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Agenda item

Housing Strategy Update

(Report of the Assistant Director, Partnerships)


The Chair reported that following the overview of the Housing Strategy which was received by this Committee in July 2022, the Committee requested regular reporting on actions and relevant data as they relate to health and wellbeing of Tamworth communities, and the Assistant Director, Partnerships had provided the first of these reports to update the Committee on actions and emerging datasets within the Housing Strategy which directly impact on health and wellbeing of Tamworth communities.


The Assistant Director, Partnerships highlighted the following in terms of each Priority:

1.    Priority 1 – Enable the provision of sufficient new homes to meet the needs of the existing population and those attracted to the area for work; ensuring a range of provision to reflect both need and aspiration

An overview of the Affordable Housing requirements was provided as well as the recent figures delivered.  It was reported that the First Homes discount was secured through a planning obligation in perpetuity.

2.    Priority 2 – Make best use of existing housing and related assets

At a Staffordshire level the high level of fuel poverty and homelessness had been identified in the Joint Strategic Needs Assessment as an area where residents’ quality of lives could be improved and the Assistant Director provided an overview of the strategies used by the council to address this and to support residents remaining in their own homes.  These included the commissioning (in partnership with Staffordshire County Council) of Beat the Cold to provide HEAT (Home Energy Advice Tamworth) and work with Staffordshire Warmer Homes related to energy efficiency solutions and including Green Homes funding in Tamworth where it was reported that there had been 63 requests leading to 36 installations.  Other areas included the Home Upgrade Grants (HUG) fund and work related to Housing of Multiple Occupation (HMO) licensing, data related to damp and mould (in terms of council owned properties)

3.    Priority 3 – Ensure housing plays a key role in delivering Tamworth’s response to Climate Change

The Net Zero Carbon Baseline Report which had been considered by the Infrastructure Safety & Growth Scrutiny Committee prior to Cabinet consideration in Autumn 2022 which set out that an action plan would be produced by 31 December 2024.  A further initiative was highlighted, ECO4 Flex, which aimed to help certain households in energy inefficient housing (who were not in receipt of means tested benefits) to access funding to improve the property’s energy efficiency. The eligibility criteria included household income of under £31,000, meeting certain qualifying criteria, NHS referrals and bespoke targeting. Future reports would include data in this area.

4.    Priority 4 – Ensure everyone who lives or works in Tamworth has access to appropriate housing that promotes wellbeing

The Council commissions Citizens Advice Mid Mercia (operating as Tamworth Advice Centre) to deliver an inclusive financial wellbeing and general advice service to support the health and wellbeing of local people through effective advice.  In addition the Council’s Homelessness and Rough sleeping strategy sets out the strategies to provide support in this area and a separate recent update was provided to the Committee.

5.    Priority 5 – Ensure appropriate advice and funding is available to support older people to live independently in appropriate accommodation

Healthy ageing was reported to be a priority for both the Staffordshire health & wellbeing board and the Staffordshire and Stoke Integrated Care System and as part of that work workshops were underway to pull together a plan.  In addition to that the council administered the Disabled Facilities Grants / Disabled Facilities Adaptions to deliver adaptions to homes to support continued independent living, had commissioned Communities Together CIC (CT CIC) to support a hospital discharge service and Tamworth had retained its Dementia Friendly Status, as well as continuing to work with Public Health around supportive communities.


The Committee sought and received clarifications in the following areas:

1.    The eligibility criteria for the ECO4 Flex scheme where the Assistant Director confirmed that that applications for this scheme would be through Beat the Cold and funding would be used for energy efficiency measure, and that this was a national Government initiative.

2.    Whether hotels utilised for temporary accommodation for asylum seekers were considered as Houses of Multiple Occupation (HMO) where it was reported that this was a Government initiative and not part of the HMO licensing regime.

3.    Whether (and if so where) face to face appointments were taking place with Tamworth Advice Centre, where it was reported that there were taking place at CT CIC premises or at Sacred Heart Church, and that the availability of face to face appointments was publicised by the Advice Centre.

4.    The Committee sought further clarification on the large increase in debt reported by the Tamworth Advice Centre for Quarter 4 and whether this doubling in debt from the previous quarter was anticipated to continue and whether this could mean an increased need for resources from the Advice Centre to support the delivery of their advice services.  The Assistant Director reported that the Advice Centre had not reported that they expected the debt position to worsen and that in prior quarters the figure had remained fairly consistent.  No additional resources had been requested for further staff although they had reported difficulties in retaining their existing volunteers, as was the case with much of the voluntary sector.  It was further reported that the council had commissioned CT CIC to undertake work on a wellbeing strategy for Tamworth and a voluntary sector strategy, funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund which would help inform any areas for further work.

5.    How residents were referred into advice services, where it was reported that various teams (including council tenant and revenues and benefits teams) within the council were trained to refer individuals to the Advice Centre services and indeed some voluntary sector partners are also involved in the system and can make referrals.

6.    The importance of the voluntary sector in providing support in this area where the Assistant Director reported that the Council was reviewing the voluntary sector strategy and how Council provides support to the voluntary sector, and would take the Committee’s appreciation for their work back to the Council’s voluntary sector partners.

7.    Under the Staffordshire Warmer Homes scheme, it was noted that the new Government scheme for Home Upgrade Grants (HUG) had not yet recorded any leads for Tamworth and the Assistant Director agreed to progress this matter with Staffordshire County further wand this would be picked up in the next report.

8.    The Committee noted that the funding to the Advice Centre was delivering significant savings to recipients of the service.

9.    Whether there were KPIs on damp and mould for council owned properties, noting that the figures in the report related to private sector housing.  The Committee requested that future reports include data, including KPIS, on damp and mould related to social / council housing.

10.Further details on what would be delivered under the Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy by 2028 in terms of the works to achieve EPC of C+.  The Assistant Director reported that she would revert with further detail in the next report.

11.Whether there was any Officer involvement from Tamworth in the Staffordshire Healthy Ageing Partnership work where the Assistant Director reported that contact had been made with public health colleagues at county and as this work progressed and stakeholder engagement progressed, this would help identify how best officers from the council could be involved.

12.How the council was reaching out to residents to promote services available, for example in terms of debt advice, where social media would not necessarily reach residents.  It was reported that all council officers were able to refer into services and leaflets were also produced and distributed.  The Committee sought clarification on the briefing and training provided to front line staff such as street wardens to assist in getting messages out to the community on the support available from the council and partners.  The Assistant Director agreed to action this.



that, subject to the comments and requests for further information requested, the Committee welcomed the report and the update provided against each of the Housing Strategy priorities and actions and requested that this be presented quarterly to the Committee, with the additional information requested.



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