Venue: Committee Room 2, Civic Centre, Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions
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Apologies, Declarations of Interest or Any Other Communications from Members
The meeting was chaired by Cllr Brad Fisher, Vice-Chair, following Cllr Sue Sampson’s appointment to Cabinet. Cllr Mohinder Gill attended as a guest as he was yet to be formally signed off as Chair.
The minutes of the meeting held on 18 April 2012 were agreed as an accurate record and signed.
Cllr Peter Carey referred to Cllr O’Reillys’ request (page 2) that a letter be written to Cllr Curran outlining the Committee’s concerns, which had been agreed, and asked if the letter had been written. Ben Osifo advised that it had not but discussions had taken place with both the Chair and the Cabinet Member for Housing, since when Cllr Sampson had ceased to be Chair following her appointment to Cabinet. Cllr Carey said that he expected such suggestions reflecting the Panel’s deep concerns to be followed up and asked if was understood how infuriating it was that the previous meeting had to be cancelled, given its importance. Cllr Fisher stated that Cabinet would have known of the circumstances as Alison Simmons had been present and would have advised that neither the Cabinet Member for Housing nor any Labour Panel Members had been present. He added that the Panel’s concerns had been taken to Cllr Curran verbally by Cllr Sampson.
Discussions with Lead Member and Assistant Director Housing.
Allocations Policy Review
As Cllr Curran and Alison Simmons were not due to arrive until 7.30 pm Cllr Fisher advised that Ben Osifo (Scrutiny Officer) would present an update on some recommendations regarding the Locata and Allocations policy review that had a relevance to the agenda item. Mr Osifo advised that in 2009 Scrutiny had made around 45 recommendations as part of the scrutiny review of Locata and Hounslow’s Allocation Policy, 34 of which were accepted in one form or another but for the purpose of the agenda item, he wished to present 12 as still being relevant to the current discussions by the Housing & Environmental Scrutiny Panel. (Numbers refer to the original document.)
a) That the Executive clarify the existing groups to reflect the separate category of Homeless Homeseekers for those in temporary accommodation.
b) There needs to be an explanation in the Allocations Policy on why certain groups are prioritized over others.
c) Observations in 3.67 are responded to.
Ben Osifo advised that at the time there was a need to clarify what was meant by the different terms; these terms are still used in the draft policy to be consulted on and it would be up to members to decide whether or not to pursue this.
20) That a rolling training programme and regular updates on schemes be put in place for all frontline staff across council services. This includes key workers, support providers and voluntary sector partners in ensuring vulnerable people provided with consistent advice and information in the logistics of CBL.
The review had noted an inconsistency in the quality of advice depending on who was spoken to, which, Mr Osifo advised, the panel had recommended should be addressed by a rolling programme of consistent training. A response had been received that this would be looked into as part of annual staff training. Ben Osifo said that he believed this would be good for officers and members alike. Following questions from members Mr Osifo advised that the intention was that the Council would train both Council and Hounslow Homes staff, along with carers and other support groups, in house, using documents developed by the Council.
23) That refusal rates for applicants and reasons given for refusals are monitored by the Council.
Mr Osifo stated that the review had revealed that delays and logistical problems were created when applicants made an offer for a property and then didn’t take it. One of the reasons found from the review for this was, he advised, the quality of housing on offer and so there was a need to monitor applicants’ reasons for refusals as a performance enhancer. (These reasons are currently recorded for each individual but not put together to obtain an overall picture.) Cllr Mindu Bains stated that she was currently dealing with a case where a kitchen was in such a poor state that no one wanted the home and she asked if Hounslow Homes had a responsibility to repair it. Ben Osifo replied ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
Any business which the Chair agrees to accept on grounds of urgency.