Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Monday 7 February 2022 5.00 pm

Venue: Committee Members Town Hall / Others to dial in via MS Teams

Contact: Sarah Keeble, Democratic Services  020 7926 4385, Email: skeeble@lambeth.gov.uk

Note: Information on how to access the meeting is set out in the agenda. However, if you just want to watch the live broadcast you can copy and paste the following link into your browser: https://bit.ly/3G6lAuL The video will remain available to view for 180 days. 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

Under Cabinet Rule 1.5.2, where any Cabinet Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

2.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 134 KB

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting of Cabinet held on 17 January were agreed as a true record of proceedings.

3.

HRA Business Plan, Rent and Service Charge setting report pdf icon PDF 385 KB

    • View the background to item 3.

    Wards: All

     

    Report Authorised by: Strategic Director of Resident Services: Bayo Dosunmu

     

    Contact for enquiries: Shankar Siva Ananthan, Group Finance Manager, 07904 227175, ssivaananthan@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The report was introduced by Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay, who highlighted that:

     

               All of the Council’s tenants rents were paid into the Housing Revenue account which was for the management of housing properties as well as maintenance, repairs and major works

               The Council had no option but to increase  rent as much  investment was needed in the housing stock to get it to a standard that residents’ deserve and expect. The Council had ambitious improvement targets for its housing stock over the next  10 years

               The Government had forced rent reductions over a 4 year period which has meant a cumulative loss of income of £28.5m to the HRA

               None of the works were funded by central Government, which meant increasing rents was the only way to generate the income needed for improvements

               Rents were historically low whereas pressures were historically high, it was imperative to take action to try to ensure balanced budgets

               The Council was aware that rent increases would place some families in financial hardship, which was not taken lightly. There were a number of iniatives and tools available to support those in need including benefits and debt management.

     

    Cabinet was addressed by Councillor Scott Ainslie of the Green Group, who highlighted a number of questions surrounding:

     

               A one-off payment of £2 million referenced in 2.3 of the report

               The number of voids which were being worked on

               Housing standards and whether there was a post-completion report ready

               Homes for Lambeth and the payments made by them into the HRA

     

    In response to some of the questions and comments raised, Officers and the Cabinet Member advised the following:

     

                   Some of the queries from the Green Group around disrepair and its associated costs would be answered in due course

                   Lambeth had set up a new organisation of direct delivery of communal works which required upgrading to new contracts and investing in new systems. This included when an operative was going to complete a repair, there was a system for resources to be delivered directly to the firm; as well as developing the Housing Portal to improve the system for residents’ use

                   The Officer would look into the status of Housing standards and the availability of a completion report and bring it back to Councillor Ainslie

                   Mitigations were already in place to support residents suffering financial hardship

     

    Cabinet made the following observations:

     

               The report required Cabinet to make difficult decision but was necessary.  Thanks were given to the Officers and the Cabinet Member for their work in the report

               There were some concerns raised around the levels of disrepair and an overspend in dealing with these.

     

    Following consideration, it was resolved that Cabinet:

     

    1. Agreed the approach to setting tenant and leasehold service charges, garage, parking and supported housing charges

    2. Agreed the increase in rents of 4.1%, this being composed of Consumer Price Index (CPI) at the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Revenue and Capital Budget 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 686 KB

    • View the background to item 4.

    Wards: All

     

    Report Authorised by: Fiona McDermott: Strategic Director for Finance and Investment

     

    Contact for enquiries: Amaris Wong, Group Manager, Strategic Finance, 020 7926 7742 awong1@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The report was introduced by Cabinet Member for Finance and Performance, Councillor Andy Wilson who highlighted that:

     

               The last year had presented great challenges for Lambeth, whilst continuing to deal with the effects of the pandemic. Learning to live with Covid-19 whilst an increasing cost of living crisis had been hard for Lambeth residents

               Since last reporting on the Medium Term Financial Strategy, the Government had released some short-term relief to local authorities. This had been welcomed but left the issue of long-term sustainable funding unanswered

               Increased demand in essential services and a rise in inflation was difficult to manage, and the recent funding did not account for these additional challenges

               The Council had consulted on expanding the criteria of the Council Tax Support Scheme to help those finding the increase in Council Tax unaffordable. This support would permanently support those most in need and reduce their bills, most to nil

               The Council would continue to take every opportunity to support vulnerable people in its communities, but be honest in its ability to do so in the increased demand of services and increased inflation.

