Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Board
Tuesday, 17th October, 2017 6.00 pm

Venue: Crompton Suite, Civic Centre, Oldham, West Street, Oldham, OL1 1NL. View directions

Contact: Lori Hughes 

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies For Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Goodwin.

2.

Declarations of Interest

To Receive Declarations of Interest in any Contract or matter to be discussed at the meeting.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest received.

3.

Urgent Business

Urgent business, if any, introduced by the Chair

Minutes:

There were no items of urgent business received.

4.

Public Question Time

To receive Questions from the Public, in accordance with the Council’s Constitution.

Minutes:

There were no public questions received.

5.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 147 KB

The Minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 5th September 2017 are attached for approval.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 5th September 2017 be approved as a correct record.

6.

Minutes of the Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee pdf icon PDF 200 KB

The minutes of the Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee held on 4th July 2017 are attached.  The Board is requested to note the minutes.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the Health Scrutiny Sub-Committee held on 4th July 2017 be noted.

7.

Universal Credit - Meeting With Job Centre Plus (DWP) Representatives pdf icon PDF 59 KB

Minutes:

The Board had invited representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to discuss the current position of the implementation of Universal Credit.  Oldham had been selected as a pilot area and the implementation had been and continued to be a learning exercise for both the Council and the DWP. 

 

The Board were provided with a presentation by the DWP.  Universal Credit was the most significant change in many years and the aims were to reduce dependency on benefits, reduce worklessness, support people by moving into work, provide value for money and recognise the needs of claimants.  Universal credit combined six previous benefits into one.  When claiming Universal Credit it would not be necessary to sign off or make new claims as it was reported to one organisation.  Universal Credit was a digital service available on smart phones, tablets and other devices.  Notifications were immediate for most customers.  Universal Credit was a personalised service.  All issues related to the claimant were put on the journal and usually responded to in 24 – 48 hours.  Assistance for claimants was provided by DWP officers which included budgeting and personal assistance.  Support was also available from other organisations including the Council.  Members were invited to visit the Job Centre. 

 

Members sought an explanation as to the delay in claimants receiving payments when they had met the criteria.  Members were informed that the length of time taken to receive payment was policy design and could not be changed.  If claimants were in hardship, an advance payment could be generated in 3 days and for the most vulnerable payment could be arranged the same day.  Payments were made monthly and personal budgeting support was available.  Monthly payments were made in order to prepare claimants for the world of work where most workers were paid monthly. 

 

Members queried the percentages in the labour market and were informed national predictions were 7 million were back in the economy. 

 

Members queried how support was provided to those residents who did not have digital access to the service.  Members were informed if Universal Credit could not be accessed digitally it may not be possible to apply for jobs as most job applications were on-line.  As well as personal budgeting support, DWP had contracted assisted digital support.  There were 26 computers available in the Oldham Job Centre and work coaches were also available to assist applicants on the computers.  Information could be found at www.gov.uk and search for Universal Credit.  It was important to get customer feedback.  The system was agile and would evolve.  Oldham alone made several requests a week.  Self-employed customers who worked were required to call and declare earnings but an update had been requested whereby the information could be put into the on-line journal. The complexities of the system were huge with a large customer base.

 

Members referenced a case whereby a resident, single parent with 2 young children, had made an application and it took 8 – 9 weeks for the first payment,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

Homelessness Strategy Update pdf icon PDF 309 KB

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to an update on the Council’s Homelessness Strategy and Homelessness issues in Oldham. 

 

The Homelessness Action 2002 required all local authorities to take a more strategic and multi-agency approach in tackling all forms of homelessness and its prevention.  The Council had developed strong relationships with its partners which had assisted in keeping the levels of homelessness in the borough amongst the lowest in Greater Manchester.  The current strategy covered the period 2016 – 2021 and covered the themes of:

·       Access to information and accommodation

·       Early intervention and prevention

·       Targeted support to those most in need.

The strategy was also backed up by an annual action plan.

