Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
An apology for absence was received from Cllr Peter Scollard and Cllr Sarah Gow attended as his substitute. An apology for absence was received from Daniel Killian, Director (Housing).
The minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on Monday, 15 November 2022 were agreed and signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
No declarations of interest were made.
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) outlined the report and gave assurances to the Housing Services Cabinet Committee on how DSO Building Management meets compliance with the general requirements of the Health and Safety at Work Act 1974 and the more specific requirements of the Construction Design & Management Regulations 2015 (CDM)
The Service Manager (Housing Operations) highlighted the following:
· The CDM Officer carries out scheduled and unannounced site inspections on the
Council’s contractors and provides comprehensive reports on a monthly basis to
the relevant Project Manager and the Principal Contractor. The inspection report
focuses on elements of the project that are specific to CDM Regulations
The inspection report will recommend remedial actions, further control measures
and deadlines to track progress and will be reviewed at contract meetings
· The voids, responsive repairs and in-house work programmes are also subject to
periodic site inspections by the CDM Officer with a subsequent follow up report.
Unlike major projects not all of the elements of the CDM Regulations apply,
however, to ensure best practice, the managers and supervisors within the service
adopt a similar approach when establishing safe systems of work.
· Over the last three years, five accidents/ injuries have occurred amongst the operational workforce which have involved small injuries such as bruising as banging of hands which is low for this sector and also taking into account that over 65,000 repair jobs were undertaken during this period as well as refurbishment on 813 empty properties.
· There are sufficient health and safety arrangements in place across DSO Building Management that will continually be reviewed and improved upon, and this should give Housing Committee confidence in the working practices and processes of the service.
Following questions and comments from Members, the Service Manager (Housing Operations) highlighted the following:
· The Council has a corporate Lone Working Policy and there is also a specific policy in place within the Housing Operations team to ensure the safety of the workforce.
The Oneserve Field Service Management system and tracking systems on work vehicles allows the Council to carefully monitor staff and look after their welfare.
· There is a duty officer who manages the out of hours service. Staff go out in pairs in the evening with a lone working device and check in with the duty officer.
· The Council provides specialist manual handling training to its staff as it is important to protect workers from injury.
· The Service Manager (Housing Operations) will review the wording used at paragraph 4.2.2 of the report to reflect the fact that staff must report any accidents or incidents to enable changes in work practices or amendments to risk assessments.
· The Council tries to be as proactive as possible and keep neighbours informed of any works that are going on.
· Staff used to be CRB cleared but the requirements then changed to DBS checks and the Council weren’t able to get DBS checks for staff.
· In relation to extra job requests when on site; staff make an assessment on a case-by-case basis. If the ... view the full minutes text for item 27.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) provided the Committee with a draft policy that details the councils approach to placements into temporary accommodation, including consideration of the statutory requirements on Councils and introducing charging under s206(2) Housing Act 1996 to charge homeless people for temporary accommodation. Members are requested to provide feedback on the policy prior to it being ratified by the Chair of Housing Services Cabinet Committee as Cabinet Member for Housing.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) highlighted the following:
· Whilst the majority of Temporary Accommodation (TA) placements are currently offered within the borough, increasing demand coupled with the decreasing supply of suitable accommodation locally inevitably means that the service is reliant on nightly-paid options both in and outside the Gravesham borough.
· The Council aimed to use its own housing stock however as homeless approaches increase, over time this has had to be supplemented with nightly paid units managed by private sector housing providers both within and outside the borough. It is important that the council is satisfied that accommodation offered to households is suitable and reasonable to occupy. In addition, with the TA budget overspent it is important to obtain reasonable contributions towards the temporary accommodation costs, which are impacting the general fund.
· There are currently 161 households in temporary accommodation of which 76 are GBC accommodation and 85 are in nightly-paid accommodation. 112 households have been accepted as homeless under the Housing Act 1996 (amended 2202) and therefore there is a duty to find a housing pathway so that the Council can discharge their legal duty to them.
· The Council now has a Temporary Accommodation Officer with a new system in place to monitor the work they are carrying out.
Following questions and comments from Members, the Service Manager (Housing Options) highlighted the following:
· The budget for Temporary Accommodation is £50,000 a year and the Council is currently going a long way over that which is having an impact on the General Fund. The Housing Revenue Account is also affected but the exact details won’t be known until the end of the year.
· There isn’t a ‘typical’ homeless person or family; it can happen to anyone.
· Rates in Gravesham: 1 Bedroom Rate £155.34, 2 Bedroom Rate £195.62, 3 Bedroom Rate £241.64, 4 Bedroom Rate £299.18
· The government provides a homeless grant each year; in Kent the majority of the grant is used for TA costs due to the very high demand.
· After the eviction ban was lifted by the government, there have been more Section 21 and Section 8 notices as well as more domestic abuse victims (both male and female)
· Quite often victims of domestic abuse still want to stay in the local area but for those who wish to leave the Borough the Council works with other local authorities.
· Since April, the Council have opened 1033 cases where people have stated that they are about to be evicted. The Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed to circulate the full statistics on this matter to the Committee. ... view the full minutes text for item 28.