Contact: Felicity Foley, Committees Manager
Apologies for Absence
There were no apologies for absence.
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A member with a disclosable pecuniary interest or a prejudicial interest in a matter who attends a meeting of the authority at which the matter is considered:
(i) must disclose the interest at the start of the meeting or when the interest becomes apparent, and
(ii) may not participate in any discussion or vote on the matter and must withdraw from the meeting room.
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There were no declarations of interest.
Please be advised that the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny has further agreed that the call-in procedure shall not apply to this urgent decision. This is because a call-in would risk public health by leaving the Council without policy on the accommodation of vulnerable rough sleepers during a period from 30 September when Covid-19 cases are rising.
Accordingly, the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny Committee has agreed that the decision is both reasonable in all circumstances, and that it should be treated as a matter of urgency. This is in accordance with Part 4, Section H, and Paragraph 18 (a) and (b) of the Council Constitution.
The Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal considered the report which sought approval to adopt the amendments to the Rough Sleeper Discretion Policy as outlined in appendix 1 of the report; to delegate authority to the Director of Housing, Regeneration and Planning, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal, to amend the policy to give effect to changes in legislation or statutory guidance; and to extend the period of application of the policy until 31 March 2021, unless terminated earlier or extended beyond this date by Cabinet / Cabinet Member decision.
The Council adopted a Rough Sleeper Discretion Policy on 27 July 2020 in order to continue to provide accommodation to specified categories of vulnerable homeless people falling outside the Housing Act duty who present themselves to the Council. To date, twelve vulnerable people have been accommodated under this policy. Due to the continued threat of Covid-19, especially over the winter period, it was proposed that the Discretion Policy should be extended to 31 March 2021, and add homeless people with Covid-19 symptoms as an explicit category of people to whom discretion will be applied for the duration of their illness.
The call-in process had been waived by the Chair of Overview and Scrutiny as to delay the implementation of the decision would risk public health by leaving the Council without policy on the accommodation of vulnerable rough sleepers during a period from 30 September, when Covid-19 cases are rising. The waiver of the call-in process was in accordance with Part 4, Section H and Paragraph 18 (a) and (b) of the Council’s Constitution.
i. the Rough Sleeper Discretion Policy attached at Appendix 1 as amended in red be adopted;
ii. authority be delegated to the Director of Housing, Regeneration and Planning, in consultation with the Cabinet Member for Housing and Estate Renewal, to amend this policy to give effect to changes in legislation or statutory guidance, or directives or requests of a similar character issued by Government; and
iii. the period of application of this policy be extended to 31 March 2021, unless terminated earlier or extended beyond this date by Cabinet / Cabinet Member decision.
Reasons for decision
On 27 July 2020, the Council adopted the Rough Sleeper Discretion Policy to ensure that where homeless people vulnerable in the context of Covid-19 asked the Council for assistance they would continue to be accommodated. This policy was in the first instance to run until 30 September 2020, in order to assess its impact on the numbers of people accommodated. Having assessed this, and with Covid-19 a growing and significant risk, extending the policy to 31 March 2021 is appropriate, as is adding another category of people to whom discretion will be applied: homeless people who have symptoms of Covid-19.
Alternative options considered
The first alternative option is to return to the approach that was taken from 26 March 2020 to 27 July 2020: that is, to offer accommodation to anyone in the ... view the full minutes text for item 51.