Category Archives: Working For You

EDDC Home Safeguard – Letter to Exmouth Journal

Letter to Exmouth Journal for Thursday 28 July 2016

I was extremely concerned to read a highly misleading letter about East Devon District Council’s Home Safeguard service, which was published in last week’s Exmouth Journal. 

Tenants of East Devon District Council’s Sheltered Housing are not being ‘bullied’ or ‘forced’ to cover the cost of an alarm system. In fact, they have the option to move to accommodation that does not offer alarm support as a standard service. If they do choose to move, then we will give them priority on Devon Home Choice, the county’s online housing choice based letting system, so that a move can be facilitated more swiftly.

The assertion that tenants did not have a clause in their tenancy agreement regarding Home Safeguard and Support until recently is incorrect, as applicants have for many years been required to complete a Supported Housing Needs assessment form to prove that they are in need of support before a sheltered home can be allocated to them.

In addition, all tenants of sheltered housing are required to complete an annual assessment of their support needs, so they can decide (with the assistance of a Mobile Support Officer) on the level and type of support they need. Tenants are not required to have officers visit their home if they do not wish to. The assertion that the council is ‘infantilising their elderly residents’ is frankly incorrect.

The financial assessment we offer is carried out by the tenant with an independent advisor so there is no question of them having to go through this with a Housing Officer and the financial help for those in genuine need is open ended and will continue for as long as they need it.

East Devon’s Housing Service is fully committed to supporting people and communities in order that they can sustain their tenancies and to help people live independently for longer. We have many messages from our tenants that support this.

For example, Mrs R at Budleigh Salterton would like to say a huge thank you to the operator who dealt with her call on 31 March, when her husband went into cardiac arrest. He actually ‘died’ at the scene and CPR had to be performed until paramedics arrived and restarted his heart, He spent six days in an induced coma and, having had a defibrillator fitted, is slowly recovering. Mrs R says that without this alarm her husband would not have survived and she is very grateful.

Another person, whose elderly parent is one of our tenants, has written to express her gratitude, saying: “I emailed at 6pm yesterday with a query about my Father’s Home Safeguard Alarm service. I got a reply from the operator later, which gave me the information I needed and which was followed up later by a second email with further information. I was very impressed with both the prompt reply and the pleasant tone of her emails and felt it deserved comment (having been dealing with a range of people/organisations regarding my parents’ needs), this has been a rare beacon of good practice.”

I believe it would be helpful if people could  see exactly what the council’s charges are for our Home Safeguard and support services. Not forgetting the fact that for our sheltered housing tenants the service includes regular visits from a Mobile Support Officer (MSO). So here are the charges:

  • Alarm charge £3.70 per week – this covers the costs of the alarm equipment, which is installed in all our sheltered properties, as well as monitoring and responding to calls 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Housing management charge £3.50 per week (Covered by housing benefit for those in receipt of full housing benefit) – The housing management charge is for tasks done by the MSOs which help support each tenancy and maintain the fabric of our property and the communal areas. This could include for example: accompanied visits for new lettings, advice about aids and adaptations or helping with reporting repairs and monitoring progress.
  • Support charge £5.83 per week – this covers the personal service provided by our mobile support officers MSOs for issues not to do with a tenancy including, for example:  the calls and visits by the MSO, motivating and helping to maintain self care and personal hygiene, assistance with wellbeing matters and encouraging physical health or advice on welfare benefits and supporting you to manage your finances (if required).

In addition, East Devon has 2,200 private clients who have the alarm plus pendant(s) (£4.53 weekly for one pendant plus alarm or £5.53 weekly if using two pendants plus alarm or £5.03 per week for alarm, pendant and smoke detector. Please note that this service has no mobile support officer. 

 

Councillor Jill Elson, EDDC Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities.

 

EDDC Housing

St Andrews Road Exm DSC_0181History

2013 – Housing Enabling Officer started to explore the possibility of the Council providing accommodation for single people in a shared house. The need for this kind of accommodation had been shown to exist in the Exmouth area.

June 2013 – proposal put to Housing Review Board and accepted

End of 2013 – suitable house in Exmouth (large Victorian terrace) identified and purchased with a view to refitting with six ensuite bedrooms, and shared kitchen and dining facilities.

