Questions from Members of the Council
Question (a) from Cllr Pandor to Cllr Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety:
How is the Council seeking to challenge inequality in the delivery of our VAWG services while addressing the impacts of intersectionality for survivors of VAWG?
Thank you for your question. As set out in Islington’s VAWG strategy, Islington Council is determined to challenge inequality throughout the delivery of our VAWG services, to prevent discrimination and to address the impacts of intersectionality. We need to build on the experiences of and listen to those that have been victims of domestic violence as their opinion is extremely important.
Recently we have recommissioned our Black, Asian and minoritised women’s IDVA service and have increased the funding to this service. Islington is committed to ensuring that Black, Asian and minoritised women’s needs are acknowledged and addressed through an intersectional lens, when providing support around the VAWG they face.
The partnership is committed to ensuring that key agencies working with survivors are fully trained in Black, Asian and minoritised women’s intersectional experiences and needs and actively encouraged to adopt a more inclusive approach. This is particularly important for the statutory agencies who have the most impact and influence on those survivors and their children’s lives. Just as we adopt a zero tolerance approach to VAWG, so too we take a zero tolerance approach to racism and discrimination, and we call on all agencies to do the same. We are working with our partner agencies to deliver training and workshops on anti-racist practice and intersectionality including at the VAWG conference in November 2022.
We are working to end all forms of violence and we provide VAWG support services that work with all genders. Thanks again for your question.
Question (b) from Cllr Burgess to Cllr Turan, Executive Member for Health and Adult Social Care:
I read with concern that private care brokers are making millions from arranging social care beds for people who are medically fit for discharge from hospital. This is a terrible use of public funds. The situation would not have arisen had the government properly funded social care over the past twelve years. Please could I have your assurance that this is not happening in Islington.
I must firstly say I am very proud to be carrying the flag that you flew before me and thank you for all the great work you did and continue to do for our borough. I agree, public funds should not be used to line the pockets of private care brokers whose sole concerns are around profit. Islington Council does not work with private brokers. We have an in-house Brokerage team for adult services and a placements team for children and young people services whose role it is to arrange placements on the council’s behalf for our residents. They also broker all the care for adults and children’s needs, both in the community and when being discharged from hospital.
Thank you again for your question.
Question (c) from Cllr Hamdache to Cllr O’Halloran, Executive Member for Homes and Communities:
How many estates have cyclical repairs delayed by more than 3 years and how many residents are impacted?
Thank you for your question, Cllr Hamdache. Our housing investment programme which includes the cyclical maintenance programme is driven by the need for investment and major component renewal. Rather than adhering to maintenance cycles, estates are reviewed every seven years between the investment and technical team to identify when works are expected to be required next and whether to commission these into the upcoming 3 years programme or whether to take a further review at a suitable interval, depending on the observed condition of the estate. Some buildings will have less maintenance requirements than others and often previous investment works are lasting well. Expected life cycles of these major components and repairs histories will be considered as part of this review.
Taking this approach means that best value can be achieved from previous investment works, major components like roofs and windows are renewed at the end of their lives and other elements such as decorations and preservation works and renewal of electrical infrastructure can be included into programmes to achieve the best value from access equipment such as scaffolding which is a significant cost within any works package.
Our investment programme is also driven by other investment priorities, such as fire safety and energy efficiency. These help to ensure that the Council meets it obligations in these areas and where it is most effective to do so, other improvements will be considered as part of these packages of work. Thanks again for your question, Cllr Hamdache.
Question (d) from Cllr Jegorovas-Armstrong to Cllr Ward, Executive Member for Finance, Planning and Performance:
How many residents are behind on their council tax and how many council tenants are behind on their rent because of the introduction of Universal Credit?
Thank you for your question, Cllr Jegorovas-Armstrong. Our Council works hard to support local people when they suffer financial hardship. As we will be discussing later this evening, our Budget includes signification investment in help with the cost-of-living crisis. Universal Credit has clearly not helped local people who receive benefit payments and that is why this Council voted to scrap it in 2018.
We do not currently hold information to allow an analysis of whether arrears are as a result of Universal Credit. Since August 2018, when Universal Credit was fully implemented, the total rent arrears have increased from under £3million to just over £9million and the arrears value has increased mostly for those in receipt of Universal Credit. The most significant changes in the percentage of accounts in arrears are the increase of those in receipt of Universal Credit and the reduction in those that were previously not in receipt of benefits.
Of all of our 111,300 Council Tax accounts, there are approximately 14.8k in arrears as at end of January 2023. In terms of rent arrears, 8,592 of our 24,499 tenanted households (35%) are in receipt of Universal Credit but currently account for around 59% of arrears cases and around 71% of the total debt. Thanks again for your question.
Question (e) from Cllr Russell to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport:
How much parking revenue is lost due to the Council’s Roamer parking scheme and how many short car trips are generated by this policy?
