Agenda item - Chairs Communications
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New Council Homes in the City
33.1 The Chair was pleased to update members on the continuing delivery of new council homes in the city.
33.2 The Chair attended the topping out ceremony to mark the completion of the frame and roof of Kite Place, comprising 57 new flats at Findon Road, Brighton. She reported that it was great to see the progress that has been made on site and it was clear that this was going to be a fantastic development on a key site for the Whitehawk area.
33.3 In addition, the Chair was pleased to confirm 12 new council homes at Kensington Street received planning permission last week.
Compliments being received for Housing Needs Service
33.4 The Chair updated members on the increasing number of complements being received for the Housing Needs Service. The service was achieving 10% more compliments than in 15/16 which demonstrates the council’s commitment to customer service despite the challenging housing market the council was operating in.
Prioritising people living in fuel poverty
33.5 The Council had also achieved a significant milestone with Brighton & Hove being praised by National Energy Action for prioritising people living in fuel poverty and supporting the city-wide Warmth for Wellbeing service.
33.6 Cold homes impacted adversely on people’s health and the Chair was pleased to report that Brighton and Hove received a top ‘six out of six’ rating. Only 13 areas received 6 out of 6 from 152 areas reviewed.
33.7 Warmth for Wellbeing was a joint project by Brighton & Hove City Council, the local NHS, Brighton & Hove Energy Services Co-operative and 11 charities led by the Citizens Advice Bureau. It has been coordinated through the city’s Health and Wellbeing Board. Housing & New Homes Committee had approved the Fuel Poverty & Affordable Warmth Strategy in June of this year and updates on the strategy objectives, particularly in relation to housing, would be reported back to committee in due course.
Your Rent Matters campaign
33.8 The Chair reported that to help council tenants maximise their incomes and prepare for upcoming changes to benefits and rents, the housing team was running the Your Rent Matters campaign over the next two weeks, contacting all 7,500 of the city’s working age tenants to raise awareness and prepare as many people as possible.
Amnesty for people illegally sub-letting
33.9 The Chair reported that to make sure much needed council homes were available for households in priority need, housing, legal and corporate fraud teams were working together to offer an amnesty to encourage people who may be illegally sub-letting their council or temporary accommodation properties to return them to the council.
33.10 The amnesty would run for 8 weeks from 1st December 2016 to 31st; January 2017; following International Fraud Awareness Week in November. The amnesty would allow tenants to hand back properties without fear of prosecution and raise awareness of the impacts of tenancy fraud. Following the amnesty there would be a data matching exercise to identify properties that may be being sublet. During 2015/16 the Council had already recovered 26 homes.
Successful prosecution for failure to license an HMO
33.11 The Chair reported that in private sector housing the council had seen a successful prosecution for failure to license an HMO (under the Additional Licensing scheme), despite reminders from the council. The owner pleaded guilty at the hearing on 19 October 2016 resulting in a fine of £14K plus £900 costs and £170 Victim surcharge.