Councillors and committees
Agenda, decisions and minutes
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A period of up to 30 minutes for public questions on matters relevant to the
Committee’s remit which are not related to items featuring on the agenda. Advance notice of questions is preferred but not essential.
A member of the public, Mr James Giles, addressed the Committee to ask a number of questions. His first question related the current status of the Tolworth Area Plan (TAP) and when it was due to be considered by the Committee. By way of response it was explained that an internal cross-party meeting had been arranged to discuss options going forward and the outcome of that meeting would determine the next steps.
His next question related to the Cocks Crescent Supplementary Planning Document and the report that ‘Create Streets’ were commissioned to produce last year. He requested an update on when this report would be published. By way of response it was explained that there was an intention to publish the report from ‘Create Streets’ in the future and officers were looking at the next steps going forward.
He raised a further question with regards to Housing repairs and queried why residents had been asked to contact the out-of-hours number when calling at 4pm or later. It was explained that this issue raised would be investigated.
His last question was regarding Council works under the Major Works Programme to repair residential sheds. It was explained that a contractor had contacted residents to notify them that new shed doors were to be fitted and there was a requirement to remove items stored within the sheds otherwise the items would be thrown away. He raised concern for his elderly and disabled neighbours who were unable to remove the items in time and thus their personal belongings were removed. He requested clarity on the issue and whether there was a specific policy that dealt with these matters. By way of response it was said that this issue would be looked into and a response would be given.
Another resident, Mr Phil Bevan, addressed the Committee to raise concerns with regards to the lack of repairs to properties on the Cambridge Road Estate as some residents had highlighted that priority repairs, such as ceilings, floors and bathrooms, were not being done. By way of response the issue would be looked into as officers and Councillors were not aware of the issues raised. On the contrary many residents had indicated that the repairs were being done and had thanked the Council for the works. Residents were reminded to contact the Council through the normal channels if they required repairs.
Mr Phil Bevan indicated that some residents on the Cambridge Road Estate were afraid of coming forward to notify the Council of repairs as they were worried about reprisals against them for doing so. By way of response there was concern where this information originated as it was reaffirmed that this would never be the case. Councillors and officers were concerned by these serious allegations and requested that Mr Phil Bevan discuss with officers and provide evidence from the residents in question.
Apologies for Absence and Attendance of Substitute Members
Apologies were received from Councillor Fiona Boult and Advisory Members Maria Wise and Harry Hall.
Councillor David Cunningham substituted for Councillor Roy Arora.
Declarations of Interest
Members are invited to declare any disclosable pecuniary interests and any other non-pecuniary interests (personal interests) relevant to items on this agenda.
There were no declarations of interests.
To confirm the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 8 November 2018.
The minutes of the meeting held on 8 November 2018 were approved as a correct record.
To set out the proposed budget and medium term financial strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/23 and the detailed information required to enable this Committee to make recommendations to inform the Finance and Contracts Committee’s recommendations to Budget Council on 26 February 2019.
Resolved that –
1. the HRA 2019-20 base budget and proposal for growth and savings as set out in Annex 10 to the budget report pack be RECOMMENDED to the Finance and Contracts Committee;
2. the 2019-20 rent policy be agreed, subject to the constraints identified in paragraph 9, 14, and 15 of Annex 10 to the budget report;
3. the 2019-20 rent decrease of 1% as directed by Government and detailed in paragraph 9 of Annex 10 to the budget report be agreed;
4. the tenant service charges are increased by inflation (September 2018 CPI) of 2.4% as detailed in paragraph 17 of Annex 10 to the budget report;
5. that the 2019-20 rents for HRA hostels, non-dwellings and other non-Housing dwellings owned by the Council increase in line with inflation (September 2018 RPI) of 3.3% as detailed in paragraph 17 of Annex 10 of the budget report;
6. the indicative HRA revenue budgets for 2020-21 to 2022-23 set out in Enclosure 3 be noted;
7. the additions and full HRA Capital Programme as described in paragraph 21 of Annex 10 to the budget report pack with detail in Enclosure 5 be noted;
8. The proposals in the budget report regarding the 2019/20 budget for Regeneration, Housing and Estate Regeneration, HMO Licensing, Planning Policy and International Investment Partnerships be RECOMMENDED to the Finance and Contracts Committee.
Members considered a report which set out the proposed budget and medium term financial strategy for 2019/20 to 2022/23 and the detailed information required to make recommendations to inform the Finance and Contracts Committee’s recommendations to Budget Council on 26 February 2019. A separate document, entitled ‘Budget Report 2019/20 to 2022/23’ was published alongside this agenda.
Members noted that the Council was required to maintain a self-financing Housing Revenue Account (HRA) which was ring-fenced from the Council’s other budgets and was a record of all revenue expenditure and income relating to the Authority’s own housing stock. The Council was required to set a balanced budget for its HRA at the end of the year.
The Committee considered that despite savings of £1M being achieved in 2018/19 and further savings of £278,000 forecast for 2019/20 there was a requirement to draw £0.550m from reserves to balance the 2019/20 budget. Cost pressures in 2019/20 which include an increase to the depreciation charge, inflation, an increase in interest costs and contractual increases had offset the savings achieved in 2019/20. As a result of the requirement to draw on reserves, the HRA balance would reduce from an estimated £6.344m to £5.794m at 31 March 2020.
It was explained that the main source of income for the HRA was from rents and service charges paid by tenants, which comprised income from leaseholder service charges and charges paid by tenants for specific services. These resources could only be spent on services related to the provision of Council Housing, with the largest item of expense being the revenue cost of capital investment in the Council’s Housing stock through contributions to the Major Repairs Reserve.
Members noted that key changes to the HRA were introduced in the Housing and Planning Act 2016 which took effect from April 2016. One of the key changes was for rents to be reduced by 1% per annum for four years, starting from 2016-17. IT was noted that the Policy has had a significant and detrimental effect on Kingston’s HRA financial position and placed the level of services RBK can provide to those tenants at risk.
In future years (2020 onwards) there will be a return to a policy of rent increases in line with government guidance, this change along with plans for additional homes will generate an increase in income streams supporting the future sustainability of the HRA.
In 2018 the government announced that it would be abolishing the headroom cap on the HRA. The headroom cap restricted the amount that Councils were able to borrow within the HRA. This is a welcome and significant change that provides an opportunity to increase the number of new homes built and acquired, from additional borrowing and any reserves generated from operational efficiencies.
Some concern was raised with regards to the HRA budget and the change in stance in terms of decreasing rents by 1%. By way of response it was explained that the main source of income for the HRA was from rental income ... view the full minutes text for item 29.
Urgent Items Authorised by the Chair
To consider any items which, in the view of the Chair, should be dealt with as a matter of urgency because of special circumstances in accordance with S100B(4) of the Local Government Act 1972.
There were no urgent items.