Meeting documents

Tenant & Leaseholder Panel
Tuesday, 2nd October, 2012

Tenants and Leaseholders Panel Minutes

Tuesday 2nd October 2012
THE COUNCIL CHAMBER, The Town Hall, Katharine Street, Croydon CR0 1NX

Attendance Details


Michael Hewlett (Chair), Syed Ahmed, Marion Burchell, Mark Burrell, Ken Coates, Peter Cooper, Chris Crossdale, Bernard Daws, Robert Dean, Sylvia Fletcher, James Fraser, Jim Mansell, Peter Mason, Julian Paine, Guy Pile-Grey, John Piper, Stephen Pollard, Marilyn Smithies, Maureen Symes, Laurence Taylor, Bob Varney, Kim Wakely and Colin Wood.

Alison Butler, Tony Harris, Patricia Hay-Justice, Michael Neal, Sue Winborn.
Dave Sutherland (Director of Housing Management Services), Peter Brown (Director of housing needs & strategy), Sian Foley (Head of Safe & Sustainable Communities), Judy Pevan (Stock Investment Manager), Bob Richardson (Head of Planned Maintenance & Improvements), Lorraine Smout (Head of Responsive Repairs), Chris Stock (Interim Head of Performance & Quality Assurance), Elaine Wadsworth (Head of Housing Strategy, Commissioning & Standards)
Note taker: Margot Rohan (Senior Members' Services Manager)
Councillor Avril Slipper

Item Item/Resolution

The Chair welcomed all to the meeting. There was a minute's silence in tribute to Malcolm Wicks MP, who died on 29 September.


There were no disclosures of pecuniary interest at the meeting.


Apologies were received from Cllr Avril Slipper, James Cassidy and Eric Webb.


The Notes of the meeting held on Tuweday 24 July 2012 were agreed as a true record of the proceedings.


There were none.


Elaine Wadsworth (Head of housing strategy, commissioning and standards) gave a presentation (Appendix 1):

  • Housing Benefits officer unable to attend
  • Background about government cuts and reducing benefits
  • £18bn to cut over next 4 years
  • Sensitive to ensure publicity does not cause anxiety
  • Universal benefit - all existing benefits rolled into one
  • Benefit cap - maximum a household can receive per week = £350 for single people, £500 for everyone else
  • Under-occupancy penalty - benefit will be cut where households have more rooms than they are assumed to need
  • Communication - letters out in October to explain changes and who to contact - leaflets and website will also provide information
  • Income officers will see all those affected - at home or in the office
  • Under-occupation - will offer assistance to aid transfers and a lodging scheme to fill under-used accommodation
  • Household budgeting advice - training sessions
  • Other support - events, help getting into employment, online claiming, Open House (tenants' magazine)
  • Sheltered Housing - supported housing exempt
  • Will help people find other homes to move to - help them to help themselves
  • Will offer help in changing provider for gas and electricity etc.


The following questions were raised:

  • What about situations where single mothers are not able to get tenancy for their children where they live part time with mother, part with father?

Elaine Wadsworth: Rules say no extra room for having children to stay or friends etc.

  • Where children have officially left home but occasionally come and stay, will all couples have to be rehoused in smaller properties?
    Elaine Wadsworth: The rules are very strict. There are no exemptions unless one has a carer or is a pensioner.

Dave Sutherland: Couples will have to move to a smaller property or have reduced benefit.

  • Credit Union - if no job, cannot pay in. If lodgers are taken, how can tenants open a bank account without a job? With firms leaving Croydon there are no jobs.

Dave Sutherland: Tenants have a right to take lodgers.

  • Is there an assurance of flexibility because people with health problems do not need added pressure and anxiety?

Dave Sutherland: We have anticipated the need for more resources.

  • Housing officers need to flag up people who have difficulties. How time-limited are special payments? STOP scheme - will the council look at references and credit check?

Dave Sutherland: It is down to individual tenants to find lodgers and make checks. Special transfer payments are not time limited.
Elaine Wadsworth: STOP is a scheme run by young people who are homeless. People from prison or who are dangerous will not be referred.

  • Why has there not been any publicity earlier?

Elaine Wadsworth: The details have been emerging over time. We did not want to give a false impression and cause alarm.
Dave Sutherland: Information is out there. The Benefits Office is sending out leaflets.


Judy Pevan (Stock Investment Manager) circulated a report (Appendix 2) and Lorraine Smout) Head of Responsive Repairs gave a brief summary:

  • Need new contract in place by 2014
  • Looking at putting more into scope this time - gas servicing, gas repairs, door entry repairs etc
  • Bigger procurement exercise
  • Looking to go to one main contractor from existing two - perhaps for next 15 years
  • Important to ensure value for money
  • Make sure people are involved to get views on how procurement is managed
    • Attending workshops
    • Evaluation - site visits (training involved)
  • Looking to move to price per property - move away from detailed list of rates - focus on quality and ensuring work done correctly
  • Recommendations to be taken forward to strategy procurement board 24 October


The following questions were raised:

  • Last Disability Panel was cancelled - what is the new date?

Lorraine Smout: The intention is to ensure the panels are included.
(Date for Housing Disability Panel is 14 November)

  • Do we have assurance that the council dictates how work is carried out rather than contractor? Gas servicing - does it include old boilers and reservicing, rather than changing?

Lorraine Smout: Repairs service in place is dictated by the council. There are a number of penalties if work is not carried out properly. We are monitoring. Gas repairs and gas servicing are managed together to minimise visits to each property. There has been a reduction in repairs and ad hoc replacements - we have already seen improvement.

  • Suggestion of moving from 10 year to 12 or 15 year contract - what will be in place to ensure it works for that time?

Lorraine Smout: Apprenticeships, training in contracts - something in place to make sure it is still value for money and that we can break if necessary with 12 or 15 year contract.

  • Contractors already sub-contract a lot of their work. Surely more work will involve more sub-contractors? What is advantage of one contractor if more sub-contractors involved?

Lorraine Smout: Advantage with one contract because of scale. There will always be some things sub-contracted with more work over more properties but contractors will employ more full-time employees to cover work.
Judy Pevan: We will develop the scope of the contract to be competitive and attractive to the market - to deliver efficiencies.

  • Will smaller expert companies be merged into a new company? If people see Croydon Repairs Service, people know who they are - recognise vans and only one number to phone.

Lorraine Smout: It is not about mergers but some may become sub-contractors. Croydon Repairs Service is about branding so people know what it is. There may be some specialisms.

  • How do we know the Price Waterhouse procurement team is independent? They have so many fingers in so many pies.

Lorraine Smout: Reporting to Price Waterhouse goes across council to give overview. Top priority is about tenant satisfaction.


A verbal summary was given by Chris Stock (Resident Involvement Manager):

  • Satisfaction survey to 4,000 tenants in July
  • Results not quite ready
  • To have session for feedback - to work together to see what results mean
  • Interesting results - different parts of borough, different age groups etc
  • Will invite to come to afternoon meeting late October/early November

Chris Stock gave a quick update:

  • Finished all investigation
  • Done shadowing, benchmarking, mystery shopping, interviewing residents as left contact centre
  • Putting report together - meeting next Thursday
  • Final report to come back to TLP

 Chris Stock (Resident Involvement Manager) gave a brief summary of the report:

  • Proposals to enhance involvement framework
  • Events along similar lines to Council Question Time
  • Key difference - met with Resident Involvement Group - want councillor involvement but not for them to lead
  • Managers of services to be there to answer questions, plus Cabinet Member
  • Different branding to Council Question Time
  • One on 7 November in Council Chamber
  • One on 27 November in Longheath community centre
  • Pilot to see how they do
  • Can submit questions in advance or on the evening
  • Questions will be recorded with any answers - made available on council website
  • Name suggestions:
    • A Question of Housing (5 votes)
    • Your Housing Your Questions (7 votes)
    • Your Housing Any Questions (1 vote)
    • Your Housing Questions (3 votes)
  • Winning name: Your Housing Your Questions


The following questions were raised:

  • How will chair be chosen?

Chris Stock: Resident Involvement Group agreed chairs for first two meetings - important to have experienced chairs, to manage strongly and to ensure councillors do not dominate. First two meetings will be chaired by Michael Hewlett and Marilyn Smithies.

  • Cheaper all round to dispense information by email.

Chris Stock: Only 49% of tenants have access to email so have to be mindful of this. People who attend can provide email address but we will post information to others.


Chris Stock (Resident Involvement Manager) gave a verbal update:

  • Become members of Residents' Network
  • For residents and officers involved in tenant scrutiny
  • Web-based service - available to all
  • Conferences and training
  • To register let Chris know and he will provide website and password

London Tenants' Federation (LTF) - Michael Hewlett gave feedback from latest meeting:

  • Money received from London Council ceases from March 2013
  • Formed company - London Tenant Company
  • Drawing up business plan so can bid for funding


Mayor's Housing Forum - Michael Hewlett:

  • Next meeting December


ARCH - Michael Hewlett:
ARCH Tenants' Group Conference on 19 September - 3 awards - Croydon won Innovation and sustainability award for their 'All ages' intergenerational project for integrating different age groups into Croydon's resident involvement project and achieving a reduction in anti-social behaviour as a result.

  • Kim Wakely attended the meeting and reported:
    • Peter Kirkpatrick, recently elected chair of ARCH Tenants' Group and tenant of Great Yarmouth Borough Council, opened the conference by welcoming delegates and thanking Kettering Borough Council and Pinnacle psg for supporting the event
    • John Conway, Head of Housing (Kettering Borough council) spoke about the life skills programme 'Move On, Move In' to help ensure younger tenants are able to sustain their tenancies and develop new skills
    • Tenant of Year award to Michelle Fleet, from Birmingham City Council, for demonstration of kindness and selflessness in taking on the role of resident representative during a programme of refurbishment work and putting the needs of others first despite her own poor health
    • Chose 2 from 6 workshops - one in morning and second after lunch
    • Thank you to Ken Constantine, Sian Foley, Alison Crisp and all the council officers who assisted


Croydon Voluntary Sector Alliance - Guy Pile-Grey:

  • Nothing to report
  • Meeting shortly and will report to next TLP


Croydon Congress - Marilyn Smithies:

  • Nothing to report as no meeting


All Ages Inter-generational Conference - Sian Foley:

  • Next event 30 Oct at Jury's Inn (restricted on size - 70)
  • Together we Can
  • Mix of ages
  • All ages strategy
  • Workshops, games and fun
  • Inviting residents actively involved in various relevant groups
  • Working tables - locality based
  • Give opportunity for people to get to know their neighbours better


Resident Involvement Champions - Chris Stock:

  • Event 10 October - London Tenant Scrutiny Network
  • Opportunity to share good practice

Supported decoration scheme (SDS) - Bob Richardson: Confirmed that tenancy colleagues were producing a list by the end of October of tenants who qualified for internal redecoration under this programme. The budget is £250,000 and work is scheduled to start in November. About 120 homes will be included in the 2012/13 programme.


Landlord Structure shows no names. Is it possible to supply names? Why do we need 5 neighbourhood caretaking managers?
Dave Sutherland: At time sent out, we did not have all the names as we were recruiting. Can send out with minutes. Reduced number of managers by 6 - 54 caretakers. Previously had 3 - not enough. Would not want to go lower than 5. (See appendix)


Leaseholder Panel - meeting next Wednesday 10 October. Would it be possible to know how many leaseholders are here?
Michael Hewlett: Only you.
Chris Stock: We are looking at what leaseholders want - meetings or open day or what?


All in the Council Chamber, Town Hall, Croydon at 6.30pm:

  • Wednesday 6 February 2013
  • Tuesday 30 April 2013
There being no further business the meeting closed at 8:07pm.