Agenda and minutes
Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions
Contact: Committee Section
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Leslie Hoskins and Lyn Milner. Councillors Frank Wardle and Sarah Gow attended as substitutes.
The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 6 September 2022 were signed by the Chair.
Declarations of Interest
Cllr Bajit Hayre declared an other interest in the Draft House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing Policy and Charging Structure report, as he was a HMO Licence holder.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) gave a presentation on the KentHomeChoice procurement update. The presentation can be viewed via the following link (Public Pack)Housing Committee Presentation on KentHomeChoice Supplementary Agenda Supplement for Housing Services Cabinet Committee, 14/11/2022 19:30
The Committee were informed that KentHomeChoice was a partnership of local authorities and Housing associations that provided social and affordable housing in Kent. The Kent partnership is the biggest in the country, began in 2008 and had been a county delivery since with many partners represented across local authorities and housing associations acrpssKent.
The system had both a front office system for the customer called KentHomeChoice and a back-office system for officers called Locata. The customer system advertises the available social homes and customers can place bids for these properties. The back-office system manages both the housing register and the homelessness case work conducted under the Homelessness Reduction Act. The Locata contract will come to an end in July 2023.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) explained to the Committee that Gravesham was part of a working Group with other local authorities, in which Dover District Council were the lead authority. Dover District Council undertook a procurement process in early 2022 which included nominating senior officers from 6 of the 13 Council partners including the Service Manager (Housing Options) from Gravesham.
Members were advised that Huume Ltd won the contract for the new Homechoice system on both price and quality.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) explained the transition between systems with the current Kenthomechoice programme closing to new applications on 1st June 2023. New properties would continue to be advertised via Kenthomechoice until 16th June 2023. After 16th June 2023 all data would migrate to the new system Huume. Huume would then go live on 1st July.
The Committee considered the presentation and highlighted the following:
The Service Manager (Housing Options) presented the Draft House of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licensing Policy and Charging Structure report via a presentation to the Committee. The presentation can be viewed via the following link(Public Pack)Statutory and Non Statutory Fees Presentation Supplementary Agenda Supplement for Housing Services Cabinet Committee, 14/11/2022 19:30
The purpose of this report was to provide Housing Services Cabinet Committee with an opportunity to make comments on the expanded Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) Licencing Policy. In addition, the report also provided the Housing Services Cabinet Committee with the updated fees matrix for Private Sector Housing enforcement activity, to ensure a consistent and transparent approach to charging fees for both statutory and non-statutory inspections, that will form part of the Council’s annual review of fees and charges.
It was recommended for Members to discuss and provide feedback on the HMO Licencing Policy prior to being ratified by the Cabinet Member for Housing Services.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) gave the Committee a background on the Private Sector Housing Team, outlining their role to support and advise privately renting tenants, homeowners and private landlords, with their primary aim to work towards safe and well-maintained accommodation. The Committee were informed that the Private Housing Team also administered Disabled Facilities Grants (DFGs), licenced certain Houses in Multiple Occupation, Caravan sites and would soon be managing empty homes within the borough.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) updated members that currently there was not a dedicated policy for HMO Licencing and the current HMO licence fee structure within gravesham had remained the same for over 5 years.
The Service Manager (Housing Options) drew members attention to the proposed new fee structure detailed on page 11 of the report. It was proposed that there would be different fees depending on the type of application, that would be split in to two parts, Part A and Part B payments. The current fee for an HMO Licence was £540. With the new proposed scheme there would be an increased fee of £703.33 (made up of the two-part payment) for 2022/23. It was stressed that fees were not for profit and any income made through charging would put into the Council’s General Fund. Members were informed that Section 49 of the Housing Act 2004, enabled local authorities to make such reasonable charge as they considered appropriate as a means of recovering certain administrative and other expenses incurred by them. By introducing a charging matrix this would support service delivery.
The Chair commended the report and introduced Gravesham’s new Private Sector Housing Manager to the Committee.
The Committee considered the report and raised the following:
The Director (Housing) presented the Corporate Performance Update: Quarter Two 2022-23. The purpose of this report was to provide the Committee with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter Two 2022-23 (July to September 2022). The report was for information purposes only.
The Director (Housing) drew member’s attention to PI 18 of the report, which outlined the average time taken to re-let council housing. It was noted that the average time taken to re-let council housing had continued to reduce. This quarter the average time to re-let houses had reduced to 19 days compared to 28 days in the first quarter of 2022/23. This continued to reflect the great, collective work of all of the teams within Housing, who had been working together to re-let properties as quickly as possible.
The Director (Housing) informed the Committee that this quarter had seen an increase of those in homelessness with 194 households in temporary accommodation. Of these, 90 households were in Gravesham stock with the remaining in nightly paid accommodation.
The Committee was notified that the Housing department were looking to build a business case to explore the option of creating a social lettings agency to work with Landlords to move more households out of temporary accommodation and prevent homelessness before reaching crisis point. Members were advised that homelessness is a national issue and not unique to Gravesham and a contributing factor to homelessness was the financial crisis.
The Committee noted the report.
The Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) presented the Draft Housing Management Annual Report 2021/22. The purpose of this report was to provide Housing Services Cabinet Committee with a draft copy of the Annual Council Housing Report and to seek comments on the content prior to design work being undertaken by the Communications Team and ratified by Cabinet Member for Housing Services.
The Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) informed the Committee that the purpose of the Housing Management Annual Report was to provide tenants with information relating to all of the achievements of the last 12 months. The reason for this was to celebrate the successes, to provide tenants with information regarding the services provided
and to give an insight into what they could expect in the coming 12 months. The report would give tenants information on a number of service they received such as:
The Service Manager (Housing Landlord Services) highlighted a few key points from the Housing Management Annual Report 2021/22:
Services Team. During the last 12 months, the Housing and Independent Living Officers had completed approximately 318 inspections. The report gave the tenant the opportunity to attend inspections via a link to the Council’s website.