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Agenda Item No

 

 

Matter for which the Chairman has decided is urgent for the reason to seek Scrutiny Members' views prior to the Tenants Vale Housing Panel AGM of 11 December 2012

 

 

The Vale of Glamorgan Council

 

Scrutiny Committee (Housing & Public Protection) - 6th December, 2012

 

Report of the Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

Tenant Governance Structure (Tenant Engagement) - Progress Update

 

Purpose of the Report

1.             To update Members on progress in respect of implementing a new Tenant Governance Structure for the Council.

Recommendations

1.             That Members note the contents of this report and progress to date.

2.             That the views of Scrutiny Committee are sought in relation to the proposed new Tenants Governance Structure.

Reasons for the Recommendations

1.             To update Members on progress with the new arrangements.

2.             To seek the views of Scrutiny Committee.

Background

2.             Tenant engagement has been a key focus for the Council since the Tenant Engagement Team was created in 2007. Significant changes and improvements have been made since then and there is a much more inclusive approach adopted than previously.

3.             The current Tenant Engagement Structure includes the following:-

  • Two tenant members on the Housing Programme Board who meet monthly with senior officers of the Council mainly for the delivery of the Housing Improvement Programme to meet the Welsh Housing Quality Standard (WHQS).
  • A Tenants Vale Housing Panel who meet monthly.
  • A Tenants Working Group who meet on a quarterly basis with the Vale Housing Panel.
  • A Quality & Design Forum.
  • A Housing Services Review Forum
  • Four tenants on the Scrutiny Committee.
  • A Sheltered Housing Forum.
  • Twelve Tenant Resident Associations (TRAs) across the Vale.
  • Tenant Engagement Associates.
  • A Leaseholder Group.

4.             However, it is fair to say that the structure above, whilst having good intentions to engage and involve tenants, needed to change to reflect future Council priorities and tenant aspirations in respect of improving services across the Vale.

5.             The Tenant Participation Strategy (2012 to 2015) and Action Plan was reported to the Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee of 10 October 2012. A number of barriers to participation were outlined in this strategy, some of these being:-

  • Some tenant meetings are held during the day which does not allow other tenants to join in and locations tend to be in the main town centres and not the rural Vale.
  • A need to create more informal opportunities for tenants to participate and to gather their views with which to influence Council policy and improvements to service delivery.
  • Insufficient representation across the Vale including under representation from younger tenants and those working during the day time.
  • A number of tenants lack the necessary skills or confidence to become involved.

6.             A new structure has therefore been discussed with tenant groups over the last few months with which to move forward and overcome some of the barriers mentioned above. Representatives from the Tenant Participation Advisory Services (TPAS) have assisted the Council in meeting and facilitating sessions with tenants in moving towards the new governance structure. Tenant views have been taken into consideration and these are outlined in Appendix 1 (feedback from TPAS sessions with tenants).

7.             It is anticipated that the new structure will be inclusive, democratically elected by tenants across the Vale and will provide the resilience to deliver Council priorities and service improvements (particularly in delivering the Housing Improvement Programme).

Relevant Issues and Options

8.             The proposals for the new Tenants Governance Structure include disbanding the current Vale Housing Panel and Vale Housing Panel members transferring to the Working Group to continue working with Council officers until the new governance arrangements are in place. The final AGM of the Vale Housing Panel has therefore been arranged for Tuesday 11 December 2012 and Scrutiny members' views are sought prior to this meeting.

9.             A Vale Wide Working Group to be established which is open to any Council tenant or leaseholder across the Vale to attend. The Chair, Vice Chair and secretary to be appointed annually at the AGM.

