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HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 18th May, 2016.

 

Present:  Councillor C.J. Williams (Chairman); Councillors A.G. Bennett, J.C. Bird, Mrs. C.L. Curtis, J. Drysdale, Mrs. V.M. Hartrey, Ms. R.F. Probert, R.P. Thomas, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson and E. Williams.

 

Also present:  Mrs. G. Doyle and Mr. A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

44        APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Mr. G. Amos (Tenant Working Group).

 

 

45        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

Councillor J. Drysdale was duly elected Vice-Chairman for the current Municipal Year.

 

 

46        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

47        VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL HOUSING - POLICY ON APPLICATION OF THE WELSH HOUSING QUALITY STANDARD (REF) -

 

Cabinet was presented with a policy on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS), as required by Welsh Government. As a housing landlord the Council had a statutory duty to meet WHQS and had set a target to achieve the standard in 2017.  To achieve this standard, the Council was following the guidance set out in comprehensive documents produced by the Welsh Government.

 

There was potential within the guidance for a difference of interpretation by social landlords in meeting the requirements of WHQS.  The Welsh Government had requested each social landlord to provide a policy on its application of the standard.

 

A consultation event had been held with tenants to obtain feedback on how tenants would wish the guidance to be interpreted.  This feedback had been used to develop the policy that was attached to the report at Appendix 1.

 

The policy provided the Council’s application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard as it would be applied to all its own housing stock and this should be read in conjunction with the guidance provided by Welsh Government on application of the standard.  A copy of the standard was provided at Appendix 2 attached to the report.

 

Within the policy was a ‘Certificate of Compliance’ which had to be provided to each tenant when they commence a new tenancy.  This certificate provided confirmation the property met WHQS and where this is not possible, the certificate provided details of all ‘acceptable fails’ recorded at the property.

 

This was a matter for Executive decision

 

Cabinet, having considered the report and all the issues and implications contained therein had

 

RESOLVED –

 

(1)       T H A T the draft; ‘Vale of Glamorgan Council Housing – Policy on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard', attached at Appendix 1 to the report be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the report be referred to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection) for consideration and comment.

 

(3)       T H A T the matter be referred back to Cabinet for approval on completion of resolution 2 above.

 

Following extensive discussions on the contents of the report, Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the draft Vale of Glamorgan Council Housing Policy on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard be endorsed and that Cabinet be so informed.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

Having regard to the contents of the Vale of Glamorgan Council Housing Policy on Application of the Welsh Housing Quality Standard.

 

 

48        SERVICE PLAN 2016-20: HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES (DEH) -

 

Committee received the Housing and Building Services Service Plan (2016-20). 

 

Service Plans for 2016-20 specifically identified how each Head of Service would contribute towards the achievement of Corporate Plan wellbeing outcomes by asking two questions:

 

  • “Which wellbeing objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?
  • How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?”

 

Informed by the self-assessment, the Service Plans also comprised a brief overview of the issues facing the service against each of the corporate health perspectives (risk, customer focus, resources - workforce, finance, assets, ICT).  The plans also included an action plan for how resources would be used to support the delivery of wellbeing outcome actions as well as managing risks, collaboration and engagement activities.

 

The Council was currently consulting widely on proposed Improvement Objectives for 2016/17 and these would be reflected within relevant Service Plans once approved by Council in April 2016. 

 

Appendix 1 to the report contained the Service Plan for Housing and Building Services.  Key areas of note within the Service Plan were:

 

  • Section 1 - Introduction: Sets the context for the Service Plan and provides an overview of the service area, the purpose of the plan, and the key service considerations which have informed development of the plan.
  • Section 2 - Our Priorities for 2016-20: Outlines the specific actions that the service will be taking during 2016/17 to contribute towards the corporate well-being objectives and outcomes. It also identifies the key enabling actions the service will be taking to support its achievement of the well-being outcomes for example through reshaping of its services.
  • Section 3 - How we work and our Resources: Describes how the service will use its resources to deliver its priorities in the Service Plan and outlines key workforce development priorities, significant ICT projects, required budget savings and areas of focus in relation to assets, procurement and major capital projects.  This section also identifies how the service will engage with stakeholders and work in partnership/collaborate to achieve its priorities and incorporates a service risk evaluation.
  • Appendix A and B (within the Service Plan) contains the Service Improvement Action Plan for 2016/17. This identifies planned service actions, intended outcomes and key milestones, relevant performance measures to demonstrate progress, responsible officer, timescales for completion and the anticipated resources requirements of planned actions.
  • The revised Service Plan format, which takes on board comments and feedback received by the Policy and Performance Team (PPT) in the past, is intended to be easier to complete and will facilitate clearer links with team plans. It is recognised, however, that the format will continue to evolve over the next couple of years as the new performance management arrangements are bedded in.

 

The Environment and Housing Services Directorate would now develop Team Plans to underpin their Service Plans. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Service Plan was much improved on previous versions and picked up on the ‘golden thread’ approach. 

 

The
Head of Housing and Building Services spoke of new initiatives that would have an effect in the forthcoming year:

 

  • The new-build programme, due to commence in September.
  • Changes to Housing Benefits.
  • Pressures on the budget.
  • The Supporting People Grant.

 

Members spoke of the aging work force, which had an effect on the sickness absence figures. 

 

Members also spoke of the pilot room share housing initiative and requested that Committee receive a report on this initiative. 

 

In considering the structure of the Service Plan, Members of the Committee felt that there were still two areas of weakness that should be addressed in future Service Plans:

 

1.         There was no section for analysis of strengths and weaknesses in delivery of the ‘main functions’ which would inform the priorities and actions to follow.

 

2.         The Action Plan format listed individual ‘actions’ first and then ‘outcomes’ expected from each action;  this was action focussed not outcome focussed as required.  It was felt that intended outcomes should be identified first and then the actions listed which would contribute to achieving each outcome.  This would provide a more purposeful approach with coherent grouping of actions towards outcomes, and prompt considerations of actions necessary or desirable to achieve outcomes which were not currently undertaken.

 

Committee felt that the comments should be submitted to Cabinet for consideration. 

 

Discussions further ensued regarding:

 

  • Difficulties being experienced in filling vacant posts.
  • The timescales involved in Anti-Social Behaviour Management.

 

Having considered the Service Plan 2016-20: Housing and Building Services, it was

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the Housing and Building Services Service Plan for 2016-20 be endorsed.

 

(2)       T H A T Cabinet be informed of the view of the Committee that there were still two areas of weakness that should be addressed in future Service Plans, i.e.

 

1.         There was no section for analysis of strengths and weaknesses in delivery of the ‘main functions’ which would inform the priorities and actions to follow.

 

2.         The Action Plan format listed individual ‘actions’ first and then ‘outcomes’ expected from each action;  this was action focussed not outcome focussed as required.  It was felt that intended outcomes should be identified first and then the actions listed which would contribute to achieving each outcome.  This would provide a more purposeful approach with coherent grouping of actions towards outcomes, and prompt considerations of actions necessary or desirable to achieve outcomes which were not currently undertaken.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To confirm the Service Plan as the primary document against which performance for the Housing and Building Services will be measured.

 

(2)       To better reflect the format of the Service Plan.

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