a system called Geometra.  This will identify all of the work that’s required in those buildings, that will be done on a priority basis.  We have put a growth bid in the budget for a Building Safety Manager, which is a key role in the new Bill, they will coordinate all of the information to ensure that all those buildings will be certified by the new regulator who is part of the HSE, we have also increased the budget so that we can undertake the additional work.  In respect of the Covid Risk Assessments Fiona mentioned that all Group Managers have worked with their Team Leaders and Health and Safety to identify any risks with any of the job activities or interactions with the public, so each area has their own risk assessed method statement.  F Williamson explained the detail in respect of page 100 for the garages.  The employees were two members of staff who deal with allocations and the licences, the premises cost is maintaining the garages, but that has been reduced as there is a pressure on income, because there are 70% of the garages occupied, there has been an adjustment, but with the work being undertaken with the stock condition survey and targeted investment, which will be presented to Scrutiny in December, we have reduced the expenditure to make sure we don’t put additional pressure on that budget.  The recharges are through the general fund for the administration and central office function that we pay that is the cost of managing the garages internally.  F Williamson advised she will circulate more detailed information on the Capital charges breakdown.

Action: F Williamson


Cllr England said that on page 45 point 2.1.2 the performance of lifeline call services and asked how long and what method it’s taken to identify that they were out of action.  F Williamson replied that the Supported Housing Officers were contacting tenants asking them to test their lifelines, there was a problem when the Officers restarted the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 79.


Supported Housing Update pdf icon PDF 135 KB

Additional documents:


O Jackson presented the Supported Housing Update and offered Committee the opportunity to ask questions.


Cllr Mahmood asked for clarification on the support we provide and whether it was more or less than other authorities.  O Jackson mentioned that the other organisations in the appendix relate to how often the tenant was visited by the Supported Housing Officer.  We offer a wide range of support to tenants from daily visits to very low level support with quarterly visits.


Cllr Mahmood queried the meaning of passported groups.  O Jackson confirmed it was tenants who had a tenancy prior to the Supporting People charge coming in.


Cllr Mahmood asked about the difficulty getting people into Supported Housing and the higher vacancy rate, presuming the charge isn’t an issue, but wondered what the impact will be.  O Jackson advised that as part of the work Fiona mentioned earlier, we’ve really looked into why people don’t want to move into Supported Housing, why people have rejected a property when they had bid on them and we’ve not actually come across any instances where the charge has put people off.  That could be because the charge is relatively low but we would also need to be aware of the impact of any increase in charge on any future demand.


Cllr Mahmood said the report mentions Housing Benefit and queried if this should be Universal Credit.  L Warden clarified that anyone of pensionable age is entitled to Housing Benefit and not Universal Credit.


Cllr Freedman queried if the proposal for charges was compulsory but also people have discretion.  O Jackson replied that the charge is mandatory but with other providers there is a tiered service, where the tenant can select the level of support they require and we would like to operate this system.


Cllr Freedman asked how the charge will be administered.  O Jackson said that our income team arrange and collect the support charge, it’s applied on our housing management system Orchard and they will work closely with the tenants to ensure the charge is collected.


Cllr Freedman wondered if there will be some tenants current benefits mean that all the current charges are paid and then suddenly there is another charge they are responsible for, will there be concern amongst tenants.  O Jackson replied that he didn’t think there would be concern as when they apply for the property the charge is included in the offer letter.  We’ve undertaken communications to let tenants know about the charge.


Cllr Freedman was concerned for existing tenants who will suddenly get an increase in their bills, you’ve clearly tried to reduce the impact in the past and it seems fine for people moving into the property, but will we be including the charge in the maximum threshold for Housing Benefit.  L Warden said we have discussed this and where a tenant has a £6 charge and Benefit would cover half of it, the Council pays the other half because they are on Benefit.  If  ...  view the full minutes text for item 80.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 288 KB



The Chairman highlighted that the Work Programme only went up to February, but that there was a meeting with the Climate Change Officer and as of March there will be training for Members and a presentation to this Committee, which should appear on the Work Programme at the next meeting.