HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 14th March, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillor Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson (Chairman); Councillor M.R. Wilson (Vice-Chairman); Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. C.A. Cave, Miss. A.M. Collins, S.J. Griffiths, Mrs. S.M. Hanks and Mrs. R. Nugent-Finn.

 

Also present:  Mrs. G. Doyle, Mr. D. Dutch and Ms. H. Smith (Tenant Working Group Representatives).

 

 

769         APOLOGIES FOR ABSENCE –

 

These were received from Councillors B.T. Gray and M.J.G. Morgan and Mr. A. Raybould (Tenant Working Group Representative). 

 

 

770         MINUTES –

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 14th February, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

771         DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST –

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

772         ANNOUNCEMENT –

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to remind Members that the next Extraordinary meeting of the Committee was scheduled for Wednesday, 18th April, 2018 at the slightly later than usual start time of 6.15 p.m. 

 

 

773         REVENUE AND CAPITAL MONITORING FOR THE PERIOD 1ST APRIL 2017 TO 31ST JANUARY 2018 (DEH) –

 

The Finance Support Manager presented the report, the purpose of which was to bring to the attention of the Scrutiny Committee the position in respect of revenue and capital expenditure for the period 1st April, 2017 to 31st January, 2018 regarding those revenue and capital budgets which formed the Committee’s remit.

 

On 1st March, 2017, Council approved the Revenue, Capital and Housing Revenue Account (HRA) Budgets for 2017/18. 

 

The Officer advised that the Revenue Budget and projected outturn for 2017/18, as indicated in the table below, was forecast for a balanced budget.

 

 

    Revenue

Budget

 

     Probable

Outturn

Variance

(+) Favourable

(-)   Adverse

 

£000

£000

£000

Public Sector Housing (HRA)

127

127

0

Council Fund Housing

 

1,257

1,257

0

Private Sector Housing

 

11,038

11,038

0

Regulatory Services

 

2,169

2,169

0

Youth Offending Service

 

697

697

0

TOTAL

 

15,288

15,288

0

 

A graph and table setting out the variance between the profiled budget and actual expenditure to date was attached at Appendix 1 of the Officer’s report. 

 

The Public Sector Housing (HRA) budget was expected to outturn on target and any underspends in the year would be offset by additional contributions to Capital Expenditure thus reducing the reliance on Unsupported Borrowing.

 

The Officer provided an update with regard to the Council Fund Housing Budget in that; due to recent staff vacancies the planned transfer amount from Reserves which was required to fund specific posts and issues arising as a result of the introduction of the Housing Act had meant that a planned transfer from reserves will now in fact be a transfer into reserves. The actual figure is yet to be finalised.  It was still anticipated that the budget would outturn on target.

 

With regards to the Private Sector Housing Budget, as part of the Initial Revenue Budget Proposals 2018/19 report, which was approved by Cabinet on 20th November, 2017, an underspend of £570,000 was projected on the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, due to a lower than anticipated take up.  It was approved that the sum be transferred into reserves.  Therefore, the Private Sector Housing Budget was on profile and forecast to balance at year end.

 

The allocation of £2.169m represented the Vale of Glamorgan’s budget for its share of the Shared Regulatory Services (SRS).  A separate set of accounts was maintained for the SRS and periodically reported to the Shared Regulatory Services Joint Committee.  The Officer advised that at this stage of the year it was anticipated that the SRS budget would outturn on target.

 

The Youth Offending Service Budget was currently anticipated to outturn on target at year end.

 

The Finance Support Manager advised that no savings targets had been allocated to services that fell under the Committee’s remit.

 

Appendix 2 of the Officer’s report detailed financial progress on the Capital Programme as at 31st January, 2018.  There were no amendments to the Capital Programme for the period ended 31st January, 2018 and capital expenditure overall was slow.  Therefore, the Officer predicted some financial slippage, in two months’ time, at the end of the financial year.

 

In response to a Member’s question about the remit of the Capital Programme item ‘Digital Highway in Sheltered’, the Head of Housing and Building Services confirmed that the item related to areas concerning the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan and provided the Committee with an example of current success in the form of the bespoke ICT suite available to residents at Redlands House, Penarth. 

