Agenda and minutes

Housing and Homelessness Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 14th November, 2023 7.00 pm

Venue: Main Hall (1st Floor) - 3 Shortlands, Hammersmith, W6 8DA. View directions

Contact: Debbie Yau  Email:

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

No. Item


Apologies for Absence


An apology for absence was received from Councillor Sally Taylor.



Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.


Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.


Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 344 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting.


The minutes of the meeting held on 25 July 2023 were agreed to be accurate.


Homelessness Prevention Update pdf icon PDF 328 KB

This report provides a high-level overview of Homelessness Prevention services within London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham.

Additional documents:


Jon Pickstone (Strategic Director for the Economy) addressed the Committee. He set out that core issues raised by the three papers (homelessness, complaint management in housing services, and retrofitting housing stock) were common across local authorities. Jon explained that H&F’s approach to each issue was founded in partnership, across and beyond the council.


In introducing the homelessness prevention paper, Jon noted that the number of people housed in temporary accommodation in London was increasing as was the number of rough sleepers. Jon also outlined Local Government Association reporting that spending by councils on temporary accommodation had reached a record high in England placing financial pressures on many local authorities.


Roy Morgan (Assistant Director of Housing Management) provided an overview of Homelessness Prevention services within London Borough of Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F), including the four teams providing homelessness prevention services, demand for housing services, prevention of homelessness service offer, and benchmarking exercise.


The Chair asked about the comparison between the actual number of homelessness approaches in 2023/24 and the forecast of the same made in November 2022.  Roy Morgan remarked that there was a greater demand involving more complex cases some of which were related to mental health.  The housing market also faced greater challenges due to rising cost of living as a result of the high interest rates and CPI. 


Responding to the Chair’s further question on the teams’ coping strategies, Roy Morgan advised that with additional resources, 6 more fixed-term contract staff were engaged to help frontline free up the stock-up case management.  A couple of additional case handlers were appointed to deal with assessment to clear the backlogs which had dropped from 249 cases in the summer to the current 150.  He remarked that the jobs were demanding and many other authorities were facing the same workforce challenges. To enhance staff resilience, service realignment would be carried out next year to prepare for growth in demand and capacity.


Jon Pickstone advised that the Housing Service, in consultation with Councillors Umeh and Ree, was working closely with the Finance team on an evidence-based approach around budget assessment and resources allocation from the General Fund for 2024/25, including keeping abreast of the wider situation in terms of homelessness and temporary accommodation across London.


Noting the demand for housing services had peaked at the months of June and July (page 14), Councillor Adronie Alford asked about the situation from this September onward.  Roy Morgan said that he did not have the data at hand but the trend was steady in the past few months.  


Councillor Alford referred to three different homelessness cases she had handled this week and believed that the Council might not have stressed to these residents that by leaving the property before the eviction or the serving of the eviction notice, they had made themselves “intentional homeless”. The message of completing the due process did not seem to be getting through.  Roy Morgan trusted that the Housing team must have stressed the importance for them  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Complaints Management in Housing Services pdf icon PDF 213 KB

This report provides an outline of the complaints management in Housing Services.


Additional documents:


Colette Prior (Head of Complaints and Disputes Resolution) provided an outline of the complaints management in Housing Service, including issues and complaint escalation, regulatory scrutiny and findings, initiation of change and service redesign, the Housing Hub, the Complaints & Disputes Resolution Team, organisation chart, complaints’ performance and process, and next steps. Members noted that H&F Policy stated that a response would be made to a Stage 1 complaint within 15 working days, which would be reduced to 10 days if the complaint fell under the Housing Ombudsman’s jurisdiction.


Councillor Adronie Alford said she was delighted to see this programme, however, there were still a lot of complaints that went wrong.  She was concerned when the complaints mistakes could be stopped from happening. In response, Richard Shwe (Director of Housing) remarked that complaints were always there.  He highlighted that the Housing Ombudsman had been referring other local authorities and his teams to exchange views with each other on issues of common concerns. A dedicated Complaints and Disputes Resolution Team had been set up to handle all housing-related complaints and deliver one-stop services through the Housing Hub. All these helped to show that H&F was making improvements in complaints and disputes resolution.


Councillor Alford said she wanted to see that the officers in the dedicated team had learnt to address and resolve the complaints straight away as long-term cases never seemed to get results.  Jon Pickstone (Strategic Director for the Economy) acknowledged that there had been backlog of repairs in H&F but that the number of outstanding repairs cases, including aged cases, had been substantially reduced in recent months.  The Housing team was working systematically to ensure the repairs were done more punctually and to a higher quality with improved customer care. Couple with the reduction in age profile of outstanding repairs, this should result in fewer complaints being made. The more focused approach to complaint-handling was improving the quality and timeliness of response once a complaint had been made.

