Agenda and minutes

Housing Task and Finish Forum - Monday, 14th December, 2020 11.00 am

Venue: Online via the Zoom app

Contact: Alethea Thompson  01395 571653; email:  athompson@eastdevon.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

9.

Public speaking

Information on public speaking is available online.

Minutes:

There were no members of the public wishing to speak.

10.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 179 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting of the Housing Company Task and Finish Forum held on 8 October 2020 were confirmed as a true record.

11.

Declarations of interest

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

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

12.

Matters of urgency

Information on matters of urgency is available online.

Minutes:

There were no matters of urgency raised at the meeting.

13.

Confidential/exempt items

To agree any items to be dealt with after the public (including the Press) have been excluded. There are no items which officers recommend should be dealt within this way.

Minutes:

There were no confidential or exempt items.

14.

Options and lines of enquiry to deliver more affordable/social housing pdf icon PDF 246 KB

Minutes:

The Service Lead – Place, Asset and Commercialisation presented a joint report writing with the acting Housing Service Lead, which enabled discussion on options to be explored to determine how it was possible for the Council to deliver its objective of increasing the supply of affordable/social housing.  The report also aimed to provide some direction in terms of the Housing Company itself and whether or not it was still required.  The company was originally set up for the specific purpose of providing market housing at market rents (not social/affordable housing), however the business plan could be altered if desired.  It was noted that an advantage of using a Housing Company to provide additional social housing was that these properties would not be subject to the Right to Buy scheme (the Council currently lost approximately 30 homes/annum under Right to Buy).  The Housing Company was not a registered provider, but the Council was.

 

The Strategic Lead – Housing, Health and Environment warned the TaFF that the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) did not have limitless resources.  He explained that the investment and funding had competing priorities and that any new build and acquisitions would need to be reconciled with decarbonisation, tenants’ safety and improvement programmes to existing stock.  There was some borrowing capacity, but this was not limitless as borrowing had to be repaid.  The HRA currently funded around 30 new homes per year.  The HRA Business Plan was being reviewed as new stock condition information was produced.

 

There were a number of opportunities for increasing HRA stock numbers that could be explored further and these were set out in a table in the Service Lead – Place, Asset and Commercialisation and Housing Service Lead’s report.   Members were also encouraged to add to these opportunities/mechanisms.  No one single delivery mechanism was likely to be suitable but there were opportunities to proactively develop a range of delivery mechanisms set out in a development strategy involving a combination of development, redevelopment and acquisitions funded through active asset management generating receipts through strategic disposals, Right to Buy receipts and borrowing, enabling investment in providing new homes.

 

Some of the challenges for increasing HRA stock numbers were:

·        EDDC did not currently have the skill set, capacity or knowledge to deliver its own social housing development programme (this was why the Housing Company had not been successful so far).

·        The Council would be competing with other registered providers (Government funding and policy tended to favour registered providers to provide social housing, rather than local authorities).

·        Competing funding needs within the HRA.

·        The risk appetite that EDDC wished to take.

 

The Service Leads’ report suggested that the way to better understand what was possible was to speak to other authorities who were already increasing their social housing portfolio.  There would be benefits in a small working group of members and officers having discussions with these local authorities.  To facilitate more focussed discussions with other authorities it was thought that it would be better to focus on a manageable  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.