Hounslow launches Corporate Plan for the next four years

Prioritising people in need

The Leader of Hounslow Council, Cllr Shantanu Rajawat, has outlined the Council’s Corporate Plan, setting out its ambitions and high level priorities for the next four years.

In his report, Ambitious for Hounslow, which will be delivered to Cabinet next week (Tuesday 5 July) to be ratified before being put to the full Borough Council two weeks later, Cllr Rajawat takes  into account ‘a changed economic outlook’, ‘the commitments the new administration made to local residents’ in the May elections and ‘new organisational priorities’:

‘The last two years hit the borough hard – a slowing economy, falling wages, rising numbers of people relying on benefits. The pandemic also highlighted pre-existing problems in Hounslow, including structural weaknesses in the borough’s economy, and deep inequalities where those with the least were adversely affected the most’ he says.

In a period of higher inflation, lower living standards and a stagnating economy, the Council’s chief ambition is now ‘to prevent need arising’, ie. supporting people ‘before they reach crisis’.

While the economic situation presents is urgent, there are also longer-term problems to address he says:

‘The effects of the pandemic on children’s education, for example … We are working to address learning loss.”

The Council is investing £900,000 to help the borough’s school children get back on track. The Council is also working on a wider package of support for young people entering the world of work.

‘We must also urgently address the climate emergency, building on our Climate Emergency Action Plan and show how ‘green’ can make a positive difference to residents and businesses’ he says.

Better outcomes and financial savings

The report introduces the One Hounslow Finance Strategy, ‘pulling together all known factors affecting the financial health of the Council over the medium term, planning for the unknown factors where feasible.’

Cllr Rajawat says in order to maintain financial balance over the medium term while delivering on the Council’s promises, ‘our change programme will seek to deliver better outcomes and financial savings for the Council’, savings which he describes as ‘significant.’

He places great emphasis on partnerships with businesses and the community, not just as ‘passive recipients of services’ but as active ‘co-creators’. He promises ‘we will always consider value for taxpayers’ money.’

Relationship with residents ‘redefined’

He writes of a ‘redefined relationship with residents’ in which the council focuses on ‘inspiring and empowering residents, businesses and others to have their say to improve and influence Council decisions and services.

‘Delivering the Corporate Plan will see a radical overhaul of how we work with the borough we serve. A focus on collaboration means that we look to the widest range of people and perspectives as we engage, collaborate, and co-produce.

Need for urgency

Cllr Rajawat says the Corporate Plan makes it clear there is no time to waste:

‘The cost-of-living crisis and the climate emergency are already clear and present dangers to Hounslow’s economic, social, and environmental wellbeing and require a robust response from the Council and the wider borough.’

Reorganising the way housing is bought by the Council to let at a social rent

One key change is that the Council is taking back some aspects of the provision of social housing from Lampton Investment360.

Lampton Investment360 is one of a number of companies in the Lampton 360 group set up in 2012 with the objective of ‘trading local authority functions in order to generate financial surpluses and return those to the council’. It is a company wholly owned by the council and with an aim of returning value to the council.

Lampton Investment360 buys homes in the market and lets them for social rent.

Lampton Investment360 has acquired over 400 homes over the last few years and plan, subject to market conditions, to continue to buy about 200 per annum over the next few years. These are let to people on the council housing list, but they are not council houses.

The GLA announced the ‘Right to Buy Back’ scheme last year and the council, having worked up a proposal in partnership with Lampton, applied for grants under this scheme in December 2021 to secure 555 homes for homelessness clients and those in severe housing need, which was to have been managed by Lampton Investment360.

The GLA has approved grant funding to the Council of £43 million but only if the housing was owned by the Council as a Registered Social Landlord, so Hounslow is taking back in-house some of the work that was to have been done by Lampton Investment360.

The Council is also building homes through its House Building Programme, as is Lampton360 via its Lampton Development arm, many of which will be provided as council homes.

Climate Emergency Action Plan – Infrastructure Strategy

The Council is working on a broad front to enhance the borough’s environment, says Cllr Rajawat:

‘Our Green and Blue Infrastructure Strategy will be submitted to Cabinet in the autumn. Both the Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan and the Local Flood Risk Management Strategy will also follow later in the year – clearly demonstrating a commitment to a cleaner and greener Hounslow.

Health and Wellbeing

Work is also underway to develop a new Health and Wellbeing Strategy, he says:

‘This will draw on learning from the pandemic. It will be about more than ensuring equitable access to, experience of and benefit from health and care services, it will be about prevention and early intervention, creating opportunities for people to live healthier, happier and wealthier lives.’

The Strategy will come before Cabinet later this municipal year (ie. by the end of April 2023).

‘Ambitious for Hounslow’

The Hounslow Labour Party local election manifesto promised a borough which would be ‘ greener, healthier, cleaner, thriving, safer, and liveable.’

The report is called ‘Ambitious for Hounslow‘ because Cllr Rajawat says:

‘We were ambitious for Hounslow before – delivering both pre-pandemic and during Covid – and were recognised as Council of the Year in 2021.

‘We are ambitious for Hounslow now – supporting the borough’s economy, protecting those who need our help, making the case for Hounslow, and fighting against inequality and for our
residents during a cost-of-living crisis.

‘We will be ambitious for Hounslow in the future – transforming what we do and how we do it to deliver a fair, green, and more equal borough where people from all walks of life can thrive.’

In conclusion he says:

‘We believe passionately in public service and the ability of the Council to be a force for good in the communities we serve.’

