Agenda and minutes

Housing Associations Scrutiny Panel - Wednesday, 7th February, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Committee Rooms A & B - Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email:

No. Item


Disclosures of Interest & Whipping Declarations

In accordance with the Council's Code of Conduct, Councillors of the Council are reminded that it is a requirement to declare interests where appropriate.



No disclosures of interests were made.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 641 KB

To approive as a correct record the mnutes of the Housing Associations Scrutiny Panel held on 23 November 2023.



Witness Sessions

The Panel invited representatives from selected Registered Providers to help inform its investigation in understanding the current processes, practices and systems, together with the provision of support currently being provided to tenants.  It would be beneficial to share best practice, expertise and learning, resulting in positive outcomes for all parties involved and seek to build on the positive relationships already in place


The Panel is aware of the new legislation and consumer standards for Registered Providers due to come into effect in 2024 and consequently was keen to understand the preparation for these.


Representatives from The Guinness Partnership have been invited to assist the Panel’s scrutiny in this matter.


Councillor Irvine has also been invited as the Cabinet Member for Housing.


Whilst the individuals named above identifies those witnesses anticipated to speak at the meeting, this may change subject to availability and, at the discretion of the Chair. Further witnesses may be called in addition or instead of those listed above should they be unavailable.  Due to the nature of the discussions within the above item, should Councillors wish to scrutinise the financial issues or aspects of any arrangements in specific detail that may be viewed as financially/commercially sensitive the meeting may need to move to Part B (exempt item – closed to the public).


The Panel had invited witnesses to help inform their investigation.


Clare Easton, Regional Head of Customer Services South East at The Guinness Partnership had been invited to offer views on the current processes, practices and systems, together with the provision of initiatives and support currently being provided to tenants.


The Panel was aware of the new legislation and consumer standards for Registered Providers due to come into effect later in the year and consequently was keen to understand the preparation for these.


Councillor Irvine, as the Council’s Cabinet Member for Housing had also been invited.


The Panel received an introduction from Clare Easton, on Guinness’ work as a landlord in the borough.  The following main points were noted in the discussion:

·         Confirmation provided regarding the process for undertaking tenant satisfaction surveys. It was noted much work had been carried out with regards to resident engagement.

·         With regards to issues such as parking and ASB, it was noted there were challenges given the more emotive subjects on occasions.  However, it was important to engage with residents and partner agencies as it was recognised that working together was the best way to tackle some of the shared challenges faced.  The Panel felt it was important that should problems remain unrectified, the council should have a role in compelling action from registered providers and other agencies.

·         It was noted that ASB was a concern and clarity was sought and obtained on the working relationship with local policing teams and the liaison regarding ASB concerns.  Customer Liaison Officers (Housing Officers) would have the liaison with the local policing teams.  In addition, it was confirmed there were ASB reporting systems in place which would feed through, together with ‘quarterly estate inspections/walkabouts’.  The Panel felt it would be beneficial if ward councillors could be made aware of the estate inspections / walkabouts where possible.

·         It was commented that one improvement which would assist and develop the positive working relationships already in place from the registered providers perspective would be once the tenancy was agreed, to provide as much information (in accordance with GDPR) so the registered provider can assist the tenant fully.  Similarly, the registered provider would provide information to local authorities regarding any associated factors prior to a social tenancy agreement.

·         Recognition that there had been challenges for the repairs service within Crawley brought about through the age of stock, cost of materials, supply issues as well as the damp and mould concerns, all of which were being addressed.  It was important to acknowledge the challenges and adapt new working practices.

·         Acknowledgment that investment was planned for the future which would ensure fit for purpose properties.

·         With regards to the new legislation and consumer standards for registered providers due to come into effect later in the year, it was noted that the data would be provided nationally but the tenant satisfaction measures should be able to be broken down into local authority area. Whilst it was yet unknown how the data was to be published,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.



To agree any recommendations from this meeting to be included into the draft report.


Following the witness sessions and the action points, it was agreed that the following be determined for possible inclusion in the draft report:


1.    That Guinness Partnership (and other Registered Providers if relevant) be requested to inform councillors when estate inspections/walkabouts are due, so specifically Ward Councillors can attend if they wish.  Email Democratic Services ( to be included in Councillors’ Information Bulletin.


2.    That as much information as possible (in accordance with GDPR) be provided to Registered Providers by the Council once a social tenancy is agreed.


3.    That as a result of the new legislation and consumer standards in 2024, following the completion of tenant satisfaction measures surveys, request information from Registered Providers on local authority area data (if the figures are not available from the RSH website).



General Update and Actions for Next Meeting

To receive any relevant updates/information from officers and Panel Members, including additional information required to advance the forthcoming meetings.

To include:


a)    Date of next meeting is Monday 18 March. Confirm actions and work for final meeting of the Panel.

b)    Decide what additional information the Panel requires to complete the Review or any additional witness sessions.

c)    Agree how any recommendations will be agreed and content for the draft report.




The Chair updated the Panel that the next meeting was scheduled for Monday 18 March and was currently set to be the final meeting of the panel.  However, there was an option for other Registered Providers to attend should responses be forthcoming.


However, ultimately recommendations discussed at previous meetings would be drawn together to be discussed at the next meeting and agreed.  It was then usual for the draft report to be written by the Lead Officer and circulated by email to Panel Members with a deadline for any comments. 


The report would need to be ready by 13 June in order for it to be presented to the Overview and Scrutiny Commission on 24 June and Cabinet on 26 June.  The report would be presented at both meetings by the Panel Chair.


It was noted that should any Scrutiny Panel meetings be required for the new municipal year, the Overview and Scrutiny Commission would need to agree the membership and re-constitute the Panel at its first meeting in June, prior to any Panel meeting taking place.



Appendix A pdf icon PDF 167 KB