Agenda and minutes

Housing Scrutiny Sub-Committee - Tuesday 1 March 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Room THB-06, Town Hall, Lambeth Town Hall, Brixton Hill, London SW2 1RW

Contact: David Rose, Democratic Services,  0207 926 1037, Email: drose@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/36hYncL. The video will remain available to view for 180 days. 

Items
No. Item

1.

There were none.Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

    • View the background to item 1.

    Under Standing Order 4.4, where any councillor 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:

    There were none.

     

2.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 200 KB

    To approve and sign the minutes of the meeting held on 16 November 2021 as a correct record of the proceedings.

     

    Minutes:

    The minutes of the meeting of 16 November 2021 were approved as a correct record of proceedings.

     

3.

Housing Contracts: Responsive Repairs pdf icon PDF 596 KB

    • View the background to item 3.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident

    Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Andrew Jacques, AD – Repairs and Maintenance, 0207 926 3749, AJacques@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay, Neil Euesden, Director for Housing; and Andrew Jacques, Assistant Director for Repairs and Maintenance introduced the report.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Risq Animasaun, leaseholder and previous Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) Chair, who stated:

    ·           Her estate had a WhatsApp group which kept participants informed on the state of repairs. A common theme of this group was that outsourced contractors were letting residents and the Council down, with frequent changes of contractors and works not undertaken.

    ·           Many residents were not having repairs undertaken in a suitable period of time and the quality of service received was very poor.

    ·           One elderly leaseholder was in dire need of help, with a leak in the above tenanted property not fixed for four years and he now had crumbling kitchen and bathroom ceilings.

     

    The Chair requested that officers review the above noted case further with Ms Animasaun, Councillor Masters, and the affected leaseholder outside the meeting.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Jackie Meldrum, who stated:

    ·           The Price per Property Model should be reviewed for responsive repairs and other housing contracts.

    ·           Residents were concerned about repair appointments no shows, and it was essential they be informed when this was going to happen and received apologies when it occurred.

    ·           Under the old Mears contract, tenants could apply for a £20 voucher for missed appointments.

    ·           Councillors generally only received notice of the most complex repairs and it would be useful if there were statistics on long-term repairs.

    ·           Lambeth’s housing stock was old and its infrastructure was now suspect, requiring multiple trades to fix issues, and surveyors needed to carry out a full investigation of stock.

    ·           It was requested to introduce a better system to protect tenants from cancelled appointments and provide analysis of overdue repairs.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Adrian Garden, on behalf of Antony Wynn – Chair of the Lambeth Homeowners Association, who stated:

    ·           There was no mention of resident involvement in monitoring contractors’ performance and it was queried whether there would be a formal residents’ panel to do so.

    ·           It was also queried whether there was a penalty clause for under-performance; and what were the targets, how were they monitored, at which point contractors were fined for failing to meet these and who monitored targets.

     

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

    ·           The Cabinet Member had spoken to leaseholders on Ms Animasaun’s estate and remained available to discuss issues with residents and continue to work together.

    ·           Officers would review a price per property model.

    ·           The early performance of Wates on appointments was poor and the Council, and Wates, had apologised.  However, since the report was published, data from February showed that appointments had increased to 76% for Wates.

    ·           Measures had been put in place so that as soon as contractors were aware they were running over time on previous jobs, they would alert residents via call or text.  The technology now in place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Housing Contracts: DLO pdf icon PDF 561 KB

    • View the background to item 4.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Andrew Jacques, AD – Repairs and Maintenance, 0207 926 3749, AJacques@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay, Neil Euesden, Director for Housing; and Andrew Jacques, Assistant Director for Repairs and Maintenance introduced the report.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Risq Animasaun, leaseholder and previous Tenants and Residents Association (TRA) Chair, who stated:

    ·           Her estate had a WhatsApp group which kept participants informed on the state of repairs. A common theme of this group was that outsourced contractors were letting residents and the Council down, with frequent changes of contractors and works not undertaken.

    ·           Many residents were not having repairs undertaken in a suitable period of time and the quality of service received was very poor.

