Contact: Lynn Cain Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests
Councillors Jim Blagden and David Walters declared Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests due to their former service within the Armed Forces.
that the minutes of the meeting of the Panel held on 19 November 2020, be
received and approved as a correct record.
The Scrutiny Research Officer presented the final report in relation to the scrutiny review of Veterans and Service Personnel and took the Panel Members through each of the draft Cabinet recommendations, as outlined in the report.
Members considered each recommendation in turn and on conclusion, both the Service Manager, Scrutiny and Democratic Services and the Scrutiny Research Officer placed on record the Panel’s appreciation to Mark Leek (founder of the Veterans Breakfast Club in Kirkby) and Gillian Welch (the Council’s Senior Community Engagement Officer) for their valuable contributions towards the review and attendance at previous meetings.
that the following recommendations be approved and presented to the Cabinet meeting in March 2021:
a) to further explore the possibility of expanding the e-training modules regarding the Armed Forces Covenant, Housing and Homelessness for frontline staff, across all sections of the Council;
b) to commend the work undertaken so far by the Council’s Senior Community Engagement Officer in supporting the Ashfield Armed Forces community;
c) to explore the potential to designate an Armed Forces representative in each section of the Council;
d) to support and continue to commit to achieving the MoD Gold Employer Recognition Award through the Defence Employee Recognition Scheme;
e) to continue to develop a robust and purposeful Reservist Policy to assist and support employees as required;
f) to commit to increasing awareness across the Council and embedding ongoing support for the local Armed Forces Community within the Council’s Corporate Plan;
g) to develop an Armed Forces Welcome Pack designed to support the Armed Forces Community with the transition to civilian life in Ashfield.
The Chairman introduced the new Tenancy Support review topic to the Panel and extended a warm welcome to the Council’s Service Manager, Housing Management & Tenancy Services, Nicky Moss and the Service Manager, Strategic Housing & Lettings, Phil Warrington.
Both officers were in attendance at the meeting to offer their particular insights into the support being offered to tenants, both public and private, to ensure their tenancies remained viable and to avoid any possible evictions or homelessness issues due to rent arrears, anti-social behaviour (ASB) or unscrupulous landlords.
The Service Manager, Housing Management & Tenancy Services gave an overview of her role in supporting Council tenants and managing rent arrears and income recovery, including general tenancy estate management once properties had been let through the Strategic Housing & Lettings Team.
From 2014, the process for seeking and determining evictions had been shared between the Housing Management and Tenancy Service Team and the Community Safety Team. The Community Safety Team predominately took charge of any evictions as a result of ASB with the Housing Management and Tenancy Service Team focussing on evictions due to rent arrears.
However, eviction was always seen as a last result and the Council offered a variety of support measures to assist tenants with maintaining their tenancies.
Money Management Service
Money management advice and supports for tenants was invaluable in helping them maximise their income, budgeting and assisting with additional benefit claim applications as required. This role also included a welfare element which saw officers assist tenants with applying and accessing charities and grant funding if applicable.
Tenant support always commenced pre tenancy, with officers helping residents with affordability issues and initial set up of the property to make it habitable for moving in. Many new tenants did not possess furniture and officers regularly sourced furniture and white goods to enable people to settle into their new homes.
Officers also supported tenants to access the following:
· adequate fuel services
· support through the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), British Legion and local charities
· grant funding opportunities and welfare support funds
· mental health services.
Prevention of Eviction
Part of the tenancy sustainment role was also to mitigate against any possible eviction risks as many tenants suffered mental health issues and struggled to cope with everyday life. Currently officers were assisting many tenants with booking their appointments for the first dose of the Covid-19 vaccine alongside other supportive measures to protect health and wellbeing wherever possible.
A current Performance Indicator (PI) for the Tenancy Sustainment Team was to ensure that 95% of new tenants remain in their tenancies past the 6 month introductory milestone and so far this target had always been met.
However, there were many reasons why persons were evicted from properties and many of their needs could be complex and difficult to address. Over the previous 12 months, 20 people had been evicted from Council properties as a result of rent arrears. From a tenancy list of over 6, 500, this figure was extremely low and it was to ... view the full minutes text for item SA.26