To consider a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources, copy attached as item 8
Before the Committee was a report by the Director for Digital, Sustainability and Resources. A copy of which had been circulated to all members, a copy of which is attached to signed copy of these minutes as item 8. The report before Members provided the Joint Overview and Scrutiny Committee (JOSC) with an overview of progress on the delivery of the commitments set out in ‘Platforms for our Places: Going Further over the period January to June 2021.
A Member asked the following question: Re Paragraph 7.14 in the Appendix - What has the uptake of the 'Opening Doors' scheme been and what impact has it had on the waiting list for housing? Members were told that Opening Doors now had 66 properties in its portfolio, 22 Adur and 44 Worthing, in addition 21 units were soon to be delivered in Opening Doors first scheme with a small -scale developer plus an additional 3 in the pipeline with individual private landlords. Opening Doors was helping to transform the Councils’ ability to help families most in need by making homes available in the private sector for homeless families which would ordinarily be ‘out of reach’ for them as landlords consider those homeless and/or on benefits too high risk to rent to. Opening Doors built landlord confidence. Whilst the Opening Doors Scheme did not directly take residents off the social housing waiting list, it reduced the number of households on the list who would have become homeless and still be in temporary accommodation because they had not yet been successful bidding for social housing.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 22 - Paragraph 7.13 of the appendix - How many of these 1,400 homes are socially rented? The Pathways to Affordable Homes strategy aimed to deliver a combined total of 1,400 affordable homes by 2025, a minimum of 250 of which woould be directly commissioned by the Council. These would include a range of tenures - affordable/social rented, shared ownership and ownership under the new First Homes Scheme. It was not currently possible to provide a definite figure on how many of these will be let as social rent as the Councils would not be delivering all of those units and a number of sites were yet to be approved at planning. A number of schemes being self-delivered in Adur as part of the target would be social rented homes. These included 15 units in Cecil Norris that have recently been completed and allocated to households on the Adur Council’s housing register, 32 units at Albion Street and a further c.50 homes at the Ashcroft Sheltered housing site.
A Member asked the following question: In terms of Paragraph 6.6 of the appendix report, you note our communities are fragile and exhausted from the pandemic. To what degree have we sought to evaluate this pandemic impact on our different communities and what is the strategic plan to intervene on this data? Members were told that the Councils had been gathering data throughout the pandemic regarding reach into communities and the help that had been provided. More recently the Councils had been doing work around the Proactive Project (reported to JSC in July) to help understand the impact on finance and debt and assist in targeting resources. The Authorities were currently reviewing the data in terms of the impact of Covid on different groups as part of the Autumn Recovery plans. This would be built into work on the Health and Wellbeing Delivery Plan.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 16 - Paragraph 5.2 of the report appendix - Regarding resilience and staff having what they need to do their job, removing constraints - could you give one example of where something you have implemented is working well, and one example of something that needs to change that you are working on? Members were told that a significant outcome from the pandemic had been the ability of Councils to work differently and that the Councils were keen to avoid going back to an ‘old normal’ that no longer served Communities. During this time the councils had been able to reflect on the best way the authorities could work together in helping those most in need. Members were given examples of how this was achieved and were told that through this work staff were actively collaborating together to address operational issues and constraints, increasing service resilience and enabling our services to deliver our priorities and respond to community needs.
A Member asked the following question: Re Paragraph 7.30 in the Appendix - How will the success of 'Time for Worthing' be measured over the coming months? The Committee was told that Time for Worthing was supported by the Councils but had an established Management Group made up of business, community and third sector organisations. The work of the group spanned establishing inward investment propositions and providing a window for visitors to feel inspired to visit. The group worked on a number of key performance indicators (KPI) which included number of digital impressions (i.e. website and social media), number of investment / business enquiries and impact of extended marketing reach (which includes number of organisations carrying the brand). Those KPI’s were monitored and reviewed on a regular basis.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 22 - Paragraph 7.14 of the appendix - Opening Doors - how many properties and landlords are registered with the scheme, what are the targets for success and how will the council secure enough registered landlords to make this an effective scheme? Members were told that Opening Doors had 66 properties with 39 landlords in its portfolio, 22 Adur and 44 Worthing, in addition 21 units were soon to be delivered in Opening Doors first scheme with a small scale developer plus an additional three in the pipeline with individual private landlords. Members were told that as well as working with landlords who have one or two properties to rent, the Council was identifying and encouraging landlords with bigger property portfolios and to join the scheme. Members were told that in addition to communications the providing a good service was a critical element of encouraging and retaining landlords. The Opening Doors Scheme was already an effective scheme. The aim of the scheme was to enable households at risk of homelessness access the private rented sector and give private sector landlords the confidence to offer tenancies to households they would not normally consider. 66 households were currently not in temporary accommodation because they had been able to rent privately. To date, 14 households on the scheme had been successfully ‘floated off’. That meant that their landlords had offered them a tenancy without the need for the Councils’ involvement.
