Members are requested to note the current Policy Register (copy enclosed).
The Panel gave consideration to the Policy Register that was dated 8 February 2018.
Councillors mentioned that some items had no dates assigned and some had deadlines that were long overdue (2015 deadline)
Officers provided the Panel with a verbal update on the Housing Allocations Policy and the Strategic Tenancy Policy, and the following points were raised:
House Allocations Policy
· Officers stated that this Policy set out who was eligible for housing, this was a statutory policy and it was enacted in 2013.
· It was noted that 350 households were on the register, which was a relatively low amount compared to other Lincolnshire authorities.
· A review of the Policy was to be concluded in April 2019. This timescale was set to allow the procurement of the correct IT equipment needed to set up the Policy.
· Councillors mentioned that the summary was quite broad for providing a reason for the delay in delivery. Officers responded that joining the housing register was paper based and lengthy. Better IT was the preferred solution rather than employing new staff. Members were not satisfied and requested more technical details. Officers stated that the IT implementation was a bigger piece of work than just allocation, and that a bespoke solution could be achieved perhaps slightly quicker.
· Councillors questioned why the Policy review had not taken place sooner, so that the Authority would be at least part way through the improvements at the point of the meeting. Others agreed and mentioned that the possibility of being 6 years out of date was unacceptable.
· Councillors mentioned that the review was too late in starting and that the timescale seemed far too long. It was suggested that a task group could be set up to look at this matter. However, it was agreed that this was not required. Instead, a written report providing an update would be provided to the next Panel meeting and that the relevant officer would be required to attend.
Strategic Tenancy Policy
· Officers provided the background to this Policy.
· It was stated that there was no business need to review the Policy at the moment. This had been agreed by the relevant Porfolio Holder, and officers felt that it was better to review in a few years time.
· Councillors stated that the Policy was simply complying with statutory policy but that there was no particular activity. Officers responded that this was true that the Policy was compliant. Councillors added that it should be noted to review the Policy in 2 years time.
· Members questioned if there was currently no Business case to offer fixed term tenancies and whether the financial effects of fixed term against lifetime tenancies had been considered? Officers responded that the prevailing legal view at the time was that the fixed term element of tenancies could not be used if there had been a breach of tenancy. They added that there was already a way in place to pursue this and this would be monitored.
· Officers also advised that there was a system of introductory tenancies for new tenants prior to them potentially being offered full tenancies..
· Members asked if a mix of both life-long and fixed term tenancies could be used. Officers stated that they could.
· Members suggested that the difference between fixed term and lifelong tenancies could affect the people with the properties, as within a fixed-term tenancy, not all people in the property were entitled to stay i.e if the original tenant were to pass away. Members also asked if this would affect Right to Buy. Officers responded that it was a legal grey area, and they were waiting to see how this worked.
· Members requested that the Policy be considered by the Panel in 12 months time.
Members wanted to be advised when the Safeguarding Policy could be expected to be approved as this was a vital policy for the Authority to have in place. Members would be advised of its progress.
a) That the Policy Register be noted;
b) That a full update report on the Housing Allocation Policy be provided to the next Panel meeting with attendance by the relevant officer.
c) That the Panel consider the Strategic Tenancy Policy in 12 months time; and
d) That the Panel be advised when the Safeguarding Policy would be approved.