Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote Microsoft Teams Meeting

Contact: Democratic Services 

Note: Watch this meeting here 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Interest.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

2.

Public Open Forum.

Minutes:

No members of the public were present.

 

3.

Homesearch Allocations Review and Policy amendments - To review the allocations Policy. pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officers Louise Corbett presented the report and answered the Members’ questions, with additional responses from Ian Bakewell and Cabinet Member Bob Greenland.

Challenge:

There’s no mention of prisoners – are they long-term or short-term, do we think of accommodation for them?

Being in prison doesn’t give someone a local connection. Once they are out, they are asked to go back to the area in which they lived previously. Therefore, it isn’t something that needs to be stated specifically in the policy, as they wouldn’t meet the criteria.

With a mobile app, whom do applicants go to if they don’t have the right technology or signal?

That is a valid point. We are aware that there are older or vulnerable people on the waiting list who perhaps aren’t able to self-serve or do everything digitally. Therefore, nothing has changed in relation to the team being available. We still have the phone number and officers to facilitate. None of that has ended but the digital side has made us more efficient. The public can still get Homesearch support from the Hubs and the Options Team.

It is good to have flexibility, as Covid will create more challenges.

The key aim of the review was to build flexibility into the policy, and that it was robust and would respond to challenges. We feel that with the proposed amendments we are covered well in these regards.

Has an Equality Impact Assessment been carried out on the whole policy? What about older people who will not be given a mortgage, as they might not have the years in which to pay it back?

One was done, and it should be attached to the reports pack online. When it came to looking at capital assets and figures, such as £45,000 per annum for someone to have sufficient means to secure their own accommodation, we looked at a Monmouthshire average for property and rental prices, rather than area-by-area. This is because part of the aim is to simplify the process – we didn’t want to be drawn into the differences by individual town. The data led us to propose a sum that is reasonable for someone to be expected to solve their own housing issue, especially as purchasing might not be the right avenue, but the private renters’ sector could be. However, the difficulty of purchasing a property outright for older people, given the time required to pay off a mortgage, is noted.

What are the implications of the point scoring system?

It is a needs-based system. If someone were fit and healthy, and had capital assets, we would say that they have sufficient financial resources, and they would be placed in the lowest band (5). But if someone has a welfare need or a medical issue, the flexibility built into the policy now allows a little discretion whereby those cases can be considered, taking into account the person’s capital assets, with the medical issue giving them a higher banding. Other considerations included in the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Homeless Briefing Report and Emerging Proposals for Future Delivery of Homelessness. pdf icon PDF 553 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Officer Ian Bakewell delivered the report. Cabinet Member Bob Greenland added the following comments:

The amount of work performed by the team is enormous and their commitment to homelessness is unwavering. Officer Bakewell has given Councillor Jones and me regular updates, which we have passed on to Cabinet, and he has attended informal Cabinet meetings. The situation has been worsened by the pandemic. Early on, Minister Julie James gave money, for which we are very grateful, for taking people off the streets. As infection rates grew in the spring, people who had been sofa surfing presented as homeless overnight, as they could no longer stay where they were. We anticipate big problems this autumn and winter. There are no easy answers, as the Council currently has huge draws on its limited resources. We do recognise as a priority the issues faced by this area of council work, in particular. We will do everything we can to achieve what is needed.

Officer Bakewell answered the Members’ questions, with additional comments from Lyn Webber:

Challenge:

What is the approximate cost for a pod?

They cannot be bought outright – there’s a rental charge of around £120-150 a month. They are delivered on the back of a lorry, and are fairly easy to install. We have always balked at their use, and we don’t really have anywhere suitable for them. Their use would be a last resort, as an interim measure to empty Monmouth market hall and provide accommodation until something suitable was found.

Is there anything that can be done to persuade banks and building societies to be more lenient for those hit by the pandemic now, so that they don’t become homeless?

This is an area in which we need to invest. If people come through with those circumstances, then we need to do everything we can to support them; part of that would be to engage with banks and building societies, and support the people with their potential debts. There are a few schemes to note coming out of Welsh Government, though they will be loans with a 1% interest rate. Another dimension of that is the Council’s housing support arrangements: they will work very closely with people in those circumstances as well.

Because of the new guidance that has come from Welsh Government, at the start of the pandemic the teams realigned services to support those in temporary accommodation. We have had support from Monmouthshire Housing and worked to ensure that those in temporary accommodation are supported where appropriate. Realigning the services has been stressful given the existing caseloads, but the teams have done very well. We hope to make that situation a permanent one. It is difficult because we have to comply with the terms and conditions of the Housing Support grant, in which there is a requirement on us to do preventative work, supporting domestic violence and abuse victims, older people, etc. It is a fine balancing act.

What support do you get from the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

To confirm the minutes of the previous meeting (to follow). pdf icon PDF 460 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the previous meeting held on 29th September 2020 were confirmed and signed as an accurate record, with the following amendment:

Under Item 5, Councillor Brown proposed that when housing is planned, density of the living arrangements needs to be strongly considered on a public health basis (to prevent the spreading of pandemics and expressed concern about the density proposed in urban areas for future housing in the draft NDF).

 

6.

Adults Select Committee Forward Work Programme. pdf icon PDF 509 KB

Minutes:

The Gypsy & Travellers Assessment should be included in the December meeting. The Homelessness report from today’s meeting will also go to Children and Young People Select committee. Budget Recovery scrutiny will take place after Christmas. We will seek an update from the Health Board regarding substance misuse, as well as a report on support for sufferers of dementia, and their carers.

 

7.

Next Meeting: Tuesday 15th December 2020 at 10.30am.

8.

Council and Cabinet Forward Work Planner. pdf icon PDF 180 KB