Venue: Committee Room 1, Towhn Hall
Contact: Democratic Services
Declarations of Members' and Officers' interests relating to items on the Agenda
No declarations of interest were received.
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Wheeldon and Niblock.
Councillor Yates was absent.
- 5.10pm (Report to follow)
The Service Director – Housing presented a report to the Committee detailing an update on Decent homes, voids, and repairs.
An overview of successes within Housing was given, including 100% performance on gas servicing, 93% positive customer feedback on the repairs service, significant investment in homes and neighbourhoods, The HRA Capital Programme approved by Cabinet in February 2023, Stock condition survey completed and an investment plan in development, all underlying issues have been reviewed enabling them to be addressed through the housing transformation plan, a new board, directorate plan and performance monitoring regime, and strengthened tenant engagement.
An overview of challenges within Housing was given, including rents being capped meaning that the affordability of the HRA business plan is under significant pressure, increasing disrepair claims and damp/ mould issues, challenges with the IT system, customer complaints increasing, and still dealing with the impact of the pandemic on rents and voids.
It was noted that in terms of the Decent Homes Standard, which was a target set by Government in 2004, the Council has a ‘decency’ target for its stock of 100% and is currently at 99.7%. It was reported that 100% would be achieved during 2023. It was reported that the new standard and definitions from government are still awaited. In terms of next steps, all aspects of the latest Housing Capital Programme (re-roofing, re-pointing, improving insulation and the replacement of PVC-U Windows) have begun. An overall decarbonisation plan is being developed this year to ensure that the Council’s Climate Change Strategy objectives are achieved by 2050. This includes solar panels, extensive insulation programmes, sheltered housing schemes and the installation of Worcester boilers which can convert to hydrogen if this proves to be a suitable alternative to gas. Most homes are currently performing at Band C, but some are below this and newer homes are higher.
It was reported that the area of Voids was a challenge. Significant transformation is required to the overall process including housing management, void repairs, and allocations. There are currently 285 ‘management’ voids requiring remediation activity. A Voids Management Group has been established to identify and drive improvements and ensure accountability. There have been staff engagement sessions to discuss potential solutions, and these have yielded a huge amount of information. 10 of the voids have been outsourced to an external contractor with a view to increasing this number depending on the cost and performance outcomes to achieve ‘quick wins’. There is also now improved communication between the Void Repairs Team and Gas and Electrical teams. Further housing management activity is planned i.e., termination visits. A monthly progress report to the Strategic Housing Board is planned and the relet standard is to be reviewed with tenant scrutiny members. A transformation project manager will also be recruited for a fixed term, to lead on all void improvement activity work.
It was reported that there were several current challenges with responsive repairs, with 1,866 overdue repairs. There are system issues, however, where many of these will have been ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
The annual report, attached at Appendix 1 of the Director’s report, set out the work, achievements and impact of the overview and scrutiny function in 2022/23 across all three scrutiny committees.
During the year different approaches to scrutiny engagement had been utilised including, reports, presentations with question and answer sessions, focus groups and working groups. This had enabled scrutiny to take an in depth look at specific policy areas, plans and data sets and provided a variety of opportunities for all scrutiny members to contribute to the discussions and add value and challenge to key activity.
Throughout 2022/23 the Overview and Performance Scrutiny Forum undertook both pre-decision and post-decision scrutiny, receiving reports and influencing decisions on areas including the Arvato and Kier Transition Plan, Cost of Living, Local Government Boundary Review Communications Plan, and the Skills Action plan refresh.
The new Scrutiny Select Committee model would help to take forward the engagement and pre-decision scrutiny approach and build upon the successes of 2022/23.
That the report be recommended to Council.
The Senior Economic Development Officer presented The Skills Action Plan Update. The plan aims to ensure that local people have the right skills to support progression into the labour market and benefit from future employment opportunities. We are currently navigating a large and complex landscape where we are reacting to regional and national policy changes that have polarised the importance of skills development and seen a shift towards local delivery. The newly established skills and employment partnership and plan will help ensure that the changes and opportunities arising from them are reflected positively at a local level. The skills action plan has been designed as a partnership plan, including activity that is a mix of Chesterfield Borough Council and activity led partners. It has been established with a private sector chair, which allows us to respond to the needs of employers, and the vice chair of Tricia Gilby.
The partnership will;
· Facilitate a stronger, more co-ordinated skills delivery in Chesterfield.
· Provide advice and guidance on strategic direction of skills and employment activity in Chesterfield.
· Provide Chesterfield with the ability to align with activity delivered under D2N2 People and Skills advisory Board and subsequent arrangements in respect of people and skills under the MCCA.
· Sits within the Chesterfield Community Wellbeing System Framework, alongside other strategic partnerships.
· The key aim of the system framework is to support and promote community wellbeing, create healthier, safer, and stronger communities.
The inclusion of the Skills & Employment Partnership within the System Framework will support existing joined up working across partners and agencies from public, private, voluntary sectors and facilitate discussion and action around common challenges and opportunities in respect of employment and skills (i.e., addressing barriers such as mental health).
To support the development of the skills action plan, a steering group was established in February 2023, consisting of core members of the partnership. The consultation was delivered through two rounds. The first round reached twenty-one distinct organisations, consisting of one-to-one interviews and workshops. This consultation informed priorities and action areas for a draft skills action plan that formed the basis of the second round of consultations, which was detailed discussions with delivery partners. The priorities and actions that have emerged are grounded in evidence and seek to meet both employer needs and equip local people with the skills they need to access and progress into work. The Skills Action Plan is ambitious delivering twelve action areas around six themes.
It was reported that the evidence from the consultation was clear in the need to address high levels of youth unemployment, build on existing good practice and Chesterfield’s strong links with employers to deliver activity that better connects our young people to employers.
Over four years it will deliver;
· D2N2 Careers Hub will lead Careers Made in Chesterfield (CMiC) in a combination of activity by CBC and Pilot activity to enhance the programme funded via CEC.
· Will build on the successful pilot to deliver CMiC, scaling it up over four years to deliver activity across more ... view the full minutes text for item 5.
Scrutiny Project Groups Progress Updates
There were no Scrutiny Project Groups updates to be presented.
There was no scrutiny monitoring schedule to be noted.
Forward Plan of Key Decisions 1 August – 30 November 2023 available via link below
The Committee considered the Forward Plan for the period 1 August 2023 to 30 November 2023.
That the Forward Plan be noted.
Work Programme for the Scrutiny Select Committee - Economic Growth and Communities
The Committee Members discussed options for agreeing the next Scrutiny Work Programme for 2023/24. An action was noted that further work was to be carried out for Members to meet and agree which topics would be added to the Work Programme and what timescale this would cover.
That the action be noted.
This is a standard agenda item to present the Minutes of the meeting of the last Scrutiny Select Committee – Resilient Council.
There were no previous Minutes to be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair.