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Agenda and minutes

Items
No. Item

59.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Councillors Chowdury, Woodbyrne, Spall and Champion

60.

Declaration of Substitute Members

Minutes:

None

61.

Declarations of Interest

Declarations of interest

 If you have a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest* in an item of business:

§  if it is not yet on the council’s register, you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent;

§  you may choose to declare a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest that is already in the register in the interests of openness and transparency. 

In both the above cases, you must leave the room without participating in discussion of the item.

 

If you have a personal interest in an item of business and you intend to speak or vote on the item you must declare both the existence and details of it at the start of the meeting or when it becomes apparent but you may participate in the discussion and vote on the item.

 

*(a) Employment, etc - Any employment, office, trade, profession or vocation carried on for profit or gain.

(b)  Sponsorship - Any payment or other financial benefit in respect of your expenses in carrying out duties as a member, or of your election; including from a trade union.

(c) Contracts - Any current contract for goods, services or works, between you or your partner (or a body in which one of you has a beneficial interest) and the council.

(d) Land - Any beneficial interest in land which is within the council’s area.

(e) Licences- Any licence to occupy land in the council’s area for a month or longer.

(f)   Corporate tenancies - Any tenancy between the council and a body in which you or your partner have a beneficial interest.

 (g) Securities - Any beneficial interest in securities of a body which has a place of business or land in the council’s area, if the total nominal value of the securities exceeds £25,000 or one hundredth of the total issued share capital of that body or of any one class of its issued share capital. 

 

This applies to all members present at the meeting.

 

 

Minutes:

None

62.

To approve minutes of previous meeting pdf icon PDF 100 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

That the minutes of the meeting of the Committee held on 1 November 2018 be confirmed as a correct record of the proceedings and the Chair be authorised to sign them

63.

Matters Arising from the minutes

64.

PUBLIC QUESTIONS

For members of the public to ask questions relating to any subject on the meeting agenda under Procedure Rule 70.5. Alternatively, the Chair may opt to accept questions from the public during the discussion on each agenda item.

 

Minutes:

The Chair outlined the process for Public questions and filming and recording at meetings

65.

Chair's Report

Minutes:

The Chair reported that a visit had been made to the Barnsbury Job Centre in relation to the Universal Credit scrutiny and that the notes of the meeting had been laid round that evening for Members. The Chair added that further visits on Universal Credit would be taking place on 17 and 22 January, and if Members required any further visits/information in relation to UC these should be notified to her

 

The Chair also outlined the Fire Evacuation procedures for those present

66.

Scrutiny Review - Universal Credit - Witness Evidence - Verbal

Minutes:

Ian Adams, Robbie Rainbird and Annette Hobart, Islington Council, were present for consideration of this item, together with Alison Lamb and Jean Daly- Matthias of the Citizens Advice Bureau and a presentation was made to the Committee, copy interleaved

 

During consideration of the presentation the following main points were made –

·         The UC full service started on 20June 2018 and there are 4231 residents now claiming UC 69% of these are out of work

·         There were 2361 new UC claims in Barnsbury and 1870 in Finsbury Park

·         All 177 who were on UC live service have now transitioned onto full service and are included in the numbers detailed above

·         Job Centres were seeing around 30-40 new claimants per day in October and November, but this might slow down now that live service claims have been migrated over

·         The impact on Housing and Tenants – there are 1450 council tenants (rent accounts) now on UC. 411 are on Alternative Payment Arrangements (APA) and this equates to 28% of tenants on UC (national rate is around 20%)

·         1101 (76%) are in arrears compared to 40% in arrears for tenants still on HB

·         Total rent arrears across UC tenants is now almost £1.4m, four times as much as in June. This has risen in line with the increase in tenants moving onto UC

·         Average rent arrears for UC accounts in arrears is £1206 almost 4 times as much as the average arrears for HB tenants in arrears (£341.80). This rises to 7 times as much as if comparted average arrears across all HB tenants - £909.19 and £138.41 respectively

·         Feedback from the Housing Benefit team – the HB team receives notification from DWP where a UC claim incurs changes to payment of HB and a request for Council Tax support (CTS)

·         UC stop advises HB team to cancel HB and award 2 week run on – new claim