 

There had been an increase in the number of households being presented as homeless which reflected the national and local situation.  There had also been a corresponding increase in the number of households  which required temporary accommodation.  There were a number of policy changes that were likely to have an impact on the number of households approaching Homelessness Services and the costs of services.  The policies included:

·       Changes to homeless legislation – Homelessness Reduction Act; and

·       Welfare Reform – changes to local housing allowance, roll out of Universal Credit, changes to payments for people with disabilities and changes to housing benefit.

 

The Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) had been approached by the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) who requested GMCA pilot a prevention duty approach to homelessness.  A bid had been submitted for Trailblazer funding for the pilot to be undertaken along with additional bids for resources to support work with rough sleepers or those at risk of rough sleeping.  Information had been provided in respect to support these. 

 

The report outlined achievements to date as well as priorities for the coming year.

 

Issues were outlined which would increase the burden on the local authority and included the introduction of the Homeless Reduction Act, the additional responsibility and burden placed on the local authority; the need for additional resources; the effects of welfare reform which included the introduction of Universal Credit, benefit caps; local housing allowance cap; increased rent arrears, mortgage repossession; asylum seeker dispersal and out of area placements.

 

Housing allocation was being reviewed and a report was being presented to Cabinet which sought additional resources to address demands on the service.   Members were informed of developments working with partners, the lack of decent affordable housing, lack of social housing stock being created and the need to unlock better accommodation in the private sector.  It was also hoped to get something in place to give private landlords confidence for tenants in receipt of Universal Credit.  The development of a Private Rented Sector Bond Scheme was highlighted to the Board.

 

Members asked how far reaching the strategy was in terms of partners and were informed on how this issue was being addressed locally and across Greater Manchester and recognition of the issue by the Greater Manchester Mayor. 

 

Members raised the difficulty of those who were homeless and the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 8.

9.

GM 2040 Transport Strategy and Supporting Sustainable Economic Growth pdf icon PDF 167 KB

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to a report which provided an update on the Greater Manchester 2040 Transport Strategy and the first Delivery Plan which had been adopted in February 2017. 

 

Transport was crucial in supporting ambitious growth plans set out for the next 25 years in the Greater Manchester Strategy and the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework.  Major growth in employment was predicted which would lead to more trips on the transport network.  The Greater Manchester Transport Strategy provided a long-term framework for the improvement of transport across the city region and accommodated the predicted levels of growth.  Predicted growth occurred through the Greater Manchester Spatial Framework which identified new development locations.  Work was underway to understand the transport investment needs which were to be brought forward through the GM2040 Delivery Plan.  There were also many policies and interventions in the strategy that contributed towards the challenge of accommodating growth.

 

The report detailed progress that had been made since the GM2040 Transport Strategy had been published that supported sustainable economic growth and included external policy developments, both national and regional, as well as progressing in the delivery of specific GM2040 transport interventions.

 

There had been two key government policy documents published which could affect the GM2040 policies which were the Cycling and Walking Investment Strategy and a new National Air Quality Action Plan.

 

Oldham Council was also reviewing the Local Plan which sought views from the local community and stakeholders and issues included transport and accessibility.  The report also highlighted schemes being delivered under the GM Transport Capital Programme which included improvements to Yorkshire Street.  Funding was also being sought under the National Productivity Investment Fund competition for two bids in the Oldham Town Centre.

 

The report highlighted the continued development of the case for the transfer of local rail stations to GM Control, continued roll out of the GM smart ticketing programme, promotion of the cycling and walking through infrastructure, training and support, delivery of GM Travel Choices and Active Travel Programmes and improving sustainable transport to major employment areas.

 

Members were informed of the rollout of various travel schemes and the GM Travel Choices Initiative which included one element that assisted job seekers and apprentices with free travel for a 28 day period.  Members were also informed of the provision of free bus tickets which were purchased at a discount and offered through Get Oldham Working and also informed of the positive cycle scheme.  It was hoped to increase the number of people using the free scheme. 

 

Members sought clarification on the third city crossing and were informed that transport strategies were being developed which included rapid transit (Metrolink) and further work would need to be completed in order for the network to grow.  Models would be measured against value for money and benefit cost ratio.

 

Members sought clarification on the outcome of the NPF bid and were informed that an announcement was hoped to be imminent and would be in the Autumn Statement.  There was only  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9.

