To consider the draft Solihull Community Housing Delivery Plan 2021/22 and to make any recommendations for consideration by the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care and Health.
The Head of Stronger Communities (Housing and Communities) informed Members that the SCH draft Delivery Plan 2020/21 detailed organisational priorities and strategic direction for the year ahead and was subject to review and approval at the Cabinet Portfolio Holder (Adult Social Care and Health) Decision Session scheduled for 30th March 2021.
The Chief Executive (SCH) clarified that establishing the SCH Delivery Plan was an annual process, which detailed organisational commitments and KPI’s for 2021/22. The SCH Delivery Plan detailed five strategic aims and organisational key values and provided the framework by which they would be delivered. The five Strategic Aims were given as:
· Creating Homes.
· More than Bricks and Mortar.
· Strengthening Communities.
· Excellent Customer Service.
· Passion in People.
Looking forward to deliverables in 2021, the Scrutiny Board was informed that some key areas included:
Monitoring the implementation of the SCH Delivery Plan 2021/22 and wider performance involved a quarterly Monitoring Board meeting Chaired by the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Adult Social Care and Health, with the SCH Board also keen to ensure the Delivery Plan was reviewed on a quarterly basis at SCH Board meetings. Milestones and Delivery Plan KPI’s were also considered at the Housing Operations Committee.
Having received the presentation, Members of the Scrutiny Board were invited to raise questions in relation to the detail provided in the report.
In regard to the priority of creating and building new homes in the Borough, Councillor McLoughlin questioned how many were planned for in 2022 against those housing units expected to be lost through ‘Right to Buy’ and where did the Council expect to be in terms of housing stock depletion from 2020 through to 2022. The Chief Executive (SCH) advised the Scrutiny Board that fewer housing units had been lost in 2020 due to Right to Buy than compared to previous years, with 140 new build properties planned for, but not guaranteed for delivery in 2021. Provision of supported accommodation units dedicated to young people was expected to provide a further 20 to 30 dwellings in total, which would be new Council housing.
Councillor Hodgson queried:
· Regarding the net gain / loss in relation to the number of social housing units within the borough, whether the Council was in a net loss position with the ‘Right to Buy’ scheme versus provision of new housing units;
· Did SCH plan to deliver 100 social housing units and if so by what timescale;
· Requested further detail pertaining to the 22 shared ownership properties referenced within the presentation to the Scrutiny Board;
· Were the 23 Net Zero homes planned across 4 sites intended for social renting;
· How many properties were scheduled for retro-fitting to improve their thermal efficiency in 2021;
· Was SCH / Council continuing to install gas boilers in its properties;
· With regard to homelessness, was the Council seeking alternative temporary accommodation for people, other than the use of hotels.
The Chief Executive (SCH) advised that:
In respect of temporary accommodation measures, the Housing Strategy and Commissioning Lead elaborated that current legislation (Domestic Abuse Bill) was currently with the House of Lords and was expected to be passed as an Act in the summer of 2021, which would have implications for housing. These were primarily around the provision of safer housing options, which would be reflected in the SCH temporary accommodation review and sign post a move away from temporary hotel accommodation wherever possible. The majority of hotel accommodation stays were short term and arose through some form of crisis presentation. SCH recognised that a focus on early intervention was also critical to support residents to stay in their own homes and a significant amount of attention was paid to this issue by SCH.
Councillor Parker queried whether the SCH Delivery Plan would be further refreshed at some point during 2021/22 to reflect the refreshed Council Plan. The Chief Executive (SCH) confirmed that SCH would seek to adjust its milestones and deliverables to ensure alignment between the SCH Delivery Plan and Council Plan.
Councillor McLoughlin raised the deficit between housing unit net gains through new build against losses arising through the Right to Buy scheme and referenced the Scrutiny Boards recommendation in 2020, arising from its consideration of the SCH Delivery Plan 2019/20, that the Council make use of the Housing Revenue Account to support the delivery of new housing units.
Councillor McLoughlin expressed concern at the potential net loss of housing units in the Borough when reviewing the number of new affordable/social rented housing units provided against those lost due through the Right to Buy scheme. Councillor McLoughlin also requested that further data be provided detailing housing net gain / loss in the borough.
Councillor McLoughlin expressed concern that the Scrutiny Boards recommendation agreed at its meeting held on 9th March 2020 reviewing the SCH Delivery Plan 2020/21 had not been adhered to and moved to re-submit the recommendation as part of the Scrutiny Boards review of the SCH Delivery Plan for 2021/22.
Having considered the report, the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board:
i. To agree to re-submit to the CPH for Adult Social Care and Health the Scrutiny Boards minority recommendation arising from the meeting held on 9th March 2020, which reviewed the SCH Delivery Plan 2020/21, namely:
‘To convey to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder for Health and Adult Social Care that the Economic Development and Managed Growth Scrutiny Board notes with concern the anticipated number of new build houses against the anticipated loss of housing units in the borough through the Right to Buy scheme when considered in relation to the Council’s housing waiting list, and, therefore, recommends that consideration be given to what headroom is available within the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) specifically for the development of new build properties in the Borough of Solihull’.
ii. To note and support the objectives detailed in the SCH Delivery Plan 2021/22; and,
iii. To recognise SCH’s achievements in supporting tenants during the Covid-19 pandemic period, particularly in respect of the work undertaken to support vulnerable residents and families.