HOMES AND SAFE COMMUNITIES SCRUTINY COMMITTEE

 

Minutes of a meeting held on 16th May, 2018.

 

Present:  Councillors Ms. B.E. Brooks, Mrs. C.A. Cave, Ms. A.M. Collins, B.T. Gray, S.J. Griffiths, Mrs. S.M. Hanks, M.J.G. Morgan, Mrs. M.R. Wilkinson, M.R. Wilson and Mrs. M. Wright.

 

Also present:  Councillor L.O. Rowlands and Mrs. G. Doyle, Mr. A. Raybould and Ms. H. Smith (Tenant Working Group Representatives).

 

 

23        APPOINTMENT OF CHAIRMAN -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T Councillor Mrs. C.A. Cave be appointed as Chairman for the municipal year.

 

 

24        APPOINTMENT OF VICE-CHAIRMAN -

 

RESOLVED - T H A T Councillor S.J. Griffiths be appointed as Vice-Chairman for the municipal year.

 

 

25        APOLOGY FOR ABSENCE -

 

This was received from Mr. D. Dutch (Tenant Working Group Representative).

 

 

26        MINUTES -

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the minutes of the meeting held on 18th April, 2018 be approved as a correct record.

 

 

27        DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST -

 

No declarations were received.

 

 

28        ANNOUNCEMENTS -

 

The Chairman welcomed Councillor Marguerita Wright, who would be replacing Councillor Nugent-Finn on the Committee going forward.

 

The Chairman took the opportunity to remind Members of the Homelessness Service Review Event taking place at the Civic Offices on Thursday, 24th May, 2018.  Members were reminded to inform Officers that they wished to attend by Friday, 18th May, 2018.

 

 

29        PRESENTATION - COMMUNITY INVESTMENT STRATEGY PROGRESS -

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services introduced Victoria Brown, the Senior Neighbourhood Manager for Community Investment and Services to Older People.  The Officer advised that the Community Investment Strategy was adopted by Cabinet in June 2016 and as part of the Cabinet’s decision it was recommended that the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee receive six-monthly monitoring reports on the Strategy’s Action Plan. 

 

The Senior Neighbourhood Manager introduced her colleagues also in attendance, Shani Payter, Community Investment Officer for Employment and Training and Mark Ellis, Community Investment Officer for Vale Timebanking.  The Senior Neighbourhood Manager led the presentation, the purpose of which was to provide Committee with an update of projects that had been developed as a result of the Community Investment Strategy. 

 

The Senior Neighbourhood Manager advised that the Community Investment Team (CIT) was created in 2015 with the aim of providing Vale of Glamorgan tenants with additional resources to support the Council’s goal of building stronger cohesive communities.  The key objective of the Community Investment Team was to bring the community together and not to just provide a ‘roof’ over an individual’s head.  Over 2000 individuals had attended the Vale of Glamorgan Community Events during 2017 which were centred on the following topics: 

  • Health and Wellbeing;
  • Employment;
  • Training;
  • Volunteering;
  • Digital Services and Inclusions;
  • Green Spaces. 

The engagement events not only benefitted the individuals but also the community as a whole.  For example, the Friday night football club held in the Gibbonsdown and Colcot areas had significantly reduced anti-social behaviour. 

 

The Officer advised that many Vale of Glamorgan tenants had not achieved any formal qualifications or taken part in any training before attending a CIT training event.  These popular events not only allowed the individual to gain additional training to increase their employability but it also helped to improve the individual’s emotional wellbeing and personal motivation.  The events gave a common purpose to a group of people who were then in a position to build new positive relationships.  The most common training topics were around health and safety and curriculum vitae (CV) writing. 

 

It was recognised that it was important to provide individuals with the support not only during training but also once the individual had achieved employment.  The individuals targeted for employment support were those deemed furthest from the job market and best supported through an holistic approach.  As the individuals were Council tenants, the type of holistic support would be tailored on their type of housing. 

 

Over the last calendar year, 33 tenants had been supported into paid employment with 10 of the 33 sustaining employment for six months or more.  The CIT had also been successful in arranging 18 work experience placements and these had been particularly successful in the Vale of Glamorgan Parks Department.  If employment was not sustained by an individual then the individual would be referred back to the CIT and offered further support where necessary. 

 

The Community Investment Officer for Employment and Training apprised Committee of the recently run ‘boot camp’ funded through the Community Value Money that was attached to the new build development at Francis Road, Barry.  The project was a joint venture between Vale Homes and Forces Fitness whereby a group of young people were taken out of their home setting to the Afan Valley Park and engaged in activities that built on both team working and individual skills.  The activities focussed on CV writing, interview skills and to promote a healthy lifestyle through physical activity.  The incentive for the individuals was winning a job placement within the Vale of Glamorgan Council.  The Officers involved wished to state that it had been a pleasure to spend time with the young people involved and were very pleased to welcome some of the individuals that attended the project to the Committee meeting. 

