Cabinet Member for Housing
18.1 The Chair invited Councillor Flatman, Cabinet Member for Communities and Housing, to introduce Paper MC/20/6.
18.2 Councillor Flatman clarified that the sheltered housing service charges had not be agreed at the Full Council Meeting in February 2020 due to a procedural error, which had not been legally resolved before the District went into lockdown due to the Covid-19 Pandemic. However, the Sheltered Housing Team felt that it was not reasonable to increase charges for 2020/2021 due to the reduced service currently provided.
18.3 Councillor Flatman MOVED the Recommendation in the report, which was SECONDED by Councillor Hadingham.
18.4 Councillor Eburne queried if the increase in service charge income included in this year’s Budget would be brought forward to next year’s budget and if it would be staggered, as it had been previous years.
18.5 The Tenant Services Corporate Manager responded that the Budget setting for next year would be brought to Council for approval at a later stage.
18.6 Members debated the issues including:
· That it was the right decision to take in the current circumstances.
· Some felt that the decision taken in February had been wrong, and so now supported the recommendations not to increase the Sheltered Housing Service Charges.
· That the Sheltered Housing Team had worked successfully under difficult circumstance during the past months.
· That support to residents had been possible because carers had recognised themselves to provide a good service to residents and at the same time avoiding spreading the Covid-19 virus.
18.7 Councillor Flatman thanked the Sheltered Housing Team and all of the Housing Team and officers, who had done a fantastic job during the Covid-19 Pandemic for the Sheltered Housing Service. She also thanked all the officers across the Council, who had been redeployed to help with the work undertaken.
18.8 The Chair asked that this be noted, and that Members thanked the whole Housing Team for the service they had provided and that this was appreciated.
18.9 Several further thanks were expressed by Members during the remainder of this item.
18.10 Councillor Phillips supported the Sheltered Housing team but had been dismayed when he had been informed by some residents that single parents had been housed in sheltered housing during the Covid-19 lockdown. This had caused some concern for the elderly people already housed there, as visitors of those temporarily housed there, had not been appropriate.
18.11 The Tenant Services Corporate Manager responded that this option had only been taken in a few cases.
18.12 The Chair advised that this question was responded to outside the meeting. However, Councillor Phillips reiterated his question, as he had raised this question to Officer previously.
18.13 Councillor Flatman responded that some sheltered housing was unoccupied and that during the Cocid-19 Pandemic there had been an increase in the need for emergency temporary accommodation. The decision had been taken to place those in need in emergency accommodation, until more suitable accommodation could be found.
18.14 Councillor Eburne asked that responses to questions taken outside the meeting be forwarded to all Members. She also expressed her thanks to the team and hoped that the issues addressed at this meeting for the most vulnerable in the community be taken into account when the budget was set for next year.
By a unanimous vote
It was RESOLVED: -
That MSDC Sheltered Housing service charges not be increased in 2020/21.