Diary of a Sutton Councillor

Thursday 6th January 2011 6.30pm

Housing Advisory Group

The group considered the latest draft of the Housing Strategy 2011/12 and beyond which had been updated for the latest government announcements on housing policy. I highlighted that one of the strategic aims was to promote excellent housing management standards across all tenures and this led to a discussion around the authority’s relationship with other registered social providers (the Housing Associations). With the announced social housing reform proposals there was a greater need to work more closely with the housing associations but this was not always easy to achieve, especially with the larger bodies whose housing provision spanned across a number of local authority areas.

The next item focused specifically on the housing reform proposals covered in the coalition government’s paper Local decisions: a fairer future for social housing. The group was advised that the paper included a number of changes, some of which still had to be fleshed out by further detailed papers. In particular the paper offered local authorities more flexibility around the type of tenancies it could offer, rights of succession, management of its housing list and discharging its homelessness duty. I highlighted that in these areas we will need to make decisions on whether we want to take up the flexibilities offered, and to what extent. It would be necessary to formulate our own policy to reflect a Sutton approach. There would need to be a lot of discussion around this involving our tenants and prospective tenants, and care must be taken to reflect on the possible repercussions of each policy change. We were advised that we had about a year to devise our strategy and it was agreed to schedule this work into the Housing Advisory Group (HAG) programme.

A draft response to the consultation from Sutton had been prepared and circulated. This was discussed and some amendments made. I had also received the proposed response from the Sutton Federation of Tenants & Residents Association (SFTRA) although it had yet to be circulated to other HAG members. As the chair of SFTRA was in attendance I invited him to highlight the main points of their response. Mr Berry stated that their main concern was the lack of funding being provided for investment in improving the housing stock. The uncertainty over the decent homes funding previously promised and the years of Sutton being in a negative subsidy position: paying a large proportion of their rents into a central housing pot to fund other borough’s improvement works and never getting anything back, has made them feel angry and cheated. Mr Berry describes it as tenants being taxed twice. Simon Latham advised that work was ongoing on our bid for residual decent homes funding under the revised allocation.

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January 9, 2011 - Posted by | Committee Meeting

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