Agenda item

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 on information from Devon County Council which was tied to the County’s budget setting process. Contact will be maintained with the County Council to obtain as much information as possible on what they would be prepared to fund. Exempt accommodation was linked to support accommodation and, as the detail was very technical, he would provide a written response.


2.       With regard to the proposed cut of £270,000 by Devon County Council to the Wellbeing Exeter Partnership Fund, which funds the Community Builders’ work in Exeter:- 


a) what progress has been made to prepare a fundraising plan by the City Council led partnership?; 

b) how many funding bids have been prepared and submitted to date - and what was the outcome?; and 

c) how many bids are to be submitted in the next two months?




The Leader requested the Portfolio Holder for Communities and Homelessness Prevention to respond to the questions.


It was not anticipated that there would be any impact in this financial year, as funding was in place until the end of March 2024. No future core funder had been identified apart from the commitment of the City Council, Devon County Council, and Sport England in Exeter to take next year’s funding forward which would be part of the Council’s budget setting process in February.


In terms of specific grant applications, the Council was currently working to secure funding for the future. A Case for Support was enveloped in partner organisations including Sport England, and all opportunities would continue to be explored with a number of public sector bodies, private sector organisations and philanthropic investors to secure more sustainable long term funding. The success of the Sport England project has had a huge impact on the residents of the city.