Agenda item

Items brought forward which in the opinion of the Chair should be considered by the meeting as a matter of urgency.


(a)  Informal Briefing for Members


The Chair requested that Members remain behind following the conclusion of the Committee meeting for an informal briefing in relation to the Cattle Market public conveniences.


(b)  Local Authority Housing Fund


The Chief Executive provided an update to the Committee regarding the Local Authority Housing Fund.


The Chief Executive advised the following:


·       The Government had announced the release of the Local Authority Housing Fund shortly before Christmas. 

·       The Fund was £500m for capital funding to support Local Authority areas which had supported the Ukrainian and Afghan Resettlement schemes. The purpose of the scheme was to provide settled accommodation for those that had been resettled in the country and to provide support for Local Authority areas which were under pressure to provide accommodation.

·       The Fund could be used for housing stock acquisition which included purchasing of properties, refurbishment, utilising empty properties and working Registered Social Landlords. Local Authorities could decide the most appropriate mechanism.

·       There were two elements of the Fund which were conditional that the Council increased its number of pledges under both resettlement schemes:

o   The Council would be allocated £800k for capital schemes and would be expected to deliver 8 units of accommodation.

o   Bridging accommodation capital fund of £200k would be allocated for the procurement of a minimum of 1 larger 4 bedroomed property.

·       The fund would be paid in two tranches.  The first tranche of 30% of the fund would be paid in February/March and the second tranche of 70% would be paid around August, however the Council would only receive the second tranche if it had spent at least 60% of the first tranche.

·       The grant would be limited to 40% of the property purchase price and the Council would be expected to fund 60% of the purchase.  Therefore the Council would be required to fund 60% of the purchase of 8 – 9 properties.

·       The Council would be required to determine the tenure and level of rent in accordance with the objectives of the scheme.

·       When the accommodation was no longer required under the Afghan and Ukraine Resettlement schemes, the accommodation could then be used by the Local Authority for the provision of affordable housing.

·       If the Council decided not to take up the funding, the fund would be returned to the Government.  If the Council decided to go ahead, it would need to be prepared to provide capital funding.

·       The first webinar was due to be held today, which Officers would be attending to ascertain further information.

·       The Council could consider entering into an agreement with a housing provider to buy properties on the open market.

·       The Council needed to be aware of the community tensions if it decided to go ahead with the scheme and purchase properties as part of the Afghan and Ukraine Resettlement schemes.

·       The timescales were tight and the deadline for the submission of a bid to the fund setting out how the fund would be used was by 25 January 2023. The Head of Planning, Housing and Health and his team would consider the best scheme to be put forward. As the deadline was prior to the next meeting of the Committee, any submission would need to be approved as an urgent decision.


In response to questions, the Chief Executive advised the following:


·       That if the Council did not submit a bid, the down side would be the Government’s perception of the Council.  The Government had introduced the fund as a response to risk and to make a fund available to Local Authorities to top up the purchase of additional properties to take the pressure off of authorities in securing accommodation for homeless.

·       There were no powers for the Council to compulsory purchase properties.

·       A meeting had been arranged with housing groups on 13 January 2023 to communicate the requirements of the fund.

·       Initial conversations had taken place with local Registered Social Landlords.

·       Officers would feedback the challenging timescales to the Government via the webinars.

·       The fund was only for capital and could not be used to cover officer time.