Agenda and draft minutes

General Purposes - Wednesday 5th June, 2024 6.00 pm

Venue: Rooms 18.01 - 18th Floor, 64 Victoria Street, London, SW1E 6QP

Contact: Tristan Fieldsend, Committee Manager  Email:  tfieldsend@westminster.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

1.

Membership

To note any changes to the membership.

 

Minutes:

1.1      There were no changes to the membership.

 

2.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations by Members and Officers of the existence and nature of any pecuniary interests or any other significant interest in matters on this agenda.

 

Minutes:

2.1      There were no declarations of interest.

 

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 84 KB

To sign the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2024.

 

Minutes:

3.1      RESOLVED: That the minutes of the meeting held on 31 January 2024 be signed by the Chair as a correct record of the proceedings.

 

4.

Policy on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for Councillors pdf icon PDF 139 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

4.1      The Head of Safeguarding, Quality Assurance and Engagement (Adult Social Care and Health) and the Head of Safeguarding Review and Quality Assurance (Children’s Services), both introduced the report and confirmed that the Council currently did not have a policy on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for Councillors.

 

4.2      It was noted that in January 2024 the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities wrote to all Unitary and Upper Tier Authorities, reminding them of the recommendation in Simon Bailey’s Independent Review of the Disclosure and Barring Regime. Therefore, following this letter the policy before the Committee had been drafted and included requirements for Enhanced DBS checks for those Councillors involved in decisions about the provision of children’s services or the provision of services for vulnerable adults, and for Basic DBS checks for any Councillor elected to the Council.

 

4.3      In response to questions from the Committee it was explained that it would be good practice for all Councillors to have a DBS check, it was not only expected that this would eventually become legislation but would also mirror what many other local authorities were undertaking. With regards to Members on Scrutiny Committees, it was clarified that DBS checks would be important as the Members would be in a position of trust and could be party to sensitive information.

 

4.4      Members noted the draft procedures for dealing with a positive disclosure including the steps which would be taken and endorsed the view that the policy be reviewed on a regular basis going forward.

 

           RESOLVED:

 

1)              That the Committee approved the Policy on Disclosure and Barring Service (DBS) checks for Councillors.

 

2)              That the Committee recommended the Policy to Full Council for its adoption.

 

5.

Approval of Compensation Payment Following a Housing Ombudsman Investigation (1) pdf icon PDF 193 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

5.1      The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a leaseholder through the Council’s complaints process and to the Housing Ombudsman. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £2,062.50 was required to be paid to the leaseholder from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

5.2      The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee noted that a review had been carried out which included a review of record keeping practices in relation to inspections, repairs and resident vulnerabilities. In addition, the review also included staff training needs with regard to record keeping, complaint handling and remedies. The findings and actions had been shared with the Housing Ombudsman Service and the Regulator to satisfy their compliance.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £2,062.50 be noted and approved to comply with the Housing Ombudsman’s order.

 

6.

Approval of a Compensation Payment Following a Housing Ombudsman Investigation (2) pdf icon PDF 148 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

6.1      The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a tenant through the Council’s complaints process and to the Housing Ombudsman. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £4,125 was required to be paid to the tenant from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

6.2      The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee noted that following a review training workshops had been conducted for complaints team members to improve communication and adherence to established procedures, aiming to prevent similar issues in the future. Also, the Council’s internal systems had been updated to reflect the resident’s current vulnerability status in addition to significant team and system development of the use and updating of the vulnerability records.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £4,125 be noted and approved to comply with the Housing Ombudsman’s order.

 

7.

Approval of a Compensation Payment (1) pdf icon PDF 143 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

7.1      The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a tenant through the Council’s complaints process. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £4,045 was recommended to be paid to the tenant from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

7.2      The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee noted that following the review the Council had apologised for communication lapses, incorrect advice, and delays in response times, acknowledging the impact on the complainant's experience. The Committee was pleased to note that remedial actions had also been undertaken which included the provision of additional heaters, ongoing communication updates, and arrangements for regular contact with a Housing Officer until all issues were resolved. In addition, training workshops were conducted for complaints team members to improve communication and adherence to established procedures, aiming to prevent similar issues in the future.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £4,045 be noted and approved to remedy the failures identified within the complaint investigation.

 

8.

Approval of a Compensation Payment (2) pdf icon PDF 244 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

8.1      The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a tenant through the Council’s complaints process. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £21,407 was recommended to be paid to the tenant from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

8.2      The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee was pleased to note that following the review the management, response to and learning from complaints was now under new leadership under the Head of Resident Experience. It was explained this would provide more focus on ensuring complaint handling and investigations were more robust.

 

8.3      As part of the review, various learning opportunities had been identified, many of which were being addressed as part of the Housing Improvement Programme’s core activities. It was explained a Senior Management Case review had also been scheduled to review case handling practices and ensure ownership of lessons learnt activity.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £21,407 be noted and approved to comply with the reviewed complaint award.

 

9.

Approval of a Compensation Payment (3) pdf icon PDF 186 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

9.1      The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a tenant through the Council’s complaints process. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £3,411.23 was recommended to be paid to the tenant from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

9.2      The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee was pleased to note that once the schedule of works had been agreed this would be managed to completion by the Head of Property Operations who would also act as the single point of contact for the resident.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £3,411.23 be noted and approved to comply with the reviewed complaint award.

 

10.

Approval of a Compensation Payment (4) pdf icon PDF 176 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

10.1    The Committee was presented with a report providing details of a complaint submitted by a tenant through the Council’s complaints process. Following this complaint, a compensation payment of £4,939.18 was recommended to be paid to the tenant from the Housing Revenue Account.

 

10.2    The Committee noted the contents of the report and discussed its details. It was hoped that lessons had been learnt from the case and the Committee was pleased to note that improvements on the liaison between housing and repairs had been initiated where a decant is needed to ensure that an alternative property was found quickly, and that once the tenant had moved the repairs were completed promptly.

 

RESOLVED: That the payment of compensation of £4,939.18 be noted and approved to comply with the reviewed complaint award.