Thank you for your question, Cllr Russell. As you know, we are determined to ensure that our Council’s parking scheme supports us to achieve our commitment to reduce car use in the borough. We don’t have access to this data at this time however we should be able to obtain this in the near future. We are currently investigating some survey work to look at the level of usage of car journeys and potential loss of income. Resident permits are displayed on our systems as a valid permit, we are unable to ascertain whether a permit is valid in a specific CPZ or if it is roaming to neighbouring CPZ’s. Thanks again for your question.
Question (f) from Cllr Heather to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport:
I would like to say how pleased I was to see the North London Waste Authority full-page adverts in the Islington Tribune encouraging residents to recycle their used electrical items. There was also a QR code in the advert to scan to find out more about recycling. I know the council is doing all it can to increase recycling rates in the borough working the local community and the NLWA. Can we please have an update on our recycling challenge in the borough and what more we are planning to do to increase our recycling rate.
Thanks for your question. Our new Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan is being considered for approval by Executive on 23 March and sets out our proposals for recycling over the next two years and beyond. While recycling is important, reducing waste is the most important thing to do and would also help alleviate some of the pressures of the Cost of Living crisis. Our ambitious plans were published in Islington’s Waste Reduction and Recycling Plan for 2023-2025, which sets out the steps the Council, residents, and businesses must take to increase levels of recycling and reduce waste.
To help create a cleaner, greener, healthier borough and as part included in the Islington Labour manifesto last year, the Council has set a target of recycling 40% of the household waste and 75% of the commercial waste it collects by 2030. Ensuring that recycling is easy and accessible for residents on estates is at the heart of this, and the council plans to spend its £2m investment over the course of three years to ensure that facilities on estates are clean, well-maintained, and easy to use.
By creating a circular economy, the Council can also ensure that more precious resources are repurposed, refurbished, and recycled instead of going for incineration. The Council has recently announced that a range of workshops will be held in the borough next week, so that residents can get their items repaired and find out more about how they can do their own upcycling. To build on this, the report sets out plans to host six Repair Café sessions each year, so that residents have regular opportunities to easily get their goods repaired.
The report also sets out how the Council will create a more environmentally friendly Islington by:
- Expanding food waste recycling collections to all suitable purpose-built blocks of flats by March 2024.
- Creating a zero emissions recycling and refuse fleet by 2030, by continuing to reduce the overall size of the fleet and by investing in more zero-emissions vehicles.
- Working with businesses and partners to ensure that by 2030 the council recycles 75% of the commercial waste it collects.
- Last year, Islington became one of the first local authorities in the country to trial a food waste recycling service for residents in flats above shops. The service has been run on a trial basis for residents on Holloway Road.
Thank you again for your question.
Question (g) from Cllr Poyser to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport:
I am extremely proud to represent Whitehall Park, one of the earliest Conservation areas. Some its architecture is distinctive – majestic, even. I have frequently written to Council officers where this has not been respected – in bay windows, designs for porches etc. asking them to inform transgressors, and to new residents of the area. Our planet is facing unprecedented man-made natural disaster and Islington has taken a proud lead ensuring we are carbon-neutral by 2030. What steps is the Council taking to ensure that discreet solar panels, with the absolute minimum effect on the original Victorian and historic street designs, are encouraged across the Borough? Are we a leading Council in this area? Is the perception that Solar Panels are impossible in Conservation areas in any way fair?
Thanks for your question. As you say, the planet is facing unprecedented man-made natural disaster in the climate emergency and this Council is leading on the work to tackle that. A key part of that work is ensuring that our energy supply is as clean and fossil-free as possible. I can state quite categorically that the installation of solar panels on buildings in Islington’s Conservation Areas is not impossible. I am pleased to be able to clarify this point as there appears to be a lot of confusion about the council’s position. Under national planning rules, planning permission for solar panels is not always needed. Outside of Conservation Areas planning permission is not needed to install solar panels on a house or block of flats. However, inside Conservation Areas planning permission is needed for the installation of solar panels on a wall or a roof that fronts onto a highway.
To support local people who wish to install solar panels and other energy reduction measures in their homes, Islington Council is producing a Simple Guide to national and local planning policies. This will be published on the council’s website very shortly. These are only two of the many measures that we are introducing to ensure that our planning policies align with our Net Zero Carbon ambitions whilst ensuring that we protect the amenity of neighbouring residents and the quality of the borough’s built environment.
For example, in the Summer, residents will be able to access a free of charge pre-application planning service. A dedicated planning officer will be able to work with local residents and small businesses to help them submit and prepare planning applications for carbon reduction measures. We are also preparing a Net Zero Carbon Supplementary Planning Document and will be reviewing our Islington Urban Design Guide and Conservation Area guidelines in tandem with the preparation of this document. Finally, we will be piloting a best practice approach to net zero carbon and Conservation Areas in Mildmay Ward. Thanks again for your question.
Question (h) from Cllr McHugh to Cllr Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety:
Councillor Woolf, I’m delighted and thankful to see the excellent work that you are doing to eliminate violence against women and girls in Islington.
Too often, in focusing on women and girls, there is an eradication of attention on the important role of men and boys. The violence is against women and girls, but nearly always it is initiated by men and boys. Not only are there male perpetrators to consider, but also men and boys have important roles to play in challenging social norms, speaking out and confronting prejudice.
Can you please therefore comment on how the Council’s VAWG work and strategy addresses perpetrators as well as addresses men and boys in Islington more generally?
Thank you for your question. Making perpetrators visible and accountable is one of the key objectives in Islington’s VAWG Strategy 2021 – 2026.
This includes commitments to:
- Offering interventions and support to people using violence in their relationships where they have expressed a desire to change their behaviour and demonstrate self-awareness and insight into what they have done;
- Working together with our statutory partners to improve criminal justice outcomes for survivors of all forms of VAWG including rape and sexual violence where offences have been reported;
- Perpetrators being visible and accountable in safety planning and work with families and services will acknowledge that they pose the primary risk to children in child safeguarding arrangements.
Since the introduction of Islington’s Domestic Abuse Daily Safeguarding meeting which replaced the MARAC in January 2021, we have seen a significant increase in actions that focus on managing the behaviour of the perpetrator with a seven-fold increase in the number of requests for civil and legal protection orders. Thanks again for your question on such an important topic.
Question (i) from Cllr Bossman-Quarshie to Cllr Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety:
Islington has launched many initiatives in its effort to reduce knife crime locally such as the introduction of knife bins and no knife shops, which help to reduce the availability of knives. In my local ward, my colleagues and I are doing a lot to raise awareness on hate and knife crime, and we know some residents have felt empowered to report instances of crime. However, while we have seen rates of knife crime in the borough fall in recent years, there is still work to be done and 13 years of Tory austerity means the resources available to us to eradicate knife crime are limited. With the No More Red campaign, in partnership with Arsenal, as a starting point, how can we build on our partnership work with other key organisations in the borough to increase the work being done in the community to tackle the root causes of knife crime?
Thanks for your question. As I mentioned in my response to the previous question, Islington Council works extensively with our partners to tackle the scourge of knife crime that affects all of our communities. Importantly there needs to be coherent plan that is agreed and delivered across the Safer Islington Partnership where only by working with the police and other partners, can we effectively respond to the problems associated with all forms of violence.
In Islington, our ambition is to reduce the long-term scale and impact of violence – making Islington a safer, fairer borough for all. This year Islington Council have proudly launched the Islington Violence Reduction Strategy. We will adopt a public health approach to tackling violence to deliver evidence-based interventions and engagement work with young people, adults, families and communities.
Our strategy to engage, build trust with, and collaborate with all communities in Islington is at the heart of our four-step approach:
- Prevention of serious violence before it occurs by providing violence-diverting information and opportunities alongside targeted interventions towards individuals most at-risk of committing violence.
- Minimise the impact of serious violence on the community by scaling-up the response to swiftly de-escalate and contain violence.
- Support those vulnerable to, at-risk of or affected by serious violence by providing them with adequate support and interventions.
- Empower communities to strengthen their own resilience and knowledge, make positive behavioural choices, and to work with others to prevent and reduce serious violence.
This plan and approach help us tackle knife crime across the borough. Thanks again for your question.
Question (j) from Cllr Hyde to Cllr Woolf, Executive Member for Community Safety:
As an Islington Labour councillor, I was extremely proud that, in the 2020 Council budget we heavily invested in our work to tackle domestic violence. Could you tell me what impact that investment has had since then on our work in this area and increased the impact of MARAC meetings on the rates of domestic violence in Islington?
Thank you for your question. Keeping local people safe is a top priority for this council and with International Women’s Day next week, it is a great time to look at the work we do. The significant additional investment we made as a Council in VAWG services in 2020 (£2mill over 3 years) plus additional funding secured from Troubled Families, Public Health, MHCLG, CCG and the London Violence Reduction Unit has been used to support an ambitious programme to transform our VAWG approach and services in Islington. The aim is to intervene earlier to break cycles of violence; support survivors and families to stay safe; hold perpetrators to account and deliver a new community response to Domestic Abuse.
The funding has supported a variety of work, including a comprehensive VAWG workforce development offer, additional Independent Domestic Violence Advocates, a specialist Children’s Independent Domestic Violence Advisor (IDVA), and two Abianda Girls and Young Women workers co-located with Targeted Youth Support and the Integrated Gangs Team.
