Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: Yes
Further to Cabinet recommendation of November
(a) Co produce with tenants and other stakeholders a revised sheltered housing service, funded through service charges.
Proposed changes to the sheltered service following co production and further consultation with sheltered tenants and staff. Introduction of a sheltered housing service charge of £16 per week to replace current support charges of same amount.
(Report 15/16-21) (Key decision)
The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care introduced the report:
· The report represented a good example of co-production (September 2014 – May 2015) and extensive consultation, and formed an important element of the housing offer. The change in sheltered housing was necessary due to people living longer and with past formulas no longer adequately supporting people. This work provided support with no net costs to the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and potential savings up to £496,000 to the General Fund. The consultation for a new service charge (agenda pack, paragraph 3.8) was not required and paragraph 3.8 no longer applied.
Officers and representatives made the following remarks:
· David Worrall, Lead Commissioner, noted the high level of engagement (49% of sheltered housing tenants) and the re-established of the Sheltered Housing Forum. The Forum was made up of representatives from each of the schemes, would meet quarterly, and had already committed to overdue improvements (new kitchens, walk-in showers, new windows). It was noted that work would cause disturbance to residents, with older residents especially affected, and was not always smooth, but overall tenants were content.
· The Forum would discuss future improvements and the survey had indicated that tenants were pleased to be involved in planning, such as with the development of the role of scheme manager for maintenance and repairs; and replacing the weekly support charge with a service charge payable with rent. The changes would allow Council to continue to provide housing for the future and to extra tenants.
· The two Co-Chairs of the Lambeth Sheltered Housing Tenants’ Forum, Joan Allen and David Wright, both noted that the Forum was pleased to be involved in planning, that tenants felt safer and more secure, and that there was an improved scheme for the future. Most tenants supported the service charge as it was easier to meet and fairer as everyone had to pay.
The Leader of the Council said that it was good to hear from residents and their input into the process, whilst enabling the Council to continue to provide this essential service.
Cabinet Members made the following comments:
· The Cabinet Member for Children and Families welcomed the proposal and was pleased it had come to fruition; the message had clearly gone out of Council support for sheltered housing, after opposition groups had suggested its neglect. It was also pleasing that residents were involved and that the Forum for Sheltered Tenants had been revived after being in disuse; with good ideas from discussion (such as handypersons so not every repair need be reported to the housing office).
· The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing thanked residents and officers for their work. This was clearly the less traumatic part of proposals; but the creation of extra care was proceeding well and with one single set of support would enable people to lead healthy independent lives. Support for social housing was an integral pillar of the Council, but these signs were encouraging with much work yet to be done and improvements to be made.
· The Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care spoke highly of co-housing for communities, balancing independence and community-help, and was pleased with the proposals. The following work would be complex, but manageable, noting 269 Leigham Court being problematic as it was listed building.
1. That the outcome of the co-production exercise and the proposals for a revised sheltered housing service be agreed.
2. That the introduction of a sheltered housing service charge will replace the current support charge.
Report author: David Worrall
Publication date: 12/06/2015
Date of decision: 08/06/2015
Decided at meeting: 08/06/2015 - Cabinet
Effective from: 20/06/2015