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Ealing and Northfield

Questions: Labour’s useless Housing Commission

I have been tracking Labour’s so-called Housing Commission, see here and here.

At the last council meeting on 31st January I asked the portfolio holder, Cllr Hitesh Tailor, for an update. His written answer (question 15) is here:

I would like to record my thanks to the Housing Commission Members who gave up their time to take part in the Commission. This was a good initiative on the part of the Administration to reflect on the changes in housing and the impact they would have upon Ealing.

The final meeting of Ealing’s Housing Commission was held on 19 January 2012. This meeting reviewed the draft report of the commission and discussed the key recommendations. A final draft of the report, reflecting the agreed recommendations of the commission, is currently being prepared and is expected to be complete before the end of February. Once the report is complete the commission’s recommendations and an action plan for implementation will be presented to Scrutiny for comment prior to going to Cabinet.

However, a number of actions that the commission has supported are already underway:
• The Council is reviewing its allocations policy so that those who are in employment or volunteer can get higher priority, so that we reward people who contribute to Ealing.
• A council led regeneration option is being explored for Copley Close
• The Council has consulted on its tenancy and rents strategy, which has been informed by the Housing Commission

The Housing Commission will cost £25K in total and we are on target to meet this budget. This includes the cost of:
o Secretariat for the Commission including minute taking, background papers, preparation of presentations
o Specifically commissioned research papers to support the work of the Commission
o No expenses are being paid to commissioners
o Writing of final report

The Housing Commission was set up to look at the key issues in Housing Policy at the moment. The Coalition government is embarking on some of the most radical changes to housing policy in recent history. At the same time it has cut capital funding for housing and regeneration by 75%. Therefore, the Council has decided to review its options so that it can continue to meet the needs of Ealing Residents.

His answer is typically defensive and gives little clue as to when the public will have sight of the commission’s final report (for which we have paid £25K). The last time I asked the schedule was year end.

Labour took £55K out of the scrutiny budget and reduced the number of panels from 9 to 5 (44%), see here. These are cross party meetings with published minutes and the opportunity for the public to attend and participate. With the Housing Commission they have blown £25K of public funds for a series of private meetings between Labour politicians which has produced no report so far.

Update: At Overview and Scrutiny Committee last night we were promised that the final report would come to scrutiny on 12th April. At last we will get to see what we get for our £25K from this private Labour party talk-fest.