To consider an update report from the Chief Officer for Housing on the response of Housing Leeds’ to the COVID-19 pandemic and the progress of remobilisation following the last update on 18 June 2020.
Further to the minutes of the meeting held Thursday 18th June regarding the city’s response to coronavirus, the report of the Chief Officer Housing provides Members with an update on Housing Leeds’ response to the COVID-19 pandemic and remobilisation.
The following were in attendance for this item:
o Neil Evans, Director Resources and Housing
o Adam Crampton, Head of Property Management
o Gerard Tinsdale, Head of Housing (Resources and Housing)
o John Gittos, Chair Tenants’ Scrutiny Board
The Head of Housing introduced the report, and highlighted the following key points:
· Following the UK Government introducing restrictions on 23rd March 2020, Housing Leeds responded quickly to ensure measures were put in place to safeguard residents, employees and partners, whilst maintaining an essential service delivery;
· Responsive Repairs – 47, 982 repairs had been carried out since 23rd March 2020, with 2,768 being completed weekly;
· Work has been ongoing to complete the backlog of ‘non-essential’ repairs with the number standing at 18,852. It was expected this would be back to pre-covid levels following the return of Annual Home Visits;
· Gas Compliance 99.32% with 228 properties overdue;
· 6,000 compliance inspections had been completed since 23rd March 2020;
· Investment Programme – there are currently 20 projects actively delivering improvements projects to resident’s homes and across the wider HRA estate;
· Rent Collection – during April arrears increased by £590k and the first four weeks of lockdown saw a spike of 1498 Universal Credit Claims. Next steps include serving notices and pre-court activity in accordance with national guidance;
· Housing teams continued throughout lockdown to carry out essential tenancy management activity remotely;
· Leeds Housing Options continued to support vulnerable homelessness customers with emergency accommodation, via hotels which peaked at over 230 units during the pandemic. It was confirmed that 60 hotels rooms are still being occupied and bids have been submitted to the government to help rough sleeping and homelessness;
· Private Rented Sector Regulation – 2,800 outstanding selective licensing fees to be paid;
· Housing Leeds have been working closely with colleagues in Public Health to support and plan for further outbreaks.
In responding to Members’ comments, the following had been confirmed:
· Issues in relation to food distribution debts were dealt with by another directorate. However, it was confirmed that tenants would receive help with their debts in relation to an affordable payment method, whilst still being able to remain in their home.
· Void properties are aimed to be let within 28 days. The waiting list has approximately 26 thousand people and of that 25% of those are considered an urgent housing need.
The Chair of Tenants’ Scrutiny Board provided a brief update to Members in relation to a new inquiry being undertaken by the Tenants’ Scrutiny Board regarding tenant engagement. Members were informed the review included:
· Wider tenant engagement insight and how the service engaged in using the feedback;
· The design, policy and decision making of tenant engagement;
· Housing Advisory Panels – Reviewing service support with wider communities;
· Strategic Tenant Influence – tenant engagement with the view of the White Paper the government will be producing by the end of the year.
The Executive Member for Communities thanked the Board for their support and assistance for the housing teams across all wards during a challenging time. Officers were also thanked in responding to issues and providing support to tenants.
RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report.