MINUTES OF MEETING OF LONDON COUNCILS HOUSING DIRECTORS ON FRIDAY 28 SEPTEMBER 2007 AT 9.3O AM LONDON COUNCILS, 59½ SOUTHWARK STREET PRESENT Barking and Dagenham Keith Broxup Barnet Nigel Hamilton Bexley Maureen Holkham Brent Martin Cheeseman Bromley David Gibson Camden - Croydon Mike Davis Ealing Apologies Enfield Ann Pennell Greenwich Mark Baigent Hackney Peter O‟Kane Hammersmith & Fulham James Reilly Haringey Apologies Harrow Gwyneth Allen Havering - Hillingdon Neil Stubbings Hounslow Apologies Islington Sean McLaughlin Islington Gwen Ovshinsky Kensington and Chelsea Apologies Kingston upon Thames Mike England Lambeth Lewisham Dave Baptiste Merton Simon Williams Newham Jackie Belton Redbridge - Richmond Brian Castle Southwark Rachel Sharpe Sutton Simon Latham Tower Hamlets Apologies Waltham Forest Colin Moone Wandsworth Brian Reilly Westminster Rosemary Westbrook City of London Jim Barber London Councils Officers Present Genevieve Macklin Director of Housing Policy Nick Day Head of Housing Strategy & Sub Regions Nigel Minto Head of Housing Services & Equalities Nilam Taheem Policy/Committee Support Officer Ieuan ap Rees Head of Capital Moves Kirsten Firth Head of Affordable Housing & Investment Apologies were received from:- Jo Rowlands (Ealing), Rupert Brandon (Haringey), Sue Witherspoon (Hounslow), Sue Daniels (Kensington & Chelsea) and Maureen McEleney (Tower Hamlets). MINUTES OF LONDON COUNCILS HOUSING DIRECTORS’ MEETING ON 6 JULY Minutes of Housing Directors were agreed. 1. NEW HOMES AGENCY Genevieve Macklin updated Directors on the New Homes Agency. The report sets out the key issues raised by London Councils in its response to the Communities and Local Government consultation paper, „Delivering Housing and Regeneration; Communities England and the future of social housing regulation‟. The consultation ended on the 10 September 2007. Directors were asked to note and consider the recommendations in the report and asked to comment on how the New Homes Agency and potential future regulations can work effectively with boroughs. English Partnerships have not been in contact with boroughs but are engaging at a political level. On the other hand the Housing Corporation‟s working relations with boroughs has been good but could engage more externally at a political level. Both organisations need to be engaged at both political and officer level. Rona Nicholson (HC) and Charlie Parker (EP) attended the Housing Forum Meeting on 5 September on how the agency would work. The presentation at the Housing Forum meeting focussed more on the National Affordable Housing Programme. Finally, all boroughs will have seen the GLA‟s response and recommendations that the New Homes Agency should be a functional body of the Mayor. Directors noted the recommendations in the report. 2. CAPITAL MOVES Ieuan ap Rees updated Directors on the progress of Phase 2 of Capital Moves, the pan-London choice based lettings and mobility scheme. The key policy issues and governance framework need to be agreed by 14 November for the project to move ahead to the next stages. Directors were asked to note and comment on the recommendations in the report. Directors were also asked to affirm their boroughs support for Capital Moves and comment on the key policy proposals that need decisions from the Programme Board. Directors were also encouraged to take up the offer a visit from Ieaun ap Rees, Head of Capital Moves and Genevieve Macklin, Director of Housing Policy to discuss more detailed issues with them and their lead member, and answer any queries. Directors were invited to suggest ways in which London Councils can work with them and their members to build understanding and support for the scheme. The following issues were raised:- Colin Moone (Waltham Forrest) commented that he was aware of the issues around procurement on the IT system because of the previous systems that were in place in sub regions. He asked if existing sub regional schemes would be protected. David Gibson (Bromley) asked for clarification on 5% stock input for wheelchair users and felt it should be profiled on voids rather than the overall stock. He also commented that he felt more funds would be needed in order to progress with this project. Keith Broxup (Barking & Dagenham) was concerned that there could be an impact on the overall void turnaround, times Mike England (Kingston) felt some boroughs would lose out despite the equalisation of re-lets and asked if there was any guarantee that this would not happen. Simon Latham (Sutton) commented that his borough could not sign up currently due to some of the key issues not being resolved. He also queried on the £5,500 Capital Moves estimated borough contribution figure. There was an assumption that the funding requested from boroughs would not increase. Rachel Sharpe (Southwark) asked how special lettings and RSL nominations will be dealt with. She felt timing, void turnaround and costs could be a burden on boroughs. Nigel Hamilton (Barnet) asked if councillors had sub regional support on borough led projects. Boroughs are responsible for deciding what the priority is in their borough. He also commented that some boroughs were not happy for Capital Moves to extract all their voids and give back 95%. One system is not necessarily the best way to go about these issues. David Gibson (Bromley) raised concerns that there were a range of issues to be addressed. He also asked if boroughs that do not own and manage their own stock would RSLs fund the “participation” costs of Capital Moves. Ieaun ap Rees responded by saying London Councils is working through a range of more detailed operational issues which were dependant on a range of decisions yet to be taken. o Procurement - The existing systems will not be replaced. The proposals are to work between the existing systems and Capital Moves. o Finance – A formula is being looked at for calculating future costs. No firm decisions had been taken and London Councils still need to look at how the cost is going