LOUTH AND DISTRICT HELP FOR HOMELESS Registered Charity No: 1040446 Address: c/o The Deanery, 6 Upgate, Louth, LN11 9ET MINUTES OF THE ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING HELD ON 25th September 2013 at The Trinity Centre, Louth Present: Lesley Hough, Chair John Grasham, Hon.Treasurer Maureen Robinson, Trustee (Minutes) Julie Barton, Trustee Patrick Purves, Committee Member Carolyn Phillips, Committee Member Alan John, CAB John Hough, Lincolnshire County Council Cllr Chris Green, Louth Town Council Jill Makinson-Sanders, Deputy Mayor of Louth Apologies: Margaret Neale, Hon. Secretary; Cllr Philip Sturman 1
Minutes of the AGM held on 13th September 2012 and Matters Arising
Welcome and Introductions by Lesley Hough. The Minutes of the last Annual General Meeting had been circulated and were agreed as a true record (Proposed John Hough, seconded Julie Barton). 2
Report from the Trustees and Accounts
A report had been circulated by Lesley (copies available). Lesley raised the question of why an expected rise in applications for loans from LDHH in the wake of the Welfare Reform Act which had come into effect during the last year had not really taken place and this was discussed. She mentioned that the Community Larder had experienced an increase in requests for food parcels, and the type of Lesley considered this to be an indictment of our society that families with children had to rely on this kind of charity, often coming back more than once. The Advent Lunch of 2012 had been a huge success, as had the sale of books which took place at the Lunch and afterwards at the Co-op. The Lunch raised £316, and the sale of books £349.50. Donations had also been received including an anonymous donation of £1,000.00. Peta Hill had left the Parish Team and had also resigned from the Committee of LDHH, and Fran Mitchell had retired and had also resigned as a Trustee. Peter Hill, who had resigned as Hon. Treasurer at the last AGM had now also resigned from the Committee and as a Trustee. Lesley stressed how much help had been given by all three of these members for many years and everyone agreed that they would be very much missed.
At this point Lesley Hough also announced that she would be standing down as Chair and resigning from the Committee. A vote of thanks to Lesley for all her hard work was proposed by Jill Makinson-Sanders and seconded by all. John Grasham had prepared a Treasurerâ€™s Report and presented this to the meeting along with the Accounts. Copies were circulated and are available. John Hough commented that support from LDHH to the Community Larder seemed quite low. This was because the Larder is well supported by the Churches and Schools who contribute food, and also by other organisation for example Louth Lions. LDHH is ready to give a financial contribution to the Larder when the need arises. Patrick Purves commented on an item in the Report which detailed loans written off this financial year and in the previous year. The apparently very large amount of loans written off in the previous year (ÂŁ4,300) was explained by the fact that these loans were an accumulation of write-offs over several years, where LDHH had been seeking to secure payment from clients who had defaulted, but eventually had written off these loans all in the one year. Patrick added that it was now the intention to write off loans where no repayments had been received in 12 months. Jill Makinson-Sanders asked whether the money presently held in the COIF Account could be invested in the Credit Union. It was thought that this may not be possible, but it would be put on the Agenda of the next Committee Meeting and investigated. Alan John asked for some clarification regarding some of the figures in the Accounts and this was provided by John Grasham. Patrick Purves had provided a Standing Order form for anyone wishing to make a regular donation to the LDHH income stream. 3
Appointment of Independent Examiner
The Accounts had been examined by Keith Hemming, a letter of thanks will be sent to him for his kind assistance. 4
Appointment of Trustees and Committee Members
Resignations: Peta Hill; Peter Hill; Fran Mitchell, Lesley Hough. Maureen Robinson proposed Carolyn Phillips as a Trustee and this was seconded by Julie Barton. Patrick Purves proposed John Grasham as a Trustee and this was seconded by Julie Barton. John Hough proposed Patrick Purves as a Trustee and this was seconded by Lesley Hough. Proposals for the Chair: Lesley Hough proposed Patrick Purves, seconded by Carolyn Phillips. There were no other proposals and Patrick agreed to take on the role of Chair of Louth and District Help for Homeless.
Margaret Neale to be asked to update the Charity Commission website with the current Trustees. Patrick Purves proposed Margaret Neale as Honorary Secretary and this was agreed in Margaret’s absence, seconded by Carolyn Phillips. Patrick Purves proposed John Grasham as Honorary Treasurer and this was seconded by Maureen Robinson. Nick Brown, (Priest-in-Charge?) at St James’s Parish Church to be asked if he would consider joining the Committee. 5
Talk by Alan John, Vice-Chair of CAB
Alan said that the CAB was the first port of call for people who are in difficulties of all kinds. He said that he expected that the referrals to LDHH came largely from the CAB and this was agreed by those present. There had been a low level of loans made in the past year and he hoped that they could be more efficient in the coming year. The CAB’s raison d’etre is that it is independent and always on the side of its clients. The CAB does not necessarily have to be involved in the writing off of the debts its client have to LDHH and must not been seen to be participating in this process. However the overlapping of CAB personnel and LDHH Committee makes this difficult to achieve. Lesley Hough said that CAB directs its clients to places where they can be helped and LDHH is one of those, and LDHH has always had CAB personnel on its Committee. They have helped clients to fill in the relevant forms to obtain loans. LDHH has in the past sent out reminder letters to those defaulting on their loan repayments, but this has hardly ever had the desired effect. It was necessary to find some simple way of working together. Alan agreed this this clearly was one of the issues that needed to be considered and that many people are involved in more than one organisation. A discussion took place regarding the ways and means of loans being allocated and late re-payments being chased up. The question was raised as to why LDHH had not received more referrals in the past year. Lesley said in view of the Welfare Reform Act, why were people not flooding into LDHH? Julie Barton said she thought that this was because the amount of deficit that many clients experienced was too great and the amount we can loan too small to make sufficient difference. She said that the main change affecting people in this area was the fact that people previously in receipt of full Council Tax benefit now have to pay towards their Council Tax, at various rates depending on their status. And now the “Bedroom Tax” is also affecting some tenants with social landlords. The amount of Housing Benefit received is being reduced by 14 – 25% depending on whether they are in a two or three-bedroomed property. People do not feel they want to move (from where they may have lived for many years) or downsize to one bedroom, or take in a lodger. However the present government believes that housing should be allocated on a “need not choice” basis. Fortunately, in this area the Benefit Cap is only affecting a small number of people. But the Council Tax liability and Housing Benefit for social landlord tenants is another matter; people have been getting into rent arrears and 3
there has been a huge increase in Council Tax Liability Orders issued since April this year. The Benefit Cap isn’t affecting many people this area, but the Council Tax problem is huge and poverty is increasing. Patrick Purves said that this had been very helpful as an overview and added that he thought we were heading for interesting times. John Hough asked about the “Bedroom Tax” and asked if rent arrears had increased. Julie said it was thought so, but really it had only just come into effect. John commented that a huge influx of demand to LDHH could be just around the corner. It was also commented that the cost of living had increased by a very large amount over the last year. Patrick thanked the Committee and particularly Lesley Hough who was standing down and would be very much missed. 6
Any Other Business
John Grasham asked for some administrative tasks to be completed after the meeting. Carolyn Phillips pointed out that LDHH does at its discretion make grants where a loan would not be appropriate. Louth United Charities: to put in the diary (Margaret Neale) that this Charity considers requests for donations on the 1st Monday in December and the 1st Monday in June and for LDHH to make a request on one of these occasions. The meeting closed at 7.35 pm and refreshments followed.