Agenda item

Motions

Note:

Under the Council’s constitution, 30 minutes are available for the consideration of motions. In practice, this realistically means that there is usually only time for one, or possibly two motions to be considered.

 

With the agreement of the Lord Mayor, motion 1 below will be considered at this meeting, and motion 2 is likely to be considered, subject to time.

 

Details of other motions submitted, (which, due to time constraints, are very unlikely to be considered at this meeting) are also set out for information at the end of the agenda pack.

 

MOTIONS RECEIVED FOR FULL COUNCIL

 

Golden Motion: Stamping out discrimination against renters.

 

This Council notes that: 

  

·         The private rented sector (PRS) in Bristol has grown to circa 30% * of homes in the city. 

·         Private renters face a host of challenges, including disrepair and lack of affordable rent.

·         Local Housing Allowance covers very few properties in the private rented sector due to soaring and out of control rents.

·         Tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit may also face the prospect of ‘DSS (Department of Social Security) discrimination’, where landlords and estate agents refuse to rent properties to welfare recipients.  

‘No DSS’ policies have been found to be unlawful and discriminatory under the Equality Act.**

 

 

This Council observes that: 

  

·         It may be that landlords and letting agents overtly practice DSS discrimination, e.g. by listing properties as ‘no DSS’ on websites; 

·         More likely is that some landlords and letting agents indirectly discriminate against benefits claimants, e.g. by using affordability or referencing checks that automatically fail benefit recipients, or by systematically favouring non-benefit claimants when assessing tenancy applications.  

·         Despite alleviating measures such as the council tax reduction scheme, people are struggling financially. More people currently rely on benefits due to the pandemic, so the effects of any DSS discrimination is likely to be acutely felt.  

·         Bristol City Council has limited powers over the private rented sector, however, the Bristol City Council landlord licensing scheme may refuse to license landlords where there is sufficient evidence that they practice direct or indirect discrimination. This will include any ‘no DSS’ policies relating to prospective tenants. 

·         It may also include refusing to allow prospective tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit to view affordable properties and requiring guarantors in cases where that prospective tenant’s income from their benefits is sufficient.   The evidence would have to show that renters on benefits have been treated differently to others not on benefits.

 

·         DSS discrimination is only one of many issues facing benefits claimants, and one of the primary issues is the current level of Universal Credit.

 

 

This council resolves:

 

·         To defend the right to decent and affordable housing; and will work to eliminate DSS discrimination from Bristol.

·         To strengthen our work further, include explicit anti-discrimination clauses in all future property licenses. In practice, this would mean that landlords are contractually required to not refuse to rent to people based on their age, sex, race, disability, if they have children, or their type of employment or income, and that to refuse to rent to people based on these criteria is unlawful discrimination and would break their contract with Bristol City Council.

 

·         To use official communication and media activities to improve awareness that benefits discrimination is unlawful, as well as denouncing discrimination against benefits claimants clearly on the Council website detailing ways to recognise DSS discrimination and what actions to take in response. 

 

·         To create a local action plan to stamp out ‘No DSS’ practices, including developing a clear, proactive process for challenging and transforming the behaviour of those who discriminate.

 

·         Support renters in challenging and reporting letting agents and landlords who are discriminating against them, and in taking those challenges to The Property Ombudsman/Property Redress Scheme.

 

·         To approach the West of England Authorities to discuss the revision of the West of England Code of Good Management Practice. Such discussion will focus on the addition of wording to the effect of ‘you must not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, language, sexuality or any other factor that might place an individual at a disadvantage. This includes indirect discrimination against those in receipt of Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) benefits, referencing the previous initials (DSS) of the department.’ 

·         To ask the Bristol Homes & Communities Board to consider this issue, monitor actions taken to address it, and make recommendations accordingly. 

·         For the Mayor and Party Group Leaders write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, calling for the benefit cut to Universal Credit to be reversed, and call for benefit levels to be raised and uprated in line with rents so they are realistic for places like Bristol.

 

* BRE Integrated Dwelling Level Housing Stock Modelling and Database for Bristol City Council. 2020. Page 4.

** No DSS: Second Shelter court case confirms disabled dad-of-four was discriminated against - Shelter England

 

To be moved by: Councillor Renhard

Submitted: Tues 21st December 2021

 

 

Silver Motion: Front Garden Tree Scheme

Full Council notes that;

1.    We are deeply concerned about the climate emergency and ecological emergency. This year has yet again seen record temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, damaging weather events and continued habitat and biodiversity loss across the world. 

2.    In order to help mitigate the impact of climate change, we urgently need to plant more trees across the city in line with national and local policies. The UK Government plans to treble tree planting rates by 2024 and Bristol City Council has pledged to double the tree canopy cover in Bristol by 2050. 