 

A Member referred to the ‘ICF – Long Meadow Court reablement’ capital item and asked if the facility was now up and running.  The Head of Housing and Building Services confirmed that there were currently five individuals on the waiting list with the first moving into the facility on Monday, 19th March, 2018. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the position with regard to the 2017/18 revenue and capital monitoring be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

The Scrutiny Committee is aware of the position with regard to the 2017/18 revenue and capital budgets.

 

 

774         QUARTER 3 (2017-18) PERFORMANCE REPORT: AN INCLUSIVE AND SAFE VALE (DEH) –

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services presented the performance results for Quarter 3, 1st April to 31st December, 2017, for the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 1, ‘An Inclusive and Safe Vale’, and its two objectives: 

  • reducing poverty and social exclusion; and
  • providing decent homes and safe communities.

An overall Amber RAG status had been attributed to Well-being Outcome 1, ‘An Inclusive and Safe Vale’ to reflect the progress made towards achieving improved outcomes for residents and Council customers during the quarter. 

 

In respect of Corporate Plan Actions, slippage (Red RAG status) was reported on one action relating to working with partners to instigate a new Council house building programme.  The Officer advised that the Council’s objective was to develop 14 properties in total, but only 3 had been achieved to date.  Contractors would be on site in the next couple of weeks to start the development of the remaining 11 properties. 

 

Still on the matter of Corporate Plan Actions, the Officer advised that there were four Amber actions, which was an increase of one, since Quarter 2:

 

1.         Develop and deliver a digital inclusion strategy to increase access to digital technology and improve digital skills;

2.         Complete the delivery of the Council Housing Improvement Programme by 2017;

3.         Increase the number of sustainable, affordable homes; and

4.         To introduce a rapid response system to protect vulnerable people from the activities of rogue traders.

 

All underperformance was anticipated to be addressed by the end of the current financial year and the additional action (number 3) that referred to affordable homes was related to private development following Section 106 funding as well as the Council’s own development. 

 

Moving on to performance indicators, the Officer advised that there were two measures that had not met target for the quarter and they related to the average number of calendar days taken to deliver a Disabled Facilities Grant (DFG) and the percentage of tenants that were satisfied with the outcome of an antisocial behaviour complaint.

 

A Member referred to the 2020 completion date set for the Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS) works and asked for further information on the Council’s progress to date.  The Head of Housing and Building Services was pleased to inform the Committee that the Vale of Glamorgan Council was 100% compliant with WHQS as at 14th March, 2018.  The 2020 date was specified within the Wales Housing Act however, the Council had originally set its own target date for December 2017.  It was realised close to the December deadline that this would be unachievable so permission was sought and agreed to extend the deadline for works to March 2018. 

 

A Tenant Working Group Representative asked who would be responsible for rectifying any faults as a result of WHQS works carried out.  The Officer advised that the Council had a retention period agreement with the contractors involved, however, there was an expiry date for the retention period and after that point it would be the responsibility of the Council.  It was hoped that there would be minimal examples of this as high standards were expected and monitored by the Council and payment would be held back from contractors until faults, if any, were rectified.  The Chairman invited the representative to raise any specific examples with the Officer following the meeting.

 

RECOMMENDED –

 

(1)       T H A T the performance results and progress towards achieving key outcomes in line with the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 1 – ‘An Inclusive and Safe Vale’ be noted.

 

(2)       T H A T the performance results and remedial actions to be taken to address areas of underperformance and to tackle the key challenges identified be noted.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To ensure the Council clearly demonstrates the progress being made towards achieving its Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes aimed at making a positive difference to the lives of Vale of Glamorgan citizens.

 

(2)       To ensure the Council is effectively assessing its performance in line with the requirement to secure continuous improvement outlined in the Local Government Measure (Wales) 2009 and reflecting the requirement of the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act that it maximises its contribution to achieving the well-being goals for Wales.

 

 

775         TARGET SETTING FOR 2018/19 (DEH) –

 

The Committee considered a report which presented the proposed targets for improvement for 2018/19 for existing performance indicators (PIs) aligned to Well-being Outcome 1 ‘An Inclusive and Safe Vale’ priorities. 

 

Due to the timing of target setting this financial year, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised that data was only available for Quarter 3 for those measures reported on a quarterly basis.  For those measures reported on an annual basis, proposed targets had been informed by the previous year’s trend data (where available) and estimated data as at Quarter 3.  For some measures that were new for 2017/18 and were collected annually, there would be no data available until 31st March, 2018.  As a result, services were establishing baseline performance for these measures and it was not yet possible to set a target.  Targets would be set and reported to Members once end of year data became available. 

