|Current works on BHP properties on Pilgrims Way Estate. Wembley (roof, windows, boiler) this morning|
There were two main items on the agenda: a performance report from Brent Housing Properties (BHP), Brent Council's 'arms length' council housing provider, and the Committee's plans for future work.
Dan Filson opened with a couple of rebukes concerning an inadequately anonymised case study in the BHP report and bureaucratic language that seemed to ignore the actual people who were BHP tenants and leaseholders. Today the report has been removed from the Council website.
Recent government proposals formed the backdrop to many of the concerns and a stumbling block was that social housing providers had yet to receive any detail on how some of the proposals would be implemented.
The budget proposal for a 1% annual social housing rent reduction over a four year period starting in 2016 LINK was a concern because it would amount to a reduction in rent receipts of £10m by the end of the period. For comparison the BHP's repairs expenditure is about £2m per year. it would also affect the income of housing associations ansd their ability to build new homes adding to the problems caused by the right to buy proposals.
There was a range of potential impacts from benefit changes as well as the proposal that high value properties should be sold off. Lead member for Regeneration, Cllr Margaret McLennan suggested that the latter would affect Council proposals for building larger 4-5 bedroomed houses for the borough's high number of larger families. It was unclear exactly how the high value social homes would be identified, regionally or by borough. If the latter there were homes in particular areas of the borough that would be affected and could amount to one third of the total.
The higher rents to be imposed for tenants with a joint household income of more than £40,000 was discussed as well as the problem of the removal of benefits from young people.
The Committee were keen to assess the effectiveness of consultation and tenant involvement as well as engagement with young people. There were detailed questions on the makeup of the BHP Board and representation of tenants and leaseholders.
Dan Filson was bitingly critical of the BHP's performance in filling 'voids', getting new tenants into empty properties, remarking that in some boroughs such figures would lead to dismissals. He reminded BHP that every delay resulted in the Council paying for people in temporary bed and breakfast accommodation. The turnaround time for 'major voids' was 79.3 days against a target of 61 and for 'standard voids' 55.7 against 24.
The Committee questioned in some detail the data on complaints:
It was unfortunate that with 'job completion' the main issue there was no discussion of the performance of the BHP's contractors such as Wates for major projects and Veolia for grounds maintenance.
The BHP were given a number of requests for further information by the Committee and Dan Filson asked for a paper clearly setting out the issues for the Committee, the Council and the public.