3.    Street trees have innumerable benefits such as absorbing pollution, reducing the risk of flooding, countering the ‘heat island’ effect of the urban environment, increasing biodiversity and providing wildlife corridors, boosting economic activity, helping with people’s mental health, and even reducing road rage and crime. 

4.    The lack of suitable sites for street trees across the city and the high cost of installation is very worrying.

5.    Many thousands of front gardens across the city would provide suitable sites for tree planting with nearly all the benefits of street trees but with vastly reduced expenditure. 

6.    The Citizens Assembly on Climate Change recommend that tree cover should be increased as part of creating ‘ideal environmental neighbourhood future streets’.

7.    The 2020 One City Climate Strategy states the 2030 goal on the natural environment that ‘The natural environment in Bristol will be restored, protected and enhanced to deliver climate change benefits’ and specifically to ‘The city’s natural environment (including canopy cover and biodiversity) has been restored, preserved and enhanced to maximise carbon sequestration in carbon sinks, climate resilience and health and wellbeing’

Full Council believes;

1.    Increasing tree cover must be a top priority for the Council, it’s partners, and the citizens of Bristol in our collective fight against the climate emergency.

2.    To increase the tree cover across Bristol, Bristol City Council should work with local residents and community groups to expand tree coverage through the use of front gardens for trees.

3.    Where possible, native species should be planted for the benefit of local wildlife.

 Full Council resolves to:

1.    Call for an investigation into the feasibility of setting up a Front Garden Tree Scheme to be run by Bristol City Council officers.

2.    Ask officers to look at how such a scheme would operate, such as how members of the public could participate, how front gardens would be assessed for suitability, how appropriate species would be chosen, installation and aftercare, annual targets, scheme costs and sources of funding. 

3.    Investigate working with the Woodland Trust and other charities to procure free or cheaper trees that can be used as part of the scheme.

4.    Ask for a report into the findings to be submitted to Full Council within six months. 

 

Motion to be moved by: Cllr Andrew Varney, Lib Dem Group

Date of submission: 22nd December 2021

 

Minutes:

Following a short adjournment, it was then moved by the Lord Mayor that standing order CPR2.1(xi) be suspended to allow the meeting to go past the 30 minutes time limit for motions.  Following a vote it was agreed to proceed up until a 60 minute limit.

Motion 1 –Stamping out Discrimination against Renters

 

Councillor Rehnard moved the following motion:

 

This Council notes that:

      The private rented sector (PRS) in Bristol has grown to circa 30%  of homes in the city.

      Private renters face a host of challenges, including disrepair and lack of affordable rent.

      Local Housing Allowance covers very few properties in the private rented sector due to soaring and out of control rents.

      Tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit may also face the prospect of ‘DSS (Department of Social Security) discrimination’, where landlords and estate agents refuse to rent properties to welfare recipients.

      ‘No DSS’ policies have been found to be unlawful and discriminatory under the Equality Act.

 

This Council observes that:

      It may be that landlords and letting agents overtly practice DSS discrimination, e.g. by listing properties as ‘no DSS’ on websites;

      More likely is that some landlords and letting agents indirectly discriminate against benefits claimants, e.g. by using affordability or referencing checks that automatically fail benefit recipients, or by systematically favouring non-benefit claimants when assessing tenancy applications.

      Despite alleviating measures such as the council tax reduction scheme, people are struggling financially. More people currently rely on benefits due to the pandemic, so the effects of any DSS discrimination is likely to be acutely felt.

      Bristol City Council has limited powers over the private rented sector, however, the Bristol City Council landlord licensing scheme may refuse to license landlords where there is sufficient evidence that they practice direct or indirect discrimination. This will include any ‘no DSS’ policies relating to prospective tenants.

      It may also include refusing to allow prospective tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit to view affordable properties and requiring guarantors in cases where that prospective tenant’s income from their benefits is sufficient. The evidence would have to show that renters on benefits have been treated differently to others not on benefits.

      DSS discrimination is only one of many issues facing benefits claimants, and one of the primary issues is the current level of Universal Credit.

 

This council resolves:

      To defend the right to decent and affordable housing; and will work to eliminate DSS discrimination from Bristol.

      To strengthen our work further, include explicit anti-discrimination clauses in all future property licenses. In practice, this would mean that landlords are contractually required to not refuse to rent to people based on their age, sex, race, disability, if they have children, or their type of employment or income, and that to refuse to rent to people based on these criteria is unlawful discrimination and would break their contract with Bristol City Council.

      To use official communication and media activities to improve awareness that benefits discrimination is unlawful, as well as denouncing discrimination against benefits claimants clearly on the Council website detailing ways to recognise DSS discrimination and what actions to take in response.

