Venue: Guildhall, High Street, Exeter
Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer Telephone 01392 265107 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies for Absence
Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Atkinson, Ellis-Jones, Hannaford, Holland, Ketchin, Leadbetter, Lights and Rees.
To consider the report of the Director City Development.
The Leader reported that the Extraordinary Meeting of Council had been called to enable a submission to be made to the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) by the closing date of 14 August, for an additional £250 million available to Local Authorities for a second round of the Local Authority Housing Fund for the financial year 2023-24. It was intended that the additional funding would be used to purchase housing for those households who have come to the UK from Afghanistan through the Afghan Resettlement Scheme. The additional funding comprised two elements; the Resettlement element and the Temporary Accommodation (TA) element. Exeter City Council had provisionally been identified as eligible for £670,000 capital grant funding to purchase a minimum of five homes, with a minimum of four homes for the resettlement element and a minimum of one home for the TA element.
The homes would be used to relieve some of the pressure in move-on from the bridging hotels (Afghan refugees) and the TA element would be used as temporary accommodation for homeless households in Exeter. Once these resettlement needs had been met, the longer term use of the houses would be for determination by the Council for other housing needs and homelessness relief.
As with other affordable housing provision, there was an expectation that the Council would part fund/finance some of the required capital. In order to secure this capital grant funding, it was estimated that the Council would need to contribute £807,500 which would be available from Section 106 funding. Full details of the purpose of the funding, terms and reporting and monitoring arrangements were set out in the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities and Exeter City Council were attached to the report.
Members supported the proposals and made the following comments:-
· the decision to support the funding application was entirely appropriate and the recommendations should be supported in view of the experiences faced by those who have been displaced, be it by war, persecution, atrocity or invasion, and that in making a reasoned judgement for those residents that the Council represent that the decision to support the funding application was appropriate.
· the city has welcomed and offered support to refugees and those individuals and families under the Afghanistan Resettlement Scheme. The Member acknowledged those people had put their lives at risk in supporting the British Forces in Afghanistan, and it was important to support these families who were now at risk of becoming homeless due to the loss of their temporary hotel accommodation.
· the scheme will provide much needed safe and secure homes for those refugees who have experienced great trauma.
The Portfolio Holder for Council Housing Development and Support Services supported the application and responded to a Member’s comment confirming that the accommodation would be offered with a standard tenancy agreement that would ensure equality with other tenants in the area. She agreed with the Member that she hoped that those moving from bridging hotel ... view the full minutes text for item 14.
Details of questions should be notified to the Democratic Services Manager at least three working days prior to the meeting - by 10am on Thursday 3 August 2023. Further information and a copy of the procedure are available from Democratic Services (Committees) (Tel: 01392 265115) with details about speaking at Council to be found here: Public Speaking at Meetings.
It was noted that no public questions had been received.
Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order No. 8
Details of questions should be notified to the Democratic Services Manager by no later than 10am on Monday 7 August 2023.
In accordance with Standing Order No. 8, the following questions were put by Councillor Moore to the Leader
1. In its draft report to the Devon County Council Cabinet proposing £1,454,478.48 cuts to its Homeless Prevention budget only the following risk is especially highlighted “that the multi-occupancy hostels may close because of insufficient staffing levels.”
If this Devon County cut is implemented as proposed, what assessment of capacity and risk has the City Council made for this financial year and the medium term financial plan?
a) of potential closure or impact on third sector services serving Exeter?
b) the City Council’s own ability to deliver services to meet its statutory duties to prevent and relieve homelessness?; and
c) the financial implications on this City Council service in general, and the budget for temporary accommodation, in particular?
The Leader requested the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention to respond to the questions.
a) Negotiations over the future funding with the Council’s partners, including Devon County Council have continued since February and have largely been very positive. The Exeter Homelessness Forum had taken on the mantle of the former Exeter Homelessness Partnership which now brought together statutory partners in the city to tackle the issues of housing need together. It has been suggested that an additional £1.45 million, as direct cost to Exeter City Council would be required for rehousing people in hostels, which mirrored the sum required for the whole of the Devon County Council contract. There would be similar costs associated with such provision by other local District Authorities. He added that, with the increasing dialogue, he was able to report that Devon County Council had just confirmed that an announcement was imminent regarding the continuation of funding until the end of this financial year. The Director City Development and the Service Lead Housing Needs and Homelessness and his team had been working to come up with alternatives before the Autumn and would be relieved that there was some respite in the deadline.
b) the City Council’s ability to deliver under the Homelessness Prevention Act would not change, and if all negotiations should fail and despite the increased cost of delivery to the Council, there was still a duty to deliver.
Councillor Moore thanked the Portfolio Holder for the reply and sought a response for information on the last part of her question and the financial impact on this City Council service.
The Portfolio Holder would provide a written response.
Councillor Moore asked a supplementary question on future funding and whether support for the agencies who remain as providers of exempt accommodation would be able to bill their housing benefit directly through the Government and not the Council, and also if there was any discussion with other District Councils on this matter.
The Portfolio Holder also responded to the supplementary question on exempt accommodation and advised there was no change in this financial year and that further negotiations would take place, but that the City Council was reliant ... view the full minutes text for item 16.