A Member asked the following question: Paragraph 7.10 of the appendix report mentions the Thrive Agenda, Building resilience and there is the broader backdrop of asset based development. Can you explain how all these concepts hang together to produce a coherent operational approach? Members were told that ‘Thrive’ was a platform under current strategies and it was about meaning to have enough so that that people could relax and think about what they wanted to do rather than manage scarcity. Resilience was about coping and leaning into the unexpected and having capacity not just to react but to adapt and have some autonomy and control. Asset based development was how the Authorities did this, to achieve thriving communities to help build resilience required a different mindset and approach of working with what is strong and not what is wrong / missing in communities .
A Member asked the following question: Regarding the Southwick Estate - please could you outline how Adur Homes will fulfil their obligations to the tenants regarding carrying out essential repairs during the period of consultation and up until decant? The Committee was given an update on progress with repairs and planning for future planning.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 23 - Paragraph 7.15 of the appendix - A) How accessible are social prescriptions to the public? B) As part of the agreement secured by Adur Council and SDL. Why were opportunities for those on low incomes to access leisure facilities neglected and how will the council ensure the families on low incomes can access these opportunities for leisure and exercise to promote their wellbeing? Members were told that the Local Social Prescribing Service was available to anyone registered at a GP surgery in Adur & Worthing. GP’s and primary health care staff could refer people into the service, but residents of Adur & Worthing could also self-refer for Social Prescribing by using an online referral form or calling the associated number. The Social Prescribing team were able to support people over the phone, out in the community or could arrange to see people in their homes if they were not able to get out. The Adur and Worthing Wellbeing Programme, funded through the grant from Public Health West Sussex, had been developed to increase ease of access to prevention and lifestyle services, particularly for those with little previous health service contact. Enablement through this programme for residents to access leisure facilities includes our Get Active programme which included passes to take part in taster sessions, as well as other community based activities. SDL had recently reintroduced an exercise on referral programme and consideration is being made as to whether the wellbeing programme can support reduced cost places for people on a low income who want to access the course. Members were also told of the ‘Get outdoors’ scheme that encouraged outdoor exercise.
A Member asked the following question: How much has ‘Time for Worthing’ cost, what does the evaluation of it suggest has been the added value to the town and how does it link to ‘Summer in Worthing?’ Members were told that this was currently resourced as 1.5 full time members of staff with an operating budget of £40k. Marketing and promoting place was important. The authorities were seeing early successes coming through Time for Worthing, including new campaigns, extended reach into the South East, new business enquiries, whilst also maintaining important assets including the completion of a full overhaul of the website and the new Visitor Guide. New partnerships have also been built and detailed work around inward investment value propositions is underway. The KPI’s would be the measure for future success, however the brand was fast becoming established as the outward facing brand for Worthing.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 23 - Paragraph 7.16 of the report appendix refers to ‘Money Mentors’ - what is the scope and reach of this service, how are people who might benefit from it identified, and what is the commitment to keeping it / building on it going forward? Members were told that the programme’s criteria was to support residents who are struggling with self help services and who need additional support. There was strong commitment to the programme. There was funding for the project and external funding options were being sought for after this period.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 35 - What work has been done on internet poverty to ensure everyone can afford an internet connection. Gigabit Fibre programme is an excellent service but some people are unable to afford basic services? Members were told that rates available were good value for Money however it was recognised that not all households would be able to afford the service. The Authorities were ordering fibre connections to its civic spaces to make broadband widely available.
A Member asked to following question: Agenda Page 37 - Audioactive moving to Montague Street to offer young people employment skills relevant to the music industry is an excellent programme. When will Lancing see a similar levelling up opportunity? Members were told about Fabric Lancing which would focus on Good Work and would provide a space in Lancing for communities and businesses to collaborate, connect and share ideas. This would provide a space for local groups to support and enable our communities around Good Work, including youth employment. Also to note there is also a Youth Employment Hub in place that also benefits Adur, situated in Worthing.
A Member asked the following question: Agenda Page 40 - The supporting and enabling our food system by using £100k from the COMF grant to fund a community kitchen and pop up kitchens - has this money got a life span? What are the plans since the working plans for the community kitchen have not materialised? How successful/where have the pop up kitchens been? Members were told that the COMF grant must be spent by March 2022; this was a stipulation of the grant. The funding identified for the Community Kitchen and pop up kitchens (£95,000) was being redirected, following further engagement with groups, to support and enable the food projects to increase their storage capacity through the purchase and siting of Porta Cabins and / or storage containers and by purchasing food supplies to help the projects meet an increase in demand.
A Member asked the following question: P13 What lessons have the Councils learned from the period and what opportunities had this given the Council? Members were told that the Councils were still learning lessons and it was an ongoing process with the Autumn recovery work. There period had given the Authorities confidence with working with communities and the internal deployment of staff. The experience had provided an opportunity to look at the effectiveness of multi-disciplinary teams.