To consider the following issues raised by the Policy Development Panel:
Long Term Empty Homes
The Policy Development Panel had been receiving regular updates on the position regarding Long Term Empty Homes, the latest update being to the meeting on 24 September 2019. As the position on the number of long term empty homes had been quite static, the report to the meeting in September had laid out proposals for moving forward with regard to how information on empty homes could be reported in the future. One of these proposals was that, going forward, consideration of performance be undertaken by the Performance Monitoring Panel.
The Performance Monitoring Panel considered this proposal, and the following issues arose:
· Performance around empty homes appeared to have dropped – why had this position arisen?
o Officers explained that the current target performance indicator was linked to work undertaken by the Private Sector Housing Team, and did not take account of work undertaken across the Authority as a whole (which included PSPS and Council Tax). The Performance Indicators needed to be re-addressed as they did not accommodate spikes at certain times, due to other factors. Officers commented that there was an additional lack of clarity due to the year end Key Performance Indicator (KPI) showing the net increase/decrease of Council Tax receipts together with a quarterly measure which showed the number of properties brought back into use as a result of the work of the officer group.
· Was the objective to bring in more Council Tax revenue, or to decrease the number of empty homes?
o Officers responded that with regard to the year-end figures, the focus was around Council Tax receipts, and the New Homes Bonus, and with regard to officer intervention, the focus was on the impact that an empty property had on the area.
· How was the New Homes Bonus affected?
o Officers advised that bringing a property back into use generated a New Homes Bonus, which was preferable to the income brought in from Council Tax payable on an empty property. The two distinct areas made the information around the KPI unclear – separate KPIs were required to make the data clearer.
· Members asked what the process was with regard to bringing a property back into use.
o Officers advised that there was a dedicated inbox and information on the Council’s website for individuals to report properties, which officers would then take forward. The Council Tax department also provided information on empty properties, and relevant officers would then try to determine the reasons for the property being a long term empty home. The Policy Development Panel would be considering the Empty Homes Strategy in due course, but performance around KPIs was a different issue, and the correct reporting mechanisms had to be found.
· Officers stated that the number of empty homes was very small, that there were ad hoc procedures to deal with empty homes, and that a policy would be brought forward in due course to consolidate this.
· Members commented that careful consideration had to be given to the correct form KPIs should take, in order that performance and the work undertaken by officers could be clearly reflected. It was agreed that further information on KPIs be provided for consideration at the next meeting of the Panel, alongside some background information with regard to situations and difficulties faced.
That with regard to Empty Homes, further information be provided to the next meeting of the Panel around Key Performance Indicators, and background information with regard to situations and difficulties faced.
Joint Task Groups
Consideration was given to the future of two Task Groups that had been set up jointly by both the Performance Monitoring Panel and the Policy Development Panel:
· Public Open Spaces Task Group – This had been a joint Task Group which had not concluded its work. The Policy Development Panel had suggested that this no longer be a joint Task Group, and that the Performance Monitoring Plan conclude the work. The Policy Development Panel would instead establish a new Planning Design Task Group. The Performance Monitoring Panel was in agreement with this approach, and it was agreed that the following Panel members be part of the new Public Open Spaces Task Group – Councillors B Alcock, J R Astill, A C Beal, C J T H Brewis and P A Redgate. It was also agreed that the scope be re-considered at the first meeting of the Task Group, to be arranged in the new year.
· Leisure Facilities Task Group – This had been a joint Task Group, and it was agreed by both Panels that it be removed from the respective Work Programmes.
a) That the Performance Monitoring Panel continue the work of the Public Open Spaces Task Group, and:
i. That the membership consist of Councillors B Alcock, J R Astill, A C Beal, C J T H Brewis and P A Redgate;
ii. That the scope be reconsidered as the first meeting of the Task Group in the new year; and
b) That the Leisure Facilities Task Group be removed from the Panel’s Work Programme.