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Agenda and draft minutes

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Media

Items
No. Item

90.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors C Bain and M Bailey.

91.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 112 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 18th March 2024 were approved as a correct record.

 

(Moved by Councillor B Price and seconded by Councillor L Smith)

 

92.

Declarations of Interest

To receive any declarations of Members’ interests (personal and/or personal and prejudicial) in any matters which are to be considered at this meeting.

 

When Members are declaring a personal interest or personal and prejudicial interest in respect of which they have dispensation, they should specify the nature of such interest.  Members should leave the room if they have a personal and prejudicial interest in respect of which they do not have a dispensation. 

 

 

Minutes:

There were no Declarations of Interest.

93.

Chair's Update

Minutes:

There was none.

94.

Responses to Reports of the Corporate Scrutiny Committee

Minutes:

There were none.

95.

Consideration of Matters referred to the Corporate Scrutiny Committee from Cabinet / Council

Minutes:

There were none.

96.

Housing Voids Update pdf icon PDF 72 KB

(Report of the Assistant Director Assets)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair introduced the report of the Assistant Director, Assets to provide the Corporate Scrutiny Committee with an update on the current status of housing voids following a series of questions raised by the working group.

 

The Chair highlighted that the Assistant Director, Assets had sent apologies and that the Assistant Director, Neighbourhoods, Tina Mustafa was in attendance with the Portfolio Holder for Housing and Planning, Councillor S Smith.

 

The Chair also welcomed Councillor C Dean and B Clarke who were members of the Housing Repairs cross-party working group to join the discussion.

 

The Committee made the following comments/observations and asked the following questions:

 

1.     Concerns around the time taken to turn around voids and the mounting costs and what the solution is for this?

The Officer confirmed that with regards to rent loss, a 1.5% loss is built into the budget. For any rent loss accrued over and above that there are Liquidated and Ascertained Damages (LAD) enforced against the contractor where they are late in returning a property back.

In terms of tackling turnaround times on this voids this is something that requires a multi-faceted approach including working with the contractor through their Service Improvement Plan as well as looking at key workstreams including tenancy management, for example beginning as soon as the Council become aware of an upcoming empty property; looking at how tenants are incentivised to leave the property in better condition; the exit inspection process and property inspections formally referred to as MOTs.

It was highlighted that a stock condition survey was being carried out across every property this year with a view to devising a detailed project plan to bring down turnaround times and drive improvements.

2.     Concerns around the current recovery rate of rechargeable repairs and how tenants can cause damage and not make payments towards this?

The Officer confirmed that there is a robust recharge policy in place. Where an exit inspection identifies damage then a move can be prevented where the tenant’s housing need does not override this and tenants can be asked to rectify damage/put recharge arrangements in place, the allocations policy does also allow for a housing application to have reduced preference. Where they are able to move on, they are referred to agencies to agree a payment plan but as this is not a primary debt such as rent or council tax, return rates do remain low.

Councillors felt prevention and early intervention is the key which could include including annual property inspections, it had been hoped that the contractors would be able to carry these out through their annual safety checks, but this has not been possible. It is hoped that the 100% stock condition check would provide a baseline of how to move forward with this and look at cost benefits of resuming property inspections.

The Officer also explained that in some complex cases a move may still be required and inspections may not be the only answer or  change the outcome, Other options could be  ...  view the full minutes text for item 96.

97.

Working Group Updates

To provide an update on any working groups

 

Minutes:

The Chair updated the Committee that further to the last meeting, a working group meeting had been held with Officers from the finance team around leaseholder insurance charges. The Chair confirmed that under legislation the Council must purchase the building insurance and spread the cost amongst the tenants.

An insurance broker was employed to test the market to see whether the current arrangement was cost effective. This confirmed that that the costs are in line with the market.

It was noted that the reasons for the rise in costs includes an increase in the number of customer claims as well as increases in costs within the construction industry.

 

The Committee asked whether the premiums had to be collected in one lump sum or if these could be spread over a number of months for those who may find this difficult? And if so that this could be communicated to those affected?

 

98.

Forward Plan

(Discussion Item – Link to the Forward Plan attached)

 

Forward plan - Forward Plan - 1st April 2024 - 31st July 2024 :: Tamworth Borough Council

Minutes:

There were no items identified from the Forward Plan.

99.

Corporate Scrutiny Committee Work Plan & Action Log

(Discussion Item)

Minutes:

The Committee thanked the Chair, Deputy Chair, Cabinet Members and Officers for supporting the work of the Committee this year.

 

The Chaired thank Officers and Cabinets for their input in to a productive year before closing the meeting.