 

A Member thanked the young persons for attending the Committee and highlighted that it was great to see the end result of such a successful project.  The Member asked if the project was still scheduled to be rolled out in the Barry area.  The Community Investment Officer for Employment and Training advised that, subject to funding, the boot camp project would be rolled out further to other areas within the Vale of Glamorgan.  The work that was undertaken around training and employment support was available for the whole of the Vale of Glamorgan and future day events were being arranged in partnership with Forces Fitness.  The day events would also include fun activities and healthy living education but would focus on the whole family rather than just young persons.  Officers recognised that there was also a demand for training and employment support in urban areas of the Vale of Glamorgan. 

 

A Member asked the young persons present if they felt that the seemingly obvious apathy amongst young people was due to a lack of knowledge about the type of engagement projects available such as the boot camp they had recently attended.  Mr. Windmill advised that there needed to be more promotion for the type of support events that he had now benefitted from and asked if he could be contacted and involved in future promotion as an advocate for the success of the projects.  Members and Officers welcomed his future support.

 

As another example of employment success, the Community Investment Officer for Employment and Training introduced Ms. Nicky Vickery, who had recently started her own business with funding ascertained from partnership funds.  Ms. Vickery now successfully ran the Gibby Green Fingers Outdoor Allotment Group which had recently been nominated for a Green Flag Award again.  The Allotment Group worked with individuals of all backgrounds to help gain essential qualifications to enhance their employment skills. 

 

A Member advised the Officers of a similar employment promotion company called Purple Shoots and recommended that Officers contact the manager of the business to enhance avenues for mentoring individuals as well as sourcing financial support. 

 

The Chairman thanked the Officers and young persons present for a very inspirational presentation.  It was a pleasure to hear from individuals who were very passionate about their work and/or benefitted from the work creating several advantages for people within Vale of Glamorgan communities.  In particular, the fact that 33 individuals had found employment following the work of the Community Investment Team was testament to the work being undertaken and the need for the Community Investment Strategy.  All these successes were as a result of a great joint effort and the Chairman welcomed the young persons to return to Committee to offer their insight into their progress in the future. 

 

 

30        LOCAL HOUSING MARKET ASSESSMENT 2017 (REF) -

 

On 30th April, 2018, Cabinet was asked to consider the 2017 Local Housing Market Assessment (LHMA) which was attached at Appendix A to the Officer’s report. 

 

Local Authorities had an important strategic housing role and statutory responsibilities in relation to the functioning of the housing market.  Relevant to the adoption of the Local Housing Market Assessment, Section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 required local authorities to consider the housing conditions and needs in their local area; this included a duty for local authorities to conduct a periodic review of the housing market.  The review provided the Council with a comprehensive understanding of the local housing market and a robust evidence base for effective strategic housing and planning services. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the previous LHMA for the Vale of Glamorgan was undertaken in 2015 and completed in-house following the methodology published by the Welsh Government in November 2014.  The 2015 assessment provided a review of the housing market considering all geographical areas, at Ward level or by major settlement.  This was achieved by providing an overview of the housing market, socio-economic, demographic and population statistics.  The analysis provided a review of the housing market of the Vale of Glamorgan as a whole, across tenures; home ownership, private renting and affordable housing. 

 

The LHMA for 2017 was the first bi-annual review of the document, following the same methodology in compliance with Welsh Government requirements under Section 8 of the Housing Act 1985 and again was completed in-house.  In addition to a review of the Local Housing Market, a fundamental aspect of any LHMA was a calculation of the net need for ‘affordable housing’.  Estimates of shortfalls or surpluses of affordable housing, in different areas and of different sizes, were crucial inputs into the Local Housing and Planning Frameworks. 

 

The calculation for the LHMA 2017 showed an annual net requirement of 525 affordable units in the Vale of Glamorgan during the next five year period, 2017-2022 (2,625 over the full period).  However, this figure had been reduced by an annual projected over supply of 51 low cost home ownership units, which were unaffordable to those households in need of social rented and intermediate rented units.  The true annual need was therefore 576 affordable housing units (made up of 479 social rented and 87 intermediate rented units) over the five year period.  This was an increase of 148 social rented units per year from the 2015 LHMA (from 331 to 479) and a decrease of 114 of low cost home ownership units (from 114 to nil) as well as a decrease of 17 intermediate rented homes (from 114 to 97) over the five year period. 

 

The Officer added that these changes were due to a number of factors, including an increase in the Homes4U waiting list from 2,237 to 3,882, an increase in the backlog of affordable housing needs from 459 in 2015 to 943 in 2017 and a projected decrease in the number of social rented properties available for re-let based on the lower turnover in the last two year period.  Some of these changes had in part however also been counteracted by a reduction in the household projections published by Welsh Government for the Vale of Glamorgan since the 2015 LHMA was conducted. 

