Agenda item

Agenda item

Housing Advisory Board

Report of the Strategic Director – Neighbourhoods.


This report provides an update on the new governance arrangements (Housing Advisory Board) in respect of the Council Housing Stock.


The Committee considered a report of the Strategic Director – Neighbourhoods, which provided an update on the new governance arrangements in respect of the Council’s housing stock. The new Housing Advisory Board provided oversight of Manchester City Council Housing Services, which was formerly Northwards ALMO, and was a key contributor to empowering tenants and ensuring that North Manchester residents helped to shape and held the Council’s Housing Service to account.


Key points and themes within the report included:


·         In January 2021, Manchester City Council agreed to bring the ALMO Northwards Housing back in house and the transfer of the ALMO took place on 5 July 2021;

·         The Housing Advisory Board began meeting in July 2022 and the Resources and Governance Scrutiny Committee was instrumental in its formation;

·         The purpose of the Housing Advisory Board and the key responsibilities of Board Members;

·         The Board meets bi-monthly and was made up of 5 local residents/tenants, 6 elected members (including the Chair, Exec Member for Housing and Development) and 3 co-opted housing professionals;

·         The recruitment of the resident members to the board received a very high response, with over 300 residents expressing an interest. Officers remain in contact with all applicants to ensure a diverse network to engage with on future plans and current performance;

·         Deep dive sessions on areas of particular focus and interest, such as the Housing Revenue Account, Zero Carbon and the Social Housing Bill, are undertaken as part of the Board’s collective learning and development; and

·         There are two audit recommendations to fully implement over the remainder of the financial year, which relate to learning and development and further equalities reporting.


Key points and queries that arose from the committee’s discussion included:


  • A previous recommendation made by the Committee for all Housing Advisory Board agendas to be circulated to all members, and why this had not happened;
  • Whether the Board’s remit required revision to include private finance initiative (PFI) properties;
  • How the Board could encourage residents to remain engaged; and
  • The number of voids - when a property is unoccupied for a period of time – and what was causing such a high level.


In introducing the item, the Executive Member for Housing and Development advised the committee that the Housing Advisory Board had met three times and that the governance of the Board was robust.


Members of the Housing Advisory Board, including a local elected member and independent co-opted members, attended the meeting and provided their insights into the work of the Housing Advisory Board. They explained their motivations for joining the Board and their role in holding the Board to account.


The Director of Housing Operations responded to members’ queries and committed to sharing all past and future agendas for the Housing Advisory Board to members.


The Executive Member for Housing and Development acknowledged a local gap in the governance of PFI properties and welcomed members’ feedback.


In response to a member query on further engagement with residents, the Director of Housing Operations confirmed that this would continue and highlighted the significant engagement with a strong network of residents. He also highlighted new tenant satisfaction measures, as part of the Social Housing Bill requiring statutory tenant engagement. There was much to collaborate with residents on and the Housing Advisory Board would oversee a systematic approach to this.


The Executive Member for Housing and Development also suggested the possibility of undertaking tenant scrutiny panels as the Board progressed.


The Executive Member for Housing and Development explained that the Council had inherited a high level of voids from Northwards when the council housing stock was brought in-house. This was largely due to the Covid pandemic which had caused a backlog of repairs and labour and issues in accessing properties, which was a challenge faced by the housing provider sector as a whole. The issue of voids had been considered at every meeting of the Housing Advisory Board with a deep dive undertaken at the last meeting.


The Executive Member for Housing and Development explained that the number of voids was reported at the last Board meeting as 178, which was a reduction but remained significant. He commented that the Council strongly sought to reduce the overall number of voids, particularly given housing need in Manchester. Work was being undertaken to assess the relet programme, handover of keys, use of contractors and void standard in order to reduce the number of unoccupied properties. He also advised members that there was a target of less than 100 voids by April 2023.




That the report be noted.


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