Agenda and minutes

Housing Review Board - Thursday, 13th January, 2022 10.00 am

Venue: online via the Zoom app

Contact: Alethea Thompson  01395 517653; email


No. Item


Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online



Co-opted tenant member of the Board, Sue Saunders brought some concerns to the attention of the Board:

·        The ‘Involved Tenant’ report had not been included in the 2020 Annual Report.

·        The HRB application form was perceived to be ambiguous, with the use of statements rather than questions.

·        Assurance was sought that the ‘tenant tick symbol’ would be clearly marked on all documents requiring tenant consultation.

·        Concerns were raised that related to the repairs contractor Ian Williams.  These were based around ongoing tenant dis-satisfaction and communication failures that tenants had experienced when reporting repairs.


In response the Strategic Lead – Housing, Health and Environment thanked Sue Saunders for her questions and constructive challenge.  He would investigate why the Involved Tenant report had been omitted from the 2020 Annual Report to Tenants.  He stated that key policy and procedure documents impacting on tenants should have tenant input and consideration and that the ‘tenant tick’ should be used wherever possible.


Welcome to two newly appointed tenant co-optees on to the Housing Review Board pdf icon PDF 170 KB


Since the last meeting of the Housing Review Board interviews were held for two vacant tenant representative positions on the Board.  These positions were filled and the tenants co-opted by Council in October 2021.  The Chair welcomed Steve Beer and Sue Saunders on to the Board and invited them to introduce themselves.  She also advised the Board that tenant member and Vice Chair of the HRB, Peter Sullivan had regretfully resigned from the Board due to ill health.  On behalf of the Board she expressed her appreciation to Peter for his long service on the HRB and to tenant participation in general.


Nominations for Vice Chair were requested and received for co-opted tenant members Steve Beer and Sue Saunders.


RECOMMENDED:  that the recommendation that tenant representative Sue Saunders be appointed Vice Chair of the Board for the ensuing year be passed for approval.


DECISION:The recommendation was approved by a Senior Officer. The Senior Officer Decision Notice is listed above under Additional Documents.



Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 198 KB


The minutes of the previous meeting held on 16 September 2021 were received and accepted.


Declarations of interest

Guidance is available online to Councillors and co-opted members on making declarations of interest



Declarations of interest.

Councillor Sarah Chamberlain, Personal, employee of Exeter City Council within the housing service.


Declarations of interest.

Sue Saunders, Personal, housing tenant.



Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online



There were no matters of urgency.


Confidential/exempt item(s)

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the press) have been excluded. Thereare no itemswhich officersrecommendshould be dealtwithin thisway.



There were no confidential/exempt items.


Housing Review Board forward plan pdf icon PDF 49 KB


The Housing Service Lead presented the forward plan and advised members that the forward plan acted as a reminder of agenda items to come forward to future meetings.  Members were reminded that they could add further issues to the next forward plan by informing either herself or the Democratic Services Officer. 


During the meeting the following items were added to the forward plan which was endorsed by the Board:

·        A review of the integrated asset management contract.

·        An update on the housing stock condition survey.

·        A report on the emerging Housing Task Force – the Council looking into developing its own stock and increasing the supply of affordable/social housing.

·        A review of the complaints system – to be considered by both tenants and officers together.



Draft Housing Service Plan and draft budget 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 210 KB

Additional documents:


The Service Lead – Housing presented the draft Service Plan for the Housing Service covering the period 2022-2023, for consideration by the Board.


The Service Plan was a working document produced annually by all EDDC services and set out the key achievements over the past year and the forthcoming issues to be faced by the service.  It linked closely with the Council Plan and the aim of the process was to produce a work plan for the coming year with a realistic view of the challenges and risks ahead.  Producing a Service Plan presented a good opportunity to look back and reflect and also the ability to forward plan.  Performance should be monitored constantly against the ‘live’ document.  The Service Plan was coordinated annually with budget planning.


This year the plan reflected continuing service interruptions due to the pandemic.  The plan also considered service challenges and pressures over the next three years, including climate change implications, tenant safety measures, the implications of the Social Housing White Paper, the new Building Safety Act and the ambitions to increase the supply of social housing.


A range of service improvements were identified through a number of SMART objectives (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time bound).  The plan linked closely with the Housing Strategy and was designed to complement a number of other housing plans and policies as part of how the Council managed its own housing stock and the services it delivered.  There was also a strong link with the Council’s Public Health Strategic Plan to ensure more people were helped to be and stay healthy, enhance self-care and community resilience and integrate and improve support for people in their own homes.  There was also a strong link to both the Poverty Strategy and the Council’s climate change aspirations.


Headlines from the Housing Service Plan were:

·           A focus on delivering our housing purpose(s).