     

     

    Cabinet was addressed by Councillor Scott Ainslie of the Green Group, who highlighted a number of questions surrounding:

     

               Council Tax support, the number of people receiving 100% support and the criteria to receive it

               Reserves and the possibilities of using this money to fund play centres and nurseries as heard from Maintain Nursery staff at the recent meeting of Full Council

               Evictions and what was being done to protect vulnerable residents at risk

     

    In response to some of the questions and comments raised, Officers and the Cabinet Member advised the following:

     

               The improvement in the Council Tax Support Scheme was implemented last year, which benefited 6,900 additional residents already. This number identified those already in receipt of the scheme and who would continue to benefit from it. In relation to the newly announced £150 payment for all council tax payers in Bands A-D, for those on Council Tax Support where  there were no incoming payments from the recipients, the Council would have to fund the administrational costs of obtaining bank details in order to pay them

               Reserves were not a solution for a long-term problem and it was important to keep to 10% of the Council’s net cash limit in order to weather unexpected fluctuations whilst identifying long-term solutions

               The evictions queries had been answered at the recent meeting of Full Council. The numbers of people taken through the process was less than 5 and it was important to recognise the large numbers of individuals working hard to ensure their Council Tax was paid. It was important to collect Council Tax in the cases that it could be paid, and take enforcement against anyone capable but refusing to pay.

     

    Cabinet made the following observations:

     

               Lambeth’s Maintain Nursery Schools deputation made at Full Council in January mentioned by Councillor Ainslie did not comprise of a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

49 Brixton Station Road/6 Canterbury Crescent - Decision to Award Contract to Preferred Delivery Partner pdf icon PDF 554 KB

    • View the background to item 5.

    Wards: Coldharbour

     

    Report Authorised by: Eleanor Purser and Sara Waller: Strategic Directors for Sustainable Growth and Opportunity

     

    Contact for enquiries: Alessia Montero, Neighbourhood Regeneration Manager, Sustainable Growth & Opportunity, 07783 830903, amonterocastro@lambeth.gov.uk

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The report was introduced by Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Planning, Investment and New Homes, Councillor Matthew Bennett who highlighted that:

     

             The report set out work that had been done over a period of at least 10 years

               There had been a hundreds of new Council and affordable homes developed, along with community facilities including the Brixton Street Gym which had gone from strength to strength

               It was owed to the people of Brixton to give them as many social and economic benefits for local people from the use of local sites including Brixton Market

               The Labour administration recognised that there was a housing crisis in London with thousands of families on the waiting list or at risk of homelessness. The only way to mitigate that was to build new homes

               Lambeth needed a good permanent supply of work spaces in order to provide the jobs and opportunities needed in Brixton. This particular area suffered higher rates of unemployment than other parts of the borough, which had worsened during the pandemic

               The report was focused on addressing inequality and inequity for local residents

               Partners had been able to exceed planning expectations which included increasing the number of affordable family homes, affordable workspace and providing jobs and apprenticeships for young people and local partners.

    One quarter of jobs were created through supply chain, and communities less likely to reach out for jobs were reached and supported to apply for such roles including prison leavers, Black and Minority Ethnic communities and young men aged 16-24

               New buildings would be designed to the highest economic standards

               The scheme would offer a chance for the Council to work in partnership with its community and address the inequalities and inequities residents endured locally, offering new jobs, new homes and jobs for local people.

     

    Cabinet was addressed by Councillor Scott Ainslie of the Green Group, who highlighted a number of questions surrounding:

     

               Whether Homes for Lambeth would be a better developer for the site

               The percentage of Affordable Homes

     

    In response to some of the questions and comments raised, Officers and the Cabinet Member advised the following:

     

               Purchasing the International House site offered benefits to the Council. These benefits included allowing the Council to reduce its carbon footprint by enabling the number of rooms used as Council offices to decrease from 14 to 2

               Refurbishing the development would create permanent affordable workspace for local talent in Brixton

               Homes for Lambeth was owned and controlled by the Council in a not-for-profit way to build more homes and social housing to provide for homeless communities and those on the waiting list. It was not for commercial developments and workspaces

               The number of affordable homes was set out in the report and was subject to planning. The figure was 240 homes of which 50% were affordable. 80 of these  homes were three-bedrooms or more..

     

    Cabinet made the following observations:

     

               It was important  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.