Agenda and minutes

Housing and Community Overview and Scrutiny - Wednesday, 15th March, 2023 7.30 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, The Forum. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Democratic Support  01442 228209

No. Item



To confirm the minutes from the previous meeting


The minutes from 6th January 2022 were formally approved as an accurate record.

The minutes from 1st February 2022 were formally approved as an accurate record.



Apologies for absence

To receive any apologies for absence


Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Durrant, Ransley and Dhyani



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 were no declarations 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




Q3 - Housing Property/Operations & Safe Communities pdf icon PDF 496 KB

Additional documents:


NBeresford presented the report, noting that it combines performance data for the Housing service portfolio and newly added Safe Communities portfolio that incorporates community safety. The report was taken as read, and it was noted that the revised KPIs are included in the pack. This is a reduced suite of KPIs and these remain in development. It was also noted that some KPIs are newly collected and there is therefore an absence of trend and historical data, which will therefore develop over time. The report highlights challenges and interventions in relation to key service challenges across the portfolio.


NBeresford requested that if any members have specific areas of service performance that they require further detail on then they should raise these to the team or during the meeting to allow them to review their approach to performance reporting to scrutiny as they move into the planning cycle.


Cllr Adeleke asked how many rough sleepers there currently are in town. NBeresford noted that there is an entrenched cohort of up to 6 in the borough, though this fluctuates when street counts are undertaken. There are 6 known individuals that regularly rough sleep in the borough that the Council engages with and the numbers will depend on their access to severe weather services and engagement with current interventions.


Cllr Adeleke referred to page 7 of the report and asked what the current level of complaints that the department receives are and how their interaction with residents is. MPinnell stated that he did not have the exact level of complaints and that there is a customer service team in place that consists of a senior surveyor, resident liaison officer and two multi-trade operatives. On receipt of a complaint, it goes to the DBC appliance site, and a DBC member of staff will visit, with an RLO if appropriate. If the complaint can be easily fixed, the multi-trade officer will respond and fix the issue, otherwise the resident will be appointed a point of contact at DBC to manage the complaint. The process is much improved and is entirely managed through DBC and complaints have significantly reduced. MPinnell noted that they have not received any late complaints and are all being responded to within policy guidelines and timescales.


Cllr Barry-Mears commented on the rough sleepers report on the website and suggested that the estimate for Dacorum is 8. Cllr Barry-Mears asked how often the figure is updated. NBeresford confirmed that the highlight reporting comes from DBC and is an estimated figure. Spotlight audits are undertaken as well as bi-monthly street counts in collaboration with the Community Safety Partnership and the Dacorum Street Outreach team. Once the estimate is submitted, a validation has to be provided on the number of rough sleepers identified on a given night, and that 6 is the validated number that was submitted. NBeresford advised that they work with significantly more individuals than the reported 8 and that intervention work is ongoing with as many as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Decant Policy pdf icon PDF 490 KB

Additional documents:


OJackson presented the report, noting that the policy replaces the previous Decant Policy dated 2018. The report and policy aims to clarify key areas where the Council has strengthened its position, namely in its approach to providing financial help when households are forced to move from their home. The policy also covers clarification around the approach to household members and those eligible for assistance and also defines the approach taken to find suitable alternative accommodation. The policy has been supported by a review of the working practices related to decants and drew on the experiences of tenants who have undergone the process. There has also been a review of procedures, which are included in the report, with a key finding being the need to reduce the number of officers from various teams that individuals and households deal with when going through a particularly challenging time.


Cllr Adeleke asked if the Decant Policy is unique to Dacorum or if other local authorities are also looking at this. OJackson advised that part of the internal review included benchmarking against other local authorities and that there are different approaches taken. OJackson explained that their focus was on utilising DBC's own stock and temporary accommodation when available, whereas other authorities enter into agreements with hotels or letting companies. This will be monitored on an ongoing basis to understand what options are available.


Cllr Mahmood commented on the financial support offered to those being decanted and asked how the costs are agreed. Cllr Mahmood also asked if they ask tenants to have an insurance policy for contents. OJackson explained that they encourage households to take on contents insurance and that the Council runs its own scheme.


