Cllr Dan Ledger, Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities, presented his report and thanked all of the officers involved for their help in preparing the report. Cllr Ledger advised that staff are under huge pressure with a mounting workload.
The report highlighted the following points:
· A number of grants had recently been received which had meant that additional staff could be employed to provide homelessness support.
· There is currently a large amount of casework across multiple departments trying to address homelessness.
· Three Ukrainian families are currently in temporary accommodation and 56 families or individuals are in temporary accommodation in the district.
· The Poverty Working Group has now moved to a policy monitoring phase.
· A new Community Development Manager has been appointed which will assist with delivering the Housing Winter Pressures Plan.
· With regard to strategic asset management, the housing stock condition survey and decarbonisation, the team has been very short staffed with multiple officers undertaking the role of two people due to ongoing issues with recruitment.
· There is currently a large number of void properties and it was highlighted that the cost of turning around a void property should be around £2,500. Recent costs have been between £6,000 - £8,000 due in part to the age of the housing stock or the way the property was treated by previous tenants. Further work needs to be undertaken around recovery of these costs.
· The stock condition survey will result in difficult decisions of a strategic nature, including potential disposal of ageing properties.
· It was noted that Ian Williams contractors are increasing their workload in order to deal with current demand and this was applauded.
· The Homes for Ukraine scheme has meant increased pressure on staff and the Portfolio Holder acknowledged the hard work that has gone into delivering the scheme.
· Attention was drawn to the work of the Housing Task Force in increasing delivery of both affordable and social housing across the district.
In response to questions from Members, the following points were made:
· With regard to the high turnover of tenants and the cost of work on void properties, the age of the stock could be contributing to the issue as tenants move to better properties. Work was needed over the next twelve months to better understand the data and the reasons behind turnover levels.
· Regarding retro-fitting properties, a Government grant of approx. £1.5m has been received for the first round of work, with a further funding bid having recently been submitted for work to increase energy efficiency.
· The Portfolio Holder has met with many voluntary sector providers across the district and aims to increase networking and highlight opportunities for grant funding for the sector.
· Officers are currently working on identifying developable housing opportunities across the district in order to increase housing stock.
· Damp and mould issues are dealt with as soon as the Council is made aware of a problem and a damp and mould policy is shortly to be presented to the Housing Review Board. A new contractor has recently been appointed to review all properties with regard to installing proper ventilation. Early intervention, with tenants informing the Council of issues as soon as possible, is critical, followed by immediate repairs and a good communication strategy to educate tenants with regard to ventilating properties to reduce the occurrence of damp and mould.
· Some of the housing stock will not be able to be brought up to an acceptable standard of decarbonisation and will not be re-let when tenants leave. The Housing Task Force is currently working on this issue alongside the stock condition survey.
· The recent edition of the tenants’ magazine, Housing Matters, was considered to be very good.
· The Portfolio Holder would follow up on the matter of putting out communications regarding the large number of grants and assistance available to residents, either through the Council or via other means.
The Portfolio Holder was thanked for his report.