Pre-Housing and Communities Committee Forum –open to all tenants and TRA representatives

Note of zoom meeting on Monday 2nd November 2020

This note also includes the outcome of the Housing and Communities Committee (HACC) on the 4th November 2020 which is noted in boxes after each item discussed.

Present

Cllr Diane Docherty (Housing Convenor)- chaired meeting, Frances McGonagle (Littleholm TRA) – for some of meeting, Georgia McCambley (Central Radnor Park TRA), Gavin Lawson ( N&S Drumry TRA), John Hainey (N&S Drumry TRA ), John Kerr (Housing Development & Homelessness Manager), Jane Mack ( Snr Development Officer-Tenant Participation), Stefan Kristmanns (Housing Development Co-ordinator), Edward Thomas (Housing Operations Manager), Janice Rainey ( Finance Manager), Hanne Thijs ( Development officer -Tenant Participation)

Apologies

Martin Feeney ( Building Services Manager), Billy Neeson (Westbridgend TRA), June Todd (WDTRO), Janette Donlin (Dalmuir MSF’s TRA) and Jacqui Peacock (Dalmuir MSF’s TRA

Discussion focused on committee papers that tenants most interested in.

Item 7. Enhanced Standard for High rise flats.

Edward Thomas outlined the key points in the report regarding the outcome of the consultants Fire safety risk assessment of the Council’s 19 high rise blocks and the proposed work to further enhance fire safety.

Key points from discussion

Question was raised in relation to section 4.14 ( page 35) which refers to an overhaul of day to day management of the multi-storey blocks but tenants raised concerns about ongoing issues with delays in fire doors being repaired. Edward recognised this has been an issues and advised that 2 new neighbourhood officers have recently started and have a specific role for fire safety and they will build up specialist knowledge to help with precise reporting and Edward meeting Martin later that day to progress specialist repair response to help improve response times. Some wooden doors often just need a joiner but some more bespoke so specialist knowledge will help deal with them quicker. Spare parts are kept but can be delays to fixing some of the bespoke ones.

Edward reiterated that fire doors are flagged as urgent and Fire Service also do regular inspections and are satisfied if Council in process of repairing as quickly as possible.

Question raised about the how many smoke alarms a property should have and Edward advised that there is an ongoing programme to update smoke alarm systems. 1 alarm in the property used to be the basic standard but now need additional linked alarms and heat sensors. Enhanced programme ongoing and City Technical doing upgrades when they do annual gas boiler inspections and separate programme for properties without gas.

Question raised about if owners of former Council properties will be offered service at a cost as they could be adjoined to Council properties.Edward advised that the owner would be responsible for installing themselves and the Scottish Government set up an advisory service to help owners do that and he happy to circulate information. Fire Service also good for advice. John Kerr added that the need for the linked alarms is a change to the Tolerable Standard for all properties and so anyone struggling to meet the Standard will be able to get help from the ‘Scheme of Assistance’.

Action : Jane to email Martin Feeney ( cc Diane and Jim McAloon) re. example of fire door on DEF side on 2nd floor of Dunswin Court been jammed open for over 2 weeks – been reported .

Item 7. Enhanced Standard for High rise flats - Agreed

Item 10. Building Services actions to improve tenants satisfaction with the service

Report outlines actions being taken to improve tenants’ satisfaction with the Maintenance and Repairs services delivered by Building Services.

Key points from discussion

Issue raised regarding section 4.1 which says phone system recognised as a main issue and a new phone system installed in Dec 2019 but tenants raised ongoing and recent examples of delays in getting through on phones so new system not only solution and need enough staff to answer calls. Example given of waiting 23 minutes to report an emergence previous week.

Diane apologised to tenants for their not being a representative from Repairs to answer query and asked Jane to email Martin Feeney and response to be shared with group.

Action: Jane to email Martin Feeney ( cc. Diane and Jim McAloon) about ongoing problems for tenants not getting through to Repairs.

Item 10. Building Services actions to improve tenants satisfaction with the service - Agreed

Item 12. Scottish Social Housing Charter/ Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland Progress report

Report provides benchmarking information on how the Council has performed against the Scottish Social Housing Charter indicators and includes the Annual Assurance Statement.

Key point raised

In relation to the Annual Assurance Statement concern raised about HRA Guidance compliance and statement refers to WDC doing a full assessment on compliance and WDTRO want to make sure that happens. Annual assurance statement says it will be done in parallel with the rent setting exercise but John Kerr clarified that wording not right and that HRA compliance would be completed in partnership with the Joint Rent Group as would the rent setting and it would be timescales that would be similar ( ie finished before February 2021) .