      To create a local action plan to stamp out ‘No DSS’ practices, including developing a clear, proactive process for challenging and transforming the behaviour of those who discriminate.

      Support renters in challenging and reporting letting agents and landlords who are discriminating against them, and in taking those challenges to The Property Ombudsman/Property Redress Scheme.

      To approach the West of England Authorities to discuss the revision of the West of England Code of Good Management Practice. Such discussion will focus on the addition of wording to the effect of ‘you must not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, language, sexuality or any other factor that might place an individual at a disadvantage. This includes indirect discrimination against those in receipt of Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) benefits, referencing the previous initials (DSS) of the department.’

      To ask the Bristol Homes & Communities Board to consider this issue, monitor actions taken to address it, and make recommendations accordingly.

      For the Mayor and Party Group Leaders write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, calling for the benefit cut to Universal Credit to be reversed, and call for benefit levels to be raised and uprated in line with rents so they are realistic for places like Bristol.

 

The motion was seconded by Councillor Hornchen.

 

Following debate, the Lord Mayor invited Councillor Renhard, as mover of the motion to speak.

 

Following final remarks, upon being put to the vote, the original motion was CARRIED (44 For, 7 against, 1 absentions) and it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

This Council notes that:

      The private rented sector (PRS) in Bristol has grown to circa 30%  of homes in the city.

      Private renters face a host of challenges, including disrepair and lack of affordable rent.

      Local Housing Allowance covers very few properties in the private rented sector due to soaring and out of control rents.

      Tenants in receipt of housing benefit or universal credit may also face the prospect of ‘DSS (Department of Social Security) discrimination’, where landlords and estate agents refuse to rent properties to welfare recipients.

      ‘No DSS’ policies have been found to be unlawful and discriminatory under the Equality Act.

 

This Council observes that:

      It may be that landlords and letting agents overtly practice DSS discrimination, e.g. by listing properties as ‘no DSS’ on websites;

      More likely is that some landlords and letting agents indirectly discriminate against benefits claimants, e.g. by using affordability or referencing checks that automatically fail benefit recipients, or by systematically favouring non-benefit claimants when assessing tenancy applications.

      Despite alleviating measures such as the council tax reduction scheme, people are struggling financially. More people currently rely on benefits due to the pandemic, so the effects of any DSS discrimination is likely to be acutely felt.

      Bristol City Council has limited powers over the private rented sector, however, the Bristol City Council landlord licensing scheme may refuse to license landlords where there is sufficient evidence that they practice direct or indirect discrimination. This will include any ‘no DSS’ policies relating to prospective tenants.

      It may also include refusing to allow prospective tenants on Housing Benefit and Universal Credit to view affordable properties and requiring guarantors in cases where that prospective tenant’s income from their benefits is sufficient. The evidence would have to show that renters on benefits have been treated differently to others not on benefits.

      DSS discrimination is only one of many issues facing benefits claimants, and one of the primary issues is the current level of Universal Credit.

 

This council resolves:

      To defend the right to decent and affordable housing; and will work to eliminate DSS discrimination from Bristol.

      To strengthen our work further, include explicit anti-discrimination clauses in all future property licenses. In practice, this would mean that landlords are contractually required to not refuse to rent to people based on their age, sex, race, disability, if they have children, or their type of employment or income, and that to refuse to rent to people based on these criteria is unlawful discrimination and would break their contract with Bristol City Council.

      To use official communication and media activities to improve awareness that benefits discrimination is unlawful, as well as denouncing discrimination against benefits claimants clearly on the Council website detailing ways to recognise DSS discrimination and what actions to take in response.

      To create a local action plan to stamp out ‘No DSS’ practices, including developing a clear, proactive process for challenging and transforming the behaviour of those who discriminate.

      Support renters in challenging and reporting letting agents and landlords who are discriminating against them, and in taking those challenges to The Property Ombudsman/Property Redress Scheme.

      To approach the West of England Authorities to discuss the revision of the West of England Code of Good Management Practice. Such discussion will focus on the addition of wording to the effect of ‘you must not discriminate on the basis of age, gender, race, language, sexuality or any other factor that might place an individual at a disadvantage. This includes indirect discrimination against those in receipt of Department of Works and Pensions (DWP) benefits, referencing the previous initials (DSS) of the department.’

      To ask the Bristol Homes & Communities Board to consider this issue, monitor actions taken to address it, and make recommendations accordingly.

      For the Mayor and Party Group Leaders write to the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, calling for the benefit cut to Universal Credit to be reversed, and call for benefit levels to be raised and uprated in line with rents so they are realistic for places like Bristol.

 

Motion 2 – Front Garden Tree Scheme

 

Councillor Varney moved the following motion:

 

Full Council notes that;

1. We are deeply concerned about the climate emergency and ecological emergency. This year has yet again seen record temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, damaging weather events and continued habitat and biodiversity loss across the world.

