Greenwich Council

Agenda and minutes.

Venue: Committee Room 6 - Town Hall, Wellington Street, Woolwich SE18 6PW. View directions

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members of the Panel.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Bill Freeman and Tonia Ashikodi.

2.

Urgent Business

The Chair to announce any items of urgent business circulated separately from the main agenda.

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business.  However, the Chair took the opportunity to inform Members of the misunderstanding that had led to no Officers from Housing and Community Safety being in attendance to answer questions on the Housing Repairs Review.  He said that he had written to the Monitoring Officer for advise on this matter and was at the time of the meeting still waiting for a response.

 

Members made their concerns known once again and asked that it be minuted that they felt that this does not give a good impression of the department.

3.

Declarations of Interest pdf icon PDF 50 KB

Members to declare any personal and financial interests in items on the agenda.  Attention is drawn to the Council’s Constitution; the Council’s Code of Conduct and associated advice.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Resolved –

 

That the list of Councillors’ memberships as Council appointed representatives on outside bodies, joint committees and school governing bodies is noted.

4.

Food Poverty in Greenwich pdf icon PDF 684 KB

The Panel to note current situation in relation to food poverty in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and how it is being addressed.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Director of Public Health in presenting this report referred to reports that exist on food poverty that rank Boroughs on how they are performing against criteria in which Greenwich ranks high.  These include Good Food for London and Beyond the Food Bank.

 

He further explained the activity that RBG and partners are delivering to assist those residents that are food insecure, as outlined in the Appendix.

 

In response to Member questions, the Director of Public Health informed Members that Officers had conducted an exercise on cost.  A standard basket containing a reasonable amount of healthy food for a family would cost £12.50 in a supermarket and anything between £18.40 to £34.50 in local convenience food stores.  This has an impact on those that reside in areas known as ‘food deserts’ as they may be restricted by local availability and lack of transport.

 

He outlined that there are a range of specific teams in the borough that issue vouchers and refer vulnerable people to the food banks.

 

In response to question about measuring performance, he informed Members that figures outlined in the report are based on a national model and therefore estimates and exact quantification is very difficult as many people going hungry are unknown.  The Social Mobility Strategy will be a cross departmental one and is currently being developed.  This strategy will include plans for scaling-up food poverty initiatives and what the ambitions are so that impact can be measured.

 

In response to Member questions about funding levels, the Director of Public Health said that this is about being clear about what we are trying to achieve and how much this will cost.  Some of the activity outlined is at low cost as volunteers take on an active role in delivery.  Activity such as School Holiday Enrichment would be more costly.  A sustainable approach to activity is being worked up and it will take time.  This will off course need additional financial capacity.

 

The Director of Public Health said that he would provide information on food deserts area/wards; and on organisations and teams that need to be registered to issue food back vouchers.  Information about these organisations and teams would be provided so that Members can signpost vulnerable constituents that present themselves with this need at their surgeries; and that he would inform Members about the eligibility for Healthy Start vouchers of those referred to the Nil Recourse to Public Finding Team.

ACTION: Director of Public Health

 

Resolved –

 

To note the current situation in relation to food poverty in the Royal Borough of Greenwich, and how it is being addressed.

5.

Support Framework for Universal Credit pdf icon PDF 68 KB

The Panel to note an update on the impact of Universal Credit on those with mental health and learning disabilities in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

Minutes:

The Training, Policy and Welfare Rights Service Manager presented the report.

 

She explained that as the Universal Credit application process is online, claimants need support not only to complete the application, but to understand how to navigate the system one they have an account.  Her team provides the support required to upskill the to be able to manage online communication.  She said that the team has very good relationships with and works closely with Jobscentre Plus and that they based alongside the Emergency Support Scheme team so that clients can be provided with integrated support throughout their application process. She has a team of 5 who provide digital and personal budgeting support and that demand for support is greater than the team can often meet. 

 

She further explained that as the universal credit application, as well as other services, are now only accessed online, the Social Mobility Strategy has an area on Digital Inclusion which seeks to increase access to online services by vulnerable residents through a range of community facilities such as community centres. 

 

In response to Member questions specifically about the Social Mobility Strategy (formally known as the Anti-Poverty Strategy), the Training, Policy and Welfare Rights Service Manager confirmed that all Directorates are involved in the development, but is being led by the Directorate of Communities and Environment.  The timeframe for the strategy to be completed is March 2019.

 

Resolved –

 

To note the update on the impact of Universal Credit on those with mental health and learning disabilities living in the Royal Borough of Greenwich.

 

The Panel also:

 

·        Raised concerns about access to online services by these vulnerable residents;

·        Asked for consideration be given to VCS involvement to enhance provision/support;

·        Requested reassurances about staffing resources available to ensure residents are receiving the correct financial package from Universal Credit and other entitlements.