Issue - meetings

Temporary Accommodation for the Homeless

Meeting: 25/02/2011 - Council (Item 7)

7 11/32 - Temporary Accommodation for the Homeless pdf icon PDF 47 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Council considered this item.  Cllr Tom Fox proposed the recommendations be agreed and this was seconded by Cllr Bastiman

Cllr Billing noted one of the conditions regarding the 25 year agreement for RSLs to repair properties and he proposed an amendment to the motion that this condition be changed to state that the funding would only be available to RSLs  that carried out improvements up to the highest level of green standards, which was level 6.

This was seconded by Cllr Broadbent.

Cllr Mortimer stated that RSLs currently worked to level 4 and it was very difficult to achieve level 6. Cllr Billing stated that the resolution could include the words “where achievable”.

The Monitoring Officer was invited to comment and confirmed his understanding was consistent with what Cllr Mortimer had stated, and suggested that the resolution include a requirement to aspire to the higher green standards rather than an obligation.

Cllr Fox suggested that the council should track the standards

Cllr McDonald stated that the report suggested that to bring back a house into use could cost £100,000, but a house could be bought for this cost and he did not support this proposal therefore.

Cllr Billing agreed that his proposed amendment to the motion be worded to be an obligation upon any grant receiving body to aspire to work towards the higher levels of the green homes policy.

RESOLVED that Council:

(i)         agree to the following change to the Councils Empty Homes Grant policy to ensure that:

“Empty homes grants are targeted towards RSLs to help support the purchase of long term empty dwellings on the open market.  A maximum level of grant (£50,000) is payable per dwelling and that this grant should not exceed more than 50% of the total cost of the Purchase, Repair or Conversion of that dwelling.  As a condition of the grant award, the RSL is required to enter into a 25 year agreement with the Council, giving the Council 100% nomination rights.  Dwellings brought back into use can only be used by the RSL as temporary accommodation for homeless.” 

(ii)      to include a further condition in any grant award, that the RSL aspire to achieve the highest level of green design standards in any Repair or Conversion

(iii)       agree that an Invest to Save bid in the sum of £750,000 be included in the Council’s Financial Strategy 2011-21, which will be presented to Full Council for approval in February 2011.  This funding will provide grant payments to match fund RSL contributions, enabling the purchase of empty dwellings that can be brought back into use as temporary accommodation for the homeless.  The £750,000 is to be funded from an increase to borrowing to be repaid from revenue savings achieved on the cost of temporary accommodation;

(iv)     instruct officers to market the sale of the Councils   

former homeless hostel at 6-8 Alma Square (Newburn House).

Reasons:

The Council has a legal obligation to provide temporary accommodation for homeless people.  We currently discharge that obligation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7


Meeting: 18/01/2011 - Cabinet (Item 7)

7 Temporary Accommodation for the Homeless pdf icon PDF 186 KB

To consider a joint report by the Head of Environmental Services and Head of Finance and Asset Management (Reference 11/32 attached).

Minutes:

The Cabinet considered a joint report by the Head of Environmental Services and Head of Finance and Asset Management (Reference 11/32).  Cabinet were informed that this was the first of a number of reports following an earlier report to Cabinet on the changes to housing benefit that indicated there were likely to be increased costs on homelessness due to these changes.  It was noted that a more cost effective and sustainable approach was required to provide temporary accommodation.  This report proposed making a capital investment – match funded via Registered Social Landlords’ (RSL) contribution (50% of total costs) in order to make a revenue saving over the long term.  This would be used to offer grants to RSLs to enable them to indentify and bring back into use empty homes (likely to be blocks of flats) that would be used by the Council to discharge its duties in relation to homelessness via a contract agreement.  The benefits of this approach were that RSL investment/borrowing was exempt from Local Housing Association rate restrictions and there would be proper and effective management.  There would be no revenue costs for the Council.  The report recommended changes to current empty homes policy and to borrow up to £750,000. The revenue savings to the Council were anticipated to be £134,000 per year and money would be drawn down as opportunities arose.

The third recommendation related to a homeless hostel that was no longer suitable for use. The cost to bring this back into use would be £400,000. Under this model of match funding via RSLs a more cost effective option would be to sell the property and take capital receipts to reduce the borrowings.

RESOLVED that Cabinet:

(i)         agree to the following change to the Councils Empty Homes Grant policy to ensure that:

“Empty homes grants are targeted towards RSLs to help support the purchase of long term empty dwellings on the open market.  A maximum level of grant (£50,000) is payable per dwelling and that this grant should not exceed more than 50% of the total cost of the Purchase, Repair or Conversion of that dwelling.  As a condition of the grant award, the RSL is required to enter into a 25 year agreement with the Council, giving the Council 100% nomination rights.  Dwellings brought back into use can only be used by the RSL as temporary accommodation for homeless.” 

(ii)        agree that an Invest to Save bid in the sum of £750,000 be included in the Council’s Financial Strategy 2011-21, which will be presented to Full Council for approval in February 2011. This funding will provide grant payments to match fund RSL contributions, enabling the purchase of empty dwellings that can be brought back into use as temporary accommodation for the homeless. The £750,000 is to be funded from an increase to borrowing to be repaid from revenue savings achieved on the cost of temporary accommodation;

(iii)       instruct officers to market the sale of the Councils former homeless  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7