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Published on October 26th, 2017 | by John OMeara

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THE REPORT WHICH SAYS IT ALL?

The recent report to Cabinet shown below covers many issues of acute concern to Handsworth residents – particularly in relation to the private rented sector (PRS). The meat of the report (which inescapably references the chillingly named ‘Controlling Migration Fund’) is in Section 5. We are grateful to Mick Archer at The Handsworth Herald for bringing it to our attention (click mick@theherald). If the bid is successful the challenge is to ensure the money is well spent, and in the areas which need it most. Apologies for the horrible lack of spaces in the report – sometimes WordPress formatting has a mind of its own!
BIRMINGHAM CITY COUNCIL
PUBLIC Report to: CABINET
Report of: Corporate Director – Place
Date of Decision: 24 October 2017
SUBJECT: CONTROLLING MIGRATION FUND BID – TACKLING
ROGUE LANDLORDS AND SUPPORTING COMMUNITIES
1. Purpose of report:
1.1 To approve a bid to Government for resources from the Controlling
Migration Fund to support work with communities impacted by migration
and to tackle rogue landlords in the private rented sector.
1.2 This proposed decision was not included in the Forward Plan because it
was intended to seek approval to bid at a later meeting of Cabinet.
2. Decision(s) recommended:
That Cabinet:-
2.1 Approve a proposed bid for resources to the Govern
ment’s Controlling Migration Fund totalling £896,251 over 3 years
(2017/18 – 2019/20).
2.2 Approve that in the event of the Council being successful, a further
report be submitted to Cabinet to agree the delivery plan.
Lead Contact Officer(s): Peter Hobbs, Service Head, PRS and Tenant Engagement
Telephone No. 0121 675 7936, Mob: 07766 924366
E-mail address: Pete.hobbs@birmingham.gov.uk
3. Consultation
3.1 Internal
This proposal has been discussed with the Cabinet Members Councillor
Peter Griffiths (Housing and Homes), Councillor Tristan Chatfield
(Transparency, Openness & Equality) and Councillor Paulette Hamilton
(Health and Social Care), and has been referred to relevant Scrutiny Chairs
for comment. Consultation with other elected members will take place
once the outcome of the bid is known  and any target wards are determined.
3.2 External
The proposal to submit a bid to Government for Controlling Migration
Fund has been discussed with the city’s Landlord Forum Steering Group,
which is supportive of the Council and other agencies tackling irresponsible
and criminal landlords.
4. Compliance Issues:
4.1 Are the recommended decisions consistent with the Council’s policies,
plans and strategies? This proposal is consistent with the Council’s priority
for “Housing – so Birmingham’s a great city to live in”, by supporting work
to improve standards in the private rented sector and support private
tenants to be good neighbours. It also supports the objectives of the
Birmingham Adult Safeguarding Board and BirminghamCommunity Safety
Partnership to tackle exploitation of vulnerable people affected byModern
Day Slavery and Child Sexual Exploitation.
4.2 Financial Implications (Will decisions be carried out within existing
finance and Resources?) The bid for funding will provide resources to deliver
a targeted plan and will operate within the budget approved. The total bid is
for £896,251 over 3 years.
  2017/18    2018/19    2019/20
 £97,361    £391,945   £406,945
OVERALL TOTAL £896,251
The funding is provided as a non-ring-fenced revenue grant. The Council
will have to provide audited accounts to Government as required under the
terms of the funding agreement. The Council is not required to provide
match funding or commit other financial resources as part of the project.
The funding is likely to lever in resources fromother agencies in the form
of staff time to help deliver the priorities set out in the bid.
4.3 Legal Implications
The proposal to bid for funding is within the legal powers of the Council
under and is in compliance with the prospectus set out in Appendix 1.
5. Relevant background/chronology of key events:
 