 

The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the information gathered as part of the LHMA was required to be sent to Welsh Government.  However, the document did not specifically reflect the need for older person’s accommodation within the Vale of Glamorgan.  The Council recognised that the need for such housing was growing and work was underway to address housing needs for the older generation which would be presented to Committee in the future.  The LHMA clearly showed growth in demand and the gap between the demand and supply. 

 

A Member referred to page 35 of the Assessment that addressed the committed supply of low cost home ownership through new build properties and questioned how the targets would be enforced on building developers.  The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the targets were set in the Council’s Statutory Planning Guidance and developers were obligated to supply up to 40% of their developments as affordable housing.  Individuals who were not in a position to purchase a property at 100% of its value may be able to purchase at 70% with the further 30% being owned by a housing association or developer.  It was important to note that the individuals were required to be first time buyers and be in a position to raise the required deposit.  It was recognised that a 70/30 split ownership was not financially viable in all areas of the Vale of Glamorgan based on average incomes and the individual’s affordability therefore; the Council was also looking at 60/40 split ownership alternatives.

 

A Member referred to page 20 of the Assessment, on which, the document referred to the figures relating to households presenting to the Council as homeless as both priority and non-priority cases. The Member also referred to a recent article published by Wales OnLine which was informing members of the public that the Council had not addressed the growing homelessness issue which seemed to contradict the factual information contained within the assessment.  The Head of Housing and Building Services advised that the Council had contacted Wales Online to point out inaccuracies contained within the article however, the article was run despite concerns.  The Officer added that there had been an increase in individuals seeking advice about homelessness but not all initial enquires made resulted in the homelessness service being utilised.  The Council’s processes in place meant that less individuals were ‘intentionally’ made homeless and these cases were very few.  These instances did not relate to young persons or care leavers.  It was important to recognise that the method for recording data with regards to individuals declaring as homeless was changed in 2014.  This was due to individuals getting more immediate support and preventative measures being put in place before their housing circumstances deteriorated.

 

RECOMMENDED - T H A T the Local Housing Market Assessment 2017 attached at Appendix A to the Officer’s report be accepted and the policy implications for the Vale of Glamorgan be noted.

 

Reason for recommendation

 

To enable the Homes and Safe Communities Scrutiny Committee to consider the implications of the 2017 Local Housing Market Assessment.

 

 

31        4TH QUARTER DECISION TRACKING OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND WORK PROGRAMME SCHEDULE 2018/19 (MD) -

 

Members were advised of the progress in relation to the Scrutiny Committee’s recommendations and asked to confirm the updated Work Programme schedule for 2018/19. 

 

The Scrutiny Support Officer highlighted the single ongoing item contained within Appendix B of the report and a recommendation raised at the meeting on 11th October, 2017.  The Officer advised that this item was labelled as ongoing as it was pending the relevant report/strategy being brought to a future Committee meeting. 

 

The Scrutiny Support Officer advised that the decision tracking with regards to January to March 2018, as attached at Appendix A of the report, had no ongoing items and therefore all decisions were labelled as completed. 

 

The Forward Work Programme for 2018/19 was attached at Appendix C to the report and included rolling items relevant to the Committee as well as unique reports that had been requested by the Committee.  The Forward Work Programme had been aligned to the Cabinet Forward Work Programme and if approved by Committee would be uploaded to the Vale of Glamorgan website for members of the public’s information.  The schedule was a proposed list of items for consideration and maybe subject to change depending on prevailing circumstances. 

 

RECOMMENDED -

 

(1)       T H A T the views of the Committee on the status of the actions listed in Appendix A and B to the report be noted.

 

17 January 2018

Min. No. 609 – 3rd   Quarter Scrutiny Decision Tracking of Recommendations and Updated Work   Programme Schedule 2017/18 (MD) – Recommended

(2)   That the items addressed by the Scrutiny   Support Officer above be amended on the forward work programme as approved by   the Chairman and the work programme be uploaded to the Council’s website.

[Youth Offending   Service Mid Year Performance Monitoring Report slip to 18 April meeting]

Forward   work programme updated and uploaded to the Council’s website.

Completed

11 October 2017

Min. No. 370 –   Tenant Engagement Strategy (REF) – Recommended

(2)   That the Newydd Housing Association be   invited to a future Committee meeting to share their engagement practices for   young people.

The   Association attended the Committee on 14th February, 2018.

Completed

 

(2)       T H A T the Forward Work Programme schedule attached at Appendix C be approved an uploaded to the Council’s website.

 

Reasons for recommendations

 

(1)       To maintain effective tracking of the Committee’s recommendations.

 

(2)       For information.