10.

Community Food and Growing Hubs pdf icon PDF 293 KB

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to an update on the current position in respect of community food and growing hubs across Oldham and the potential of the hubs to deliver the ambition of ‘fair access to health food for all’ which included a focus on the minimisation of food waste through redistribution and education.

 

There had been engagement and consultation with a number of elected members and representatives from Growing Oldham, including the Feeding Ambition Partnership and Oldham Food Network.

 

The report highlighted the following:

 

·       A workshop had taken place with members of the Oldham Food Network and elected members;

·       Points raised around access for all residents and that investment in building new and existing community hubs could be a more sustainable and co-operative approach;

·       Detailed existing mapping work undertaken to plot the increasing number of food and growing hubs across the borough;

·       The opportunity of the network approach in delivery of the ambition of ‘fair access to healthy food for all’;

·       Get Oldham Growing Public Health Programme;

·       Green Dividend – a co-operative initiative which supported 48 projects (with the final round to be announced; and

·       Oldham’s Food and Growing Hub Model.

 

The delivery of ambitions around fair access to food was ongoing and specific proposals were under review. 

 

Members were informed on developments of an Oldham model.  The model would be inclusive with increased access to locally grown food.  Also highlighted were food markets, locally grown produce for restaurants, the link to cooking skills and employment.  Since the community shop had first been considered the community food network had been developed, successful campaigns had taken place, forums had been established, delivery of Get Oldham Growing continued and there were new health ambassadors. 

 

Members were supportive of the community food network model as it was locally based and focussed and the model should be extended.  The food network model also fulfilled the health and wellbeing agenda.  The community shop model was costly.

 

Members were informed that more funding was expected from Well North.  The aim was to set up groups, have public health initiatives, for the groups to be sustainable, include education for healthier eating with one idea being a mobile van. 

 

Members congratulated the excellent work done on the Community Food and Growing Hubs.  Members asked if initiatives could be taken up in schools and also encourage people to grow in their own gardens.

 

RESOLVED that as the issue of the Community Shop model had been considered and explored in consultation with a range of partners, and following the engagement and the review of the opportunities for Oldham it be agreed that:

 

1.       No further work be undertaken related to the Community Shop as this was not the most appropriate solution for Oldham due in part to limitations on access for all residents and the changing capacity, interest and ambition in Oldham maturing through the community-led Oldham Food Network.

2.       A locally-led model refocussed on the investment in building new and existing community food and growing hubs as part of  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme pdf icon PDF 177 KB

The Board is requested to note the Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme for 2017/18.

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to the latest Overview and Scrutiny Work Programme.  Members were asked to consider a request that the Regeneration Projects be changed to the Oldham Town Centre Master Plan.  This was agreed but members requested that an update be included on Princes’ Gate.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.       The Overview and Scrutiny Board Work Programme be noted.

2.       The Regeneration Projects due at the meeting to be held on 28th November be changed to Oldham Town Centre Master Plan and an update on Princes’ Gate be included.

12.

General Exceptions and Urgent Decisions pdf icon PDF 97 KB

The Board is requested to note the decisions that have been taken under Rule 16 or 17 of the Council’s Constitution since the last meeting of the Overview and Scrutiny Board held on 5th September 2017.

 

If a detailed explanation is required and an officer is attend the meeting to provide further information, please contact Constitutional Services by 12.00 noon on Thursday, 12th October 2017.

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to a decision authorised under Rule 16 of the Council’s Constitution.

 

RESOLVED that the General Exception and Urgency Decision related to the Well North Collaboration Agreement be noted.

13.

Key Decision Document pdf icon PDF 177 KB

The Board is requested to note the Council’s Key Decision Document.

Minutes:

The Board gave consideration to the Council’s Key Decision Document.

 

RESOLVED that the Key Decision Document be noted.

 

14.

Date and Time of Next Meeting

The date and time of the next Overview and Scrutiny Board will be Tuesday, 28th November 2017 at 6.00 p.m.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the date and time of the next Overview and Scrutiny Board meeting to be held on Tuesday, 28th November 2017 at 6.00 p.m. be noted.