Item 12. Scottish Social Housing Charter/ Regulation of Social Housing in Scotland Progress report - Agreed

Item 15. Housing Revenue Account Budgetary Control Report to 30 September 2020 (Period 6)

Janice Rainey outlined the key points in the report that there is an anticipated underspend in the revenue budget of £1.8m mainly due to lockdown period when only emergency repairs could be carried out . Are working to clear backlog but still anticipate a reduction in reactive repairs as people sort themselves or don’t report as don’t want unnecessary people in their home. Rent loss also increased as lockdown reduced lettings.

Rental income reduced as delays in new builds completing this year and also reduced levels of rent paid.

Item 15. Housing Revenue Account Budgetary Control Report to 30 September 2020 (Period 6) - Agreed

The next Housing & Community Committee (HACC) will be on 3RD February so there will be a Pre- HACC Forum on Monday 1st February 2021 (probably via zoom) to discuss the papers with the Housing Convenor and officers who have written the papers.

The papers are available the week before and electronic copies will be sent to all TRA Secretaries, WDTRO members and via TP Facebook page.

Paper copies will also be made available as are usually a lengthy document to read on a small screen.

This Forum is open to any tenant or member of a Tenant & Resident Association.

Pre-Housing and Communities Committee Forum – open to all tenants and TRA representatives
Note of zoom meeting on Monday 31st August 2020

This note also includes the outcome of the Housing and Communities Committee (HACC) on the 2nd September 2020 which is noted in boxes after each item discussed.

Present

Cllr Diane Docherty (Housing Convenor), Frances McGonagle (Littleholm TRA), Georgia McCambley (Central Radnor Park TRA), John Kerr (Housing Development & Homelessness Manager), Jane Mack ( Snr Development Officer-Tenant Participation), Stefan Kristmanns (Housing Development Co-ordinator), Edward Thomas (Housing Operations Manager), Peter Barry (Strategic Lead) – present for discussion on Item 12

Apologies

Billy Neeson (Westbridgend TRA), June Todd (WDTRO), Jacqui Peacock (Dalmuir MSF’s TRA), Polly Wheelans (Littleholm TRA)

Items discussed in order of priority for tenants.

Item 12 .Housing Revenue Account Budgetary Control Report to 31 July 2020 (Period 4)

Key points from discussion

Frances McGonagle raised the WDTRO’s concern about the honesty and transparency of the HACC finance papers as there was more detail in the full Council paper on COVID about potential to charge HRA for lost income than in the HACC finance papers.

Peter Barry appreciated the concern raised and the issue had not been presented in an ideal way but in the Council paper, Finance officers are just giving advance reference of the thinking of how they could plug the anticipated gap. No decision being taken and was just an update paper.

Even as an update paper Frances thought that it should be flagged up in housing papers even if just for discussion. Peter noted this point and there was agreement that full discussion with tenants would be needed and this would happen before any decision papers were submitted for Council decision.

Question submitted by Billy Neeson asked by Jane Mack in his absence – Why should tenants pay Building Services for work that hasn’t been done?

Peter advised that a motion agreed by COSLA gave Council’s flexibility to charge HRA for some lost income due to COVID. Audit Scotland, an independent organisation, is happy with the arrangement but Peter emphasised that the full financial situation would need to be reviewed and many answers needed before in that position. Assurance given that would be full discussion with the WDTRO and Joint Rent Group before any decisions are made.

Frances asked about Appendix 1 on page 123 (table shows annual budget for Repairs & Maintenance) and figure for spending on Repairs & Maintenance shown
as £3,762,000 as seemed high and wanted to know if that was only for work carried out during lockdown?

Peter confirmed that Repairs & Maintenance were still operating during lockdown and particularly emergency and void work was getting done. Martin Feeney not available for full response but Edward Thomas agreed to raise query and provide a fuller response. Edward also advised that there was a delay in the charging process and work from end of last financial year could be included in that figure.

After meeting the following clarification and breakdown of spend was provided.

Repairs and Maintenance

Breakdown of spend
Total budget 2020/21 Spend to date Forecast spend
£000 £000 £000
£12,517 £3,762 £11,162

Has been confirmed by Finance and Building Services that the charges to the HRA in the 2020/21

Budgetary control report are for jobs which have taken place in 2020/21 i.e. 1 April – 31 July.

There has been no charges assumed in the budgetary control report for work that has not been undertaken.

Work which had taken place during 2019/20 was paid for in full in 2019/20 (jobs partially completed are valued at the year end and charges made for the proportion due).

In terms of the breakdown of the current year spend, details of the spend are below.