2014/15 – careful thought went into the design for the project .  Always planned to refit to high thermal efficiency level but idea of retrofitting to equivalent of passivhaus standards developed later

Funding

We have used commuted sum monies from other developments in Exmouth and right to buy receipts

What we hope to achieve

  • A unit of shared accommodation which would set an example of high standards and good management for similar properties in the area such as private sector HMOs
  • Provision of bedroom/ensuite accommodation in a shared house for 6 people
  • Meeting demands for accommodation for single people of working age
  • Retrofitting to high thermal efficiency to keep bills etc to a minimum

How will accoSt Andrews Road SharedHouse 2016mmodation be allocated

  • Through Devon Home Choice and interview
  • Accommodation for single people aged approximately 20-55, with no support needs
  • Accommodation will be let on a licence and there will be clear house rules which must be followed

 

 

Mamhead Slipway

Conservatives Mamhead start 7 March 2015 no 107 compressedWORK NOW UNDER WAY ON A £1.2 million BOOST FOR RESORT’S WATER USERS 

Members of the Conservative Group on EDDC and Exmouth Town Council saw for themselves how work is progressing on the new £1.2 million Mamhead Slipway when they visited the project on Monday (7 March). 

Pictured are (left to right): Brian Bailey, Bill Nash, John Humphreys, Jill Elson and Pauline Stott.

The first task of contractors Raymond Brown Construction Ltd is to clear the Mamhead Gardens area to the side of the existing slipway, which will allow towing vehicles and trailers to manoeuvre, making access to the new ramp easier. The old slipway will be dismantled in late April, so building of a re-aligned slipway can take place through the summer. 

The small group who met on Monday  – and their Conservative colleagues – are delighted that work on the new facility is under way after the project was programmed to avoid disturbing overwintering birds. 

Their feelings were summed up by Pauline Stott, a long-standing district councillor who also chairs Exmouth Town Council’s Regeneration and General Purposes Committee. She said: “We’re so pleased to see that work has started on this project and we’re hoping it will be finished by the target date of autumn this year – weather permitting. 

LEADING THE WAY 

“This is another example of Conservatives leading the way in the regeneration of Exmouth – and investing in the town to make it a more attractive resort for visitors and other investors. 

“There were doubters when we and our partners upgraded The Strand – but the town centre is more vibrant as a result. There was opposition to the closure of the Elizabeth Hall – but now it is the site of a thriving Premier Inn – and one that has the hotel industry talking. 

“Even now there are doubters over our Queen’s Drive plans – but the community has already had a good deal of influence on the proposals and there WILL be further consultation. We are determined to create a year-round leisure offering with appeal to families and people of all ages, whatever the weather. 

“Now we have made a start on the slipway – which is going to be a huge attraction to water users and will put Exmouth on the map for sailing, kite-surfing and other water-sports enthusiasts. So to the doubters I would say – ‘Conservatives are driving change for the better of Exmouth and for the district overall. We are delivering on our promises and the improvements are already bearing fruit’. 

“The Mamhead Slipway project means that Conservative EDDC is continuing to invest money and effort in Exmouth, which is a huge vote of confidence in the town and its hard-core businesses. As Exmouth continues to thrive and grow, we will see more interest from other investors and it will become a virtuous circle of investment and growth”. 

 

Ring & Ride 25 yrs.

JME 25 yrs Mag Centre Nov 15 v2Exmouth and District Community Transport Group Celebrates 25 yrs of service.

This service has reached its 25 year milestone. They have carried many people who would not be able to be independent without this service. It is a Community Bus transport service for those who are unable to walk to a bus stop could be in a Town or Village.

Jill Elson founded this service and with the help of many people, charities, businesses we have reached this milestone. Thanks to the support of Devon County Council, East Devon District Council, Town Councils and Parish Councils in our service area. In addition to these Councils, the trustees, management committee and co-ordinators with others have managed to raise thousands of pounds in grants, donations and sponsorship. We still need to raise over £150,000 per year to keep these services running.