Cllr Mahmood asked if a tenant wants to move back to their property whether the payments will reduce or if they will have the same quality of life in the new place. OJackson confirmed that each household has a right to return and they will look to arrange this as soon as possible. Households receive the payment regardless of their length of stay and there is also the opportunity to provide discretionary payments dependent on the nature and circumstances of the decant.


Cllr Mahmood asked if households are paid when they move back. OJackson confirmed that the payment is only when they move out of their primary house into the decanted property.


The Chair noted that the disturbance payment is a minimum of £6,100. OJackson advised that this is the statutory home loss payment rather than the decant payment.


Cllr Wyatt-Lowe agreed that the decision to review the number of officers involved in the process should help make it less stressful for tenants. This should also allow for more accurate information passing.


The Chair advised that the policy went to the Tenants and Leaseholders Committee first, which is made up of tenants in social housing as well as leaseholders. The Chair noted that it was positive to see their comments taken on board and advised that the Council is  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.


HRA Business Plan pdf icon PDF 483 KB

Additional documents:


DWelsh provided an overview of the report, noting that this is the strategic and financial plan and comes against a context of the government putting new regulatory arrangements in place for social landlords. The plan is a medium and long-term plan and there is a detailed financial model behind it, and the document sets out DBC's strategic priorities in managing its housing stock. There are 4 main priorities regarding improving the existing council homes, building new council homes and increasing the supply of affordable housing stock locally, improving services for residents, and decarbonising the housing stock.


A total investment of £263m will be made into existing council homes to improve them over the next 10 years and £106m will be invested in building new council homes. The 3-year plan has been updated to an annual refresh to mirror the budget process and there are new priorities, including managing issues connected to damp and mould, and it notes the process to recommission the repairs contracts. The Tenants and Leaseholders Committee have been briefed on the document and it has been brought to the H&C OSC to gain comments and raise visibility of the plan as it will have implications for the Work Programme. The plan will also be taken to Cabinet for their approval before being taken to full Council for adoption.


Cllr Mahmood commended the plan and the intention to refresh it each year. On damp and mould, Cllr Mahmood asked if each property is inspected or if they rely on tenants to report issues. DWelsh advised that they take both a proactive and reactive approach. MPinnell added that they rely on residents to report damp and mould, though they also conduct proactive stock condition surveys every year with 3,000 completed and 2,000 surveys booked in for next year. Of the 3,000 surveyed so far 16 have been classed as higher risk, and these have been modelled to give an approximate 200+ homes to visit. MPinnell noted the investments being made and confirmed that this work isn't being outsourced, meaning there is a personalised and proactive service, though there will also be a reliance on tenants reporting issues. There is a tracker in place to ensure that cases are followed up with high-priority cases visited within 2 days, otherwise 2 weeks, and all properties will be visited.


Cllr Mahmood commented that damp and mould tend to come from poor ventilation or construction and asked how they are educating tenants. MPinnell confirmed that there is signposting on the website regarding the control of condensation, though the biggest challenge is linked to the cost of living crisis with residents turning off extractor fans, or air bricks are being sealed up to prevent bringing cold air into properties. There is a focus on education as well as being realistic on what can be achieved, and condensation data will be revised as well as a move away from blame culture, though this has to be balanced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 29.


Action points pdf icon PDF 195 KB


The Chair noted that most action points had been responded to.


The Chair confirmed that Cllr Banks had sent a response to Member Support, though this was not circulated. Cllr Banks noted that this referred to the Healthy Hub, advising that in November members had raised a question regarding a drop in referrals in Q3. Officers could not immediately respond and Cllr Banks reassured members that there is no particular evidence base for the drop and is likely to be a fluctuation ahead of Christmas. Cllr Banks confirmed that the number of referrals in Q1 was 367, 420 in Q2, 536 in Q3, and that Q4 figures aren't yet available. The Healthy Hub is a valued service and signposting in the main to other support organisations or services go across the borough.




Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 156 KB


The Chair noted the Work Programme and advised that the next meeting will take place on 7th June 2023.


Cllr Griffiths thanked the Committee for all its work and the support it has given to staff. Cllr Banks echoed the comments and thanked the Chair. The Chair thanked the Committee for its support.


There being no further comments, the Chair closed the meeting.