·           A commitment to tackle homelessness.

·           Recognition of poverty as a significant factor in people’s lives.

·           Revision of the HRA Business plan with updated stock condition data.

·           Delivering the stock condition survey.

·           A focus on new development opportunities with the need to review the current acquisition programme.

·           The recruitment and implementation of the new social housing task force.

·           Emphasis on the importance of compliance and keeping tenants safe in their homes.

·           A focus on mental health and how we are addressing the challenges this is presenting us as a landlord.

·           Robustly managing the Integrated Asset Management Contract.

·           Continuing with the future proofing of Home Safeguard with a realistic view of risks ahead including the next phase of digital switchover, refresh of the marketing strategy and growth plans.

·           An emphasis on evidencing value for money with the need to scrutinise some areas to satisfy ourselves that we are achieving what matters most to the customer, in line with our systems thinking purpose.

·           Acting on the climate change agenda and building towards a carbon neutral council.

·           Delivering the next phase of the carbon reduction programme for the housing stock.


The Housing Service  ...  view the full minutes text for item 23.


Housing Management System software upgrade pdf icon PDF 255 KB


The Council’s housing service had investigated options for upgrading and modernising its Housing Management IT System in order to ensure its systems remained fit for purpose and able to meet the flexible and agile working needs of the service in the years ahead, and to enable and support the Council’s obligations under the Social Housing White Paper 2021 and the Building Safety Bill 2021.  The Housing Systems Manager’s report set out the proposed upgrade route, the implementation, method and anticipated timescales, the high level benefits and risks, other options considered, and the costs of the proposal.


Since the last meeting of the HRB detailed demonstrations had been held and a full evaluation of the project.  The proposed upgrade would provide the housing service with a good and effective value for money system, allowing improved flexible and mobile working environments.


Those present welcomed the report and timescales for adoption.  It was noted that the tenant portal would give tenants another form of engagement and access to the service, and that traditional modes of communication would be retained so that digitally excluded tenants would not be isolated.  The intention was that it would broaden people’s ability to engage with the housing service.


RECOMMENDED:  that the Housing Review Board recommends that Cabinet recommends to Council the proposed upgrade and budget requests of £134,927 and £6,060 respectively to implement the IT system upgrade to Capita’s One Housing and One Assets solutions.



Updated Housing Policies pdf icon PDF 89 KB

Additional documents:


The Rental Manager informed the Board that the Income Management including Debt Collection Policy/Strategy had been reviewed to ensure that it continued to reflect current practice and legislation.  Minor changes had been made following tenant consultation and additionally to reflect Breathing Space legislation.  The Data Protection Statement had also been added.



1.     that members agree the updated policy detailed in the report.

2.     that members recommend to Cabinet that the policy is formally adopted by the Council.


Mental Health Strategy for Housing 2021-2025 pdf icon PDF 276 KB

Additional documents:


The Housing Service Lead outlined the mental health strategy for housing, which had been developed over the past two years.  The strategy was designed to deal with the increasing demand upon housing services which were mental health related.  The strategy had been previously reviewed and agreed by a tenant panel.


An increasing number of tenants had been presenting with a range of mental health issues over the last few years.  Mental health services and the county’s supported housing has been unable to meet demand, leaving EDDC as landlord to manage the tensions this created.  Many agencies were inundated and under resourced.  A partial solution had been identified in the form of a specialist worker, experienced in the field of mental health, to carry out a small caseload and act as liaison between housing and mental health teams, as well as providing a source of assistance and guidance for staff across all housing teams. 


This post would commence towards the end of January 2022.  It was noted that the mental health officer was not a mental health professional, but would assist and work alongside mobile support officers to help signpost tenants to existing services, rather than make mental health interventions.  Members agreed that it was important that the wording in the strategy was clear that the housing mental health officer was not a clinician offering a professional practitioner role.


It was suggested that a progress report on the five year strategy be brought back to the Board in a year’s time.


Those present welcomed the strategy and introduction of a mental health officer for housing, to work alongside and support the mobile support officers and focus on tenants.  It was noted that a mental health officer had also been agreed by Council, who would have a more corporate and member focus.  It was suggested that a press release be issued to make the public aware and promote these two roles.




1.     that members agree the Mental Health Strategy for Housing 2021-2025 detailed in the report.

2.     that members recommend to Cabinet that the strategy is formally adopted by the Council.



Housing Covid-19 Performance Monitoring report pdf icon PDF 1 MB


Due to time constraints this item would be carried forward to the next meeting of the Housing Review Board.


Quarterly PI report Quarter 2 2021-22 pdf icon PDF 591 KB


Due to time constraints this item would be carried forward to the next meeting of the Housing Review Board.