A Greener Hounslow

The Corporate Plan sets out promises to:

  • plant 20,000 more trees and gow more wildflowers in our parks
  • reduce carbon emissions by 50%
  • invest £5 million on parks and open spaces
  • generate 25% of the energy the Council uses
  • achieve 45% of the borough classified as Green Infrastructure
  • ensure all council housing meers the Energy Performance Certificate Band B ‘or is as energy efficient as practically possible’
  • improve our resilience to flooding

To achieve those aims:

  • The Council’s Estate Investment Plan ‘will create and maintain decent and safe homes and estates where residents are proud to live’
  • The Parks and Green Infrastructure programme will ‘improve local biodiversity’ and ‘help create a sense of ownership and community involvement’
  • Low Carbon Neighbourhoods will offer ‘a cutting edge approach’ to becoming a Net Zero Council and Borough by 2030

A Healthier Hounslow

The Council promises to:

  • improve the borough’s air quality by providing safe walking and cycling routes and good public transport options
  • develop low carbon neighbourhoods
  • roll out more than 2,000 additional electrical vehicle charging points
  • support our most vulnerable residents to live as independently as possible for as long as possible
  • work with the NHS to integrate health and social care ‘ensuring services are designed around residents’
  • promote increased physical activity for all
  • intervene early to support children’s mental wellbeing and prevent crisis

Supporting those aims:

  • Adult social Care system reform programme will ‘ensure we are doing the right things in the right way’
  • Children and Young People’s Mental Health programme will ‘ensure the right support is in place for those who need it’
  • Health and Care Integration and Independent Living work will ‘ensure citizens receive the right support, at the right time, in the right place’

A Cleaner Hounslow

The Council promises to:

  • reduce fly tipping rates by at least 25%
  • introduce a special waste service across the borough
  • maintain our roads
  • invest £2 million in pavement improvements
  • encourage more people to recycle more of their waste

Supporting those aims:

  • Cleaner, Greener programme, which will see more street planting, improved street cleaning and a renewed focus on stopping fly-tipping and littering
  • Enforcement Review to look at ‘ how we best tackle the poor behaviours that blight neighbourhoods’
  • Waste and Recycling Plan will set out ‘how we will encourage people across Hounslow to reduce their environmental footprint and increase the amount they recycle

A Thriving Hounslow

The Council promises to:

  • ensure all young people and their families have access to the support, education, training or employment they need
  • continue to pay at least the London Living Wage and encourage local businesses to do the same
  • address the effects of the pandemic on young people’s learning
  • give under 5s access to high quality early-years education
  • build digital inclusion to help people make the most of work and skills development opportunities
  • provide an enhanced offer for care leavers
  • work with partners to create and support access to good work
  • provide business support to help firms launch and grow

Council programmes supporting those aims:

  • what it calls Prosperity and Place is a strategy ‘that will see us work with communities as we collectively create vibrant, thriving, healthy places
  • the Youth Skills and Employment Guarantee will ‘support young people from 14 to 25 years old, helping them enter higher education and good-quality, reliable work’
  • the Children’s Model of Care will see a single point of contact ‘connecting families with what matters to them’ in early years
  • the Special Education Needs and Disabilities (SEND) programme ‘will help people have the best possible start in life’

A Safer Hounslow

The Council promises to:

  • invest over £15 million to create safer neighbourhoods and tackle anti-social behaviour
  • protect vulnerable residents by reaching out to those most at risk of being affected by crime
  • implement an early intervention approach to reduce serious crime among young people
  • reduce violence against women and girls
  • support victims and those affected by domestic abuse and violence
  • keep people safe in their own homes by conducting regular building safety reviews

Council programmes supporting those aims:

  • Safer Communities strategy sets out how we are making this aspiration a reality
  • Building on our White Ribbon Town status shows not only that we won’t tolerate violence against women and girls but also that we are actively mobilising communities, altering social norms, and increasing awareness of the issue
  • Children Affected by Domestic Abuse programme provides help to any school-aged child and their non-abusive parent in Hounslow
  • Safer Communities operational team will bring organisations together and, working alongside communities in their local neighbourhoods, will help keep younger residents safe

A Liveable Hounslow

The Council promises to:

  • build 1,000 council homes
  • buy 1,000 more social rent homes for the borough’s residents
  • invest £300 million in improving the quality of our housing estates
  • ensure our neighbourhoods have ‘liveability’ at their heart
  • make the best use of council buildings across the borough
  • develop better ways of engaging and working with residents, communities and businesses
  • create more opportunities for local people to contribute to decision making locally
  • do all we can to alleviate the cost of living crisis
  • support asylum seekers and refugees
  • ‘keep in local’ and build community wealth

Council programmes supporting those aims:

  • Radical Overhaul of Engagement will ‘raise the bar, ‘transforming how we listen to, and work with, local communities’
  • Transforming Housing Tenancy Management programme will ‘overhaul how we work with tenants’
  • Future Asset Strategy and Locality Model will ‘ensure we have the right buildings in the right locations’
  • Council House Building Programme building low-carbon Council homes and securing more homes for local people and for those in need

Correction

This story has been updated with a correction. In the earlier version we wrongly stated that the building of social housing was being taken back in-house. There is no change to the arrangements for building. We confused the work done by Lampton Development360 (building) with the work done by Lampton Investment360 (buying homes in the market and letting them for social rent). The way work is divided between Lampton Investment360 and the Council will change, not the relationship between Lampton Development360 and the Council.

“We need to do better” says Hounslow Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat

Before the publication of the Corporate Plan documents, Cllr Rajawat gave an interview to The Chiswick Calendar in which we asked him about some of the manifesto commitments. I put it to him that the Council was already breaking some of its pledges for example, bringing the Council closer to individuals by working with the community.

READ ALSO: “We need to do better” says Hounslow Council Leader Shantanu Rajawat

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