Agenda and minutes

Agenda and minutes

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Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Plowman Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Stefan Robinson, Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Substitutes are not allowed.


Apologies for absence were received on behalf of Councillor Wolff.


Declarations of interest


There were no decelerations of interest.


Notes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 114 KB

To approve the notes of the meeting held on 11 October 2018.


The Panel approved the notes of the meeting held on 11 October, subject to two minor amendments.


Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) pdf icon PDF 96 KB

To consider the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) provision that is in place for the 2018/19 winter period.



Rachel Lawrence, Rough Sleeping and Single Homelessness Manager, explained that a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) had been agreed by the Council and local homelessness organisations for 2018/19. As in previous years SWEP would provide additional emergency bed spaces in the winter period for people sleeping rough in the City. Last year was an extremely harsh winter during which SWEP opened for a total of 36 nights, providing emergency accommodation to all those who wanted it; a total of 141 individuals accessed SWEP, and a total of 837 nights’ of accommodation were provided. Because SWEP operated on a simple overtime model, this put significant pressure on individuals and the local homelessness organisations involved.


As in previous years, SWEP was instigated on a forecasted weather period of three consecutive nights at zero degrees Celsius or below. SWEP would operate on the same basis in the 2018/19 winter, however officers had discretion to open under other circumstances and will exercise a common sense approach in this regard. If people want to access SWEP, they would need to be at O’Hanlon House between 9:00pm and 9:30pm, from where they would be allocated a bed space at this or another SWEP venue. Transport would be made available if it was needed. The review of SWEP undertaken over the summer, considered whether it would be possible to extend this time frame, but there were logistical challenges and risks in doing this.


Owing to additional MHCLG funding, there were 41 more bed spaces available within the Oxford Adult Homeless Pathway for the 2018/19 winter than in the previous year. Oxford Winter Night Shelter also had an additional 10 bed spaces [total 20 spaces].


Since last year, officers had engaged with community groups and service professionals to gather feedback on improving SWEP provision. One of the key areas for improvement identified was about communication, and ensuring that:


a)    Contact Oxford SPOT - People understand that if they are concerned about a person who maybe rough sleeping and may therefore need to access SWEP, they should contact Oxford SPOT on 01865 243 229 or via email Oxford SPOT is not an emergency service, but calls and emails will be followed up as soon as possible. You can also report a rough sleeper through the national website or call StreetLink on 0300 500 0914. If you believe a rough sleeper’s health is in immediate danger, please call 999.


b)    Timeline - there is a clear message about the time schedule for accessing SWEP. This was hindered last year owing to misinformation from well-intended individuals not associated with SWEP.


The Panel were pleased to note the focus on improving communication, and engaging with local organisations for feedback. Members explicitly requested that student groups remain involved in discussions regarding SWEP.


Officers advised that winter 2018/19 would possibly be the last year when SWEP operated on the current service model, eg. overtime. Officers were exploring  more robust long term models for winter support. However, any new model  ...  view the full minutes text for item 173.


Review of Year One of the Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer pdf icon PDF 76 KB

To consider a report on the outcome of the year one Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer Programme.

Additional documents:


Paul Wilding, Systems Change Manager (Homelessness Prevention), explained that the Trailblazer was a two year programme, funded in the main by MHCLG, focussed on early intervention and support to prevent homelessness. It involved working with other public services providers to work as upstream as possible to identify people at risk of becoming homeless. This was not about filling a gap in provision, but instead about supporting long term systemic connections between services, and helping other services to identify the warning signs of someone at risk of homelessness, and what to do in these circumstances. The report presented to the Panel provided a comprehensive review of year one of the programme, and the quality of the report and level of detail was welcomed by the Panel.


The Systems Change Manager explained that there were three stands to the programme:


1)    Embedded Housing Workers: These workers were located within the criminal justice, health and social care settings to improve the organisational understanding of housing principles and how and when to refer people to relevant support services. A key area already identified as potentially saving money related to speeding up delayed transfers of care, which averaged 31 days when housing was a barrier to exiting hospital.


2)    Community Navigators: These workers sought to identify people at risk of homelessness, and work with them to link them with the relevant services. Some of these people had previous experience of homelessness, and their advice was sometimes heeded more reciprocally than it would otherwise be from a council officer.


3)    Homeless Champions Network: The network supported the upskilling of ~60 people working in partner organisations to broaden their understanding of the housing system, and how to make effective referrals. The process had already found a lack of knowledge within partner organisations about peoples housing entitlements and the housing allocations process. It was hoped that this would help instil a legacy within these organisations of providing more effective referrals and advice to service users.


The Panel asked for more information about what the programme had found in year one. The Systems Change Manager explained that many people were left in beds when they were medically fit, because they did not have a home to be discharged too. The report highlighted that 2744 days had been accumulated for people awaiting discharge for this reasons within year one, totalling an indicative cost of £1.2m to the NHS.


The Chair highlighted that in relation to embedded housing workers, 103 cases had unknown outcomes, and that this uncertainty in the data may hinder any future funding bids to Central Government to extend the programme. The Systems Change Manager said that recording in this area would likely improve, but it highlighted that the sometimes brief and chaotic interactions do not lend themselves to effective tracking of outcomes. One example was given where people discharge themselves early from hospital, without providing a destination or discussing with the embedded workers.


Councillor Howett asked about opportunities for pooled funding arrangements, and future funding of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 174.


Quarter 2 Housing Performance pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To consider the Quarter 2 Housing Performance Report.


In light of the absence of a relevant officer to present this item, the Panel asked that the following questions be forwarded to the Head of Housing Services for answering outside of the meeting:


1.    In relation to performance indicator HP008 concerning the number of new homes granted permission in the City. It was not clear whether the result of 126 was a six month measure against a twelve month target of 200.


2.    In relation to performance indicator HC004 concerning Homelessness cases preventer. The Panel wanted to understand when the data will be made available, and whether the Council monitors the gender and sexuality of the people in the cases prevented, and of the people in the bi-monthly rough sleeper street count.


3.    In relation to performance indicator HP003 concerning the number of people estimated to be rough sleeping. The Panel wanted to know the methodology for estimating this number.  



Housing Panel Work Plan pdf icon PDF 50 KB

To note and agree the Panel’s Work Plan, which can be adjusted at each meeting.



The Panel requested that the Scrutiny Officer circulate the longlist of work plan items previously considered by the Panel on 5 July.


Councillor Smith, Board Member for Leisure and Housing, suggested that the Panel may want to consider; matters concerning improving representation from the private rented sector within the Council’s decision making process, and selective licensing for private home lets. These were upcoming subjects for discussion with officers, and there was not any timescales or decisions associated with these items however at this stage.


The Scrutiny Officer said that the Scrutiny Committee previously agreed to consider the outcome of the Hackitt Report as part of its annual work plan, and the rates of enforcement action in Oxford against breaches in building regulations. Following discussion with the Chair of the Scrutiny Committee and the Housing Panel, he proposed that this was more appropriate for the Housing Panel to consider. This was agreed for consideration on 8 April 2018.


The Panel also indicated its interest in reviewing the tenant satisfaction report when it was available.


Date of next meeting

Meetings are scheduled as follows at 6pm:


4 March 2019

8 April 2019




The Panel noted that the next meetings would be held on 4 March 2019 and 8 April 2019.