Councillor Paul Alexander appreciated that the Housing team was making positive result. He sought further elaboration about enhancing communication among residents, upgrading record keeping and collaborating by regular in-service audits under the Resident-Centric Approach.


Colette Prior noted that sometimes, residents in Housing Ombudsman cases were not updated regularly.  As there were occasions where the repairs target might not line up with the Housing Ombudsman complaint-handling code, the officer would monitor the situation after giving out the timely response until there was a result.  At the point of closing the complaints, the residents would be asked how and how often they wanted to be updated. Richard Shwe supplemented that under the Resident-Centric Approach, officers would understand the needs of residents and offer alternative options for things that could not be changed.  H&F had also implemented Tenant Satisfaction Measures under the Social Housing (Regulation) Act 2023. The repairs undertaken last month had achieved a satisfaction score of 78% reflecting residents were happy with the repairs service quality.


Councillor Asif  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Greening of the Housing Stock pdf icon PDF 726 KB

Hammersmith and Fulham’s council housing accounts for 83% of the organisation’s operational emissions and 8% of total borough emissions. It is essential to reduce this by driving energy efficiency, decarbonising people’s homes, and building energy efficient homes. Greening the housing stock is therefore important to address these areas and a ‘Retrofit Strategy’ is currently being developed that will outline the approach to achieve this. The aim of this paper is to explain how the strategy will influence council policy in 4 key areas:


1.    Increasing the energy efficiency of H&F homes

2.    Transitioning to low carbon heat

3.    Supporting fuel poverty

4.     Adapting the council’s stock

Additional documents:


Matt Rumble (Strategic Head of Area Regeneration) briefed members that Hammersmith and Fulham’s council housing accounted for 83% of the organisation’s operational emissions and 8% of total borough emissions. Greening the housing stock was therefore important to address the problem of emissions and a ‘Retrofit Strategy’ was currently being developed that would go alongside the stock conditions survey, both of which shall come under the Asset Management Strategy.


Robert Kyle (Sustainability Asset Manager) outlined the background pertaining to greening of the housing stock, and how this would impact council policy, including adopting a Fabric First approach to increase the energy efficiency of H&F homes and transitioning to low carbon heating as part of the retrofit strategy.


Tim Pryce (Climate Emergency - Energy Lead) gave a detailed account of the Clean Heat Masterplan which set out a pathway for lowest cost low carbon heat across the borough, including social housing stock. In many cases, heat networks were likely to be the best low carbon heating solution, and these needed detailed planning over several years, public or private finance and significant changes to Planning policy to be rolled out effectively. 


Esther Harris (Fuel Poverty and Energy Efficiency Lead) informed the meeting about fuel poverty in social housing, and detailed how the H&F Fuel Poverty Strategy would support residents struggling with the cost of heating their homes. The strategy focused on 4 key action areas: increasing reach, addressing inequalities, maximising resources and supporting households. She then highlighted the actions planned for the next year, including increased engagement and an energy efficiency scheme over winter, and outlined how retrofit supported the strategy.


Matt Rumble and Robert Kyle introduced the adaptation of council’s stocks, steps to be taken, and new pilot homes in Lillie Road and Farm Lane.


NOTE: Officers’ presentation is attached as Appendix 2


The Chair thanked officers’ presentations.  While it was pleased to note about the actions to be taken in tackling fuel poverty, she was concerned about the cost of saving carbon through the low carbon heat networks.  Tim Pryce remarked that one of the biggest advantages of heat networks and heat decarbonisation was they were likely to be the cheapest option, not to mention cheaper than using individual heat pumps.  Esther Harris stressed that this needed to be done after the fabric works carried out to reduce demand for heat. 


On the impact of having fabric first works only as raised by the Chair, Robert Kyle said in that case, the Council might not be able to hit the target. While fabric works might help reduce the heat demand of the buildings, the use of gas boilers and cookers in H&F homes would continue using fossil fuels.


Councillor Paul Alexander asked about the procurement systems and vehicles to be deployed to deliver this project.  Robert Kyle responded that he believed the capital delivery team was the most efficient vehicle to address the retrofit need and upgrade the Council stocks at the required scale and pace. Another  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Date of Next Meetings

To note the dates of next two meetings:


· 30 January 2024

· 26 March 2024



The Committee noted the dates of next meetings:


· 30 January 2024

· 26 March 2024


The Chair said that the following items would be considered at the meeting:


·       Medium Term Financial Strategy

·       Housing Revenue Account Budget

·       Housing Ombudsman

·       Private Rented Sector Policy