 

Appendix 1 of the Officer’s report outlined the proposed targets and their rationale for the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee.  Where possible, targets had been set for those PIs that were continuing into 2018/19.  A number of indicator amendments and deletions were proposed for 2018/19 following the review of existing Corporate Performance Measures (CPMs) and Members were asked to endorse these.

 

There were six performance measures that were proposed for deletion for the 2018/19 framework which included: 

  • CP/114 – receipt of Universal Credit;
  • CPM/106 – tenants have access to bank account / credit union as a result of Money Advice Team intervention;
  • CPM/232 – percentage reduction in recorded incidents of domestic violence;
  • CPM/009 – housing stock work that meets WHQS has been completed;
  • CPM/025 – customers satisfied with DFG service; and
  • CPM/024 – additional housing units provided.

There were also six new performance measures that were being proposed for inclusion in the Corporate Performance Framework for 2018/19 that related to Council House developments and acquisitions, case closures for clients due to non-attendance, percentage increase in recorded incidents of domestic violence, affordable housing units grant planning permission and units delivered per 10,000 population. 

 

Of the 27 performance measures that made up the Corporate Performance Framework, 20 had targets proposed for 2018/19.  For 6 measures target setting was not applicable (CPM/099, CPM/063, CPM/082, CPM/117, CPM/118 and CPM/135), because the Welsh Government data set had not been disaggregated at the Local Authority level, so was not available.  For the remaining 1 measure CPM/064 (PAM/013) it was not possible to set a target due to a definition change made by the Welsh Government in terms of how the measure was collected and reported.  Therefore, the service would focus on establishing a baseline performance in 2018/19.

 

The Chairman thanked the Officer for presenting the report and asked the Committee if it was happy to endorse the proposed deleted performance measures.  The Committee collectively agreed.

 

The Chairman went on to ask the Officer if there had been much interest from the general public with regards to PI CPM/105 and the subsequent challenges following the future roll out of Universal Credit. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Council had contacted all individuals already receiving Universal Credit and an internal monitoring group had been established between key Council staff and housing association partners in preparation.  The greatest impact was currently anticipated to be borne by Social Landlords, however, some mitigation measures had been announced by Westminster Government in readiness.  In the relevant business plan, the Council had set a deficit position of just under 6% which was approximately £800,000.  The primary concern at this stage was that there may be a number of vulnerable Council tenants who may not be used to the responsibility of managing their own finances.  Therefore, a key focus would be to work with vulnerable individuals as early as possible. 

 

A Tenant Working Group Representative advised that residents had shared their concerns with her about the roll out requiring individuals to have a bank account.  Unfortunately, it was common for relevant individuals who have had bad credit history to be unable to open a current account due to bank policy.  The Officer requested that any individual having difficulties gaining a bank account be referred to the Council’s Money Advice Team who would support liaison with the banks and / or support individuals to open a basic bank account through other avenues such as the Post Office. 

 

Following consideration of the report, it was

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Committee endorse the proposed targets for 2018/19 aligned to Wellbeing Outcome 1 priorities.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure the Council reports a relevant sent of performance indicators against which it can demonstrate achievement of its Well-being Outcomes and consistently sets challenging yet realistic performance improvement targets for those priorities in line with requirements under the Local Government (Wales) Measure 2009.

 

 

776         SERVICE PLANS 2018-22: REGENERATION AND PLANNING, HOUSING AND BUILDING SERVICES, AND CHILDREN AND YOUNG PEOPLE SERVICES (DEH) –

 

The Committee was presented with the report to consider the Regeneration and Planning, Housing and Building Services, and Children and Young People Service Plans (2018-22).  The Service Plans specifically identified how each Head of Service would contribute towards the achievement of the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcomes by asking two questions:

 

1.         “Which well-being objectives does the service contribute to and what actions will we be taking this year to achieve these?”

2.         “How will we manage our resources to achieve these actions and support our service?”

 

The Chairman welcomed the Head of Housing and Building Services, Head of Regeneration and Planning and the Head of Children and Young People Services to Committee, who collectively advised that Service Plans were the primary planning document of the Council and a key building block in its Performance Management Framework.  Consequently, an annual review of planning arrangements was undertaken to ensure that the Council’s plans continued to meet statutory requirements and to continuously improve the approach to performance planning and monitoring. 

