Agenda and minutes

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Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre, Windmill Street, Gravesend DA12 1AU. View directions

Contact: Committee Section 

No. Item




Apologies for absence were received from Cllrs Ejaz Aslam, Jordan Meade and Christina Rolles. Cllrs David Beattie, Alan Metcalf and Tony Rana attended as their substitutes.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 157 KB


The minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 1 February 2024 were signed by the Chair.



Declarations of Interest


No declarations of interest were made. 


Corporate Performance: Quarter Three 2023-24 pdf icon PDF 148 KB

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The Committee was informed that, in October 2023, the Council formally adopted its Corporate Plan for 2023-27. The plan established the authority’s ambition for the Borough, complete with a suite of corporate objectives and supporting policy commitments that will shape the Council’s activities over the four-year administrative period. In order to evaluate if the Council was effectively achieving against its stated policy commitments, and was ultimately delivering consistently high-quality services, a sound performance management process was implemented. Developed by Senior Council Officers and Cabinet Portfolio Holders, the Council’s Corporate Plan introduced a Performance Management Framework (PMF) that formed the basis of reporting corporate performance to Members and residents.


The Committee was therefore presented with an update against the PMF, in relation to those performance measures that fall within the remit of the Housing Services Cabinet Committee for Quarter Three 2023-24 (October to December 2023).


The Head of Housing Assets provided the Committee with an overview of each of the performance measures and responded to the questions/comments raised by Members.


The Committee noted the report.



Private Rented Sector Offer Policy pdf icon PDF 284 KB

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The Chair welcomed Kenan Dogan, Housing Options Manager, to his first meeting of the Housing Services Cabinet Committee.


The Housing Options Manager informed the Committee that, as part of managing a Housing Options Service, all local authorities were required to discharge their homeless duty in line with the Homelessness Reduction Act 2017.


The Localism Act 2011 (sections 148 and 149) introduced provisions which enabled the Council to bring its statutory housing duty under section 193 of the Housing Act 1996 (as amended) to an end, by making an offer of a private rented sector tenancy rather than a social housing tenancy. 


The Council’s Housing Allocation Scheme sets out who will be offered social housing and how they will be prioritised. In order to offer private rented accommodation, the Council needed to have a separate policy in place; the Private Rented Sector Offer policy.


The policy will allow the Council to make an offer of accommodation to people experiencing homelessness, working alongside a series of other tools to help prevent people’s homelessness and move people on from costly and unsettled temporary accommodation, and bring its statutory duty to an end.


The policy would be applied on a case-by-case basis. However, it would consider a series of groups that would ordinarily be prioritised for private rented accommodation; the report detailed the guiding principles that would be applied when making a private rented sector offer. Prior to making an offer, the Council would undertake a suitability assessment to identify affordability and whether the household was already engaged in local services within a particular area, such as schools and medical services. The household would also be supported if moving out of area.


It was noted that households may be offered private rented accommodation outside of the Borough, where appropriate, for example those households may already be living outside of the Borough and/or cannot stay in Gravesham for a particular reason such as fleeing domestic violence or abuse.


Only one suitable offer would need to be made in order for the Council to bring its statutory duty to an end; this included those cases where a household may refuse an offer. In those circumstances, the policy provided a safety net in that those households would have a statutory right for review and/or a reapplication duty.


The Committee was informed that Gravesham, and Kent, faced severe housing pressures across all tenures. A combination of historic and on-going lack of new supply, a reduction in the number of available lets across the social housing stock, welfare reform, and rising property prices and rents, had led to rapidly increasing, and unmet, demand for social housing. This increasing demand had recently started to translate into acute pressure for temporary accommodation. The latest data, both national and local, showed that demand for temporary bed spaces had doubled in two years. Demand remained high and despite a re-focus on preventing homelessness by the Council’s front line Housing Options team, the numbers in nightly paid accommodation had not reduced.


Adopting the Private  ...  view the full minutes text for item 27.


Temporary Accommodation Update pdf icon PDF 347 KB


The Committee was presented with a report which detailed the current national and local climate in relation to temporary accommodation (TA) and associated spend, the impact it was having on the organisation and what was being done (now and in the future) to mitigate the impact.


The Head of Housing Solutions advised that it was not uncommon for Councils to spend on TA however it had increased tenfold or more since 2012, both nationally and locally.  A growing number of Councils were now spending millions of pounds a year on TA. In addition to the increase demand for TA, rough sleeping had also increased.


In terms of the position within Kent, a recent report by the District Council Network (DCN) highlighted, as of June 2023, the number of households in TA  in district areas had risen by 16% compared to the same time in 2022. In addition, there were over 1,550 more households with children in TA which was a 24% increase compared to the same period in 2022. There had also been a 10% increase in housing registers between 2020 and 2023 meaning almost 31,000 additional households were now waiting to access social housing.


Despite Autumn Statement measures, the cost of TA and homelessness services continued to threaten the financial sustainability of some Councils and puts them at risk of having to issue section 114 notices.  Total district Council spend on TA was £216m in 2022-23 compared to £66m in 2017-18 i.e. an increase of 228% over 5 years.


The DCN also reported that Housing Benefit subsidy now covered just 38% of district councils’ TA costs on average. In some cases, it was less than 20% dependent on the area. This compared to around 90% in 2011 when the cap was introduced.


Section 2.4 of the report demonstrated the subsidy loss to Gravesham per week per placement.


The Head of Housing Solutions advised that over the last five years Gravesham had seen a significant increase in homelessness and demand for TA. 1,727 households approached the Housing Options Service between April 2023 – February 2024 claiming to be homeless or in threat of becoming homeless. Of these approaches and subsequent assessments, 188 new TA placements were made as, following a robust assessment, officers were satisfied that the households were eligible, homeless and in priority need.


Since April 2023, there had been a steady increase in the numbers of households requiring TA and a consistent reliance on nightly paid which was the most expensive forms of TA. Gravesham currently had 245 households in TA of which there were 130 households in nightly paid accommodation by various providers. There were currently 37 households outside of the Borough with an aim (where appropriate) to bring them back into Borough if and when suitable housing was to be found.  Gravesham predominately used self-contained units and for some single households, shared HMO accommodation would be utilised. 


The cost of TA was monitored regularly and reported monthly. All officers within Housing Services were continually adjusting the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 28.