Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee
Tuesday, 13th June, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Small Hall - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088 / Email  ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Daryl Brown, owing to her attending another Council meeting, and Councillor Lucy Ivimy.

2.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

Councillor Adam Connell explained that he lived in a Shared Ownership property in the borough. Councillor Alan De’Ath explained that he was on the Council’s HomeBuy register. Councillors Connell and De’Ath did not feel that their interests precluded them from taking part in the discussion as the report on Low Cost Home Ownership was for the committee’s information rather than for a decision and the whole of the meeting was open to the public.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 324 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 26 April were agreed to be accurate.

 

Councillor Connell explained that he had requested that the figure for how many children in the borough were affected by the benefit cap be shared with him, which had not yet happened. The Clerk agreed to remind officers of the request.

4.

Election of Vice-Chair

Minutes:

Councillor Lucy Ivimy was elected as Vice-Chair for the 2017-18 Municipal Year.

5.

Low Cost Home Ownership Update pdf icon PDF 258 KB

Minutes:

Labab Lubab, Partnership and Strategy Manager, explained that Low Cost Home Ownership was intended for those who were not eligible for Social Housing, but could not afford market prices.

 

A variety of products were offered to help residents onto the housign ladder, including: Intermediate Rent, which was a lower than market rent and allowed people to save for a deposit on a property; Shared Ownership, where people bought a proportion of a property and then paid rent on the remaining portion, and; Council Shared Equity, when a portion of the property was sold to a resident with the remainder being owned by the council, which did not charge rent on its portion.

 

There were 9,000 people on the HomeBuy register, of whom approximately 80% were actively looking for Low Cost Home Ownership properties in the borough. The Council had used information from the register to develop affordability bands to ensure that a broad range of households could access properties; the three bands were those households with a gross annual income of up to £29,000, those with incomes up to £43,550, and those with incomes up to £50,550.  Developers were asked to make a third of their Low Cost Home Ownership Properties affordable to people in each of the bands. This meant that Low Cost Home Ownership in Hammersmith and Fulham more affordable than in other areas where Low Cost Home Ownership was provided for households with annual gross incomes of £90,000, which was the limit in the London Plan.

 

The number of properties available each year varied significantly, depending on the number of larger developments approaching completion. The HomeBuy service controlled the allocation of properties and this allowed the Council to ensure that they were offered to those with the greatest need and to whom the properties were truly affordable. As well as a front desk at 145 King Street, the service held regular engagement events and would be reintroducing an annual open day to publicise schemes and homes available.

 

Councillor Jones, Cabinet Member for Economic Development and Regeneration, explained that a significant proportion of the properties which would be available over the next few years would be sold at 80% of their value using the Council Shared Equity scheme which had been favoured by the previous administration. He explained that the present administration aimed to provide truly affordable homes and felt that the affordability bands would help to do this; however, the Council would be prioritising the provision of homes at Social Rents as these would help those in the greatest need. He said that there were also real problems with an uncompetitive mortgage market for shared ownership properties which meant that it was often not a good value way of getting onto the housing ladder.

 

 Councillor Phibbs agreed that providing sufficient affordable housing in London was difficult. He asked whether, when someone bought a share of a property, they paid a proportionate amount of the service charge, or if they paid the full service charge. Labab Lubab explained  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Housing Services Performance Data pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Homan explained that the council had focussed on improving performance by increasing resident involvement. She noted that this work had led to a significant fall in the number of repairs complaints which had been escalated to her as the Cabinet Member for Housing and that improvements had been made across the department. The Council’s intention was to give people a good impression throughout their time as residents; recently a group of tenants had reviewed the process for new tenants and the information they were given which would ensure that residents first impression was a good one.

 

Kath Corbett explained that officers reviewed a wide range of performance indicators to ensure that the service was performing well. Jane Martin said that contractors also had performance indicators and that those for Mitie had recently been reviewed; these and improved contract management would lead to improvements in Mitie’s service to residents.

 

The Chair said that whilst performance indicators were a useful tool, it was important that residents’ experiences were used to improve services, especially in more complex cases. Jane Martin said that more difficult repairs were an issue which she would be looking at in detail over the coming months as there were still unacceptable delays in some cases.

 

Councillor Phibbs said that he felt that performance indicators ought to be published on the transparency section of the Council’s website.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked whether there was a mechanism by which the council decided to stop repairing lifts and instead replace them and whether it would provide better value for money to replace lifts more quickly. Councillor Homan said that there was a large lift replacement programme which was ongoing, however, the programme was limited by budgetary constraints, the need to ensure value for money and effective project management and the need to sometimes decant residents whilst a lift was taken out of action.

 

Councillor Phibbs noted that the void time was significantly worse in the South of the Borough than in the North and asked why this was. Kath Corbett started by explaining that the number of void properties was quite low, and so the impact of the delays was smaller than it might otherwise have been. She also explained that properties void because of major works were not included in the figures. Jane Martin said that the letting of properties on the West Kensington and Gibbs Green Estate was taking longer as it was being used as temporary accommodation. Councillor Homan explained that she monitored void times closely. Councillor De’Ath asked that a briefing note on void times and the main reasons for delays was sent to members of the PAC.

 

Councillor Connell asked what the financial impact of having void properties was. Kath Corbett explained that the impact was small because of the low numbers of voids, but that delays did cost the council both through lost rent and because the property could be used to move people out of expensive temporary accommodation.

 

Councillor Phibbs asked whether a joint inspection  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 114 KB

The next meeting will be held on 5th July 2017 in the Courtyard Room at Hammersmith Town Hall. 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:

Councillor Phibbs requested that an item on planning policies restricting the conversion of sites, such as Ravenscourt Hospital, from being converted to housing. Councillor Connell advised that the site at Ravenscourt Hospital was likely to be covered by national policy as it was so large. The Clerk agreed to look into whether a report, as requested by Councillor Phibbs, could be added to the PAC work programme.