Agenda and minutes

Housing and Homelessness Policy and Accountability Committee - Tuesday, 30th January, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: 145 King Street (Ground Floor), Hammersmith, W6 9XY. 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 1 MB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2024.


Matters arising from minutes of last meeting


Councillor Paul Alexander requested an update on the following actions that he had raised at the last meeting:


·       Complaints Management in Housing Services, and updates on record keeping;


·       Greening the Housing Stock, and updates on procurement systems and co-production, and how the leaseholders and street properties’ landlords might be involved in the process.


ACTION: Governance & Richard Shwe



The minutes of the meeting held on 14 November 2023 were agreed to be accurate.



2024 Medium Term Financial Strategy pdf icon PDF 402 KB

This report provides an update on the overall preparation and proposals for the 2024/25 revenue budget, risks, financial resilience, and the impact of those proposals.


This report also sets out the budget proposals for the services covered by this Policy and Accountability Committee. An update is also provided on any proposed changes in fees and charges in the budget.


Additional documents:


Councillor Rowan Ree (Cabinet Member for Finance and Reform) gave an overview of the 2024 Medium Term Financial Strategy.  He highlighted that despite the difficult circumstances faced by local authorities, the Council had put together a budget that protected not just the core services but also those that made Hammersmith and Fulham (H&F) unique, such as the council tax support scheme. He reassured residents that this Council would continue to provide services they needed as it had managed to run a budget surplus and contribute them to last years’ reserves. The budget setting this year had started with a budget gap of £23m from which savings had to be found. This was made possible because of the Council’s ruthlessly financially efficient approach in setting and managing the budgets as well as its continuous process of public service reform. Councillor Ree also took the opportunity to thank officers in Finance and other departments in producing balanced budgets, and Councillor Frances Umeh, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, for managing its budgets throughout the year.


In terms of technology reform, Councillor Ree noted the use of artificial intelligence in adult social care services and the continual exploration of the latest technology that could be deployed to support the provision of the best quality services to residents. Under organisational reform, more savings across the Council were identified through the four large corporate savings programmes. The Council was also funding new reforms to improve the ways of service delivery, such as the Family Hubs.


Sukvinder Kalsi (Strategic Director of Finance) presented the Corporate Budget Strategy 2024/25.  He outlined the strategic operating environment, the objectives of the financial plans and delivery strategy, proposed budget 2024/25 including council tax consideration and the medium-term forward look. The Corporate Budget would be considered by the Cabinet on 12 February and approved by the Council on 28 February this year.


Danny Rochford (Head of Finance – Economy and Housing Revenue Account) presented the MTFS for Housing Solutions.  He outlined the current strategic service context, budget strategy, proposed budget 2024/25, savings, growth and inflation 2024/25 and financial risks.


Officers’ presentations are attached in Appendices A and B


In response to the Chair’s question, Richard Shwe (Director of Housing) noted that residents could access housing and homelessness services through the Family Hubs. The Housing Services team was now working more closely with colleagues in Adult Social Care and Children’s Services as well as those in the refugee programme. Each party was complementing each other on matters of common concern and the services were delivered through existing routes.  Councillor Ree added that the Family Hubs would eventually become a one-stop shop for residents to access Council services they needed. 


The Chair noted that some of the items on growth allocations were compulsory spending while some others might be listed therein due to pressure from external factors. Councillor Ree differentiated the commitments in developing high quality of services from delivering basic level of service. For example, the Family Hubs were new investment  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Housing Revenue Account Budget 2024/25 pdf icon PDF 360 KB

A slide presentation on the Housing Revenue Budget 2024/25 and its Business Plan will be delivered at the meeting.



Councillor Adronie Alford expressed concern about the lack of papers for this item.  She believed that she had probably already seen half of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) report during the Sheltered Housing Forum meeting where the information was distributed on printed papers. 


Councillor Frances Umeh (Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness) and Richard Shwe (Director of Housing) explained that it was the intention of Housing Services to brief the Sheltered Housing Forum through slide presentation in the same way as it was here, going forward.  However, due to technical issues, the presentation at the Forum had to be done in paper format.  Richard apologised on behalf of Housing Services.  Sukvinder Kalsi (Strategic Director of Finance) reassured the Committee that robust reports on the financial position of the Housing Services would be presented to Council’s various committees on a regular basis.


Danny Rochford (Head of Finance – Economy and Housing Revenue Account) gave a presentation on the proposals for the HRA budget including the rent and service charge changes. He outlined the HRA 10-Year Business Plan and the housing capital programme to 2027/28.  In respect of the proposed rent increase of 7.7%, Sukvinder Kalsi highlighted that the Council provided support to residents by maximising their benefit entitlement such that almost half of them would be able to recover the proposed increase through housing benefit. He also highlighted the merits of social tenancies with value for money rents which compared favourably to that in housing associations or private rented sector.


Officers’ presentation is attached in Appendix C


The Chair asked about the residents’ response in forums to the proposed increases in rent and service charge. Danny Rochford advised that there was a reluctant acceptance of the proposals among the residents who understood the Council had to deliver services amidst the cost-of-living crisis.  He remarked that the Council recognised the financial hardship faced by struggling tenants and about 50% of the tenants would be supported financially through housing benefits and universal credit as well as discretionary housing payments or if renewed in March, the Household Support Fund. Richard Shwe highlighted residents’ positive feedback towards Housing Services’ improvements over repairs work and complaints management that they began to understand and see the benefits of what the Council had been doing.


Councillor Paul Alexander expressed concern about the involvement of residents, in particular the leaseholders, in Council major projects such as attaining net carbon zero emissions, or security system.  He hoped to see more resident-driven initiatives which in his opinion might help create savings as in the case of responsive repairs. Councillor Alexander reflected residents attending the housing forum were representing TRAs and residents from smaller estates or street properties might be under-represented.


Richard Shwe agreed that more community engagement should be carried out by the project managers for the housing capital programme which also helped residents to understand the housing budget.  He noted the relevant team would start doing more such community engagement over the next year.  Jon Pickstone (Strategic Director for the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Date of Next Meeting

To note the date of next meeting on 26 March 2024.


The Committee noted the next meeting would be held on 26 March 2024.


The Chair suggested discussing the following items at the meeting:


· Private Rented Sector Policy

· Voids Management

· Housing Ombudsman report