THANK YOU TO YOU ALL

Signature

 

 

Jill Elson

Exmouth Masterplan

EXMOUTH MASTERPLAN – NOVEMBER 2015

Jill Elson – EDDC Councillor Halsdon Ward

The Masterplan is under constant review regularly by all the elected Councillors (29 in total – Devon County, East Devon and Exmouth Town Councils) that represent Exmouth. Over the last few years we have all listened to opinions of many Exmouth residents regarding potential developments. It is of course our role to listen to everyone and then attempt to reconcile these views including those of the silent majority who do not express their views publicly. The Masterplan was created to improve the economy of Exmouth for the benefit of everyone to extend the ‘season’ which we know can be extremely volatile and to create more job opportunities. The Masterplan is about planning for the future in a co-ordninated and thoughtful way so that businesses can thrive and our Town is sustainable and remains vibrant so that people want to visit, live and work here.

The latest proposals for the Queen’s Drive section of the seafront are constantly changing. All Councillors, representing all parties, have been invited to many meetings to voice their opinions on any plans put forward to agree a way forward. There seems to be some misunderstanding on the actual concept. The road is to be redirected away from the seafront at the old lifeboat station and to exit alongside the Maer (not over it). East Devon District Council is borrowing nearly £1.5 million to move the road and create a larger car park between the Amusement building and Madeira Bowling Club. The pavement alongside the beach will still be there for people to walk along.

After several meetings with Councillors, Grenadier’s outline planning proposal has been agreed and all the necessary work that has to be done for a planning application is now taking place. When it is deposited with East Devon District Council it will be available for public consultation over several weeks before it is considered by the Planning Committee which will take into account all the views expressed on planning matters before they make a decision. This proposal is for a Watersports Centre and the company has already consulted many water users. Moving the road will give safer access to the beach.

The other part of the Queens Drive proposals have not been agreed although elected Exmouth Councillors have been invited to several meetings with and without the company and discussions are still taking place and will continue making sure that all key stakeholders and residents have their say.

The leases were for 7 years and have been renewed on this basis since 1954.Two of these tenants are currently in litigation with EDDC and are  going through a court process so Councillors will not be commenting on any of this until this process has been completed.

East Devon has issued press releases constantly to try and keep the public updated. They are still available on the EDDC website. Newspapers have printed a version of all these on a regular basis.

Government Changes to EDDC Rents

Brandon Lewis 2015Jill Elson as Cabinet Member for Sustainable Homes and Communities had a meeting with Brandon Lewis the Housing Minister. Present were Hugo Swire, Neil Parish and my opposite number at Mid Devon District Council and both Councils’ senior officers.

The Summer Budget proposed a 1% reduction in the Council rents which would probably be welcomed by our tenants but on average it is 82p per week. More seriously it means that in our 30 yr Business Plan on the Housing Revenue Account (ring fenced for housing) – we had to borrow £84.5 million to have more freedoms – we will lose over £7m.

Exmouth Hospital

 

Exmouth Hospital

Exmouth Hospital

 

It is with dismay I read that the New Devon Clinical Commissioning Board is proposing to reduce Exmouth Hospital to 16 beds. I was part of the Stakeholder Group as a Councillor and Cabinet Member as part of the many consultations.  We were told that in WEB Consortium area that Exmouth  would have 24 beds + extra for winter pressures and Budleigh Salterton Hospital would become a Health and Well Being Hub. This was supported by residents.

I do not understand how Exmouth as the largest Town in Devon, as part of the WEB Consortium area is reduced to 16 when the population of WEB is estimated at over 48,000 with development increasing under the emerging East Devon Local Plan in both Towns and rural villages by 2000 without ‘windfalls’. The Health Profiles of these Towns according to 2013/14 evidence by DCC is Exmouth area 48,323 and Tiverton area 38,539. Therefore the question is  ‘ how does Tiverton justify 32 beds in its Community Hospital and Exmouth 16 beds ?’

Many of us involved in the voluntary sector who transport patients to the RDE and with other conversations are aware that there seems to be a need for patients, if it is safe to do so, to move out of the RDE to vacate beds for new patients. They cannot move out, either because there are insufficient beds in the community either nursing homes or homes for patients suffering from dementia, their homes need adaptations or are unsafe and of course the lack of community carers.