·         UCLTR advises team that UC has stopped or there has been a change of circumstances and a UCDSTLR is sent when a claimant has ticked the box in the UC claim expressing an interest in claiming CTS – Islington is accepting this as an application and is proactively contacting claimants. Calcs is an instruction to cancel HB. The team has experienced significant additional administrative burden due to the level of notifications it is having to check and process, over 4700 in November alone, this is a message echoed by other local authorities

·         Demand for crisis report – Food Banks – Referrals to Islington Food Bank have quadrupled since UC full service went live – there were 167 referrals made by Customer Centre in October, compared to 46 in June

·         Crisis support -  44 payments made through the Resident support scheme to support residents struggling as a result of UC and crisis support has doubled last month and Council is now allowing 2 requests in a year instead of 1

·         Independent Advice and support – Advice partners have dealt with almost 1000 requests for Debt support  ...  view the full minutes text for item 66.

67.

Quarter 1/ 2 Performance Update - Well Run Council pdf icon PDF 245 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Andy Hull, Executive Member Finance, Performance and Resources was present for discussion of this item. Annette Hobart, Strategy and Change Manager (Lead on Performance) was also present

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·         Members noted that a new suite of corporate performance indicators will be used to track progress in delivering the Council’s new Corporate Plan 2018-22

·         The Council are currently on track to meet targets for collection of Council Tax and Business Rates. However, it was noted that a change in the way that collection rates are calculated means that it is not possible to compare performance to last year

·         In response to a question it was stated that it is anticipated that Islington were in a London wide business retention pooling arrangement and it was expected that it was expected that the target set of 97.5% would be met. It was stated that it was felt that small businesses were struggling and 2019/20 would be a difficult year for them as transitional relief will be ending. The Chair stated that if Members were aware of small businesses that were in difficulties these should be referred to Councillor Shaikh, who will endeavour to assist them

·         Reference was made to the outstanding £24m in Council Tax/Business Tax arrears and it was stated that the Council are continuing to focus efforts on recovering old debt and the amount of arrears recovered in the first 6 months of the year was over £2.6m, comprising £837000 Council Tax arrears and £1.8m in business rates arrears

·         Members noted that the number online transactions had increased, which was beneficial to the Council, however residents could still choose not to do transactions online

·         Discussion took place as to the sickness levels detailed in paragraph 4.14 of the report and that the previous explanation given in relation to high levels of sickness in E&R, which had been stated this was mainly due to muscular/skeletal injuries, actually showed high levels of stress/depression/anxiety and mental health problems in addition

·         Members also expressed concern at the high levels of sickness across most Directorates of the Council, particularly stress, anxiety, mental health etc.The view was expressed that this could be mainly due to the pressures placed on staff by the Government reduction in funding to the Council and the need for significant savings to be made. This not only caused more work for staff remaining but future need for savings caused uncertainty for staff. Councillor Hull stated that the Council were putting in place a 3 year budget to try to alleviate stress for staff

·         Members expressed the view that there are HR policies in place to manage staff sickness and there is a need to ensure that these are being effectively communicated and implemented by managers and HR support is being offered when needed

·         The view was also expressed that in smaller departments figures could be affected by a small number of staff being on long term sickness

 

 

RESOLVED:

(a)  That a  ...  view the full minutes text for item 67.

68.

Report of Procurement Board pdf icon PDF 152 KB

Minutes:

Councillor Andy Hull, Executive Member Finance, Performance and Community Safety was present at the meeting for discussion of this item. Steve Key Service Director Finance, was also present

 

 

RESOLVED:

(a)  That the work of the Procurement Board during 2018/19 be noted

(b)  To note the actions of the Strategic Procurement and the Board following up the recommendations of the Committee

 

69.

Financial Monitoring pdf icon PDF 90 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

 Councillor Andy Hull, Executive Member Finance, Performance and Community Safety was present for discussion of this item. Steve Key, Service Director Finance was also present

 

During consideration of the report the following main points were made –

 

·         Members noted the forecast revenue outturn for the General Fund, of a gross overspend on £0.6m, before taking into account the ongoing corporate contingency budget of £2m

·         It was noted that the HRA is in a forecast break even position

·         It was reported that the latest capital position is a forecast capital expenditure of £154.9m in 2018/19

 

 

RESOLVED:

 

That the report be noted

70.

Other Business

Minutes:

The Chair stated that as this was the last meeting of the Committee before Xmas, she would like to wish the Committee and officers a merry Xmas and a Happy New Year