Further breakdown of the number of repairs in each category or a further breakdown of the jobbing repairs i.e. emergencies / routine etc. can be provided on request.

spend
Category Spend
Jobbing Repairs (HMTA & Private Contractors) £2,142,780
Tenants Priority Budget £33,333
Tenants Sustainability £156,458
Travelling Persons £7,667
Void Repairs & Maintenance £393,974
Adaptations for Disabled £83,333
Garden Tidy Scheme £56,307
Other Maintenance - gas, lifts, CCTV etc. £532,162
Rapid Rehousing £56,417
High Rise Fire Safety -
Other Repairs - grants,decants,alarms,pest control etc. £273,491
Recoveries - insurance & rechargeables £90,603
REPAIRS & MAINTENANCE £3,761,985

Item 12. Housing Revenue Account Budgetary control report to 31 July 2020 (Period 4) - Agreed

Item 8. Scottish Social Housing Charter Update Report

Key points from discussion

Frances highlighted the reference to the Annual Assurance Statement (AAS) in the report as last years statement said that the Council was working towards full compliance with HRA Guidance and so would want to know what had been done in last year to change that?

Stefan confirmed that the paper was advising that the AAS would be submitted and then retrospective approval at committee sought as the timing for the submission was before the Committee date and last year had submitted after committee but Regulator had publicly named WDC as submitting late. To avoid that, this year’s plan will still involve discussion with the Housing Convener and the WDTRO before the AAS gets submitted. Areas where we are not fully compliant need to be highlighted and be upfront.

Assurance Statement signed by Housing Convener and Diane aware of that responsibility and will be need to be satisfied with the content before signing.

Question submitted by Billy Neeson asked by Jane Mack in his absence – concern that overall tenant satisfaction had reduced (page 39) and in particular tenant satisfaction with the repairs service had dropped (page 40).

Diane advised that this had been highlighted at pre-agenda and she shared his concern. It was confirmed that a paper will be submitted to committee in November outlining the improvements that Building Services were doing to improve the service.

Stefan also advised that at the Housing Challenges meetings been looking at all areas of weakness within the Charter performance areas and actions developed to improve performance. 

Item 8. Scottish Social Housing Charter Update Report - Agreed

Item 6. New Approaches to Homelessness Update Report – ‘More than a Roof’

Final report and ‘Home at the Heart 2019-24’ Year 1 Update on Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan.

John advised been high levels of homelessness during lockdown and been successful in ensuring no rough sleeping or destitution in West Dunbartonshire.

Instances of homelessness are steadily coming down but still a key priority. John proposed that he brought regular updates to the WDC/WDTRO Liaison meetings.

No further discussion.

Item 6. New Approaches to Homelessness Update Report – ‘More than a Roof’. Final report and ‘Home at the Heart 2019-24’ Year 1 Update on Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan - Agreed

Item 7. More Homes – West Dunbartonshire and ‘Building Back Better’ – West Dunbartonshire Council Affordable Housing Supply Programme

Agreed Building Back Better not best name but no further discussion.

Item 7. More Homes – West Dunbartonshire and ‘Building Back Better’ – West Dunbartonshire Council Affordable Housing Supply Programme - Agreed

Item 9. ‘Involving You’ West Dunbartonshire Council’s Tenant Participation Strategy 2017-20 Annual Progress Report.

John advised that all social landlords have a statutory duty to have an active Tenant Participation Strategy and because lockdown has affected consultation opportunities, the paper includes a formal request to extend current Strategy into 2021 when a new
strategy will go to committee in February 2021. No further discussion.

Item 9. ‘Involving You’ West Dunbartonshire Council’s Tenant Participation Strategy 2017-20 Annual Progress Report - Agreed

Item 10. Rent Collection Policy

No discussion

The next Housing & Community Committee (HACC) will be on 4th November so there will be a Pre- HACC Forum on Monday 2th November 2020 (probably via zoom) to discuss the papers with the Housing Convenor and officers who have written the papers.

The papers are available the week before and electronic copies will be sent to all TRA Secretaries, WDTRO members and via TP Facebook page.

Paper copies will also be made available as are usually a lengthy document to read on a small screen.

This Forum is open to any tenant or member of a Tenant & Resident Association.

Pre-Housing and Communities Committee Forum – open to all tenants and TRA representatives
Note of meeting on
Monday 3rd February 2020

This note also includes the outcome of the Housing and Communities Committee (HACC) on the 5th February 2020 which is noted in boxes after each item discussed.

Present

Cllr Diane Docherty (Housing Convenor), Georgia McCambley ( Central Radnor Park TRA), June Todd (WDTRO), John Kerr (Housing Development & Homelessness Manager), Jane Mack ( Snr Development Officer-Tenant Participation), Stefan Kristmanns ( Housing Development Co-ordinator), Janice Rainey ( Finance Manager)

Apologies

Harry McCormack (Tullichewan TRA) ,Billy Neeson
(Westbridgend TRA), Jackie Peacock, Janette Donlin and Isobel Rankin (all Dalmuir MSF’s TRA), Frances McGonagle, Polly Wheelans and Douglas Clark ( all Littleholm TRA)

Order of items being discussed changed to accommodate later arrival of John Kerr.