to be shared between boroughs and RSLs. o Properties – Current participation in Capital Moves is predicated on a 5% relet input from boroughs and 5% relets from RSLs. o Wheelchair and specialised lettings – In terms of equalities and the Accessible Housing Register launch, there was a need to agree on principles and the outputs and approaches. James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) said Mayor‟s 25% target will make sign up more difficult. Will not be surprised if the Mayor climbs down to 15% and commented this is a sad reflection on the relationship between the Mayor and London boroughs. It is difficult to argue against 25% without facing the accusation London boroughs are against mobility, He noted Capital Moves was suppose to facilitate moves to developments in Growth Areas/East London. There is no reference to how this will be weighted between boroughs. Rosemary Westbrook (Westminster) said there is a need to go back to principles. We could have a lighter touch and ask the market for solutions for delivering Capital Moves. Peter O‟Kane (Hackney) commented that the need for Capital Moves was recognised but there were still some important concerns and implications of the Mayor‟s ambitions. Who will pick up the extra costs? The timetable was very tight. If London Councils would like all boroughs to sign up to the tender process before March 2008 then the timescale needs to be looked at. Mike England (Kingston) commented about what legal and practical mechanism the Mayor may have to impose this and do we need to look at them. Martin Cheeseman (Brent) commented on the Mayor‟s consultation and said there were concerns regarding cost, voids and felt boroughs may lose out. Colin Moone (Waltham Forest) asked if these issues had been discussed with borough members/politicians and commented that he would like to feed back on the outcome of Leader‟s Committee. Boroughs were asked what their current position was on Capital Moves. Borough Yes No Issues/caveats Barking & Dagenham х Unlikely with MHS/decants Barnet Policy issues mark this doubtful Bexley Not yet Brent MHS – could push this to “no” Bromley Possibly – cost issues Camden Croydon Probably Ealing Not yet – as long as issues resolved Enfield х Not yet – technical/financial issues, uncertainty Greenwich Probably Hackney Probably Hammersmith & Fulham х Not yet - technical offer, new-build weighting Haringey Harrow х IT and financial issues Havering Hillingdon Probably MHS makes it difficult Hounslow Islington Not yet – technical solution Kensington & Chelsea Kingston Upon Thames Probably, but some issues Lambeth Lewisham Probably Merton х Not yet - - list of caveats Newham Uncertain- decants Redbridge Richmond Upon Thames Decants, borough losing out etc Southwark х Not yet Sutton Possibly – IT, decants, wheelchair etc Tower Hamlets Policy issues Waltham Forest Wandsworth х Unlikely – decants, 5% issue Westminster х Not yet Corporation of London Cost issues 3. DRAFT MAYOR’S HOUSING STRATEGY Genevieve Macklin updated Directors on the draft Mayor‟s Housing Strategy which was launched on 18 September 2007 and London Councils‟ response. The draft strategy contains a number of targets that will be of concern to boroughs. Directors were asked to note and comment on the recommendations in the report. Genevieve Macklin noted that London Councils was not involved in the drafting of the Mayor‟s Housing Strategy and were not consulted on targets relating to London Councils or boroughs. Copies of the strategy were not given to London Councils before the strategy was launched. There have been since a number of discussions at political and officer level on the draft Mayor‟s Housing Strategy. The GLA wanted to negotiate at political level on the issues. London Councils are setting up a cross party agreement on the issues and response. The following issues were raised:- James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) asked if the pan-London nominations protocol for new housing supply had been seen by all boroughs. Genevieve Macklin responded that it had gone to all boroughs and also seen at sub regional level. It needs to go to the RSL sector and GLA and will then go back to the Capital Moves Programme Board. James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) asked about the 25% figure in the draft pan London Nominations Protocol and asked who set the figure? GLA are aware of the host borough premium issues and how important this is to councils. It is going to be extremely difficult to avoid a political battle. Jackie Belton (Newham) raised the issue of delivery of new affordable housing being undermined. What evidence is there that 25% of people want to move to another borough/area. Peter O‟Kane (Hackney) commented that the figures in the Mayor‟s Housing Strategy were unexpected. CLG are aware that if there are no Host Borough Premiums there will be serious issues affecting delivery. There is a need to push for the pan London nominations agreement as a sensible option. Regional nominations need to be agreed at a political level. Simon Latham (Sutton) reminded directors of the meeting about the Greater London Mobility Scheme – this had not worked well. Simon Williams (Merton) commented that we need to have an assertive approach and fight against targets being dictated by the Mayor that do not complement local housing strategies. Mark Baigent (Greenwich) commented that Greenwich had been working on the draft pan-London nominations protocol for 2 years to develop a practical approach, but the Mayor‟s draft strategy could make it difficult to take this forward. Boroughs need to avoid falling into disarray on these issues. Colin Moone (Waltham Forest) commented that he felt that there was consensus in his sub regions. Brian Reilly (Wandsworth) commented that his borough could not go ahead until these issues are resolved. Wandsworth were concerned about Mayor‟s choice of words. It suggests not only all new supply, but any voids arising when it becomes vacant are