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Contact: Alan Maher
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 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
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
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
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