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No. Item


Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non-Disclosable Pecuniary / Other Interests


Cllr Cathy Mason and Cllr David Griffiths declared Non-Pecuniary / Other interests as members of the ‘Ashfield Homes’ Board of Directors, which had been responsible for managing the Council’s housing stock. Cllr Cathy Mason declared a further Non-Pecuniary / Other interest as an employee of the Wilko retail company, which provides products to those receiving Decoration Assistance Vouchers.



Introduction to Scrutiny Consideration of Decoration Assistance Vouchers pdf icon PDF 159 KB


Members were reminded that following the Council’s decision to directly manage its housing stock, the remit of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee had been extended to include Housing Related Performance matters. Two Tenant representatives had also been appointed to serve on the Committee. They would be invited to attend the Committee’s meetings, when it scrutinised housing related issues. In this context, Members welcomed one of the appointed tenant representatives to the meeting, Minister Myrrha Hibbert.


The Committee was then asked to consider the performance of the Council’s ‘Decoration Assistance Voucher’ Scheme.  Members were assisted in this by Chris Clipstone, Responsive and Voids Maintenance Manager and Ian Bailey, Partnership and Procurement Manager, from the Council’s Housing Service.


The Housing Service officers began by explaining that the report to Committee set out the current process for allocating Decoration Assistance Vouchers, who can receive them and how much the scheme costs. It also explored a range of alternative options in which assistance could be provided and, in particular, whether there was scope for achieving efficiencies.


The Committee was told that Decoration Assistance Vouchers are issued to tenants when large scale work has taken place at their homes, such as the replacement of central heating systems or when electrical systems are rewired. Vouchers are also given to those moving into previously empty homes, so that they can re-decorate them. 


Tenants can receive a maximum of £105 towards the cost of decorating a living room and £60 each for all other rooms. The Committee learned that either full or half value vouchers are issued, depending on how much the improvement works have damaged the décor or how much re-decoration an empty property requires. Tenants can use the money to buy decorating products at a wide range of suppliers from across the District or towards the cost of employing someone to carry out the decorating work for them.


The Committee was reminded by the Housing Service Officers that Cabinet had agreed to increase annually the value of Decoration Assistance Vouchers in line with the Retail Price Index (RPI). The cost of the scheme had risen in line with the index since 2004 and now stood at £156k per annum.


Members discussed possible alternatives to Decoration Assistance Vouchers, some of which were currently being used by other local authorities. This included bespoke ‘Paint’ or ‘Decorating’ Packs. These are provided by named stores and contain those products required to decorate. Another approach could be to use store cards, so that tenants could only purchase decorating products from specific retailers.


The Housing Service Officers made clear that such alternatives could have advantages and disadvantages. They explained that the Council might be able to bulk-buy at a discount decorating materials from large DIY chains. However, this would mean that tenants would no longer be able choose what they required from local suppliers. In some instances this could make it more difficult for them to collect the goods, especially for those who do not have cars or access to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OS20