Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 6th September, 2016 6.00 pm

Venue: Clem Attlee Residents’ Hall, Freeman Place, Fulham, London SW6 7TN

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088

Items
No. Item

13.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillors Lucy Ivimy and Harry Phibbs arrived late and apologised for having done so. Councillor Ben Coleman, Cabinet Member for Commercial Revenue and Resident Satisfaction, sent his apologies for lateness owing to another meeting.

 

Councillor Sue Fennimore, Cabinet Member for Social Inclusion, and Councillor Andrew Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration had sent her apologies for not being at the meeting.

14.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

15.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 197 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 5 July were agreed to be accurate.

16.

Older People's Housing Strategy pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing, explained that when she had taken over as cabinet member, older persons housing had not been one of the areas she thought needed significant improvements. It had become clear to her that the council needed to do more to make sure that its older residents were given the accommodation and support they needed. The new strategy was intended to ensure that better collaborative work was done by the council’s housing and adult social care departments to support older people. Councillor Homan explained that she and Councillor Vivienne Lukey, Cabinet Member for Health and Adult Social Care, wanted residents views on the strategy which would shape it before the strategy was agreed.

 

Nilavra Mukerji explained that the Older Person’s Housing Strategy stemmed from the Housing Strategy which had committed the council to look further at options for older people. The demographic of the borough made it vital that the council improve its housing options for older people as there would be a 20% increase in the number of borough residents aged between 65-85 years. He felt that the best outcome for residents was to be able to live in their own home as it was better for them and cheaper for the council. The borough faced significant challenges in delivering what residents wanted owing to the age and type of existing specialised housing stock and land values in the borough. The housing department’s aim was that by 2018 the council would be able to offer residents advice on a range of housing options and then provide them with appropriate accommodation. He also wanted to continue to build good relationships with colleagues in adult social care to provide more integrated support services.

 

Pauline Hutchinson asked where residents could currently go to seek advice about the choices available for housing for their old age. Nilavra Mukerji said that the Housing Options team, based at 145 King Street could  provide advice to anyone, whilst those living in social housing could also speak to their housing officers. Ms Hutchinson also said that it was important that when re-housing older residents the council helped to maintain their relationships with former friends and neighbours. She raised a particular case which Nilavra Mukerji agreed to discuss with her outside of the meeting.

 

Anthony Wood noted the low number of unpaid carers in the borough and said that any information on why there were fewer than in other areas would be useful to solving the issue. Mr Wood said that much of the strategy was very good and was well researched but asked for more information about the idea of ‘tenure swapping. Councillor Homan explained that the idea of tenure swapping was to rent an under occupied property from a resident which the council could then use as accommodation for others in need, whilst providing the owner with a more suitable property to live in, either through a specialist provider of retirement homes or through the council’s own stock. The ownership of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.

17.

SHELTERED HOUSING SERVICE pdf icon PDF 396 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Harry Phibbs arrived at the beginning of this item.

 

Councillor Lisa Homan explained that residents had been unhappy with the re-organisation of the Wardens Service by the previous administration. She said that the council had listened to residents and that services for sheltered residents were getting better. Councillor Homan explained that the recently undertaken sheltered housing review had been about people rather than just bricks and mortar and that every resident had been surveyed as part of the review.

 

Jane Martin explained that the needs assessment which formed part of the review had given officers lots of information about what residents needed. Loneliness had been identified as an issue and housing staff had therefore worked with colleagues in adult social care to remodel the befriending service. The Sheltered Housing Service had achieved all of the targets in its improvement plan with staffing returned to normal levels, the guestroom policy being updated and the handyman service extended. A plan to improve the service further was being developed in response to the findings of the needs assessment.

 

Adrian van Zy said that he had been signposted towards sheltered housing by a doctor. He had been housed by the council and was very pleased with his new accommodation which both met his physical needs and allowed him many opportunities to meet new people and get involved in new things.