Item 7. Rapid Re-housing Transition Plan and New Approaches to Homelessness – Update Report

Purpose of the report is to give an update on the transition plan and also to highlight the funding issue resulting from the under funding from the Scottish Government that
WDC has been awarded. The Rapid Rehousing Transition Plan had been costed at £470,083 but WDC been awarded £251,000.

Report also includes information on the provisions of the Homelessness (Scotland) Act 2003 regarding ‘Intentionality ‘ and ‘ Local connection ‘ which Councils will be able to implement from May 2021. Stefan advised that in WDC not a big concern but the number of cases would be monitored.

Key points from discussion

Question asked about table 4.8 on page 24 and reference to additional £126,000 Housing contribution and whether this contribution was coming from the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) as Homeless services should be funded from General Services? John Kerr confirmed that it was from HRA and rationale is that Housing benefit from the additional support given to WDC tenants and came from existing resources.

John also clarified that the Homelessness and temporary accommodation were the statutory services that the General Fund paid for but Rapid Rehousing is not a statutory service so HRA contributes.

Action : Councillor Docherty asked for a breakdown of funding to be provided (John Kerr).

Breakdown confirmed as £76,000 from additional staff resources plus £50,000 from existing Repairs Budget to prioritise repairs to Housing First tenancies and include carpets and white goods.

Item 7. Rapid Re-housing Transition Plan and New Approaches to Homelessness – Update Report - Agreed

Item 6. More Homes West Dunbartonshire – WDC new supply programme – update report

Update report on the progress of the Council’s new build programme. 161 new properties already been completed ( table 1 on page 12) and a number of sites underway or planned. These are set out in table 2 on page 13 and add up to 417 new properties.

Demolition of former Aitkenbar primary school underway and the 2 affected community groups been accommodated elsewhere and happy with outcome. Has had a marginal impact on costs due to the delay but minimal – will probably be £3k.

Clydebank East demolition also underway and the redevelopment plans are still being considered as want to get the best plan for the area considering the other developments in the area ( new bridge).

Key points from discussion

Question asked about how Community Benefits get determined ? John advised that they are often related to employment and contractors need to recruit from local community. ‘Softer’ benefits can be things like a contractor providing money to be fed into local community. Amount of community benefit depends on the size of the contract – Low , medium and high levels of community benefits equal £3500, £8000 or £11,000.

Community benefit from Creval Court development involves a community garden and is linked in with Leamy Foundation who are already very active in the area and they will encourage the community to get involved and maintain the community garden there.

Item 6. More Homes West Dunbartonshire – new supply programme – update report - Agreed

Item 8. Tenant Satisfaction Survey

Report sets out the tenant satisfaction across all areas of Housing and Homelessness since the introduction of the Scottish Social Housing Charter ( 2014).

Identifies areas of improvement but main focus is on areas which can be improved. Improvement action plan created based on satisfaction survey results as well as a workshop held with tenants in January 2020 to discuss the results so that the action plan is tenant focused. The action plan ( page 41 ) sets out the main actions that will be prioritised in 2020.

Survey also asked tenants about what they think investment priorities should be and most said more regular maintenance programmes, followed by new build programme and increased budget for external improvements.

Key points from discussion

Councillor Docherty advised that she had also set up a meeting with Building Services to discuss the issues that tenants were experiencing in relation to repairs and she will give updates at the WDC/WDTRO Liaison meetings.

Item 8. Tenant Satisfaction Survey - Agreed

Item 9. Housing Revenue Account Budgetary control report to 31 December 2019

Tenant friendly version of report well received and easier to understand. No other discussion

Item 9. Housing Revenue Account Budgetary control report to 31 December 2019 - Agreed

Item 10. Financial Report 2019/20 as at period 9 (31 January 2020)

Financial update report on services covered by Housing & Communities Committee i.e. covers more than just Housing Revenue Account.

Key points from discussion

No discussion on this report

Item 10. Financial Report 2019/20 as at period 9 (31 January 2020) - Agreed

Any other business

None raised

The next Housing & Community Committee (HACC) will be on 6th May so there will be a Pre- HACC Forum on Monday 4th May 2020 at the Council offices, 16 Church Street , Dumbarton to discuss the papers with the Housing Convenor and officers who have written the papers.

Papers planned for going to the May Housing & Communities Committee are,

  • More Homes, Better Homes update
  • Homelessness Code of Guidance
  • Fire safety in multis
  • Gypsy Travellers site standards

The papers are available the week before and we will post them out to all TRA Secretaries, WDTRO members, interested tenants and they will also be available
online.

This Forum is open to any tenant or member of a Tenant & Resident Association - we can provide transport to assist tenants being able to attend and the building has disabled access and a LOOP system.