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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 11/07/2006
Interim Response - Review of Housing Services



APPENDIX Y
Waverley Borough Council

COMMUNITY overview and scrutiny committee – 19TH jUNE 2006
HOUSING SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP – 23rd JUNE 2006
executive - 11th july 2006
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Title:
INTERIM RESPONSE - REVIEW OF HOUSING SERVICES
[Wards Affected : All]

Note pursuant to Section 100B(5) of the Local Government Act 1972

The annexe to this report contains exempt information by virtue of which the public is likely to be excluded during the item to which the report relates, as specified in Paragraph 3 of Part I of the revised Schedule 12A to the Local Government Act 1972, viz:-
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Summary and purpose:

In the light of the Council tenants’ decision to retain the Council as their landlord and the ongoing review of Corporate Management Structure this report provides an interim response to the review of Housing Services.
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Environmental implications:

There are none directly arising from this report.

Social / community implications:

It is well documented that having a decent home in which to live improves quality of life, health, longevity and educational attainment. The provision of affordable homes in Waverley is important because of the high level of housing need and the high cost of homes in the housing market.

E-Government implications:

There are none arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are significant resource implications arising from this report. First, the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) needs to make cost savings in the current year of 212,000 to meet the savings target and in the coming years in order to maintain its revenue budget in balance and maintain essential services. It is recognised that it needs to critically examine costs allocated to it by other Council Departments and services. Any changes arising from a review of accounting practice may impact on both the HRA and the General Fund. Detailed costings of any staffing changes proposed will be reported to the Executive.
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Introduction

1. The Council is undertaking a re-appraisal of all available options, through the Housing Special Interest Group (SIG), following the tenants decision to stay with the Council as landlord. The Council has to balance its obligations as a landlord and strive to meet the Government’s Decent Homes Standard by the target date of 2010, whilst working to meet the needs of people who need affordable housing. In doing so the Council has to ensure it has a sustainable HRA in balance each year. To do so the Housing SIG has been looking at ways of reducing its capital liabilities and optimising its capital assets. This report now turns to issues in respect of revenue expenditure.

2. At the same time the Council is reviewing its Corporate Management Structure and considering how the Housing Service sits in any new structure.

3. Accordingly this interim report indicates a general direction of travel towards a Strategic and Landlord separation dependant on the outcome of the broader Corporate review. The Council’s Housing Strategy and HRA Business Plan have both been assessed as ‘fit for purpose’. The HRA Business Plan will require further review in 2007/08; and it may be that the Housing Strategy Statement may need to be refreshed in the light of any major policy changes made by the Council in relation to its housing role.

4. The Council is deemed by Department Communities and Local Government (DCLG) as a ‘red light’ authority because of its inability to meet DHS by 2010. This is likely to provoke a Best Value Inspection during 2007/08.

Housing Service Reviews

5. A significant number of housing services are under review to effect reductions in costs, whilst trying to maintain standards. A number of these reviews will take some time to complete and will require a Corporate response to effect reductions in allocations in respect of Manpower or Recharges.

Repairs and Maintenance
Choice Based Lettings
Careline Service }
Sheltered Housing } Supporting People part funded
Community Housing }
Direct and Indirect Manpower Allocations
Corporate Management
Rent Collection

Examination of Support Costs and Accounting Treatment

6. It is proposed that Officers examine support cost and other recharges in detail in the 2007/08 budget process and challenge service providers to justify allocations. This may result in changes to current levels of budget between the HRA and General Fund.

7. The Council has, in recent years, treated certain staff costs and savings according to historically agreed policies. These include the impact of the annual pay award and the treatment of vacancy savings. Whilst these policies have met accounting requirements with the significant pressures on the HRA it is an appropriate time to review these practices to ensure that they meet current best practice and deliver precise and justifiable allocations of costs in the future. Officers will undertake the review and the outcome will feed into the budget process.

