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Agenda item

Scrutiny Review Employment, Business and Councils Financial Position - witness evidence - verbal


Polly Robbins, Director of Outlandish, an affordable workspace in Fonthill Road, and Stephen Biggs, Director of Community Wealth Building were present at the meeting. During consideration of her verbal presentation the following main points were made –


·         Noted that the workspace had been established in 2019 and entered into a formal partnership with LBI. Outlandish worked with large Trade Unions and other organisations

·         During the pandemic the workshop had to close, however outreach engagement had taken place, and two projects relevant to the Public had taken place with the Council. Training had taken place to upskill residents, and also as to how marketing could be improved. Businesses and residents had been badly affected by the pandemic. More work needs to take place to follow up on projects that had taken place during the pandemic to assess their effectiveness

·         Noted that there had been a lot of innovation in the technology sector during the pandemic, and more young people were looking to build a career in the sector. In addition remote working was beneficial to family life and reduced commuting. However remote working did mean that employers had a larger labour market to choose from and had the option of not recruiting from the local community

·         The Council had been satisfied with the partnership and the workspace was pleased with the support offered by the Council during the pandemic. In response to a question it was felt that the development of more affordable workspaces and small businesses, such as cafes would be beneficial to the Finsbury Park area. There is also a need to gather evidence to more effectively target needs in the area, and to build up relationships with those residents who did not work during the pandemic

·         In terms of the workforce of Outlandish, there were more men than women and 20% of the workforce were BAME, and it is hoped to improve on this

·         Work is taking  place with charities and during the pandemic work took place targeting BAME communities, and work had taken place with London Metropolitan University

·         In response to a question as to social value added it was noted that the methodology, and the figure achieved by the workspace to date of social value could be provided. It was noted that rising energy bills would be an issue. The workspace had a 10 year contract with the Council that the Council paid the rent on the workspace, and that this was approximately £60k per year. In return the workspace had to deliver £12m of social value to the Council over the 10 year period. A loan had also been received during the pandemic to support the workspace

·         It was noted that the workspace had to report quarterly to the Council

·         In response to a question it was stated that University is not the only route into computing

·         Noted that the workspace had 8 partners, and any surplus profits were reinvested. The workspace also worked with freelancers on larger projects

·         There were a range of forums to establish links with businesses and the local economy team focuses on this

·         In response to a question it was stated that there is a need to support local ethical supply chains, and to establish training to support people to establish new workspaces





That the Director of Community Wealth Building be requested to circulate details of the methodology used for determining social value


                      The Chair thanked Polly Robbins and Stephen Biggs for attending