 

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

 

The Regeneration and Planning, Housing and Building Services and Children and Young People Services would develop team plans for 2018/19 to underpin and deliver their Service Plan actions.  The actions contained in the Service and Team Plans would then be translated into individual staff actions via the #itsaboutme performance management process. 

 

The first of the Plans to be considered was the Children and Young People Service Plan.  The service areas of Children and Young People Services, Adult Services,  Resource Management and Safeguarding combined to form the Social Services Directorate.  The Directorate had a wide range of statutory duties and responsibilities.  Its primary role was to protect, support and meet the social care needs of vulnerable children and adults, helping them to achieve the best quality of life possible. 

 

The Head of Children and Young People Services advised that the matters under the Committee’s remit, within the Plan attached at Appendix 1 (part 3 of 3), were the objectives of the Flying Start and Youth Offending Service.  Matters that were not within the Committee’s remit had been struck through within the Plan document. 

 

A Member referred to the workforce development data table on page 10 of the Plan and expressed his concern over the seemingly high percentage of 12.92% for staff turnover.  He asked if the figure demonstrated a larger issue. 

 

The Officer advised that the figure in question related to all the services under the Directorate as a whole and uncertainty in funding supporting roles could encourage individuals to look for alternative employment.  However, she was confident that the service would continue to progress and the Council would continue to focus on staff development and promotion within the service.  It had been difficult to appoint into positions historically, however, there had been great success recently in filling a Management post within the Youth Offending Service. 

 

The second of the Plans to be considered was the Regeneration and Planning Service Plan.  The Regeneration and Planning Service sought to manage new developments, secure investment and regeneration activity and promote the Vale of Glamorgan as a visitor destination with the aim to promote sustainable and appropriate new development and to make a real difference through regeneration activity by providing people with access to employment, facilities and the opportunity to improve their quality of life. 

 

The Head of Regeneration and Planning advised that the matters under the Committee’s remit, within the Plan attached at Appendix 1 (part 1 of 3), were related to Disabled Facilities Grants, Section 106 affordable housing, improvements to housing stock and Communities First.  Matters not within the Committee’s remit had been struck through. 

 

In response to a Member’s earlier question regarding staff turnover, the Officer highlighted that the figure for his service was even higher than that of the Children and Young People Services due to a couple of factors affecting a relatively small Regeneration and Planning service team. 

 

Due to the Communities First Team coming to an end shortly, many of the staff involved had already sought alternative employment.  The service also employed Masters students from Cardiff University on an annual basis and the students were also accounted for in the staff turnover figures.  It was not felt that the service had an issue in terms of staff turnover. 

 

The Committee raised the following questions with Officers:

 

Member(s) Questions

Officer(s) Response

Is 30% a realistic target for securing affordable new housing through planning permission?

WO1: IS011, Page 14.

The Head of Regeneration and Planning advised that the percentage figure would fluctuate depending on the housing supply being approved and subsequently built.  However, 30% was deemed an achievable percentage.

 

The focus of the Housing and Building Section would be on the “actual” build whereas the focus of theRegeneration and Planning team would be on the “approval” of buildings in line with the Statutory Planning Guidance (SPG).

 

The challenge of viability remained on some sites and if proved by developers the Council would be limited in its response.

 

With regards to Council owned land, the site would often be owned by the Council department rather than the Council as a whole, so the Regeneration and Planning Section would be required to work within the financial resources of the particular   department. 

With regards to the Joint Housing   Land Availability Study 2018/19, where do the results of the study go once formalised?

Consultation and Engagement, Page 16.

The Joint Housing Land   Availability Study was a requirement of Welsh Government and with the adoption of the Local Development Plan (LDP), the Council was now in a better position to more accurately deliver the Study. 

 

The Head of Regeneration and Planning confirmed that the Council was currently running on a five year housing land supply and any survey results would be reported to Cabinet.

Where are the minutes of the Strategic Housing Forum reported to?

Collaboration and Partnership, Page 18.

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Strategic Housing Forum, chaired by the Operational Manager for Public Housing Services and attended by Planning colleagues as well as four partnered Registered Social Landlords, was a useful tool for smoothing the path for development in a more informed way.  Conversations and feedback from   partners was collated into minutes that were disseminated internally to   inform Council priorities.

What is the current situation with regards to delivering DFGs?

WO1: IS009, Page 34.