 

John Ryan said that there were lots of improvements being made in sheltered accommodation through the investment group; Pinnacle had even volunteered to build a Japanese Garden at one scheme. Marilyn Mackie said that it was important that maintenance was considered, as in her view there were already issues with grounds maintenance at sheltered schemes.

 

Pauline Hutchinson said that she felt the Sheltered Accommodation run by Hammersmith United Charities was of a very high standard and ought to be used as a model by the council. She was particularly impressed with the sense of community at the schemes.

 

Anthony Wood said that he felt sheltered schemes needed a proper staff presence rather than the visits from specialist housing officers. He felt that scheme managers ought to be employed to look after the welfare of residents and help to avoid them becoming lonely. Councillor Ivimy explained that she had been the cabinet member responsible for redesignating scheme managers as specialist housing officers but that this had been forced upon the council by changes to housing benefit rules. She had hoped that they would be able to continue to meet the welfare needs of residents in sheltered housing. Councillor Homan said that the recent needs assessment had been commissioned to ensure that services were targeted at those most in need. She said however that there was not sufficient money available to return to a system whereby dedicated scheme managers could be provided.

 

Nilavra Mukerji said that budgets were tight, ad that the government’s cut to social rents hadn’t helped this. Officers had been trying to bring in alternative resources, for example from adult social care,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 17.

18.

Delivering improvements in our repairs service - reviewing Key Performance Indicators pdf icon PDF 645 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Ben Coleman, Cabinet Member for Resident Satisfaction, explained that when he had been Chair of the Economic Regeneration, Housing and the Arts PAC, residents had made it very clear to him that were very unhappy with the service provided by Mitie and that they felt ignored by the council. Councillor Coleman explained that parts of the contract with Mitie were good, but that in his view the monitoring of their performance had not been good enough. It had taken longer than he had hoped to make progress on the issue but a trial of a new way of monitoring satisfaction had now started. This trial was based on new software called rant and rave which sent text messages to a third of residents who had either made contact with the call centre, had a visit from Mitie staff or had a job completed. The new system gave the council more information about what residents thought of the service, and also gave Mitie instant feedback on work which allowed them to solve problems for residents and take action where issues with staff were identified.

 

John D’Souza, Mitie Partnering Manager, explained that Rant and Rave had given Mitie’s management a lot of information which they could use to improve their services; for example, residents had been particularly upset about door entry system and TV aerial repairs taking a long time and so Mitie were trying to respond faster to these as they were having a significant impact on residents. Mr D’Souza said that the response rate to text messages was only about 20%, and that Mitie wanted to try to improve this; they were also trying to get telephone numbers from residents so that they could be contacted.

 

 A resident raised a concern about scaffolding at Meadowbank sheltered housing scheme having been left up for months with work not being completed. Nilavra Mukerji agreed to look into the issue. The Chair explained that the PAC would be considering an item on scaffolding at its December meeting and that views on the council’s use of scaffolding would be very welcome then.

 

Roz O’Connell felt that the rant and rave project was very helpful in that it allowed Mitie to fix issues quickly. She said that it was important that residents responded so that a true picture of performance could be built up.

 

Gwen Cook said that she felt that having a new way of monitoring Mitie was not enough to improve the service. She explained that Mitie had taken over a year to resolve a problem in her flat and that she had been forced to make lots of phone calls and go through the formal complaints process to get this resolved. Councillor Coleman said that Ms Cook’s experience of Mitie was completely unacceptable, and it sounded like the communication by Mitie had been very poor. He explained that in his view the council’s contractors represented the council and so apologised to Ms Cook. He said that Mitie were committed to improving  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18.

19.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 135 KB

The next meeting will be held on 1 November 2016 in the Lower Hall at St John’s Church, North End Road, Fulham, London SW6 1PB. The meeting will start at 7:00pm.

Members and residents are invited to submit suggestions for the work programme, either at the meeting or by email to ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Minutes:

The Chair reminded the committee that the next meeting would be held at St John’s Church, Fulham on 1 November, starting at 7pm. The meeting would be considering high street regeneration, the idea of a social lettings agency and an update on the proposals to make the borough’s library service more sustainable.