Agenda item

Corporate Performance Report: Q3 2020-21


The Committee was presented with an update against the Performance Management Framework, as introduced within the Council’s Corporate Plan, for Quarter Three 2020-21 (October to December 2020).


The Assistant Director (Housing) informed the Committee that he was proud of the work that his team had undertaken during quarter three; despite the pandemic they delivered all business as usual and the service received an increase in compliments from the public which outweighed the number of complaints by 50%.  


The officers present guided Members through the report and highlighted key performance information for each of the below Policy Commitments that related to their respective areas:


1.    Deliver an ambitious and diverse programme of building

2.    Enforce a high quality of private housing

3.    Provide a proactive, supportive and financially efficient housing service

4.    Safeguard residents

5.    Deliver a skilled in-house building management team


The Chair thanked the officers for their informative updates and asked that her thanks be passed down to the teams for their excellent work through a tough quarter.


The Housing Officers fielded questions from the Committee for each policy commitment and explained that:


2.         Enforce a high quality of private housing


  • Council Tax was charged at a higher rate on empty properties as it was used as an incentive to encourage the owners of the property to complete renovations as soon as possible and then inhabit it or put it on the market
  • If finance was an issue for owners of empty properties, there were options available to them such as an interest free loan through the No Use Empty Initiative Loan Scheme; the loan was only payable once the works were completed and the house was sold or let out. Gravesham dealt with the administration of the Scheme, but it was KCC who administered the loan. The New Homes Development & Strategy Manager advised that she did not have the criteria to hand for the empty properties interest free loan, but she agreed it to circulate it to Members after the meeting 
  • The Private Housing Team consisted of Environmental Health Officers with additional; a new interim post had also been put in place with the new officer starting next Monday. A new structure, designed to increase the team’s available resources, for the Private Housing Team was currently being mapped out and would be submitted to Management Team for their approval in the coming weeks. The Assistant Director (Housing) and the Chair recognised that resources need to be increased within the team and work had already started on creating a new staffing structure to address the resourcing issue.


The Chair informed the Committee that the senior level of Housing Service had undergone a positive restructuring and the next level of management  was also going to be restructured to strengthen the service even more.


3.         Provide a proactive, supportive and financially efficient housing service:


  • There was usually a host of different issues linked to tenants’ situations which Housing Officers had to deal with; many cases became even more complex during the pandemic. Housing Officers would often have to address many tenants’ issues such as anti-social behaviour, mental health problems with the involvement of  social services if there were children involved. To achieve an adequate resolution, the Housing Team usually had to resolve multiple issues and work with partner agencies if specialist assistance was necessary


Members commended the team for having some of the lowest rent arrears in the South East and stated it was a testament to the team’s hard work.


4.         Safeguard residents:


  • The team were hopeful to receive in the region of £70K from the Protect Plus fund which would be used to provide accommodation for rough sleepers and provide them support once they had moved into the accommodation; some of that fund would be used to buy them a small number of personal belongings such as a bed, cooker and kettle etc. The team were aware of the Kent Support and Assistance Service which provided goods/services to those in need  


5.         Deliver a skilled in-house building management team


  • The DSO Building Management Team had robust policies in place which outlined the responsibilities for tenants and the responsibilities for the Council as landlord with regards to housing repairs and maintenance. The staff had been excellent at implementing their responsibilities and the Service Delivery Manager (Housing Repairs) was confident that her team were only carrying out repairs that should be completed by the landlord. Members were advised that due to lockdown the need for repairs had increased as people were spending more time  in their properties which led to things such as blocked toilets, sinks and broken items. Compared to previous years, the team were roughly on track with their performance levels, a real achievement throughout a pandemic, and repairs reported were not much  higher than seen in the  quarter three report. On average, the benchmark for housing repairs was roughly six repairs a year per property


The Housing Officers agreed to several actions during the course of the meeting:


  • In response to a concern raised by Cllr Hills regarding one of his residents that was paying the higher rate of Council Tax for his empty property, the New Homes Development & Strategy Manager asked for Cllr Hills to pass on the residents contact details so that her team could make contact and provide assistance
  • The Assistant Director (Housing) agreed to circulate an email outside of the meeting outlining the number of prosecutions there had been from the private Housing Team
  • The new Neighbourhood Housing Managers name was Jill Rogers; the Service Manager (Housing Options) agreed to circulate the name of the interim officer outside of the meeting
  • In future reporting, the Service Manager (Housing Options) advised that it would be helpful to Members if a case study was included on how the Housing Team had helped a vulnerable resident attain suitable housing 


The Committee thanked the officers for their hard work and asked that the Committees thanks be passed down to all of the teams.


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