5.1 Birmingham is a multi-cultural, diverse city and is a “City of Sanctuary”.
In the last 5-10 years it has seen a significant impact of the arrival of
overseas migrants, asylum seekers and movement from EU accession states.
The impact of migration can bring significant benefits to the city and local
communities but some areas have experienced particular challenges. This
has put a considerable pressure on service areas, in particular those
relating to housing and homelessness, where there is greater reliance on
housing migrants in the private rented sector (PRS), often in poor
conditions.
5.2 The city is also experiencing increasing concerns from residents and
agencies about the growth of poor quality supported housing in the city.
There appears to be a movement of people leaving institutions and the
prison system coming to Birmingham which may involve the exploitation
of vulnerable people in the supported housing market. There is increasing
concern about safeguarding, provision of meaningful support and the
development of HMOs in neighbourhoods (“rent to rent” model).
The Birmingham Adult Safeguarding Board and Community Safety
Partnership held a seminar with partners in November 2016 which
considered these issues and what appeared to be a lack of
control over standards and support to vulnerable tenants.
5.3 Finally the emerging issue of Modern Day Slavery (MDS) is giving
serious cause for concern and again involves exploitation of vulnerable
people and in some cases Child Sexual Exploitation (CSE). Those exposed
to this threat are often very vulnerable, trafficked from outside the UK and
end up in the PRS, without access to services and unable to assert their
rights. The report of the Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner –
responding to modern day slavery within the homelessness sector, was
published in January 2017.
5.4 The Council and its partners have taken positive action to try to tackle
these issues. Housing is a top priority for the city and the Housing
Birmingham Strategy Statement sets out objectives to improve supply
and quality of housing and to meet demand and to improve standards in
the PRS and tackle irresponsible landlords. The Council has commenced
consultation on use of Selective licensing in target areas to assist in
improving standards in the PRS and enforce against “rogue” landlords.
Housing Birmingham has set up a review of homelessness and has set up
a Homelessness Positive Pathways Board, to develop approaches to reduce
homelessness and rough sleeping which is also working alongside the
West Midlands Mayor’s Homeless Taskforce.
The Council has received Homelessness Trailblazer funding from
Government and this is being used to try to sustain residents in their
homes if affected by harassment, illegal eviction or poor property
conditions. The Community Safety Partnership continues to target this
issue and share intelligence in tackling organised crime and trafficking. A
MDS coordinator has been appointed and the CSP is in process of setting
up a strategic partnership which will link into the West Midlands
anti–slavery network and will set up an operational group which includes
partners from DWP, Fire, Police, Planning, Highways, Severn Trent, PRS
Services, Trading Standards, Health & Safety Executive, HMRC and
others as needed.
5.5 The Council, however, like many other local authorities, is facing
considerable resource pressures and is unable to fully respond to the
issues in neighbourhoods and does not have the capacity to fully enforce
standards as required. Often migrants are unwilling or unable to make
requests to authorities and resources are needed to proactively seek out
private rented accommodation to ensure it is safe and appropriate and the
tenants are secure in their home and fully informed on their rights and
responsibilities. The impact of living in poor quality housing can be
significant and affect both physical and mental health.
5.6 In recognition of the pressures caused by migration, the Government
has introduced a Controlling Migration Fund (CMF) (See Appendix 1) to
provide additional support to those areas experiencing pressures. The
Fund will be available over the four years from 2016-17 to 2019-20. Unlike
previous similar funds the Controlling Migration Fund focuses on
responding to the problems caused by high migration into localities as
identified by local authorities and will deliver benefits to the established
resident population. The Fund has two parts:
• A local service impacts part of £100m, to help English local authorities
and their communities experiencing high and unexpected volumes of
immigration to ease pressures on local services.
• An enforcement part worth £40m to direct enforcement action against
people in the UK illegally in order to reduce the pressure on local areas.
5.7 More information on the Government’s prospectus for the Controlling
Migration Fundcan be found at:
https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/controlling-migration-fund-
prospectus
5.8 The Proposal
(see appendix 2)
5.9 The Controlling Migration Fund bid provides an opportunity to secure
resources over a number of years to support communities. The Council and
its partners proposal will
• Tackle Rogue and Criminal Landlords
• Inform communities
• Support individuals in high risk circumstances
5.10 The bid builds on the success of the Rogue Landlord Fund project in
2016 and continues to seek to work with partners and community groups
to deliver positive outcomes.
5.11 The Council and its partners will, if successful, undertake an
evaluation of the project to determine where good practice has supported
the objectives, what impacts have occurred and whether alternative
approaches can help in future to improve standards in the PRS.
6. Evaluation of alternative option(s):
 
6.1 The Council and its partners are unable to identify additional resources
from mainstream budgets to carry out this work and will continue to
respond to issues as at present.
7. Reasons for Decision(s):
 
7.1 To approve a bid for resources to the Controlling Migration Fund to
enable the Council and its partners to proactively target the impacts
caused by migration in areas of the city, in particular tackle irresponsible
and criminal landlords, support local communities and
assist migrant households to integrate and become good neighbours.
Signatures
Cabinet Members
Cllr Peter Griffiths,
Housing and Homes
Councillor Tristan Chatfield
Transparency, Openness and Equality
Councillor Paulette Hamilton
Health and Social Care
Jacqui Kennedy, Corporate Director – Place
List of Background Documents used to compile this Report: Nil
List of Appendices accompanying this Report (if any):
1. Controlling Migration Fund: mitigating the impacts of immigration on local communities.
Prospectus, November 2016 – Department for Communities and Local Government
2. Proposed Bid to DCLG for Controlling Migration Fund


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2 Responses to THE REPORT WHICH SAYS IT ALL?

  1. Rob Smith says:

    Great piece John. This report is addressing so many of the issues that are pressing in Handsworth & surrounding areas. Housing Birmingham is mentioned – with regard to doing something about homelessness. Is there a contact? I am involved with the Coop at Uplands Allotments and we have an ongoing rough sleepers issue. Between 5 and 10 people are sleeping in plotholders’ sheds. This is indicative of how bad things have got. I am in the process of setting up a multiagency meeeting as so far, individual organisations just haven’t been able to help us.
    Maybe Housing Birmingham should be one of the orgs present….
    thanks
    Rob

    • John O'Meara says:

      Hello Rob – the contact named in the report is Peter Hobbs (Peter.hobbs@birmingham.gov.uk) who should be able to suggest who could come to a meeting. If that doesn’t work I would suggest Lesley Bannister, who is the Community Governance Manager who supports our Ward meetings (lesley.bannister@birmingham.gov.uk). Failing all else, the next Handsworth Wood Ward Meeting is on 14th November at 7pm at Grosvenor Road Studios.

      best wishes,

      John

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