2. In order to help mitigate the impact of climate change, we urgently need to plant more trees across the city in line with national and local policies. The UK Government plans to treble tree planting rates by 2024 and Bristol City Council has pledged to double the tree canopy cover in Bristol by 2050.

3. Street trees have innumerable benefits such as absorbing pollution, reducing the risk of flooding, countering the ‘heat island’ effect of the urban environment, increasing biodiversity and providing wildlife corridors, boosting economic activity, helping with people’s mental health, and even reducing road rage and crime.

4. The lack of suitable sites for street trees across the city and the high cost of installation is very worrying.

5. Many thousands of front gardens across the city would provide suitable sites for tree planting with nearly all the benefits of street trees but with vastly reduced expenditure.

6. The Citizens Assembly on Climate Change recommend that tree cover should be increased as part of creating ‘ideal environmental neighbourhood future streets’.

7. The 2020 One City Climate Strategy states the 2030 goal on the natural environment that ‘The natural environment in Bristol will be restored, protected and enhanced to deliver climate change benefits’ and specifically to ‘The city’s natural environment (including canopy cover and biodiversity) has been restored, preserved and enhanced to maximise carbon sequestration in carbon sinks, climate resilience and health and wellbeing’

 

Full Council believes;

1. Increasing tree cover must be a top priority for the Council, it’s partners, and the citizens of Bristol in our collective fight against the climate emergency.

2. To increase the tree cover across Bristol, Bristol City Council should work with local residents and community groups to expand tree coverage through the use of front gardens for trees.

3. Where possible, native species should be planted for the benefit of local wildlife.

 

Full Council resolves to:

1.    Call for an investigation into the feasibility of setting up a Front Garden Tree Scheme to be run by Bristol City Council officers.

2. Ask officers to look at how such a scheme would operate, such as how members of the public could participate, how front gardens would be assessed for suitability, how appropriate species would be chosen, installation and aftercare, annual targets, scheme costs and sources of funding.

3. Investigate working with the Woodland Trust and other charities to procure free or cheaper trees that can be used as part of the scheme.

4. Ask for a report into the findings to be submitted to Full Council within six months.

 

Councillor Kent seconded the motion.

 

Following debate, upon being put to the vote, the altered motion was CARRIED (58 Members voting for) it was

 

RESOLVED:

 

Full Council notes that;

1. We are deeply concerned about the climate emergency and ecological emergency. This year has yet again seen record temperatures, unpredictable weather patterns, damaging weather events and continued habitat and biodiversity loss across the world.

2. In order to help mitigate the impact of climate change, we urgently need to plant more trees across the city in line with national and local policies. The UK Government plans to treble tree planting rates by 2024 and Bristol City Council has pledged to double the tree canopy cover in Bristol by 2050.

3. Street trees have innumerable benefits such as absorbing pollution, reducing the risk of flooding, countering the ‘heat island’ effect of the urban environment, increasing biodiversity and providing wildlife corridors, boosting economic activity, helping with people’s mental health, and even reducing road rage and crime.

4. The lack of suitable sites for street trees across the city and the high cost of installation is very worrying.

5. Many thousands of front gardens across the city would provide suitable sites for tree planting with nearly all the benefits of street trees but with vastly reduced expenditure.

6. The Citizens Assembly on Climate Change recommend that tree cover should be increased as part of creating ‘ideal environmental neighbourhood future streets’.

7. The 2020 One City Climate Strategy states the 2030 goal on the natural environment that ‘The natural environment in Bristol will be restored, protected and enhanced to deliver climate change benefits’ and specifically to ‘The city’s natural environment (including canopy cover and biodiversity) has been restored, preserved and enhanced to maximise carbon sequestration in carbon sinks, climate resilience and health and wellbeing’

 

Full Council believes;

1. Increasing tree cover must be a top priority for the Council, it’s partners, and the citizens of Bristol in our collective fight against the climate emergency.

2. To increase the tree cover across Bristol, Bristol City Council should work with local residents and community groups to expand tree coverage through the use of front gardens for trees.

3. Where possible, native species should be planted for the benefit of local wildlife.

 

Full Council resolves to:

2.    Call for an investigation into the feasibility of setting up a Front Garden Tree Scheme to be run by Bristol City Council officers.

2. Ask officers to look at how such a scheme would operate, such as how members of the public could participate, how front gardens would be assessed for suitability, how appropriate species would be chosen, installation and aftercare, annual targets, scheme costs and sources of funding.

3. Investigate working with the Woodland Trust and other charities to procure free or cheaper trees that can be used as part of the scheme.

4. Ask for a report into the findings to be submitted to Full Council within six months.

 

Supporting documents: