Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

To improve accessibility individual documents published after 1 May 2020 are available as HTML pages where their original format supports this

Speaking at a Council or Committee meeting

Venue: Plowman Room - Oxford Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Tom Hudson, Scrutiny Officer 

No. Item



Substitutes are not allowed.


Councillor Wolf tendered apologies


Declarations of interest




Housing Panel Work Plan pdf icon PDF 196 KB

For the Panel to note and agree its work plan, which can be adjusted to reflect the wishes of the Panel.



The Scrutiny Officer informed the Panel that there had been no changes to the workplan.


It was agreed that the Scrutiny Officer would agree a scope on the topic of Hidden Homelessness, to be heard in March.  


It was agreed that the Scrutiny Officer would schedule a pre-meeting briefing for Panel members on Housing Management and Council Housing Repairs and Investment immediately prior to the March meeting.


Notes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 201 KB

For the Panel to approve the record of the meetings held on 27 June 2019 and 03 October.

Additional documents:


The Panel agreed the notes of the meetings of 27 June and 3 October.


Community Land Trusts pdf icon PDF 246 KB

To consider the report to 13 November Cabinet on Community Land Trusts and the means by which they might help the Council deliver its Local Plan. . Report to follow and will be published as a supplement.



Councillor Mike Rowley, Dave Scholes (Housing and Strategy Needs Manager) and Charlie Fisher (Transition by Design) will be available to present the report and answer any questions.

Additional documents:


The Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, Councillor Mike Rowley, introduced the report. It was explained to the Panel that the report sought to do two things: to provide an update on the progress made against the actions recommended in a previously commissioned report on how Community Led Housing could be delivered in Oxford, and to consider a land disposal by way of a long lease of a plot containing seven garages and a forecourt at Champion Way in Littlemore.


Regarding the actions recommended to support the delivery of Community Led Housing it was noted that the majority of major actions had already been taken forward. The one area which had not progressed was the suggestion that s.106 agreements be used to require provision of community led housing sites on larger developments. The rationale behind the decision not to progress this was due to the negative implications on scheme viability and therefore the overall number of social housing projects developed.


Charlie Fisher of Transition by Design, one of the authors of the previously commissioned report on how Community Led Housing could be delivered in Oxford, presented to the Panel regarding the definition of Community Led Housing, which covered multiple models but all had in common a shared and communal approach regarding finance, risk and management of a scheme.  The progress made by the Council against the recommended actions of the previous report were commended, and four key issues were identified as particularly important in continuing to drive the delivery of Community Led Housing forward:

a.    Continued political support

b.    Continued officer support, particularly with regards to the upcoming application for funding from the Oxfordshire Growth Deal in March 2020, but also in the development and contribution to the work of the Community Led Housing regional hub and its work of ensuring a pipeline of land  for projects, and matchmaking suitable stakeholders to projects.

c.    Developing a mechanism for shortlisting suitable prospective tenants from the housing register who actively wished to be involved in a housing environment with a cooperative element to it.

d.    Ensuring that land values included the social and environmental factors of potential developments. Bristol was held up as an exemplar in this regard.


The challenges of the proposed disposal site were explained to the Panel: its small size, proximity to the ring road, difficult access arrangements and protected trees. It was suggested that in the absence of any other developers wishing to work on the site, it would offer the opportunity to demonstrate proof of concept should it prove possible to develop through Community Led Housing.


The Panel sought reassurance on the degree of community involvement there had been to date in the design of the site. It was explained that the site was a very unusual site in that it was fairly isolated from other housing due to its position by the ring road and its proximity to the Oxford Academy. As such, no consultation had been undertaken to date. On other prospective garage sites, which were  ...  view the full minutes text for item 211.


Housing and Homelessness Strategy mid-point update pdf icon PDF 261 KB

To consider the mid-point review of the current Housing and Homelessness Strategy 2018 -21.


Councillor Mike Rowley and Nerys Parry (Housing Strategy and Needs Manager) will be available to present the report and answer any questions.



Additional documents:


Councillor Mike Rowley, Cabinet Member for Affordable Housing, introduced the report, focusing on the delivery of affordable housing. At the mid-point of the strategy a large number of successes had been achieved, notably the commencement of the Oxford Housing Company on work to deliver over 500 affordable homes, with over 100 delivered in the previous year (including over 30 Council-owned homes in the Barton development) and with over 100 anticipated in the current year. The challenge of delivering housing within a context of near nation-topping house-prices was recognised, and with over 2000 people still on the Council waiting list further work was required. A significant amount of work had been undertaken with the County Council and neighbouring District Councils in developing the Oxfordshire Growth Deal, which would underpin a lot the necessary work to ensure the meeting of local housing need.


Richard Wood, Strategy and Service Development Manager, introduced the progress made in relation to homelessness reduction. Notable achievements were identified as a significant increase in places for rough sleepers commissioned by the Council, securing significant government funding, the establishment of Oxford Homelessness Movement, the implementation of the requirements of the Homelessness Reduction Act, the trial of the Oxfordshire Trailblazer programme. Housing demand, the need to consider the Climate Emergency and relations with registered social housing providers and transforming provision of rough sleeping services to a county-wide approach were recognised to be areas where further work was required. Suggested changes to the strategy put forward included the inclusion of a separate document detailing the Council’s Rough Sleeping Strategy, greater cross-working throughout the County and building in the now-agreed Floyds Row and its associated services.


Questions to the Panel were addressed to members of the Lived Experience Advisory Forum on their experience of the Council and its duty to prevent homelessness. Feedback indicated that that within the last year there had been challenges with establishing a local connection, and that interaction with non-specialist homelessness Council staff had not proven valuable in terms of homelessness prevention, with advice being given to ensure that one individual was on the housing register. It was suggested that more signposting information should be available to officers, particularly those on the front desk at the Council, such as leaflets containing the details of local homelessness-related services.


In discussing the Council’s plans for supported rent the Panel, following corroborative feedback from the Lived Experience representatives present, emphasised the vital role of supported housing for those on the journey from homelessness to stability, but it was also brought up that not all supported housing schemes were providing the level of support needed to realise the potential for positive outcomes. O’Hanlon House, particularly, was discussed in this regard with reports of access being problematic at times. The number of recovery houses for addiction was also mentioned, with support being given for increased capacity for such services. In response to the issues raised, it was explained to the Panel that the Council was in the process of seeking to transform homelessness  ...  view the full minutes text for item 212.


No local connection review pdf icon PDF 347 KB

To consider the report of the No Local Connection Review Group. Report to follow as a supplement.


Councillor Linda Smith, Rachel Lawrence (Rough Sleeping & Single Homelessness Manager) and Polly McKinlay (Senior Commissioning Officer,

Rough Sleeping & Single Homelessness) will be available to present the report and answer any questions.




Polly McKinlay, Senior Commissioning Officer, introduced the six month update report on the work of the No Local Connection Group.


Addressing the overall themes of the report, strong progress had been made regarding the key driver behind its recommendations – to become more person centred in its approach. The Council’s view that after a period of six months living in Oxford, the likelihood would be that a homeless individual would have developed a network and a connection to Oxford, and that reconnection to another area would not necessarily be in their interests, was now embedded into its service structure. Improved and increased services, such as 12 Somewhere Safe to Stay places in Simon House had been were not contingent on a local connection, meaning any rough sleeper would be able to access the service. 


The changes made had had significant impacts on individuals, including helping a rough sleeper of 12 years who had been able to find a suitable tenancy.


A number of recommendations were highlighted as having not yet been implemented, namely around the extension of the Council’s rules to the wider Common Operating Protocol used across the county. Significant amount of work had been done in preparing the ground for implementing the changes, other districts had begun implementing the changes, and agreement reached in principle across all districts. However, the finalised legal text was not agreed.


Questions from the Panel arose around the degree to which the changes would encourage homeless people to gravitate towards Oxford in order to access improved services, particularly around addiction. Whilst it was recognised as a risk, there was a need for to make a judgement call on whether reconnecting individuals to their original area would be in their best interests, or whether it was better for them to stay and receive services, and that this exercise should be understood in the context of the Council not wishing to participate in a race to the bottom for services. Further, the view of those with lived experience of homelessness indicated that this risk was not being realised, and that minimal numbers of individuals were being drawn to Oxford solely due to the quality of its services. 


The Panel formally recognised the work done by the No Local Connection Group and commended it.


Outcome of the Homelessness Trailblazer and early intervention analysis pdf icon PDF 488 KB

To consider a report on the outcomes and lessons learnt from the Homelessness Trailblazer Project and the cost-benefit analysis of early homelessness intervention to the Council and wider public services. Report to follow and will be published as a supplement.


Councillor Linda Smith and Paul Wilding (System Change Manager, Homelessness Prevention) will be available to present the report and answer any questions.


Paul Wilding, Systems Change Manager (Rough Sleeping) presented a report to the Panel on the Outcomes of the Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer programme.


The purpose of the Trailblazer programme was introduced as being an opportunity to learn what was needed and how homelessness prevention might be implemented across local authorities and other public sector organisations in the county, rather than the launch of a new set of services. Whilst some regret at the ending of the services was understandable, an encouraging element of the learning was that the Trailblazer indicated the need for improved communication – between individuals at risk of homelessness and service providers, and also between the service providers involved in homelessness prevention – and that improving such communication was relatively straightforward and did not require ongoing services, but simply maintaining the relationships created by the programme. The positive impact of the services, however, was recognised. There had been a great value in providing support to 1400 individuals, and funding had been received by Aspire from the Lottery to extend its element of the programme, the Community Navigators for another three years. Aspire had also raised fund locally to support the extension of this service, which had been match funded by the Oxfordshire Community Foundation.


The Panel sought to identify what work would  be undertaken to ensure that homelessness did not create a delayed transfer of care from hospital, and was informed that funding for the healthcare element of the programme had also been extended by Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust, albeit presently only until March. Beyond that, discussions were being held between the Council and the Health Improvement Board.


Other questions were raised in regards to the opportunities for external funding. Government sources of funding were reported to be automatically flagged to the team, but funding had also been raised from elsewhere.


Clarification was also sought by the Panel on the impact of Universal Credit as a cause of homelessness. Whilst in the second half of the programme a significant number of people who were referred to the programme were on Universal Credit because their referrals come via the Job Centre, it was not felt that the experience from the programme indicated that Universal Credit was a cause of homelessness. Though over 50% of referees did have financial and debt issues, this was a consistent issue across both Universal Credit and non-Universal Credit referrals. Though not a cause of homelessness, the delay in payment of Universal Credit did at times mean that it could exacerbate existing issues and make homelessness more likely.


In response to questions as to how the lessons of the programme would be embedded rather than allowed to drift away the Panel was informed that the Homelessness Champions Network would be extended for a further year, providing a forum to provide wider stakeholders in homelessness prevention training and updates, as well as aiding communication and relationships. Also, an e-learning module had been made available on the back of the learning from the programme, which had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 214.


Date of next meeting

Meetings are scheduled as follows:


-       5th March

-       8th April



All meetings begin at 6.00pm.


The Panel noted that the date of the next meeting as 5th March 2020.