10.        Democratic elections will now take place to establish a new Vale Housing Project Group of 12 tenant representatives. Three representatives from each of the four WHQS areas:-

  • Contract A - Western Vale and Rural areas.
  • Contract B - Barry Area 1 (Dyfan and Gibbonsdown).
  • Contract C - Barry Area 2 (remaining Barry areas).
  • Contract D - Penarth & Dinas Powys

11.        All tenants across the Vale will be able to nominate themselves for the WHQS area in which they live in (open to all tenants with at least one year's secure tenancy). An election will then be held in each WHQS area via a postal ballot. Tenant representatives voted onto the Vale Housing Panel will complete a term to April 2017 when the Housing Improvement Programme is complete. Further elections will then take place.

12.        From the 12 democratically elected tenants, two tenants will then be voted onto the Housing Programme Board to oversee the implementation of the Housing Improvement Programme (by the Vale Housing Project Group themselves) and to represent tenants across the Vale.

13.        Six tenants will be voted on by the Vale Wide Working Group to the Quality and Design Forum (includes Chair).

14.        Six tenants will be voted on by the Vale Wide Working Group to the Housing Services Review Group (includes Chair).

15.        Sheltered Housing Forum - election of three officers to take place. Nominations from all sheltered housing tenants across the Vale with at least one year's secure tenancy. Appointment of officers via a postal ballot of all sheltered housing tenants.

16.        Housing and Public Protection Scrutiny Committee - four non-voting co-opted tenant representatives to be voted on by the Vale Wide Working Group.

17.        A Leaseholder Forum will be re-established.

18.        Although there are twelve Tenant Resident Groups at present, the Council will investigate whether other groups can be established (in particular, rural Vale and a younger tenants group).

19.        New constitutions to be established for the following:-

  • Vale Wide Working Group.
  • Vale Housing Project Group.
  • Sheltered Housing Forum.
  • Tenant Resident Groups.

20.        To involve Tenant Engagement Associates (TEAs) into future governance arrangements, who can act as advocates for other Council tenants where issues arise, a room for a Tenant's Resource Centre has initially been identified on the Ground Floor of the Civic Offices. TEAs will be able to utilise this office on a daily basis (computer, telephone and printing service to be supplied by the Council) and provide an additional service to other Council tenants - who may prefer to deal with another tenant in dealing with their issues.

21.        It is envisaged that the process for electing tenants to the Vale Housing Project Group, and other groups, will commence in the New Year.

22.        Appendix 2 provides a chart of the new Tenants Governance Structure.

Resource Implications (Financial and Employment)

23.        Any costs associated with the future changes to the tenant engagement structure will be met from existing resources/budgets within the Housing Revenue Account.

Sustainability and Climate Change Implications

24.        None as a result of this report.

Legal Implications (to Include Human Rights Implications)

25.        There are no legal implications as a direct result of this report.

Crime and Disorder Implications

26.        Improving housing services in line with tenants' aspirations and involving them in the process will improve community cohesion and therefore reduce crime and disorder.

Equal Opportunities Implications (to include Welsh Language issues)

27.        The development of a new Tenant Engagement Structure will incorporate equalities information in order to progress a structure that is more equitable and participative for all tenants across the Vale.

Corporate/Service Objectives

28.        Housing Services support the following Corporate and Service objectives:-

  • Social Well Being and Tacking Disadvantage - Ensuring that all Vale residents have access to good quality, affordable and appropriate accommodation that is sufficient for their needs.
  • Environmental Improvement - Maintaining and improving the quality of the public housing stock.
  • Community Leadership - Encouraging tenants and residents to participate in the management of the housing stock.

Policy Framework and Budget

29.        This report is consistent with the policy framework and budget and is to inform Scrutiny Committee.

Consultation (including Ward Member Consultation)

30.        No individual ward member consultation as this is an issue that affects all many areas of the Vale where Council owned properties are located.

Background Papers

None.

 

Contact Officer

Simon Davies - Operational Manager (Assets) Tel No. 01446 - 709809

 

Officers Consulted

Mike Ingram - Operational Manager (Housing)

Pam Toms - Strategy and Supporting People Manager

Heather Powney - Tenant Development Co-ordinator

 

Responsible Officer:

Miles Punter - Director of Visible Services and Housing

 

 

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