Interim Staffing Proposals

8. This section of the report does not in any way interfere with the overall Council restructuring plans. These are separate proposals that seek Members agreement in principal in order to bring about savings to the HRA as soon as possible. At this stage of the review it is proposed that three establishment posts – all of which are vacant - in the HRA should be deleted and the savings accrue as follows:
HRA Capital
HRA
GF
Senior Clerk of Works
30,240
3,360
-
Admin Trainee
8,610
2,870
-
Sheltered Housing Manager*
33,820
330
38,850
40,050
330
* Retiring end of July 2006

9. The first two posts will not be filled during 2006/07 and therefore constitute a full year saving.

10. The Manager of Shepherds Court, Farnham is retiring and at the same time, Rowland House in Cranleigh is being decommissioned. In order to avoid potential redundancies, it has been agreed that the Manager of Rowland House will move to Shepherds Court. She will provide support and assistance to the staff remaining at Rowland House until such time as it closes.

11. It is likely that as the reviews of Careline, Community and Sheltered Housing conclude that further savings will emerge as a result of service reconfiguration.

12. In relation to the Senior Management it is proposed, with the postholders agreement, to make the post of Head of Housing Management voluntarily redundant. Costs and options for the Council to consider are set out in Exempt Annexe 1. Subject to this redundancy being agreed it is also proposed to make an adjustment to the responsibilities of the Housing Services Manager and to introduce a new post of Housing IT Projects Officer. These proposals should save the Council around 21,000 per annum with nearly all being saved from the HRA. One off redundancy costs, to be agreed by the Council, would need to off-set against this saving. These are also detailed in Exempt Annexe 1 and provide for a payback in 1.4 years. Quasi – ALMO/ALMO

13. At the time of writing the report the Government has just announced the detail in respect of the final round of ALMO funding. The bidding guidance has been expected for some time and it is likely that bids will be required to be submitted by the end of July. A separate report will be presented on this matter to the Housing Special Interest Group (SIG) at the earliest opportunity.

14. At this stage it is uncertain as to whether Waverley would be successful in its bid due to financial uncertainty of the long-term sustainability of the HRA, the availability of ALMO Round 6, the competition for funds by London and Metropolitan Councils.

15. In order to achieve funding the ability to achieve a 2 star inspection and a clear strategic/ALMO separation would be further pre-requisites. A report on an Action Plan to drive for the stars will be available to the Housing (SIG).

Conclusion

16. This interim report details proposed actions that can now be taken in terms of vacant posts and the reduction in management costs. A review of a number of accounting practices, including how manpower savings are accounted for, is being undertaken.

17 The Council review of Corporate Management Structure and responsibilities will need to address the form and function of the Landlord and Strategic Housing responsibilities.

18. Officers will be examining in detail the manpower allocations to Services and Corporate Management for 2007/08.

Consideration by the Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee

The Community Overview and Scrutiny Committee considered this report at its meeting on 19th June 2006. The officer recommendation as detailed below was agreed.

Consideration by the Housing Special Interest Group

The Housing Special Interest Group considered this report at its meeting on 23rd June 2006 and also agreed the Officer recommendation as set out below.

Recommendation

It is recommended that:-

1. the posts identified at paragraph 8 be deleted from the establishment;

2. the post HA08 detailed at paragraph 12 be made redundant by agreement, on the terms set out in the Exempt Annexe 1;

3. subject to 2. above, a new post of Housing IT Projects Officer be introduced together with increased responsibility for the post of Housing Services Manager, on the terms set out in the Exempt Annexe 1; and

4. Officers be instructed to review the accounting practices detailed in paragraphs 6-7.

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Background Papers (DoH)

There are no background papers as defined as by Section 100–105 of the Local Government Act 1972.
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CONTACT OFFICER:

Name: David January Telephone: 01483 523361

E-mail: djanuary@waverley.gov.uk
Comms/executive/2006-07/063