Agenda and minutes

Contact: Charlie Griffin 


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No. Item


Declarations of interest

Additional documents:


There were none.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 427 KB

To agree the minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2020 as correct record.

Additional documents:


The minutes of the meeting held on 26 November 2020 were agreed as a correct record.


Covid-19 and local economic recovery pdf icon PDF 743 KB

To receive an update from cabinet members on Covid-19 and local economic recovery in Buckinghamshire.




Martin Tett, Leader of Buckinghamshire Council


Steve Bowles, Cabinet Member for Town Centre Regeneration


Lisa Michelson, Service Director Economic Growth and Regeneration


Ian Barham, Partnership Manager,  Buckinghamshire Local Enterprise Partnership (B LEP)


Philippa Batting, Managing Director, Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF)

Additional documents:


Members received an update from the Leader of the Council, Martin Tett, and the Cabinet Member for Town Centre Regeneration, Steve Bowles, on Covid-19 and local

economic recovery in Buckinghamshire. Also in attendance to update Members on economic recovery was Ian Barham, Partnership Manager at Bucks LEP, and  Philippa Batting, Managing Director at Buckinghamshire Business First (BBF).  The update outlined the lockdown situation since the last meeting and quoted the Office for Budget Responsibility’s estimated statistic that UK gross domestic product (GDP) would be down 11% for 2020 compared to 2019. Local data suggested that Buckinghamshire’s economy had experienced a similar drop in GDP. Data collected estimated that 7% of private sector firms in Buckinghamshire had cash reserves of under one month which equated to 2,100 firms, and it was also estimated that 38% of businesses had experienced lower turnover than normal. In contrast, a small number of businesses had experienced an increase of their turnover.


The number of Buckinghamshire residents claiming ‘out of work’ benefits remained high at 15,110 in November 2020 which was an increase of 9,570 compared to March 2020. This claimant rate remained one of the lowest of all the 38 LEP areas and was at an average of 4.6% compared to the 6.4% national average. It was noted that these figures were made up of residents that may not have been unemployed before or worked in specialised industries. There was significant aviation employment in the north of Buckinghamshire, with workers commuting to Heathrow and Luton, and it was likely to take a relatively long time for this industry to return to normal. The hospitality, events and tourism sectors were also an ongoing concern due to being in lockdown for most of the year and these sectors employed 22,000 people in Buckinghamshire.


Further business support packages had been announced, including the extension of the furlough scheme, following the third lockdown. Business rate payers who had been forced to close due to national or local restrictions may have been eligible for the Local Restrictions Support Grant (LRSG) and/or the Buckinghamshire Discretionary Grant top-up payment. Businesses impacted by restrictions that were unable to obtain support through the LRSG were able to apply for the Bucks Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG). This grant intended to support businesses that did not pay rates or had no rateable premises which may have been the case for those self-employed. The grant was applicable to businesses that had suffered a minimum 30% loss of income during November 2020 compared to November 2019 and businesses could apply again to cover December 2020 compared to December 2019. The deadline to apply for December’s grant was 31 January 2021. The same ARG was also available for January 2021. The amount awarded was tiered based on the number of employees the business had and included single individuals, and funds were being distributed across a range of sectors. The scheme had received positive feedback from those businesses unable to claim from Government schemes. The Council was already considering  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Temporary accommodation

To receive a presentation on temporary accommodation.




Isobel Darby, Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness


Nigel Dicker, Service Director Housing and Regulatory Services

Additional documents:


Members received an update from the Cabinet Member for Housing and Homelessness, Isobel Darby, on the temporary accommodation provision in Buckinghamshire. The Council had a statutory duty to provide accommodation to persons and households who the Council had reason to believe were homeless, eligible and of priority need. When these thresholds were met, or there was reason to believe these thresholds were met, there was an immediate duty to provide accommodation. There were seven temporary accommodation sites across Buckinghamshire and currently 161 statutory homeless households on the housing register. 95 mainly former rough sleepers had been accommodated due to the pandemic and there were currently five known rough sleepers in Buckinghamshire. Each known rough sleeper had been offered accommodation. At the time of the meeting, there were around 4,700 households seeking housing via Bucks Home Choice. Of this figure, 600 were people aged over 55 seeking older person accommodation and over 900 were households who were considered to be overcrowded. 


Around 30% of homelessness was caused by the loss of private rented accommodation. The Government were looking at how better protection could be put in place for private renters. Another key cause of around 30% of homelessness was an eviction from a parent or relative. In these cases, the Council tried to mediate to prevent this from occurring as long as this was a safe option for the potential applicant. There were two types of temporary accommodation:


·         Section 188 which was an interim arrangement whilst officers investigated the circumstances

·         Section 193 once enquiries were completed and found the homelessness was unintentional and cannot be relieved. Section 188 accommodation automatically became Section 193 accommodation once the investigation had been concluded.


The update included some examples of accommodation in Saunderton, Griffin Place, Chesham and Taplow. Accommodation was currently being built in Desborough Road, High Wycombe. This building comprised of 58 one bedroom flats of modular design construction and would be ready to open in Summer 2021. As at June 2020, Buckinghamshire Council had 278 households in temporary accommodation. For comparison purposes, this was measured as persons per 1000 households and was as follows:-


·         Buckinghamshire 1.28

·         South East 2.82

·         England 4.18

·         London 17.69


Following the update, Members had questions for the Cabinet Member and were advised that:-


·         The Council was mindful of the potential for private rented accommodation evictions to increase but the service was in a good position to manage this.

·         It was a noted trend that some London Boroughs had allocated a portion of their temporary accommodation in Buckinghamshire which meant that Buckinghamshire Council’s service would likely need to assist in future. This had the potential for Buckinghamshire Council’s adult and social services to become involved.

·         The accommodation being built in High Wycombe provided a self-contained flat, had its own front door and was fitted to a high standard. Noise transfer between each apartment would be mitigated through a void space and insulation. Each apartment was also triple glazed. When the project was first considered, officers had inspected a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Work programme pdf icon PDF 185 KB

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As had been discussed earlier in the meeting, an item regarding the Future High Streets Fund would be added to the programme to be considered at a future meeting.  


Date of the next meeting

25 March 2021.

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The next meeting would be on 25 March 2021 at 10:00am.