Agenda and draft minutes

People Scrutiny Committee
Thursday 5th September 2019 5.30 pm

Venue: Rennes Room, Civic Centre, Paris Street, Exeter

Contact: Howard Bassett, Democratic Services Officer (Committees)  Telephone 01392 265107 or email

No. Item


Minutes pdf icon PDF 81 KB

To approve and sign the minutes of the meetings held on 6 and 26 June 2019.



Additional documents:


The minutes of the meetings of People Scrutiny Committee held on 6 and 26 June 2019 were taken as read, approved and signed by the Chair as correct.




Declaration of Interests

Councillors are reminded of the need to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests that relate to business on the agenda and which have not already been included in the register of interests, before any discussion takes place on the item. Unless the interest is sensitive, you must also disclose the nature of the interest. In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, you must then leave the room and must not participate in any further discussion of the item.  Councillors requiring clarification should seek the advice of the Monitoring Officer prior to the day of the meeting.



No declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests were made.




Questions from the Public under Standing Order 19

Details of questions should be notified to the Corporate Manager Democratic and Civic Support at least three working days prior to the meeting.  Further information and a copy of the procedure are available from Democratic Services (Committees) (Tel: 01392 265115) and also on the Council web site -




No questions were received from members of the public.



Questions from Members of the Council under Standing Order 20

To receive questions from Members of the Council to appropriate Portfolio Holders.



No questions were received from Members.



HRA 2019/20 Budget Monitoring Report - Quarter I pdf icon PDF 82 KB

To consider the report of the Chief Finance Officer.


Additional documents:


The Deputy Chief Finance Officer advised Members of any major differences, by management unit between the approved budget and the outturn forecast for the first three months of the financial year up to 30 June 2019 in respect of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) and the Council’s new build schemes. An outturn update in respect of the HRA Capital Programme was also incorporated in the report in order to help provide a comprehensive financial update in respect of the Housing Revenue Account.


During this period, the total budget variances indicated that there would be a net deficit of £1,453,485 in 2019/20. This represented a movement of £117,070 compared to the revised budgeted deficit of £1,336,415 for 2019/20.


The total amount of HRA capital expenditure for 2019/20 showed a total forecast spend of £22,782,365 compared to the £26,843,000 approved programme, a decrease of £4,060,635.


The Service Lead Housing Assets advised that changing the Kitchen and Bathroom re-furbishment contract from a direct reward to competitive tendering had resulted in a three month slippage and that demolition of the Laings properties would commence on conclusion of negotiations with South West Water on drainage easements. He responded to Members’ queries:-


·         the engagement process with Rennes House tenants on the renewal of the lifts would be repeated for the wider refurbishment of the blocks the design team shortly to finalise plans;

·         kitchen and bathroom re-furbishment contracts included wide-ranging Contract Conditions including workmanship and performance requirements which were monitored by the Assets Surveyors. Inspections were undertaken when concerns were raised in respect of workmanship and contractors were required to repeat work if quality and competency were unacceptable.


People Scrutiny Committee noted the report and requested Executive and Council to note and approve:-


(1)        the HRA forecast financial position for 2019/20 financial year; and


(2)        the revision of the HRA Capital Programme to reflect the reported variations as detailed in the report.





Homelessness Strategy Action Plan Update pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To consider the report of the Director.




The Service Lead Housing Needs and Homelessness presented the report providing Members with an overview of the Council’s updated action plan for the 2016-2021 Homelessness Strategy. The action plan sets out ambitious targets over the next two years, building on work already carried out over the past three years. In the last 18 months the City Council had attracted £2 million in new funds to help tackle rough sleeping and homelessness in the city.


Exeter City Council had a mandatory duty to have a current Homelessness Strategy in place (renewable within a maximum of every 5 years) with reviewable actions plans across all client groups including specific actions to tackle rough sleeping. Full consultation in preparation for a new three year Exeter Homelessness Strategy 2021-2023 would begin in Autumn 2020.


The report highlighted Council and partner targets looking to be delivered over the next two years. The action plan had identified the following areas as priorities:-


·         Section 1 - Preventing Homelessness;

·         Section 2 - Reducing youth homelessness in Exeter;

·         Section 3 - Reducing Rough Sleeping in Exeter;

·         Section 4 - Focus on Priority Groups;

·         Section 5 - Improve access to Private Rented Sector;

·         Section 6 - Optimising use of temporary emergency accommodation; and

·         Section 7- (yet be developed) strategic planning around initiatives such as joint strategic needs analysis, general sector mapping and gap analysis, joint funding and alliance commissioning, further digitalisation and shared services/out-sourcing options.


Officers responded to a number of questions from Members on this pressing issue:-


·         funding had facilitated two full time prison navigators as only 28% of prisoners released from HMP Exeter as being of no fixed abode were provided with temporary accommodation, the situation exacerbated by a reduction in sentence length. Exeter was part of the Devon and Cornwall Short Term Prisoner Re-settlement Group developing best practice;

·         rough sleeping numbers varied with 25-30 estimated at any one time although recent months had returned counts of 15-16. The total homeless figure, which included those living in temporary accommodation, hostels etc., was approximately 1,200. Over the last 10 years homelessness had increased nationally and in Exeter although the rough sleeping numbers in Exeter had reduced in recent years as a result of a number of initiatives;

·         in addition to those presenting themselves at Customer First, the homeless were identified through officer contact and other outreach workers and through referral from prison, hospitals etc. If in priority need, the Council had a duty to offer interim accommodation and then accommodation which should be reasonable and suitable for a tenancy of at least for 12 months. Because of complexity of needs, reluctance of some to engage and being street attached, fear of peer groups who may be in hostels and those who were homed but begged during the day, complete cessation of rough sleeping was difficult to achieve. To counter negative perceptions that this situation engendered, a communications strategy was being developed such as clearer reporting and good news stories;

·         the Exeter homeless count was thorough and, notwithstanding Government criteria,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 33.