The Head of Regeneration and Planning advised that, due to Welsh Government requesting that the Council starts recording an application for a DFG at the first point of contact (C1V) rather than when the need was established, it had had a   detrimental effect on the Council’s figures.

 

However, this was not reflective of the Council’s performance which continued to improve and the change had affected all Local Authorities.

There are a lot of empty properties in the Vale of Glamorgan, especially in the Barry area, so is the Council actively discussing the potential of empty properties with landlords?

WO1: IS010, Page 35.

The Officer advised that the Regeneration Team worked closely with Housing colleagues to identify properties and make links with prospective landlords.  There were also various sources of external finance to purchase and / or refurbish properties that Officers would resource. 

 

With regards to the Barry area, and in particular Holton Road, the Officer advised that the “mixed use” model (retail with accommodation) was more advantageous and becoming more popular in town centre areas. 

 

The third and final Service plan to be considered was the Housing and Building Services Plan (Appendix 1, part 2 of 3) with the vast majority of the Plan falling under the remit of the Committee.  The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Plan was designed to be aspirational and achievable with carefully considered and realistic target setting for the future. 

 

The key themes addressed within his Service Plan could be summarised as follows:

  • Concerns over welfare reform and the roll out of Universal Credit;
  • Change in demographics.  Delivering services for an ageing population;
  • Digital inclusion and poverty agenda;
  • Welsh Housing Quality Standards (WHQS);
  • Endorsement of draft Tenant Engagement Strategy;
  • Increased focus on the Council’s asset management;
  • Endorsement of Landlords Domestic Abuse Toolkit.

The Committee raised the following questions with Officers:

 

Member(s) Questions

Officer(s) Responses

What is the Council’s position with regards to the Supporting People Service?

Supporting People, Page 15.

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that whilst two years of static funding had been identified by Welsh Government (WG) for the Supporting People Service only the first year was currently ring-fenced as the second year was subject to review as the Welsh Government moved towards a more holistic service delivery model.  However, WG budgets were shrinking.

 

Packages of care were being piloted based on the particular needs of the individual to assess if it was a more efficient service delivery and a better use of resources.

 

A service mapping exercise had been undertaken by the Housing and Building Service internally to identify any overlap from multiple funding streams resourced to provide services. 

Has a suitable Gypsy Traveller Site been identified?

WAO: IS009, Page 41.

The identification process had been lengthy due to difficulties in engaging with the traveller community.  However, efforts were still   being made to identify an appropriate site.

 

To ensure that the needs and amenities of the community were considered, an external mediation group had been commissioned to progress engagement with the traveller community. 

 

Once an appropriate site was identified the Council would be able to identify available Welsh Government grants.  Funding would be required for recreational facilities as well as individual pitches. 

With regard to long term sickness within the Building Services Team, is there a pattern emerging and do we have service resilience to avoid over stretching existing officers?

Workforce Development, Page 13.

The Officer advised that attendance was monitored in accordance with the Council’s Absence Policy and by the Head of Service.  Sadly, due to   serious medical conditions staff had been absent on long term sickness.

 

An investment of £50k had been assigned for training and development of staff to “grow our own”.

 

There were ongoing difficulties recruiting into “frontline” positions as well as engaging young people into employment within the service.     The service was attempting to mitigate these issues by facilitating an   apprenticeship programme, internship programme, expanding the Cardiff University Development Programme and building relationships with the new Organisation Development and Training Manager.

Given the fact that members of the public will be more comfortable with a person employed by the Council entering their property than private companies and the need to consolidate services to save money, is there any consideration being given to a “cleaning with   care” model?

CP1, Page 11.

The Officer acknowledged that efficiency savings were required as part of the Reshaping Services programme and the key challenges for the Housing and Building Services section would be how to generate new business and whether or not it would be necessary to employ private sector companies to deliver the services. 

 

A Housing and Building Team restructure would be implemented around June 2018, the purpose of which would be to designate service support to meet the demand.  The Housing and Building Service was an   extremely hard working service and was resilient enough to sustain services at this time. 

 

The Chairman shared her historical view on using private contractors.    The preferred method would be to focus on finding and employing   individuals who are then under the Council’s employment rather than   delegating services out to the private sector. 

Is the restructure of the Housing   and Building Services Team, following the end of the WHQS Programme, likely to be finalised for March 2018 as stated?

Integrated Planning, CP1/W, Page 46.

