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LONDON COUNCILS HOUSING DIRECTORS

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					   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).

				
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