To consider the following Homes related reports scheduled for Cabinet consideration on 28 July 2021:
• Housing Management Model Review
The O&S Board is asked to scrutinise the reports and make recommendations to Cabinet as appropriate.
Cabinet member invited to attend for this item: Councillor Robert Lawton, Portfolio Holder for Homes
The Cabinet report for this item is included with the agenda for consideration by the Overview and Scrutiny Board.
Housing Management Model Review– The Portfolio Holder for Homes introduced the report, a copy of which had been circulated to members of the Board and a copy of which appears as Appendix B to these minutes in the minute book. The Portfolio Holder outlined the key issues within the report and responded to a number of issues raised by Board members in the subsequent discussion including:
· Whether the report applied in anyway to Christchurch as the housing stock within the Christchurch area had been outsourced to a housing association. It was noted that at present the models proposed within the report would not apply to any of the housing stock in Christchurch but it was possible that it would, should new Council housing be built within Christchurch. However, there were not plans for this at present.
· It was confirmed that there was no criticism for the way housing services were run in any of the preceding authorities, but the review was required to pull together the housing function for BCP.
· There would be a comprehensive consultation to find out how residents would want to see the housing function delivered. A Councillor commented that they supported putting residents at the heart of decisions on services moving forward.
· It was highlighted that the table within the report did not list specific disadvantages to either of the models. It was confirmed that the intention of the table was that the reverse of the advantages was he disadvantages but a Councillor commented that this did not fully explain the situation, for example there could be a disadvantage in the in-house model of officers’ time being divided with other issues as opposed to dedicated staff in a housing management organisation. Officers felt that this would not be a significant consideration. The table outlined what the Council working group considered to be the main advantages and disadvantages. However, there would be further work on this in the future.
· It was acknowledged that sometime the focus of the whole Council could be distracted and not focused enough on housing management. It was envisioned that there would be some kind of advisory board or panel with a particular focus on issues that matter to residents.
· It was noted that there were currently two Housing Revenue Accounts covering the area with a single housing model it would be possible to combine these.
· The focus on the consultation would be on recommended model to test and challenge and would be focused on current tenants in Poole and Bournemouth. There would also be a wider stakeholder engagement which would include residents on the waiting list.
· How would the proposals effect the different salaries between those employed by Poole Housing Partnership and the Council. The Portfolio Holder advised that there would be some synergies, but this would not always mean to go for the lowest denominator. It was questioned that this would mean increased overhead costs. It was confirmed that this particular situation referred to company overhead costs related to audit, company secretary, etc. it was confirmed that auditor fees, company secretary, etc. In terms of whatever delivery model was selected there would be staff pay protection.
The Chairman summed up that overall the Board broadly supported the recommendations as outlined within the report. Cllr M Howell requested that it be placed on record that he did not support this summary.