to go into Capital Moves. Nigel Hamilton (Barnet) commented that there was a real danger of the Mayor imposing his 25% target on boroughs, and boroughs disengaging from Capital Moves. He noted there is much „soft focus‟ on the importance of the local. Boroughs should choose ground carefully. London could have a regional homeless duty. David Gibson (Bromley) commented about the 25% and whether this will apply to local authority funded homes. Rachel Sharpe (Southwark) commented that there needs to be a distinction between London Councils supporting mobility and reluctance to support forced mobility at a higher level. Genevieve Macklin commented that it had been 2 years since the Capital Moves had been initiated and now needed clarity. There was a need for a decision on whether boroughs support the scheme or not. The Mayor may implement and force this agenda on boroughs if given extra powers. There are other areas that the Mayor may get control over and push for. James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) commented that the Minister needs to understand the local political position ie homes for local people. Mike Davis (Croydon) summarised the key issues o Most boroughs support Choice and Mobility for tenants o Need to use a rigid line and go back to the Mayor o A range of technical detailed issues that are outstanding need to be reduced Rona Nicholson; National Affordable Housing Programme presentation Rona Nicholson (Housing Corporation) attended the Directors meeting to give a presentation on the National Affordable Housing Programme. The following issues were raised:- Mark Baigent (Greenwich) welcomed the pilot schemes and commented on the pooling of investment streams and observed that the only option for sheltered housing was to transfer to a housing association. There should be more options/level playing field. Rona Nicholson responded that local authorities may need to think about creating new models to capture their assets. She felt the playing field is more level. Peter O‟Kane (Hackney) asked what impact there would be on the level of new supply and incentives for boroughs with no Host Borough Premium. Rona Nicholson commented that sub regional nominations agreements were in place and clear. Peter O‟Kane felt the political reality about incentives for new supply needed to be recognised. Simon Latham (Sutton) asked about Models of Asset Investment within private units and how far boroughs should explore this issue. Rona Nicholson commented that discussions on local housing companies was at an early stage and did not have any definitive solution but was happy to explore on this issue and would welcome the idea of visiting borough housing directors and members. David Gibson (Bromley) commented that the increase to 42% larger units needs to be gradual. In some sites this may not be appropriate, or they may have been supported on the basis of 35%. Rona Nicholson commented that schemes with planning permission and in the system should be known about. Mark Baigent (Greenwich) commented that there needs to be joint ventures which influence the market sale aspect of schemes. SE sub region have buy-to-let issues. Is there an option where Housing Corporation and English Partnerships can safe guard areas of market housing? Rona Nicholson said this was an issue for investment partners on how funding is used within developers. This can be built into new schemes – some RSLs are already doing this. Colin Moone (Waltham Forest) asked how strategic sites were going to be approached. Rona Nicholson commented that there was a list of strategic sites in the prospectus. The Housing Corporation is speaking to investment partners on what their intentions are for these sites before they make a bid for the next 5 year period. Housing Corporation can only pre-allocate to schemes that are committed and deliverable. James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) asked about the new growth areas. Is there a mechanism for delivery in these areas? How is the Government going to encourage growth in these areas. Rona Nicholson commented that Housing Corporation are dealing with bids which come into other areas and will also be talking to the London sub regions. Communities and Local Government are looking at what appetite there is in local authorities outside London. They are not just looking at growth areas but at growth points as well. If the money is not spent in the out of London areas then this money will revert back to London. She will try to find out more. James Reilly (Hammersmith & Fulham) asked if Housing Corporation‟s definition of strategic sites was bigger than the Mayors 150 units. Mike Davis (Croydon) commented on the importance of maintaining operational links, between the Housing Corporation and boroughs. Rona Nicholson commented that this was a valuable aspect, something they did not want to loose. Mike Davis (Croydon) commented about his concerns on the constant drive for efficiency and lack of recycling efficiency gains back to boroughs. Rona Nicholson (HC) commented that the new agency will build on existing ways of working. There was not enough time to discuss the remaining agenda items. Genevieve Macklin asked Directors to forward comments by e-mail. INFORMATION ITEMS Directors noted the following information items. 10. Commonhold and Leasehold Reform Act 2002 11. Clarifying the Right to Buy Rules 12. Temporary accommodation and the 2010 target 13. Tenant Empowerment consultation 14. Gypsy and Traveller Accommodation Assessment (GTAA) 15. MEETING DATES FOR 2007 Directors noted dates for 2007/2008 16. ANY OTHER BUSINESS A decision was made at the Directors meeting to have another meeting on the 25 October. This would replace the Housing Directors‟ Steering Group Meeting. Action Nilam Taheem to email all directors. 17. DATE OF NEXT MEETING 25 October 2007 in Room 4. (The Housing Directors Steering Group that was previously set for this date has now been cancelled and replaced with a full directors meeting).