The Housing and Building   Services Manager confirmed that the restructure was not likely to be concluded by March 2018 and it was more likely to be June 2018.  A business plan was in the process of being developed to consider opportunities such as the Adaptations Team providing a “Care and Repair” type service for Council tenants.  A service restructure was necessary as the current structure could not absorb the demand for such a service.

The residual risk impact around corporate compliance for service delivery and well-being and reputation is high; how are we mitigating this?

Risk Evaluation, Page 29.

Officers were in the   process of accessing / visiting  all Vale of Glamorgan schools to identify any relevant issues that the school would have a responsibility to rectify.  Following an assessment, a report would be produced and advice and guidance would be given to the school on how to rectify any issues identified.   

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the Regeneration and Planning, Housing and Building Services and Children and Young People Service Plans for 2018-22 be endorsed.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

To confirm the Service Plans as the primary documents against which performance for the Corporate Plan Well-being Outcome 1 will be measured.

 

 

777          SERVICE STRATEGY (HOUSING) – SIX MONTHLY MONITORING REPORT (DEH) –

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Customer Service Strategy (Housing) had been approved by Cabinet in February 2017 and incorporated feedback from the Committee.  One of the recommendations was to provide Committee with six monthly monitoring reports.

 

Five key priorities were identified in the Strategy, namely: embedding a customer first culture within the Housing Team, expanding the range of personalised services available to tenants; developing the ways customers could access housing services; improving the quality of customer services provided to tenants and increasing the range of customer feedback and using this to drive service improvements.

 

The report presented to Members was the second of its kind since the Strategy had been endorsed and included progress against the actions identified in the Operational Delivery Plan attached at Appendix A to the report.

 

The Officer advised that the majority of actions were either complete or on target to be completed by the target date.  There were however a small amount of actions which were either not yet completed or were falling slightly behind.  The standard Red, Amber and Green classifications had been used to highlight the progress against each action.  Green represented all actions that were complete or on target, Amber was used for actions that were at risk of missing target and Red was used for actions that had already missed target or were likely to miss the target. 

 

The Chairman highlighted that 2 of the 46 actions contained within the Operational Delivery Plan were greyed out and queried the reason for the action contained on page 1 of the Plan: ‘Undertake service testing to review quality of customer experience’.  On advice provided by the Housing and Strategic Projects Team Leader, the Committee was advised that the action was postponed as it overlapped with the Tenant Engagement Strategy which was due for final approval by Cabinet shortly.  As part of the development of the Strategy document, it was identified that a more fundamental review of approach was required and that training would be necessary for tenants taking part before they could successfully get started.  Work would begin on this matter in April 2018. 

 

In referring to the Operational Delivery Plan and its objectives, the Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Strategy was broadly on target, and progress had been made in a number of areas.  Work was already underway to address the four Red action points:

 

1.         Consult with the local residents to identify key issues and future estate priorities;

2.         Complete action plans for larger estates;

3.         Develop customer portal, enabling tenants to access information and services online; and

4.         Ensure access to customer portal is available in English and Welsh.

 

The Officer advised that consultation activity related to Red action point 1, as noted above, would take place as “scrutiny groups” which would be rolled out in April 2018.  The consultation feedback would be essential to inform and shape services the Council delivered in the future and it was important that any scrutiny group had the confidence to challenge and debate on issues raised.

 

A Member referred to the progress stated in the Operational Delivery Plan (page 3) with regard to the Red action ‘Complete action plans for larger estates’ and asked for further information on the meaning of the note “Gaps have been identified which are currently being addressed”.  The Officer advised that an action plan template was implemented and trialled, however, it was found not to be flexible enough to encompass all estates therefore, more information and development was required.

 

A Member referred to the estate walkabouts and advised that she had recently taken part in one within her local Ward and found it very interesting.  The Member asked if the Officer received feedback following a walkabout event.  The Officer confirmed that he did receive feedback and would encourage Members to take part as they had local knowledge which would prove invaluable to Officers.  The aim of the walkabout would be to identify issues that would hopefully be resolved by the next event.  They continued to be an excellent opportunity for meeting and building a relationship with the relevant housing manager. 

 

RECOMMENDED – T H A T the six monthly monitoring report in relation to the Customer Service Strategy (Housing) be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To ensure that high standards of customer service are provided consistently to Council tenants and customers who contact the Housing Team and the actions identified in the Strategy are progressed.