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Agenda item

Annual Report of the Executive Member for Economic Development 2019/2020


Councillor Asima Shaikh, Executive Member Inclusive Jobs and Economy was present, together with Andrea Stark, Director of Employment, Skills and Culture and Caroline Wilson, Head of Inclusive Economic Development for discussion of this item and made a presentation to the Committee, copy interleaved


During discussion of the presentation the following main points were made


·         Current context – prior to the pandemic Islington residents in a vulnerable financial position, working in low paid, insecure jobs. Lack of middle-tiered skilled secure jobs, and many residents running small and micro businesses and these businesses disproportionally owned by women and people from BAME communities. Post COVID to end May 2020 17847 Islington households claiming Universal Credit. Islington unemployment rate risen from 3% of workforce to 7.2% in August and the number of workers on furlough increased by 36% between June and August

·         Emerging Community and Wellbeing strategic framework – this is designed to reduce inequality and poverty – focusing on Local Economies and supply chains, employment support, business support

·         Headline achievements – delivered emergency support to thousands of Islington businesses, tailored advice, brokerage and support for local businesses, opened affordable workspaces in Fonthill Road for Tech and Fashion and secured flagship Ray Building in Clerkenwell which will deliver over £2.5m of social value

·         Adult Employment support – 1318 residents supported into local employment, community and outreach engagement, new support for deaf jobseekers, Islington working partnership, Islington working e bulletin, developed the Islington Directory

·         Youth Employment, Progression and Skills 2019/20 – 307 young people supported into employment, launch event of World of Work, Progression of Council apprentices 83% into further employment on completion of apprenticeship, Post 16 participation – an improvement of NEET or unknown for 16 and 17 year olds and better than London and England

·         Adult and Community Learning – successful OFSTED, increased learner enrolments, supporting learners through COVID, fundraising through bid for a re-skilling programme

·         Libraries and Heritage 2019/20– renovation of Central Library, tribute to Andrea Levy, over a million visits to Libraries, 904 children completed Summer reading programme, and facilitating more online library transactions due to COVID

·         Community Wealth Building actions 2019/20 – delivering employment targets and outcomes, support to small and micro businesses, delivering good growth funds, support to Town Centres, high streets and street markets, delivering local social value, and keeping learning alive during pandemic

·         Community Wealth Building next 12 months – supporting good work on employment, ensuring local people have the right skills, supporting local economies, fostering responsible business and a progressive procurement approach, supporting local businesses and affordable workspaces, improving economic well-being for local people

·         Employment next 12 months- develop an ambitious COVID employment support response, increase social value requirements from contractors, expand iWork service and partnership reach, engage and support parents, refreshed approach to extend engagement with BAME communities, strengthen data collection, analysis and reporting

·         Employment Engagement and sector focus – Health and Social Care Academy working with commissioners and GP Practices offering dedicated local recruitment programme, construction team working with Housing New Build Team to enforce apprenticeship commitments with contractors, inclusive knowledge economy programme tech and digital, green economy

·         Youth Employment – reframed Islington Skills Strategy, implementation of new Youth Employability and Skills targeted programme, a team LBI/Islington approach to improve education, employment, and training outcomes for young people

·         Skills – Adult and Community Learning – Develop a recovery skills strategy, strengthen digital infrastructure, challenge digital exclusion, accessible advice and guidance, a responsive curriculum

·         Libraries and Heritage – continue to develop online services, befriending calls to isolated residents and delivering books to children, develop a recovery plan to enable libraries and museums to reopen safely, re-establish activities programme, highlight and celebrate Black authors and diversity

·         Rebuilding local economies and Town Centres – help local economies to plan for recovery, supporting local people and businesses, sustainable Town Centres, supporting local workspaces, supporting local wealth, supporting the local place

·         Fostering responsible business and a progressive procurement approach – build on responsible business practice, support more local SME’s to compete for Council contracts, develop incentives to support circular economy and greener businesses, strengthen Council approach to achieve more social value from its commission contracts, develop pathfinder project between Adult Social Care, embedding inclusive economy objectives in commissioning and delivery model, deliver affordable workspaces

·         Improving economic well-being for local people – crisis support, income maximisation, managing household finances, reaching those communities most in need of employment support, support to find and secure a good job, supporting those in work to find better employment

·         Noted that there had been a decrease in employment targets due to COVID 19, however the manifesto target of helping 4000 residents into work had been exceeded

·         Noted that Islington was one of 5 top Local Authorities to ensure business loans had been distributed efficiently

·         In response to a question it was stated that during COVID, 100 hours of work experience for school children were still being delivered virtually. There are also careers training meetings, and sectors where work may be available in future were being looked at

·         Noted that the iWork team provided support for the most vulnerable in terms of employment, and a signposting service was available, and a framework is being developed for those residents who have become recently unemployed with higher skills to direct them to appropriate agencies for support

·         Council residents were also being contacted to offer employment support where necessary, and a skills recruitment strategy was being developed, as some residents will need to retrain. Noted that the Council had maintained contact with 461 employers during lockdown, and the Health and Care Academy had a wide spread of jobs by working with health partners

·         Members stated that they wish to commend Councillor Shaikh and the staff for all their excellent work during the pandemic

·         A Member stated that whilst the figures were excellent for 2019/20, these were now out of date, and that there are now 28000 residents on Universal Credit, and 31000 residents furloughed. The Member added that he welcomed the initiatives in the Cally/Finsbury Park area. Councillor Shaikh stated that the Quarter 2 performance figures would be submitted to the next meeting of the Committee

·         In response to a question it was stated that with regards to managed workspace there had been problems with certain sites, however alternative provision were being looked at, and Cally Ward Councillors would be kept informed

·         A Member referred to the circular economy and enquired whether a different type of support was needed for residents especially as there has been an increase in those claiming Universal Credit. It was stated that the Resident Support team has extended support, and an economic wellbeing offer was being developed, together with wrap around support for individual residents. This included enabling residents to maximise benefits, especially OAP’s. With regard to the circular economy this was not an immediate priority however this would be looked at as part of the green economy agenda, and work with Town Centres would be developed in the next few months

·         Members were informed that there is a need to take advantage of funding opportunities to develop green jobs, especially with regards to the Council New Build programme and retrofitting, however there may be problems in obtaining funding to carry out retrofitting. A Construction and Skills Academy was also being looked at


The Chair thanked Councillor Shaikh, Andrea Stark and Caroline Wilson for the presentation


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