Attendance of Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods
- Meeting of Housing and Community Safety Policy and Scrutiny Committee, Monday, 22 July 2019 5.30 pm (Item 9.)
The Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods will be in attendance to address the committee and discuss challenges and priorities in this portfolio area.
Cllr Denise Craghill, The Executive Member for Housing and Safer Neighbourhoods was in attendance alongside the Assistant Director for Housing and Community Safety, to present her challenges and priorities within this portfolio area.
Members asked what impact the new Design Guide will have on developments such as Lowfield, where work has already begun. The Executive Member noted that it may not reach the same standards but they will have a ‘fabric first’ approach and be above regulations. Unfortunately, as the specification was written prior to the creation of the design guide and could not now be incorporated with the chosen contractor without significant costs being incurred.
When asked to state one main priority, The Executive Member stated that increasing the level of affordable housing and zero-carbon housing in the city were both key priorities.
In response to questions regarding a Council Housing Company, the Executive Member noted that there are many different types of company that could be considered, with positives and negatives to each. It was also noted that if this was the chosen route, it would be important to ensure the most advantageous type of company was chosen and it did not jeopardise the Housing Revenue Account in any way.
The Executive Member was asked to look into the Modern Slavery Charter and she noted that she would be very happy to do this. Additionally it was noted that there was lots of work developing in this area within the Council’s Private Sector Housing Team.
The Assistant Director was asked to respond to a written representation from Gwen Vardigans, a local resident, on the powers of the Council to restrict or suspend the Right to Buy Scheme. The Assistant Director stated that the Right to Buy scheme is part of national legislation and it cannot be restricted or suspended by Local Authorities other than where certain types of accommodation are exempt.
Members also asked whether there was a risk of the Authority losing out to Right to Buy, in terms of the value of assets and their sale price. The Assistant Director noted that Local Authorities recoup their costs under the Right to Buy legislation and (even with discount) residents will not be able to purchase under right to buy at less than the cost to build.
In relation to the number of residents on the housing waiting list who may be staying in B&B style accommodation, the Assistant Director noted that there are currently 197 people in Gold Band (the highest priority for Housing) and there were perhaps 1 or 2 who would currently be living in B&B accommodation. It was also noted that the new temporary accommodation at James Street was expected to be ready in October.
Members asked whether there were any specific targets relating the Decent Homes Standards. The Executive Member stated that a stock condition survey is currently being undertaken and it would be prudent to wait for the results of this survey prior to agreeing any particular targets. It was also noted that the numbers of homes not meeting the standards were likely to decrease once the stock condition survey had clarified their current state.
In response to a question regarding priorities with the Safer York Partnership, the Executive Members noted in particular the need to work on anti-social behaviour and County Lines with a focus on closer agency working.
In relation to a question on Anti-Social Behaviour (ASB), the Executive Member highlighted the importance of the Council’s role in helping to prevent and reduce the levels of ASB in the City. In addition it was noted that the Council can help support and strengthen communities and improve the economy and quality of life for residents.
Regarding the standards for the Private Rented Sector, the Assistant Director clarified that there are national housing standards that apply to private housing and private renters can contact the Council if they believe Landlords are not meeting standards.
In a discussion on Energy Efficient and Sustainable Housing, the Executive Member noted the work that was currently being undertaken by the Private Sector Housing Team and agreed with Members of the Committee that there was a skills gap in sustainable building in the city and this could be explored through training and apprenticeships.
Finally the Executive member was asked to clarify the budget of the YorHome scheme and it was noted that the Executive Member would look into this and report back to the committee.