I have for many years been in support of having a new Exmouth Community Hospital to meet the needs of the future with a new GP medical centre. I am aware that our GP’s have worked very hard to have more medical consultations in our Community Hospital instead of travelling to RDE, ‘safe’ transfusions are taking place, minor operations etc. Our residents like this arrangement but we will never understand why the NDCCG Board has reduced Exmouth Hospital to 16 beds.

 

Jill Elson

Councillor Halsdon Ward.

EDDC Housing Press Release 30 July 2015

1% cut in rents means a £7 million cut in income for EDDC over next four years

Council calling on MPs to help

Government proposals for a 1% reduction in council house rents each year for the next four years means East Devon District Council faces a £7 million cut in its income by 2019/20.

The council is now asking to meet with its MPs Hugo Swire and Neil Parish to discuss the compulsory 1% rent cut which was announced in the Budget in June.

East Devon is landlord of 4,245 council homes, and its social rents, at less than £82 a week, are already well below equivalent affordable rents charged by most Registered Housing Providers.

Cllr Jill Elson, East Devon District Council’s Portfolio Holder for Sustainable Homes and Communities, said that the £7 million cut in income over the next four years would hit the council’s plans to invest in maintaining its current properties and affect any plans to buy or build new council homes.

She said: “While a 1% reduction may seem good news for existing tenants, we may not be able to carry out the kind of maintenance on properties as we do now. We have invested £9 million each year on the repair and improvement of tenant’s homes over the last three years. It would also affect our future tenants too, as the £7 million rent income we are at risk of losing, equates to being able to provide 66 new affordable homes assuming £120,000 per home.”

The council, along with other local authorities who have housing stock, has a thirty year business plan to ensure that it is able to maintain its properties. The 1% rent cut could mean East Devon’s ring-fenced Housing Revenue Account would reduce by £77.2 million over the next three decades. This loss of income makes the business plan unviable.

The proposal is particularly unwelcome as the government required East Devon District Council to take on £84.5 million of debt in 2012 in return for freedoms and flexibilities to run its council housing free from government interference. The debt was based on the government’s assessment of income and expenditure over thirty years, and three years into that arrangement, the government is proposing to “move the goalposts”.

Cllr Elson is urging the Government to reconsider the policy. She said: “This is very short sighted and this policy has tough consequences on us as a council and on tenants too. We need to secure a more effective balance between the needs of present and future tenants in the longer term.”

The council is hoping to meet with MPs in the next few weeks.

EDDC Housing Rents

East Devon DC HousingStatement made to East Devon District Council Full Council meeting held on Wednesday 29 July 2015

STATEMENT FOR FULL COUNCIL 29TH JULY 2015

The July Budget Statement presented to the House of Commons contained rent reduction proposals that will affect the Housing Revenue Account 30 year Business Plan. I expect our tenants will welcome it. Housing Revenue Account finance was reformed in 2012 presenting a new financial deal for Council Housing. This scrapped the old subsidy system of us paying £6 million pounds per annum from tenants’ rents to be redistributed by the Treasury to other councils.[It must be noted that East Devon paid off its public works loan under John Major and did not transfer its housing into a housing association to pay off its debts. We then became debt free at that time. Since then the tenants had the opportunity to ask EDDC to transfer its housing stock into a Housing Association (Stock Options under Tony Blair). Tenants chose to stay with EDDC.]

This Council was not given a choice but to go forward on the scheme which meant we had to have a Public Works Loan for £84.5 million this was based on the asset value of the Housing Stock.   We were advised that the new system is based upon assumptions Government had made about rental income and expenditure required to maintain the stock over 30 years. Therefore, by Governments’ own calculations any changes in those assumptions will impact on the Council’s ability to maintain their housing stock.

Last year the Government adjusted the rental formula to use the Consumer Price Index rather than the higher Retail Price Index on which the self-financing was based. This was announced as a ten year rent setting policy. This damaged the business plan. The new formula was to have rent increases of CPI + 1% this was the previous RPI + ½% + £2 per week.

