SPC 1 - Minutes
Minutes of Strategic Policy Committee 1 (Housing and Corporate Services) held on Thursday, 16th July, 2020 at 12 noon in the Council Chamber, County Hall, Riverside Sligo
- Councillor Arthur Gibbons (Chair)
- Councillor Martin Baker
- Councillor Gino O’Boyle
- Councillor Tom Fox
- Councillor Declan Bree
- Pippa Black, (PPN Social Inclusion)
- Pat Fallon, (Trade Union Pillar)
- Mr Alan McMenamin, (PPN Community & Voluntary)
- Mr Karl Kelly, (Business Pillar)
- Ms Melinda Swann, (PPN Environment)
OFFICIALS IN ATTENDANCE
- Mr Bartley Gavin, A/Director of Services
- Mr John Moran, Senior Executive Officer
- Mr Joe Murphy, Senior Executive Officer
- Mary Farrell, Assistant Staff Officer
Councillor Gibbons welcomed everyone to the meeting and asked everyone to introduce themselves since this was the first meeting of SPC1 since the new Council was formed.
Bartley Gavin, A/Director of Services explained the new procedures to be adhered to at the meeting in light of Covid, everyone should observe 2 m distancing, separate exit and entry points to Chamber, availability of hand sanitiser and masks. All attending meeting should also complete contact tracing covid 19 form.
TO CONSIDER THE ESTABLISHMENT OF A DISABILITY CONSULTATIVE COMMITTEE
A report was presented by B Gavin to the meeting on the establishment of a Disability Consultative Committee
It was proposed by Councillor T Fox
Seconded by Councillor A Gibbons
that Councillor Bree be appointed as chair of the Disability Consultative Committee
Councillor Gibbons said that Councillor Bree would make an excellent chair as he had done previously.
Councillor Bree thanked Councillor Gibbons for his remarks and said that he had been privileged to be chair of the outgoing Disability Consultative Committee. He said that he also wanted to thank the Executive and John Moran. He proposed that the report presented to them by B Gavin in relation to the Disability Consultative Committee be endorsed and that the Committee should be established as soon as possible. After discussion, it was agreed that the bodies represented on the outgoing Committee should be invited to submit nominees and that public notice inviting expressions of interest from interested bodies should also be given.
A report on North West Housing First Project was presented to the meeting by J Murphy, He advised that it was a new initiative by the Government in dealing with the long term homeless. He explained that the North West Housing First contract was awarded to Sligo Social Service Council in January 2020, that the first tenancies commenced in February 2020 but that Covid19 has impacted on delivery. He added that each Council is given a 3 year target programme for 2020 to 2022- Sligo has a target of 24, Donegal 14 and Leitrim 3. Sligo County Council has succeeded in housing 4 households to date.
Councillor Baker said that there are a lot of rural villages where buildings are derelict and wondered could these buildings be used in this project. J Murphy said that this was not really possible under ‘Housing first’ as most service users want to live in towns where health and social services are located.
Councillor O’Boyle questioned if the Council have to provide the housing. J Murphy replied that funding would be made available if the Council could locate units. He said that County Sligo doesn’t have a lot of one bed units, which is the requirement under Housing First.
Councillor Bree thanked J Murphy for the report and said that it has always been difficult to source one bed accommodation. He said there were 9 service users with tenancies already and that the target was to have 41 by the end of 2022. He asked if units could be sourced in the private sector.
J Murphy replied that units could be sourced in the private sector and that Sligo Social Services, who had been awarded the contract, had to provide a number of units..
B Gavin said that a notice was published recently for turnkey developments. He said that there wasn’t much one bed in housing stock but Sligo will probably get units and he was happy enough that Sligo would reach the target.
B Gavin said ‘Housing First’ should always be on the agenda for homeless Action Team meetings.
Councillor Bree asked why this type of work is being outsourced in light of the fact that the contract was awarded to Sligo Social Service Council.
B Gavin replied that it was part of the scheme that it was tendered and advertised.
Councillor Gibbons thanked J Murphy for the report presented.
CURRENT HOUSING DATA
J Murphy presented a report outlining the target of units set for delivery for the Council for the Housing Capital Programme, housing projects that are being advanced and housing schemes that continue to be progressed or were completed in 2019/2020. Councillor O’Boyle thanked him for the report and asked if there were many in emergency accommodation. Joe Murphy replied that emergency accommodation is full nearly every night, and that because of Covid19, people don’t want to move out and are quite happy to stay.
Councillor Baker complimented all staff in housing and said that they have been exceptional during the Covid19 crisis. He said it was important to concentrate on housing adaptation grants and to make sure that what was allocated would be spent.
Councillor Bree also thanked J Murphy for the report. He noted that to date the Council has 236 units delivered under the Housing Capital Programme which leaves a shortfall of 148 units of the target of 384 units for the period 2017-2021.
B Gavin replied that sites have slowed down in the last 6 months and industry is not picking up even for smaller contracts that Tenders are slow in being returned and this will have an impact in terms of the dates of the Scheme. He hoped that by mid 2022 the target can be achieved, with the delay being months rather than not achieved.
P Fallon thanked J Murphy for the report and asked how many were currently on the housing list and what was the plan for additional accommodation for the homeless.
J Murphy informed the meeting that there were 1,507 households approved for social housing support broken down as follows:
- No. of households availing of HAP approved for a transfer 720
- No. of Council tenants/approved housing body tenants approved for a transfer 226
- Nett housing need 561
B Gavin stated that any funding for emergency accommodation goes through the Departement.
Councillor Gibbons expressed concern regarding households availing of HAP. He said that many of them cannot afford the additional rent payable to the landlord. He also said that some landlords refuse to take HAP applicants. Councillor T Fox also reiterated that many households cannot afford the additional rent. Councillor Bree agreed with these comments.
CALENDAR OF MEETINGS
Councillor Gibbons proposed that the next 4 meetings be held in October 2020, December 2020, March 2021 and June 2021. He favoured a meeting start time of 9.00 a.m before the monthly Council meetings which are held at 10.00 a.m. It was decided that this would be reviewed if it was not working and if the meetings were going on longer than an hour.
ANY OTHER BUSINESS
Councillor O’Boyle asked that a list of vacant houses be sent to the members.
B Gavin said that he would come back to him on this.
The meeting ended at 1.15 p.m.
Meeting Date 16/07/2020