Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document
Meeting of the Executive held on 07/12/2004
Housing Options Appraisal Special Interest Group Held on 9th November 2004
WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCIL
HOUSING OPTIONS APPRAISAL SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP (SIG)
TUESDAY 9TH NOVEMBER 2004
REPORT TO THE EXECUTIVE ON 7TH DECEMBER 2004
TERMS OF REFERENCE
The Special Interest Group noted its terms of reference.
Housing Quality Network
Steve Partridge informed the SIG that an updated report would be produced for the SIG meeting in December, and that this report would update financial appraisals to reflect the following changes:-
i. subsidy determination
ii. any material changes arising from the Council's draft budget for 2005/2006
iii. recharges from the General Fund to the Housing Revenue Account
iv. changes in activity relating to the Right to Buy
v. the use of receipts under stock transfer
vi. impact of the VAT shelter on stock transfer; and
vii. the level of any ALMO bid.
Jo-Anne Atkinson reported that a few meetings of the insight group had taken place since the last SIG meeting and that unwelcome attention was being received from people attending those meetings which had also been reflected in the local press.
The SIG discussed the current damaging press reports in some depth and the ensuing effects on not only Waverley councillors but, in particular, the tenant representatives. The Director of Housing reassured the SIG that the matter was being taken very seriously and that he had raised the issue with the editor of the local press and was awaiting a response. The matter was also being drawn to the attention of the Chief Officers' Group.
The Assistant Director of Housing reported on the process being undertaken by the Council in inviting tenants to express their interest in becoming members on the Shadow Board. Approximately thirty information packs had been issued to date and a meeting was held, at which 12 tenants were in attendance. Trowers and Hamlin had attended the meeting, explained the responsibilities of board members and outlined the main differences between Stock Transfer and an ALMO.
The return date for applications was 15th November and it was anticipated that, should there be more than five applicants to fill the five vacancies, an election would take place before Christmas. This election would be facilitated by the Head of Committee and Member Services. The five councillors had been previously agreed by the Executive as Mrs E Cable, Mrs A E Mansell, Mr W M Marshall, Mr B G Shelley and Mr K Webster.
The SIG sought clarification on whether one of the five tenant nominations could be dedicated to a leaseholder, and also whether there was any conflict arising from having members of the Council on the Shadow Board who were also tenants. It was agreed that this would be clarified in advance of the election process.
ODPM GUIDANCE – ARMS LENGTH MANAGEMENT ORGANISATIONS (ALMO)
The SIG received a detailed report summarising recent Guidance published on Arms Length Management by the Office of the Deputy Prime Minister. It was noted that there would now be funding available for ALMO bidding rounds 5 and 6. A long term review of ALMOs was about to be undertaken by Central Government, the outcome of which would feature as a consultation document before the end of the year.
It was noted that currently, at the end of an ALMO agreement, there were two extreme options available, firstly that the Council could take management of stock back in-house or that ALMOs could take over ownership of the stock by way of stock transfer. It was suggested that the Government would wish to avoid both extremes and therefore the review was likely to focus around the following three main areas of discussion:-
(i) power to trade, manage stock, power to act as regulation agencies and to undertake commercial activities to put into the regulations;
(ii) new build – the ability of ALMOs to receive Social Housing Grant funding to build Council houses; and
(iii) financial freedoms to come out of the subsidy system.
A letter issued by the ODPM and dated 29th October 2004 was circulated to the SIG which confirmed that there would not be a 'fourth option' available for providing direct additional funds to local authorities to meet the Decent Homes standard.
The SIG received a feedback report following Local Tenant Forums which had taken place at the end of October. Officers reported that they had been a successful series of meetings which would be repeated in the future as a useful opportunity for tenant involvement and empowerment.
FUTURE MEETING DATES
Next SIG Meeting
The SIG agreed that its next meeting would now take place at the earlier time of 10am on Monday 13th December 2004 and lunch would be provided.
The SIG discussed the possibility of changing the date of 10th January 2005 which had been previously arranged for the special series of meetings to finalise the next stage of the process. It was proposed that the date of Wednesday 22nd December be considered as an alternative to allow the decision, in part or in whole, to be taken in advance of the Christmas period.
The SIG Members decided to discuss with their groups the possibility of receiving briefings in advance of the decision-making process. It was agreed that these briefings could be facilitated on 16th December 2004.
Present at the meeting:
Mr V K Scrivens (Chairman)
Mrs P M Frost
Mr A Rayner
Mrs I Birch
Mr R Randle
Miss P Wright
Mr P Brockhurst
Ms M Klima
Mr T Martin
Jo-Anne Atkinson (Dome/ITA)
Steve Partridge (HQN)
The following officers were present: