Agenda item

Improvement Plan 2014/15


(a)       That the draft Improvement Plan 2014/15 and the ‘How achievement will be measured’ document be noted prior to final publication in June; and


(b)       That the comments of the Committee be collated and sent to the Performance Unit.


The Performance Team Leader delivered a presentation and presented extracts from the draft Improvement Plan 2014/15 detailing sub-priorities relevant to the Committee, prior to the full Plan being submitted to Cabinet and Council for adoption later in the month.  The report also included an extract from the supporting document entitled ‘How achievement will be measured’.


As detailed in the report, a refresh of the Improvement Priorities had resulted in the setting of 22 sub-priorities for 2014/15 (as opposed to 24 sub-priorities for 2013/14) under eight over-arching Priorities.  It was noted that the Wales Audit Office had reflected positively on changes to the Improvement Plan for 2013/14 in terms of its clarity and enabling public engagement.


The Housing Regeneration & Strategy Manager gave an overview of the sub-priorities to be considered by the Committee.


In welcoming the report, the Chairman highlighted the positive work carried out by the Welfare Rights team which had resulted in £2.3m of additional Social Security and Tax Credits received by Flintshire households during 2013/14.  During the item, he congratulated the Chief Officer (Community & Enterprise) on her new role and looked forward to her continuing to work with the Committee.


This was echoed by Councillor Paul Shotton, who suggested that information recently shared with Members on the Flintshire Credit Union scheme should be promoted to residents as a better alternative to payday loans.  On the Wales Housing Quality Standard, he was pleased to note continued investment in the Council’s housing stock and noted that tenants had expressed their satisfaction in the work completed.  He commented on the exiting of the Housing Revenue Account (HRA) subsidy system which would help to support plans to build new Council houses and hoped that locations would be identified across the county.  The Cabinet Member for Housing said that no decision had been reached on locations and that various sites were currently under consideration.


Councillor George Hardcastle asked about progress reporting from meetings of the Council’s wholly owned property management company, North East Wales Homes.  The Chief Officer (Community & Enterprise) reported on the set up of the Board which had met twice to date, and said that performance reports would be submitted to the Committee every six months, with the first due in the Autumn.


Councillor Peter Curtis asked if the Council would publicise the second phase of a new Green Deal initiative by the Government for residents to apply for loans of up to £7K towards energy efficiency measures.  The Housing Regeneration & Strategy Manager said that residents were being directed to such national loan schemes or alternative schemes available through the Council where this was more appropriate, for example where funding was available for vulnerable client groups.


In response to queries raised by Councillor Rosetta Dolphin, the Housing Regeneration & Strategy Manager explained the difficulty in assessing the impact of Universal Credit at this early stage and that a phased approach was being taken across the UK, with full implementation estimated to take around 2-3 years.  Progress would be reported to the Committee at a later date, however since 7 April 2014, claims had been accepted by Shotton Job Centre for Jobseeker’s Allowance, with live claims currently being processed for seven residents.  On the suggestion for extra care provision in Greenfield, it was reported that sites in Holywell were under consideration.


When asked by Councillor Mike Reece about energy efficiency measures for solid brick properties, it was reported that various funding streams were available through the central Government Green Deal, the Welsh Government’s Arbed scheme and ECO funding from utility companies.


In response to comments from Councillor Gareth Roberts on additional extra care facilities in the county, the Housing Regeneration & Strategy Manager explained that potential funding was available from the Intermediate Care Fund and that discussions with social landlords had been positive.


Councillor Curtis referred to money invested in improving shop fronts and said that steps should be taken to ensure that the flats above these shops were brought back into use.  The Housing Regeneration & Strategy Manager explained that the new structure allowed for Housing and Regeneration to work more closely on such initiatives.


Councillor Hardcastle welcomed proposals to build 100 Council houses over a six year period and asked about the potential for additional provision.  The Chief Officer (Community & Enterprise) said that the commitment given for 100 properties was based on likely borrowing approval from negotiations through exiting the HRA subsidy system, however it was possible that capacity may increase over time.


Following comments from Councillor Curtis on building new Council houses, the Chief Officer (Community & Enterprise) said that representations had been made to the Welsh Government to make changes to the current Right to Buy suspension policy to allow Council assets to be retained over the longer term.




(a)       That the draft Improvement Plan 2014/15 and the ‘How achievement will be measured’ document be noted prior to final publication in June; and


(b)       That the comments of the Committee be collated and sent to the Performance Unit.

Supporting documents: