Agenda and minutes

Housing, Finance and Corporate Services Policy and Scrutiny Committee - Monday 10th April, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Rooms 5, 6 & 7 - 17th Floor, Westminster City Hall, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6 QP. View directions

Contact: Reuben Segal; Senior Committee and Governance Officer  Tel: 020 7641 3160; email:

No. Item



The Head of Legal and Democratic Services to report any changes to the membership.


1.1       It was noted that there were no changes to the membership.


1.2       RESOLVED: That until the arrival of the chairman Councillor Peter Freeman be appointed to chair the meeting (items 1-4).


Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any personal or prejudicial interests in matters on this agenda.


2.1       Councillor Church declared that he is a board Member of Westminster Community Homes.


2.2       Councillor Jacqui Wilkinson declared in relation to the procurement update on the management and maintenance of parks, open spaces and cemeteries (Item 5 – Cabinet Member Update - Cabinet Member for Finance, Property & Corporate Services) that she is the Deputy Cabinet Member for Environment, Sports and Community.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 184 KB

To sign the minutes of the previous meeting held on the 6 March 2017 as a correct record of proceedings.


3.1       RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 6 March 2017 be signed by the Chairman as a correct record of proceedings.


Work Programme 2016/17 and Action Tracker pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Additional documents:


4.1       RESOLVED: That the responses to actions and recommendations as set out in the tracker be noted.






Update from Cabinet Members pdf icon PDF 123 KB

An update from the Cabinet Members on key areas within their portfolios are attached.

The Cabinet Member for Finance, Property & Corporate Services will be in attendance to answer questions from the Committee.


Additional documents:


5.1     The Committee received written updates from the Cabinet Member for Finance, Property and Corporate Services and the Cabinet Member for Housing on the key issues within their portfolios. 


5.2     Councillor Tim Mitchell, Cabinet Member for Finance, Property & Corporate Services  informed the committee that the Council had prepared its accounts for 2016-17 and submitted them to the Council’s external auditors, Grant Thornton, for audit on 6 April.  This places Westminster in the top 5% of accounting bodies both in the public and private sector.


5.3     The Cabinet Member informed the committee that the review of the Garden Bridge project undertaken by Dame Margaret Hodge on behalf of the Mayor of London had been published last week.  One of the review’s recommendations to the Mayor is that he should not sign any guarantees until it is confirmed that the private capital and revenue monies have been secured by the Garden Bridge Trust.  The Council is taking measures to protect its position until it has guarantees that sufficient finances are in place for the project to proceed.


5.4     The Cabinet Member then responded to questions on the following issues:


5.4.1   Business Rates - the Cabinet Member was asked for details of the number of public houses in Westminster with a rateable value below £100,000 that may be eligible for the £1000 allowance announced in the March budget.  The Cabinet Member advised that around 300 National Non-domestic Rates accounts potentially affected by the budget announcements were extracted from the annual billing process while the Council awaited further information from the government on the legislative changes.  The Council was writing to each of the 300 ratepayers in the interim.  He believed that there were some Public Houses outside the West End which would meet the criteria.  Phil Black, Head of Revenues and Benefits Contracts, informed members that around 100 Public Houses would potentially be eligible for the allowance.  However this figure would reduce as some of the Public Houses are owned by larger chains which would not be eligible.  Public Houses would need to submit an application for the allowance which would be assessed by Council officers.


5.4.2   Sundry Debtors – The Cabinet Member was asked for an update on the pilot exercise with a third party provider to take further action on a small number of unpaid debts.  The City Treasurer informed members that arrangements were still being finalised.  The focus would not be limited to debts of a particular value but would also consider other factors including the age of the debt and provider. 


5.4.3   City Hall Refurbishment – Members asked for an update on the decant from City Hall.  The Cabinet Member informed the committee that 400 members of staff had moved to Portland House over the previous weekend.  Water damage, following a flood from higher floors, had briefly affected the programme of works preparing the office space for use by the Council. In addition to this, the lifts servicing Portland House had briefly broken down earlier in the day.  He  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Community Supported Housing Review pdf icon PDF 362 KB

Report of the Director of Housing.

Additional documents:


6.1       The Committee received a report that provided a background to a review of the Council’s Community Supportive Housing (CSH) also commonly known as sheltered housing.  The Council had commissioned the Housing Learning and Information Network (LIN) and Arcadia Architects to complete a review of the Council’s 1000 units of CSH.


6.2       The review was commissioned in response to: uncertainty over future demand for CSH and declining demand from council tenants, who might free up family sized housing if they chose to move into CSH; an aging stock, some of which needs investment and doesn’t meet modern requirements; and the need to ensure the council is making the best use of this asset and that it is aligned to wider council objectives. 


6.3       Overall the study aims to assess if the Council is making the best use of its CSH asset and to make any recommendations for change.


6.4       Consultant Ian Copeman, Housing LIN presented the emerging findings from work done so far on the review. 


6.5       Members were asked to comment on the emerging findings and evidence gathered to help develop clear and feasible recommendations, which will be presented in a final report which is due in May/June 2017. 


6.6       The emerging findings were structured around three core questions: 


             i.          How well is CSH meeting current demand and how well will it meet future demand?


            ii.          How does it contribute to meeting the Council’s key priorities and objectives?


           iii.          What changes are needed (for the stock to better meet current and future demand and the Council’s priorities) and how can they be made?


How well is CSH meeting current demand and how well will it meet future demand?


6.7      Mr Copeman outlined the demographic context which revealed that in the next 13 years there would be a 42% increase in residents aged over 60 and a 52% increase in the number of Westminster residents aged over 75.  Moreover there would be an increase of 56% between 2013 and 2033 in the long term conditions associated with ageing, such as dementia.


6.8      To estimate the future demand for CSH, the Council had applied the CSH waiting list to population projections and other external factors.  The review revealed that across all years to 2030 demand for CSH exceeds supply.  Mr Copeman advised that in the UK less than 0.5% of accommodation is suitable for over 60s compared with 5% in Australia and some other European countries.


6.9      Mr Copeman informed the committee that the bulk of residents looking for CSH are people currently residing in the private rented sector (PRS).  A small but growing number of applicants have a rough sleeping background. Some are in general needs social housing while there is also an element who do not fit into any of these categories.


6.10    In response to questions about the accuracy of the projections Barbara Brownlee, Director of Housing and Regeneration, explained that the unique complexities and characteristics of Westminster present challenges in estimating future demand.  She explained that there  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


2017-2018 Work Programme Development pdf icon PDF 186 KB

Report of the Director of Policy, Performance and Communications


7.1     The committee received a report that included a draft list of items that it may wish to include in its work programme for 2017/18. 


7.2     Members reviewed the list of suggested items and discussed any additional areas of interest for inclusion in the work programme.


7.3     The committee reiterated its preference to focus on one main item per meeting so that it could give appropriate consideration to the issues being scrutinised.  Members also supported the idea of holding one meeting off-site, in the community, with the location being relevant to the item being scrutinised.


7.4     RESOLVED:


1.     That the agenda for the next meeting on 12 June should include items on the Digital Programme Strategy and CityWest Homes Transformation.


2.     The Council’s trading company, Westco, should be included as an agenda item at an appropriate future meeting.