Agenda item

Older People's Housing

(Report No 187/13-14 and appendices)

Key Decision

All Wards

 

Cabinet Member for Health & Wellbeing, Councillor Jim Dickson

Strategic Director Commissioning, Helen Charlesworth-May

Contact: David Worrall, Senior Strategic Commissioning Manager

020 7926 9978 dworrall@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

(Report No 187/13-14 and appendices) (Key Decision – call-in deadline Friday 15 November 2013)

 

The Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing introduced the report and welcomed the large number of people who were attending.  The proposals represented a major investment to provide choice and quality in response to the stated wishes of older people for quality accommodation with support and a local communal setting.  He fully accepted the uncertainty that had been caused by the consultation. 

 

Cabinet received the following representations:

 

Jennifer Lawson (Elderberry Grove) stated that the Council was proposing to adopt a one size fits all plan which would rid itself of its responsibility for tenants and provide a line of customers for housing associations.  The proposals ignored the despair and dismay of sheltered housing residents.  The extra-care provision which had been visited by residents felt dead with no sense of community.  The Council needed to clarify what would happen to older people who could not afford to live in extra care accommodation.

 

Laurence Huchison (Denby Court) said he had organised a petition of over 1,000 signatures in opposition to the proposals.  The original financial appraisal had overstated the cost of bringing the properties up to standard and should be reviewed. The proposals would move existing residents from their familiar surroundings and break up established communities even though there were alternative sites available for extra-care housing.  The Council had already exceeded its quota for the provision of extra care for 2020. Residents were unhappy with extra care as it felt institutionalised and lacked local facilities.

 

Susan Okokon (Leigham Court Road) said that some Members of the Health and Adult Services Scrutiny Sub-Committee had believed that the original consultation report published in January had been based on flawed information in the property survey. Sheltered housing had been built as part of a post war consensus to provide two storey buildings with a garden.  The proposals for extra care would be high rise buildings which could be dangerous to residents if there was a fire. The Leigham Court scheme was an award winning architect designed building.  Had it already been sold and would it be able to be demolished?

 

Maura Pettinger (Castle House) was concerned that the warden scheme of care and support that residents had signed up for would be lost or that residents might need to pay more.  The wardens were an integral part of sheltered housing to ensure that it ran smoothly and provided help and reassurance for residents who were in risk of loneliness and isolation if the wardens were removed.  Removing wardens would not save much money but would affect the most vulnerable residents.

 

Christina Burnett had worked with Castle House residents to create a virtual community.  Residents had originally been consulted on removing wardens and the new report gave a revised definition of their role. The wardens were on site to give advice, to ensure that services were provided and to look after the building.    Sheltered housing residents disliked the extra care provision that they had visited and the cost of accommodation for the Council would be higher.   Residents should be consulted on a new version of sheltered housing, for example, instead installation of the new doors which were not fit for purpose but had cost £900 and there should have been essential repairs for windows.

 

Rosalind Warley, representing tenants of McCall Close, said that the tenants supported each other and there was an active tenants association which organised social events that were also attended by people from other estates.  The property had a garden, kitchen, disabled parking and a social room, and was close to local amenities.  Residents had not liked the extra care provision that they had visited.

 

Councillor Brian Palmer (St Leonards Ward) said that he was pleased that the Glebe was not going to be closed but noted that the damage caused by the fire in July had not been repaired. The fire also showed the potential dangers of the proposals as there had been a resident warden who could guide people to safety which might not have been so easy in a high rise building. He requested that upgrade work at the Glebe be accelerated in order to compensate for damage caused by the fire.  He asked that demolition plans were put on hold so that alternative sites for extra care can be found.

 

Councillor John Whelan (Thurlow Park Ward) agreed that ten year proposals were hard to develop but reminded the Cabinet that when a scheme was “decommissioned” it meant that people lost their home.  The business case to sell Queenswood Court in Gypsy Hill did not stand up.  Access to the site was difficult and residents did not want to move. The Cabinet should suspend all proposals to demolish and sell off property.

 

The Strategic Director Commissioning, said that residents in receipt of housing benefit would continue to have their rent paid if they moved into one of the new schemes and the Council was working with the housing associations that were building the new schemes to try to ensure that residents not in receipt of housing benefit were not charged more if they moved into one of the new schemes.  The new schemes were built to a high standard and fire safety policies would be in place.  Not all of the schemes were high rise and all would have communal gardens.

 

The Deputy Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing said that Lambeth’s existing extra care provision was being redesigned to make it more homely. Extra-care did allow people to retain more independence than moving into residential care.

 

The following Cabinet Members spoke in favour of the proposals:

 

The Cabinet Member for Children and Families said that the standard of sheltered care in Lambeth needed to be improved.

 

The Cabinet Member for Housing and Regeneration said that the Council would try to start Lambeth Housing Standard works to replace doors and windows as quickly as possible in those schemes which were to be retained. 

 

The Cabinet Member for Culture and Leisure said that the Council had to consider the mix of housing which would be needed in the future and extra care provision was needed.

 

The Leader of the Council said that the proposals gave a sense of certainty and reassurance about the future of sheltered housing and that residents welcomed the investment.  She had noted the comments about the incorrect doors and that money could have been saved if residents had been consulted.

 

In summing up the Cabinet Member for Health and Wellbeing acknowledged that although there had been wide consultation not everybody’s view could be acted on as investment was necessary.  The Council was committed to working with residents to ensure that there were re-homed in accommodation of their choice and with people they knew.  All relocation costs would be met.  

 

RESOLVED:

 

(1)       To approve the proposals set out in the report and instruct officers to develop detailed plans to:

(a)  Commence improvements to up to 17 sheltered housing schemes proposed for retention;

(b)  Identify suitable development partners and redevelop three sheltered housing schemes as extra care housing;

(c)  Schedule the sale of four sheltered housing schemes and submit a bid to the capital assets programme to reinvest the capital receipt in delivery of the sheltered housing improvement programme;

(d)  Co produce with tenants and other stakeholders a revised sheltered housing service, funded through service charges.

(2)       To instruct officers to undertake further engagement with tenants and stakeholders to identify a suitable site(s) for development of extra care in the Streatham area and report the outcome to Cabinet in spring 2014.

 

 


Supporting documents: