Minutes of The Yorkshire & Humber Regional Home Loans Service Group
Meeting from 25 January 2007
Present – Chris Galley (Chair), Denise Devoto, Dene Malkin, Chris Harper (minutes) & Chris
Champion, (Sheffield), Richard Kershaw (Barnsley), Julie Rhodes (Bradford), Chris Green
(Calderdale), Wyn Ashton (Craven), Lesley Smith & Bob Thorpe (Doncaster), Jon Newbegin
(Harrogate), Jill Lockwood & Ruth Pattison & (Kirklees), Colin Moss & Lindsay Marsden (Leeds),
Peter Bridgestock (Richmondshire), Serena Williams (Ryedale), Steve Pogson (Scarborough), Simon
Parkinson (Selby), Ruth Abbott (York), Debbie France (GOYH), Peter Moore (Rotherham), Dave
Fowles (Wakefield). Lynn Cooper (West Yorkshire Housing Partnership),
Apologies –Richard Armitage, & Barbara Sands (Calderdale), Janet Szlamp (Doncaster), Susan
Bolland (Hambleton), Danielle Troop (Rotherham), Trevor Holt
Recap on minutes of the last meeting
CG welcomed everyone and asked if there were any specific issues from the minutes
of the last meeting that would not be covered in the agenda. DD to re-
Re Pg 2 Monitoring reports DD advises that reports should be sent out weekly from circulate tables
29.01.07.DD advises some LAs still not sent back details of who report to be sent for LA’s to
to. complete &
Shared ownership issue re previous meeting for Bradford under service issues now return
not an issue as not proceeding to Loan. SW advises she has a potential shared
ownership case. DD advised would need to see Lease agreement to then obtain SW to forward
legal advice. SW to obtain relevant info. info re potential
CG advises BRE research from AOB in previous meeting to be picked through shared
Housing Advisory Group. ownership loan
Minutes agreed as correct.
Update by each LA
1. Doncaster – LS
Two Loans now underwritten and legal charges nearly registered. Still have 180 live
enquiries, a good number waiting for preliminary enquiry form to be returned. There still
40 waiting technical surveys, big problem at moment as having difficulties filling vacant
technical posts. Have 15 cases waiting for clients to obtain quotes to then progress to
application. DD confirmed to BT that contract and delegation in place for regional
HALS, but still working on ring-fenced contract.
2. Wakefield – D Fowles
Several loans already submitted and more to follow, properties looked at are not at
bottom end of decency standard & they are concerned about the interpretation of the
decent homes standard, as well as dealing with clients aspirational aspects.
3. Bradford – JR
Drop out rate improving with HAL’s, grant waiting list now exhausted so are now dealing
mainly with elderly people & they seem to be more amenable to loan. RALS working
very well, 2 clearance areas ready for demolition partly thanks to RAL product. Have
issues of how to implement the customer satisfaction questionnaire to monitor drop out
reasons. Have paid out 1 loan, which they need to claim back from RHB fund.
4. Kirklees – RP
Have 1 officer now an approved HAL interviewer. The client interviewed did not want to
proceed, as they advised they found the whole process too traumatic and long-winded.
Currently have 10 referrals waiting for pre-interview. & another officer waiting to be
assessed for HAL interviews.
5. Leeds –LM
Have submitted 1 application & have 5 further potential applications. Still at the same
stage as they were at the last meeting due to the nature of the improvement scheme
operating in their area & their own in-house loan scheme. No spend will be possible this
6. Rotherham – PM
Contract &delegation now in place. No qualified interviewers yet, but 7 staff doing HAL
training next week, 3 which will also require RAL training. Do not envisage any
interviews for several months yet.
7. Barnsley – RK
RALS ongoing asked how contract is progressing, DD advised will discuss later in
agenda. HALS – struggling to convince that loans best way forward due to issue of
funding officer’s salaries as grant income currently pays salaries. However Audit
Commission (for HMR) have picked up fact that Barnsley do not offer Loans. This could
help case for loans through cabinet. RK hopes that issues resolved by end of financial
year. The cabinet report is at its final stage, but they will not be doing any HALs this
year. They have had a poor response from clients as they are used to receiving grants
from the local authority.
8. Craven – WA
Not much progress, only received publicity material this week to allow proper launch.
Looking to launch in next few weeks, have had some enquiries. Looking to complete
training for HIA staff to interview for HAL’s, on course for interviewing in new financial
9. Harrogate – JN
2 large schemes ready for HAL interviews, Dene to assess interviewing officer 23.2.07.
Want to get these two dealt with before full launch in next financial year, have had some
further enquiries already.
10. Calderdale – C Green
Advised CG only has info on HALS. Had high drop out rate in past from grants list, as
clients not interested in a loan. Now on new enquiries & hopeful of more interest.
Properties are being inspected & clients in general are from different client group from
previous grant enquirers. Now enquiries are from the elderly & less from the BME
community. CG advised this info very important & stressed how vital it is to monitor this.
RP asked if the shift in trend due to Sharia law compliance, CGreen advised not aware
of this, but advised it could be an issue. This again highlights the point of effective
monitoring & client feedback.
11. Ryedale – SW
Delegation in place & contract to be signed by legal. Looking at publicity launch in the
new year, but 5 enquiries so far. There is one issue re a shared ownership case, DD
agreed to discuss this later in the meeting. SW confirmed she is only one Interviewing at
moment. CG advised that still want to provide all support we can to smaller authorities.
12. Scarborough – SP
No changes from last meeting. Still need to review grant strategy. Still got generous
grant budget for next financial year, but may look to change middle of 07/08 for a ring-
fenced contract for HAL’s when HCS may lead to housing strategy being changed. May
use Loans for DFG top ups until then.
13. Selby –SP
2 loans in pipeline, which are genuine enquiries, SP is confident these will go to full
application before year-end. 11/01/07 max grant reduced form £6k to £4k to encourage
loan take up.
14. York – RA
HIA in York have now withdrawn their offer to deliver loan interviews, Bradford may be
assisting on a temporary basis - RA is going to SMT to see if acceptable to Council. Still
have large Grant budget for next financial year, but looking at reviewing this for 2008.
The LA’s in NY are discussing the possibility of employing a loans officer to interview in
15. Richmondshire – PB
Now fully signed up to loan scheme, with delegation & contract in place - launching HAL
29/01/07. Hoping to generate enquiries from publicity in press & on radio. They have
agreement with HIA to deliver loan interviews. Still offer small grants, but the loan will
kick in after £3k. If works more than £3k client will have to address all works that have
been identified, not just have £3k worth of works.
16. Hambleton – No representation
DD advised 1 HAL in the pipeline, but looking to do another press release to generate
Advised have had to move 17 loans from RHB fund to SCC HMR funding, due to
pressure to spend HMR monies. Value of loans moved £229k, but SCC still has 27 in
RHB pipeline for a value of £315k, 7 of which have been paid out. SCC have been
meeting to discuss marketing of PSH services as a whole, including loan & their
Citywide Team is now taking responsibility for this. Activities include doing mailshots to
DFG clients where their grants have completed, visiting social services departments &
doing mailshots to CAB’s & other advice agencies etc.
CG also advised there is now more focus from the RHB on loans & he has to put paper
together for the Housing Advisory Board. He is also to speak to each sub-regional
board to discuss the loans agenda & ensure senior officers are fully aware & on board
with the regional scheme. Emphasis needs to be on consultation with senior officers &
members to drive forward the loans agenda. This issue is being addressed at
Government Office level, and will be subject to further consultation.
Monitoring Reports for YHRHLS Sent 26.1.07,
Local Authority reports – still need
Case monitoring Barnsley,
DD advised not all LA’s have advised her where to send weekly reports, DD to re- Harrogate,
circulate tables for completion. Richmondshire
Regional reports & York
Pre-application monitoring report
Asked opinion of LA’s of splitting first green column into 2, one for initial numbers of DD amended
enquiries & one for where client has been assessed is meeting the LA’s vulnerability pre-application
criteria & had a technical assessment done. All figures are now to be provided on a monitoring
cumulative basis from 1.7.05, when the scheme started. This was agreed & DD will spreadsheet
amend spreadsheet accordingly. 26.1.07 & Jill
DD asked if all LA’s could ensure they send in their reports even if it is a nil return & also circulated new
asked if LA’s could let her know if reports were being sent to wrong individuals, so she version 1.2.07
can arrange for them to be sent to the right person. Jill Scott will now be emailing all
LA’s on the 1 of every month on behalf of the team – please ensure all LA’s respond to
Jill’s emails within 2 weeks of receiving them.
Progress report for number of loans in pipeline & value
CC advises that that sheet now split into sub-regions. SCC in ADF areas now switched
from spend on RHB funding over to HMR funding, as advised by DD earlier. This was a
management decision to show progress with HMR spend in the ADF areas. This has led
to a fall in spend overall in the RHB loan pot since the last regional meeting. Figures as
at 31.12.06 showed 63 HAL’s sanctioned from RHB fund for a value of £765k, 24 of
which have legal charges registered for a value of £339k – of which 6 have been paid
out for a value of £52k. DD to provide
CC highlighted the importance of caseworkers showing the correct agency fees on the figures where
interview assessment questionnaires, so it can be shown clearly for reporting purposes loans not given
& to complete the 1/4ly progress reports. as funded by
CC highlighted area on progress report where 3 loan applications not proceeding due to family – 3 loans
family assistance. This was a good thing as works still addressed without use of public not given due to
funds. LM asked if we knew the amounts of the above, DD will look into this and advise. family help for a
WA questioned the average amount of loan on regional scheme compared to ring- value of £36,200
fenced loans, as ring-fenced average Loan is higher. DD advised ring-fenced loans tend
to be larger & 1 Sheffield case was for £79K & Bradford have one at £50k.
DF (GOYH) thought it would be good idea to summarise the reports to show trend over DD to prepare
the quarter, i.e. a progress report on each LA. in comparison to previous quarter. DD to summary for
prepare summary for next meeting. next meeting.
Expenditure to date
CC commented on salary costs an advised 25% of Jill Scott’s salary (new loan team
member) was to be funded by the RHB fund for q3 & 4 & will be reflected in expenditure
for next meeting. Current level of expense as at 31.12.06 is £146k for S&WY, £40k for
SW requested clarification on booklets/flyers as differs between some LAs. DD
explained that higher cost in Kirklees as have 2 sites & need 2 separate sets of
booklets. The RHB fund is also paying for re-prints for LA’s etc.
CC talked through balance sheet & advised potentially £3.3m to spend on loans as at
31.12.06, taking into account loans paid out, loans committed, expenditure to date &
proposed expenditure to 31.3.07.
Apportionment of funding
CG advises that WY have requested an alternative way of funding apportionment based
on the original amount of the bid put in by the LAs. Lindsay Greenwood of WYHP has
asked if the loans group has the ability to state apportionment or can sub-regions say
otherwise. CG concerned we don’t have representatives that can possibly make
decision. Piece of consultation work needs to go through the Housing Advisory Group,
as CG feels greater formalisation of the partnership required to enable the power of
apportionment within sub-regions. This will also be picked up through the GO
consultation taking place in March/April.
CG hoping that carried forward amount of £3.3m plus further funding for 07/08 will allow
for smooth transition into attracting private finance. However a lot of work is required on
a business plan for this & private finance won’t be the only form of funding, as RHB
funding is also likely still to be required.
7.82% cut in regional allocation of funding confirmed by DF (GOYH) .CG thinks a single
bid from SCC is best way forward. DF advised that each sub-regions has to decide what
areas the reduction will be made to & consider what element of funding will be given to
the loans scheme. SCC need’s to liaise with all sub-regional partners, as to what they
want SCC to include – it will mean 1 combined bid, instead of 3 separate ones. Each
LA will need to determine what their allocation of the budget will be given to SCC as
banker for the regional scheme.
All LA’s asked to respond direct to CC’s email asap to enable SCC to coordinate bid.
NY LA’s are not meeting until 22.2.07, so we may need to make an educated guess.
JR asked have we thought about how we are ging to determine / predict figures
because HAL’s have not been marketed? CG concerned that grant policies that still in
place will have an impact on bids, inclined to submit a modest for NY & about £1.1m for
S&WY – but monitor 1/4ly over next 3 years.
JR advised they are concerned that no new money is coming into LA’s for decent
homes project for them to ring-fence to SCC. CG would like to think that the need for
this would be reduced, so that private finance takes over this element – but without a
track record, it is difficult to predict. LC advised some guidance has been issued with an
amount of £5.8m for 08 – 11. CG advises that Humber are now coming into the
equation and need to be considered. DF will look at the £5.8M pot and check if Humber
were allowed for in this.
41a Pitts Terrace
CC advises that 41A Pitts Terrace was reviewed at the Special Cases Panel who were JS DD mailed pro-
(Doncaster), CM (Leeds), SP (Selby) re approving a loan of over £30k. Split decision, CC forma to
review case & agreed to lend as genuine case of need where costs could not be reduced. representatives
The completed pro-forma to be circulated by DD to SCP representatives. 26.1.07
Audit of regional scheme
CC commented on positive internal audit report received by the loans team & the team
had been thank by SMT for this. DFowles commented on the good work undertaken by
the team to get the scheme to the position we are currently in & that it is very positive
that a good audit has been achieved. DD to email
DD requested that the outstanding authorised signature lists for the audit forms be sent LA’s to send in
in. Any LA that has not sent in this form will not be able to submit applications for outstanding info
processing without sending these in first. – sent 26.1.07
DD advises that audit forms need to be provided each time a loan amount changes and
it needs to confirm that quotes have been cost assessed subject to local authorities own
policy – DD has amended the audit forms to reflect this.
Follow up Questionnaires
JR Talked through the follow up service questionnaire they use in Bradford & discussed
copies of Bradford’s forms, which were handed out. CG asked all LA’s to adopt same
questionnaires where possible to determine why clients drop out & if work is actually
carried by clients if they do not use HAL’s. All L.As seemed to be in agreement for this.
Sharia Compliance issues
DD Provided update on sharia law issue. DD confirms that our loan is open to
interpretation re Sharia compliance. She has now spoken to the scholar who has been
involved in a RAL case in Sheffield. He is now considering giving some consideration as
to whether the loan meets sharia law. DD is awaiting an email from him to confirm this.
Further advances on HALS
DD advised that further advances not allowed. If client wanted to apply for a further HAL
or RAL in the future they would have to apply for a new loan.
DD advised of another issue re the legal charge. The loans team were under the
impression that the loan amount and percentage on the legal charge were not fixed, i.e.
if works came in at higher or lower than set in legal charge then a new legal chare would
not be required, as a completion statement is issued. This not the case & Wake Smith
have now rectified this for future applications. For cases that have already completed or
where legal charges have already been registered with the old style legal charge, we
are sending out supplemental deeds to rectify the situation. However, we will have to
pay land registry fees of £40 per supplemental deed registered.
Special cases panel proposed guidance/ discretion
DD circulated new SCP guidance & discreitionary notes to all LA’s for consideration
prior to meeting. CC discussed new discretionary limits to allow SCC to make decisions
on cases that fall just outside normal lending guidelines. This will avoid sending too
many cases to special cases panel, for example if a loan application comes in for £31k.
LM asked what happened if SCC declined under their discretion. CC advised that LA’s
could then ask for the case to be referred to SCP.
C Green asked 3 questions on behalf of BS, which were emailed to DD 19.1.07: -
1. How have Discretionary limits been arrived at & was FSA guidance taken into
2. Why does SCC have final decision?
3. Why S/Yorks represented on more occasions on panel?
1. Limits set at were what SCC thought were reasonable, practical & pragmatic –
without the need to take all cases outside the lending criteria via the SCP. They are
not governed by FSA regulations, so they are not applicable;
2. Sheffield is the accountable body therefore has to have the final. This is written in to
the contractual agreement that has been signed by the other LA’s & were part of the
terms of reference for the group, which were agreed 11/05;
3. This representative split was agreed when the terms of reference were drawn up for
DD emailed BS her reply 19.1.07, but BS not aware as on annual leave.
RA asked if could review max loan amount of £30k if house prices continue to increase.
CG advises could look at this if necessary, but DD advised that this could mean a
variation to the contract. Agreed to leave limits as they are for now & review as
necessary in the future.
S Pogson raised point that if SCC decline under discretionary authority, what is the point
of the case going to Special Cases Panel, as Sheffield will decline? CC advised that
this not the case as we will take into account recommendations from panel
representatives when making the final decision.
All agreed to implement the discretionary limits, rota & SCP proforma.
CC thanked the first SCP representatives for their input.
Interim Payments/Final Payments
DD discussed new interim/final payments procedure following on from emails circulated
21.12.06 & confirmed only interim payments can made where more than one contractor
is involved for different types of work (this does not cover general builders who sub-
contract work to all tradesman). Interim payments are not to assist builders with cash DD circulated
flow problems. monthly
JR advised that Bradford would normally pay builder & wish to claim funds back from summary form &
SCC retrospectively. DD advised this is acceptable but would prefer that LA’s forward instructions
completion certificate & invoice to SCC first to ensure all in order as SCC may not pay 8.2.07. Draft
loan if completion documents not in order. JR advises difficult to provide completion letter to follow in
documents prior to paying contractors. DD agreed that if this case L.A can do this at due course
their risk, but advised that LA’s would need to send a letter to confirm they are prepared when approved
to take this risk. DD advises once a process is agreed with Bradford they will circulate by legal team
details, as looking to draft a letter for Bradford & monthly summary reimbursement form.
Service Standards/ Chartermark/ Service Questionnaires
CC advises that SCC going for Chartermark status. As part of this the loans team is to
set up service standards for LA’s & will circulate them asap. The team are also to
circulate questionnaires to LAs for feedback on SCC’s adherence to these standards &
the overall service.
DD advises that the Chartermark assessor would need to talk to partner local
authorities, CC has asked for a volunteer to attend a meeting with the Charter Mark
assessor. JR has volunteered to attend this meeting, which is to be held 17.4.07 in
DD advise that SCC are re-looking at the service questionnaire sent to actual clients to
improve them. DD asked the groups opinion on offering an incentive for the return of
these forms due to the lack of response & suggested we offer £25 Marks & Spencer’s
vouchers – this was agreed by the group.
DD Roller banners & A1 posters displayed for LA’s, which they can take back to the
respective LA’s. DD advised can be sent by courier if required. DD gave out copies of
marketing CD’s, which include loan leaflets, loan booklets, A4 folder, A1 poster – LA’s
can use these to produce further marketing material as they wish.
CG discussed the prospect of advertising our service in the retired magazine – covers
11 LA’s of the 17 & proposal to provide LA’s not covered with equivalent financial
support from RHB fund. This would cost the RHB fund approx £3900 for a 2 page
editorial & advert for the scheme in 6 editions of the magazine. This was met with
mixed response & other suggestions were made, agreed not to proceed with The
Retired Magazine article. One suggestion was to allocate specific a budget to each LA
for marketing. CG requests that we defer a decision on this, as we need to give more
consideration to marketing before agreeing this to be funded by RHB funds. DD to add
A further suggestion was to place an advert / article in The Metro, but group concerned marketing to
this would be too wide reaching. next agenda
JR advised struggling with marketing for Bradford & asked for sharing of best practice re
marketing. CG suggests that a marketing strategy needs to be agreed for the scheme & DD ordered
that this is added to the agenda for the next meeting. further 200
LS advised that having issues getting DVDs returned by client and now running out. & DVD’s to
requested further supply. DD asked if more should be ordered for all LA’s? LS would distribute
like to send out DVD out with each enquiry pack & if possible would like 1000. JR across region.
advises DVD’s not given out until the officers have spoken to the client to gauge interest LA’s to email DD
& that client / work is eligible. with DVD
Group agreed to order a further 200 for region to be distributed evenly across LA’s & if numbers if they
LA’s require more, SCC will need to get a quote & charge the individual LA, as RHB require a quote
fund won’t cover these. for more copies
Work Covered by HALS
DFG cases - DD advises audit form amended for LA’s to confirm that work for DFG’s is
allowed under the LA’s policy, as HAL’s will not cover work that is not recommended by
Regional max limit for kitchens & bathrooms - CG advises that there is variation
across the region re what we allow re spend on kitchens & bathrooms. Limits in SCC
are £5k + vat for kitchens £2.5k plus vat for bathrooms.
General consensus was that this limit ok. but preference towards £3k +VAT for
bathrooms. & £5.5k +VAT for kitchens, as allowed in York. Agreed these as max limits
for kitchens & bathrooms funded by RHB monies, but LA’s could reduce if necessary for
their own area. CG confirmed that this would be the guideline to work to & quotes
outside this could be challenged by Sheffield for justification from L.A that fits within their
CG confirms white goods not allowable within the quote. However, if quote not broken
down to individual works SCC will not question what works are involved within this.
Catergory 1 hazards funded by HAL’s - DF asked re question as to how far we go
with works. Are we just concerned under the HHRS rating system re cat 1s or are we
also looking for investments works in the property, which fall into the Cat 2 bracket. The
general consensus on this was it will depend on each LA’s individual assistance policy
but clearly we would not be expecting a ‘patch & mend’.
Overcrowded properties - DF asked the position re overcrowding i.e. how far do we
go. Can we provide such things as loft conversions, extensions etc? The general
consensus on this was it will depend on each LA’s individual assistance policy. There
was general agreement however that extensions would not be allowed. Leeds &
Bradford would only address internal re-arrangments & not roof space conversions – Loans team to
this was agreed to general thoughts of the group. set some
Timescales for applications from sanctioning to drawdown - DD asked about the suggested
issue re how long loans are taking due to lack of response, commitment from client with timescales for
such issues as obtaining quotes, responding to letters and documentation etc. The DVD discussion at
does say clients can take as long as they like, however, some clients are taking this next meeting
literally! The team have experienced long delays on certain cases & are now
considering applying timescales / deadlines. DD advises that the current length of time
an offer letter is valid for is 12 months. DD asked if we should reduce this to 3 months.
CG agreed that we would put together some suggested timescales & bring these to the DD emailed
next meeting. 26.1.07 to all
Training and interview assessments managers &
DD advises that loans team are to circulate a document that will help caseworkers to HAL update
prepare for an interviews &know the assessment process. DD to distributed to loans distribution list
group & advised would also clearly outline the training caseworkers must undertake to
be able to interview HAL’s & RAL’s.
Health and Safety issues
Deferred until next meeting
Development and Evaluation
Ring fenced funds contracts
DD advises that there is now a draft contract for ring-fenced funds, which should be DD emailed
ready for circulation by the 31.1.07, along with the fees schedule. DD LA’s will be given 1.2.07 for LA’s
a month for comments to be made by their legal teams & return them to DD, so she can to return
collate them for SCC’s legal team to take into consideration. SCC are looking for one comments by
consistent contract for all ring-fenced schemes, taking into account other LA’s 28.2.07
comments/views. It is hoped that all necessary handbooks for the contracts will be
completed by 28.2.07 for circulating to the appropriate LA’s for comments. SCC are
hoping that ring-fenced contracts will be in place for Bradford, Barnsley RAL’s,
Calderdale & Doncaster by 31.3.07. They can then start work on other ring-fenced
contracts from 8.5.07.
CG advises that legal charge to be in SCCs name unless advised in writing/by email LA’s to advised
otherwise by the LA. If required this can be done. SCC is already going through this DD prior to
process with Calderdale – but SCC need to know before they begin development work development
for LA, or a development fee will be charged to LA’s if they have to repeat work work being done
CG advises that the agreed 15 cases that we would allow per authority can be extended whose name
before contracts sorted but we would need notice of this & LA’s to discuss with DD as legal charge to
necessary. be in.
Update from the expert group
CG advises 2 people now appointed – Steve Unstead is an IFA & has been asked to
look at levering in private finance & Susan Taylor to work on a regional cooperation
between GOYH< GONE & GONW. The first focus is on the West Midlands Kick Start
scheme, which will begin in March this year.
CG working on regional performance indicators, alongside Birmingham & ABRA, with a CG to update at
view to these being national PI’s. next meeting
CG stressed if Private Finance to be attracted a high quality of loan scheme must be in
place & we must have a consistent approach in place – we may have to reconsider
some of the loan features such as cap’s, passing properties on etc. CG will feedback
any positive progress at next meeting
DD confirmed that a new HAL handbook will hopefully be sent out by end of February.
DD advised that we have had our first request for a redemption figure to repay a loan, it
has only been in place 6 months! Client’s circumstances have changed & they are re-
mortgaging – the scheme has made £312 on the loan, as the cap has been used to
calculate the redemption figure, as value of property has risen significantly.
WA asked if RHB could ask for the redeemed loans to be repaid to them? D France
advised no, as redeemed loan funds go back into the revolving loan fund to be lent
Date of next meeting Thursday 19 April-Harrogate – venue TBC
Future meetings – Thursday 12 July Calderdale – venue TBC,
Thursday 11 October, Cannon Hall, Barnsley.