    ·           One elderly leaseholder was in dire need of help, with a leak in the above tenanted property not fixed for four years and he now had crumbling kitchen and bathroom ceilings.

     

    The Chair requested that officers review the above noted case further with Ms Animasaun, Councillor Masters, and the affected leaseholder outside the meeting.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Jackie Meldrum, who stated:

    ·           The Price per Property Model should be reviewed for responsive repairs and other housing contracts.

    ·           Residents were concerned about repair appointments no shows, and it was essential they be informed when this was going to happen and received apologies when it occurred.

    ·           Under the old Mears contract, tenants could apply for a £20 voucher for missed appointments.

    ·           Councillors generally only received notice of the most complex repairs and it would be useful if there were statistics on long-term repairs.

    ·           Lambeth’s housing stock was old and its infrastructure was now suspect, requiring multiple trades to fix issues, and surveyors needed to carry out a full investigation of stock.

    ·           It was requested to introduce a better system to protect tenants from cancelled appointments and provide analysis of overdue repairs.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Adrian Garden, on behalf of Antony Wynn – Chair of the Lambeth Homeowners Association, who stated:

    ·           There was no mention of resident involvement in monitoring contractors’ performance and it was queried whether there would be a formal residents’ panel to do so.

    ·           It was also queried whether there was a penalty clause for under-performance; and what were the targets, how were they monitored, at which point contractors were fined for failing to meet these and who monitored targets.

     

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

    ·           The Cabinet Member had spoken to leaseholders on Ms Animasaun’s estate and remained available to discuss issues with residents and continue to work together.

    ·           Officers would review a price per property model.

    ·           The early performance of Wates on appointments was poor and the Council, and Wates, had apologised.  However, since the report was published, data from February showed that appointments had increased to 76% for Wates.

    ·           Measures had been put in place so that as soon as contractors were aware they were running over time on previous jobs, they would alert residents via call or text.  The technology now in place  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Estate Services Improvement Action Plan pdf icon PDF 322 KB

    • View the background to item 5.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Linda Elliott, Head of Estate Services, 020 7926 1878,lelliott@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    During the discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.

     

    RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

     

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay; Neil Euesden, Director for Housing; and Chris Flynn, Assistant Director for Home Ownership and Rents, introduced the report.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Adrian Garden, on behalf of Antony Wynn – Chair of the Lambeth Homeowners Association, who stated:

    ·           The report detailed that resident engagement was not applicable, although paragraph 2.8 recorded strong and constructive resident engagement.

    ·           Significant issues remained over resident communications; particularly on overcharging for day-to-day services, adequately monitoring contractors, and responding to homeowner queries.  It was suspected that poor communications between Housing and Finance were at fault, and improvement was requested.

     

    The Sub-Committee next heard from Councillor Jackie Meldrum, who stated:

    ·           It was difficult to report communal repairs, as the telephone number provided by the website in turn instructed you to call another number which had unacceptably long wait times.

    ·           Improving the service design would mean that even people passing by could report repairs.

    ·           She requested that communal repairs be put online and that officers be mindful that residents could be effective in monitoring repairs

     

    In response to the above and Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

    ·           FAQs and KPIs information being hosted on the Portal had been suggested by leaseholder groups and demonstrated constructive resident engagement.

    ·           The Portal was going live at the end of April with the ability to raise communal repairs to be implemented in early May (in addition to property repairs).

    ·           Officers were currently reviewing a better call experience with Capita and expected the call centre waiting times to decrease over the coming months.

    ·           60% of tenants and 33% of leaseholders were online, but the online Portal was an alternative option to report repairs alongside the current telephony option and was expected to help a significant number of leaseholders and reduce telephony demands.

    ·           The Portal required persons to register with personal details, however there was currently no provision for councillors to use it to report communal repairs, although this would be explored.

    ·           The Portal would not actively reduce the numbers of repairs that existed.

    ·           Homeowner invoices were cleansed before being uploaded to the Portal and would enable residents to review breakdowns of financial years’ invoices.

    ·           There had been significant resident engagement over last 19 months developing the Portal and Lambeth was continually evolving the Portal to improve functionality based on feedback.

    ·           3,000 leaseholders had signed-up to date, although there was much more in terms of engagement to do, particularly with homeowners.

    ·           380 freeholders had currently signed up to the Portal and the system included freeholder service charges. However, private tenants’ access to leaseholder information remained an issue and needed further review.

    ·         Lambeth was reviewing a new call centre provider and contract, with increased demands over winter meaning that the 30 staff stipulated in the current contract was not enough to handle  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Housing Communications and Portal pdf icon PDF 738 KB

    • View the background to item 6.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Bayo Dosunmu: Strategic Director for Resident Services

     

    Contact for enquiries: Chris Flynn, Assistant Director Home Ownership and Rents, cflynn2@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Councillor Maria Kay; Neil Euesden, Director for Housing; Tim Fairhurst, Assistant Director for Neighbourhood Housing; and Linda Elliott, Head of Estate Services, introduced the report.

     

    In response to Member’s questions, the Cabinet Member and officers stated the following:

    ·           Resident-drafted Estate Action Plans were available on the Council’s website for all residents, which were reviewed by housing officers.

    ·           Lambeth recognised further improvements were needed after the Estate Action Plans, to match residents’ ambition and to incorporate other services, and had devised the overarching Estate Services Improvement Action Plan.

    ·           Resident satisfaction had declined and officers were identifying and reviewing causes, such as grounds maintenance, which would then be shared with contractors who would provide comments on how they would progress works. These would subsequently be put into the Improvement Action Plan, covering all contracts and different elements of council services.

    ·           Estate Action Plans were originally developed by residents during meetings with housing officers to understand issues facing residents and were often simply a list of actions to undertake.

    ·           The Improvement Plans were more critical and sought to tackle residents’ satisfaction and overarching estate actions required.

    ·           Resident groups owned Estate Action Plans and the Council worked with them to progress.

    ·           The Estate Improvement Plan was ambitious and included resident engagement and repairs in a complicated process that built on pre-existing plans.

    ·           Resident health and wellbeing strongly correlated with estate condition and was a key consideration during improvement works, such as providing high-quality ballcourts and community gardens.

    ·           CCTV was being refreshed to improve safety and were included in the Improvement Plans.

    ·           Lambeth had ordered dual use bins so that dog fouling could be collected by contractors, and stickers had been placed on normal litter bins to notify of this dual use.

    ·           The Council was trialling digital advertising to push messaging and to promote and attract local businesses, in addition to reviewing electric vehicle charging provision.

    ·           Tree planting was under review with 20-30 estates identified to receive more planting.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         Further information and clarity was needed to detail:

    a.         the hierarchy of aims and performance indicators to enable monitoring;

    b.         more reasoning behind the aims detailed in the Plan; and,

    c.         how wider strategies linked into the Plan.

    2.         To review the status of Estate Action Plans and how Tenant and Resident Associations (TRAs) were to co-produce the Improvement Plan.

    3.         To ensure the Estates Services Improvement Plan included underlying Estate Action Plans.

     

7.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 361 KB

    • View the background to item 7.

    (All wards)

     

    Report authorised by: Andrew Pavlou: Interim Director of Legal and Governance

     

    Contact for enquiries: David Rose, Democratic Services Officer, 020 7926 1037, drose@lambeth.gov.uk  

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Chair introduced the Sub-Committee’s Work Programme item detailing provisional items and themes for the rest of the municipal year.  In discussion, the Sub-Committee noted the following items be included as potential areas for further scrutiny and would discuss further outside the meeting:

    ·           To escalate the overdue reply to Gerlinde Gniewosz.

    ·           To scrutinise leaseholders’ policies and working in more detail, particularly on insurance, subsistence and for those in mixed-use buildings.

    ·           To review the reaction and response for residents impacted by recent storms and resultant damage, particularly the emergency situation on Cressingham Gardens.

    ·           To bring the Housing Strategy for further scrutiny.

    ·           To receive a paper on repairs on regeneration estates.

    ·           To hold a briefing session to discuss this years’ work programme and input into topics of consideration for the next municipal year’s housing scrutiny.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To consider and approve the work programme as currently drafted (Appendix 1) and identify and prioritise matters for future scrutiny of Housing.