The Summer budget indicated that it would be compulsory to implement Government Rent policy of 1% rent reduction each year for 4 years – the intention being to reduce the Housing Benefit bill. This broke the CPI+1% formula that had just been introduced only 1 year ago.

The impact of this proposal of 1% reduction in rents for 4 years on our business plan is:

  • Housing Revenue Account Business Plan allowed for 2.5% increase so this effectively means a 3.5% reduction each year.
  • The cumulative effect by end of year 4 (2019/20) is a reduction in rent income of £7 million. (66 new affordable homes at £120,000 per home)
  • The estimated rent loss over the full 30 year business plan period is £77.2 million (equivalent to 643 New Homes at £120,000 per unit.
  • In 2025/26 our HRA Balance drops below the agreed minimum of £2 million
  • The balance does not reach an acceptable level until 2037/38 (when our debt is repaid) when it is projected to reach £5 million.
  • New build/acquisition will be curtailed – Right to Buy receipts may have to all returned to the Government.
  • Reductions may be required in maintenance programmes
  • Our average rent is £81.97 per week which is well below equivalent affordable rents charged by some Housing Associations.

I have requested an urgent meeting with our MP’s. Hugo Swire and Neil Parish. Hugo Swire has asked for a meeting with the Minister ASAP. We are meeting Neil Parish on Thursday 6th August 2015.

Ring and Ride services

WEB Bus Livery 2015

Exmouth and District Community Transport Group

Exmouth and District Community Transport Group has thoroughly reviewed all of its services to make them more flexible and relevant to our passengers. This is also to make our services more sustainable for the future.

Exmouth and District has a growing number of elderly and people with mobility difficulties living in their own homes. Many of these people are living alone or their partner is unable to take them out of their homes. This means many more people are at risk of becoming isolated whether in a town or rural village.

After many conversations with our regular passengers. We made the decision to return our Devon County Council leased vehicle and not to have a school contract which limited our flexibility. We have also had long discussions with our 2 Community Hospitals Leagues for Friends.

Our customers were saying that they like to socialise with others, they wish to visit local shopping centres as well as the supermarkets and Town Centres. Their personal carers are not always able to have them ready to travel by 10am and would like an opportunity to travel in the afternoon.

Starting in August we will be offering Ring & Ride to Town Centres morning and afternoon with the availability of visiting the seafront in an afternoon. Local lunches once per month. Excursions to Sidmouth, Newton Abbot and Exeter monthly. Other trips are organised to various destinations including a lunch. These are at the cost of the trip and passengers pay for their own lunches. This is with our Community Bus.

Budleigh Community Hospital is being redeveloped into a Health and Well Being HUB and Exmouth Hospital is being upgraded to provide the medical beds, x ray, minor operations with an Urgent Care Centre. Budleigh Salterton Town Council led a bid with other surrounding Villages and Exmouth Town Council to the ‘Parishes Together Fund’ and were successful in buying a small MPV with tail lift.  We are working in partnership with both Hospital Leagues of Friends to use this bus to provide transport to both destinations and they have agreed to pay a substantial sum to the running costs of the bus to ensure the fare will be ‘affordable’ to all their clients.

We do have another small MPV with Tail lift for individual appointments – health, visiting friends or relatives, attending weddings etc. This is becoming more popular with fares charged to cover the cost – not all return fares because on occasions their relatives or friends may take them or pick them but are unable to do both journeys.

We also have many bookings from residents from residential or nursing homes to give them a local trip or further away. Some people just wish to see the seafront and have an ice cream – which for many is a real treat.

Thanks to Wendy and Mel our co-ordinators for a great deal of work in talking to our customers and many other local organisations. Making a new timetable work was not easy and will be kept under review. We are very grateful to our voluntary drivers and are advertising for more. We still make many grant applications, seek sponsorship, and donations to guarantee we will be here into the future with a need to replace the buses when needed and to pay the upkeep of them.

Jill Elson Chairman of the Exmouth and District Community Transport Management Committee

Telephone 01395 26 66 62 between 10am and 12 noon or between 1pm and 3pm for information

Web: www.exmouthringandride.org.uk

Email: edctg@btconnect.com