The impact of this investment in services has been significant, for example in 2021/2022 Islington IDVA services supported 2,008 survivors and families.
In January 2021 Islington replaced the monthly MARAC meeting with the new Domestic Abuse Daily Safeguarding Meeting. This is a multi-agency led, fully integrated approach to needs management for victims of Domestic Abuse across Islington. The DSM aims to address the needs at the time the intervention has the greatest impact and to maximise victim engagement. Between January 2021 – December 2022 the DSM heard 1339 cases with 1375 children residing at the households discussed.
I am incredibly proud of the work we do in this area and will always work hard to ensure we do as much as we can to keep women and girls in Islington safe.
Thanks again for your question.
Question (k) from Cllr Jeapes to Cllr Turan, Executive Member for Health & Social Care:
The LGA has recently called on the government to publish the Public Health grant funding allocations which helps local councils to fund vital health services related to drug and alcohol treatment, tackling obesity and health visits. After 13 years of austerity, we know all too well the impact lack of sufficient funding can have on the services we deliver. Can you clarify whether we have received notice about our Public Health Grant funding allocation, and if not, can we commit to lobbying central government on this matter?
Thank you for your question. The money we receive from the Public Health Grant plays an important role in our work to create a healthier Islington. Unfortunately, the public health grant for 2023/24 has not yet been published or confirmed. Since 2015, the grant has been cut by more than a quarter in real terms, even though it plays a crucial role in addressing health inequalities and in spite of the importance of public health in the response to the Covid pandemic. This is just another demonstration of this Government’s contempt to fund vital public services. We join the calls of the Local Government Association and the Association of Directors of Public Health that the grant needs to be published as soon as possible, so councils like ours know how much they can budget for essential services to help keep people healthy throughout their lives, such as for health visiting, to help people stop smoking, tackle obesity, and promote good sexual health. Thank you again for your question.
Question (l) from Cllr Cinko-Oner to Cllr Bell-Bradford, Executive Member for Inclusive Economy and Jobs:
The cost-of-living crisis is
impacting local businesses due to rising costs in food and fuel.
Supporting our local businesses is key to growing our economy and
providing jobs for local residents. What measures are being put in
place to ensure businesses gain support to mitigate against these
rising costs, and are considered in our procurement
Thanks for your question. 95% of businesses in Islington are small local businesses and they are at core of our community for providing employment and affordable services to our residents. Ensuring we have a thriving local economy is vital for our Community Wealth Building agenda.
We have our business audit scheme helping businesses identify energy adaptations they can make to lower energy costs at a time when they are extremely high. We also provide grants to help directly with these energy costs for example helping them to switch to LED lights or making their boilers more efficient. We also provide direct cash grants to help those most effected such as those in the hospitality sector and those small local businesses you see on the hight street to help them not only survive but thrive. We also provide affordable workspaces, which is one of the most radical things we do in the borough where we take large commercial spaces in Islington and give the opportunity to residents in one of the most densely populated boroughs to work in these spaces rent free with businesses that can provide benefit to our community. Since this programme has been running we have generated £1.2 million pounds of social investment for the Borough.
We spent millions of pounds procuring services, my predecessors did a great job at creating a procurement strategy to allow small and local businesses to have a say in the procurement chain so they can share in the wealth we generate locally, for example using local printing services. Thank you again.
Question (m) from Cllr Clarke to Cllr Champion, Executive Member for Environment, Air Quality and Transport:
Islington Council takes the global degradation of ecosystems, the climate crisis and pollution with the utmost seriousness. Given the fact that livestock farming accounts for between 16.5% and 28% of all greenhouse gas pollution and creates more carbon emissions than all global transport combined. The heating effect of methane is rising, and livestock farming is the greatest source of methane released by human activities. Livestock farming is the greatest cause of habitat destruction and wildlife loss. Substitutes for animal products can greatly reduce this damage. What is the council doing to address the damaging effects of livestock farming and publicise alternatives to it?
Thank you for your question. We recognise that livestock farming is a major contributor to greenhouse gas emissions and are working to encourage a reduction in meat consumption and an increase in plant-based alternatives. The Islington Food Strategy, currently undergoing review by the Islington Food Partnership (IFP) works towards reducing consumption of products of animal origin. It encourages businesses, including contract caterers to introducemore vegetable options on menus, to introduce plant-based days e.g. meat free Mondays, and to engage with animal welfare standards via Compassion in world Farming schemes such as Happy chicken and happy egg as well as Sustainable Fish Cities. The strategy is being reviewed by IFP, a broad coalition of voluntary sector, local authority, NHS and business partners, supported extensively by the council. The new Islington Food Strategy is due to be published in March.
Our current school meal contractor serves vegetarian or vegan meals for all pupils once a week, and on one other day a week the meat option contains 50% plant-based protein. On two or three days a week there is a vegan meal served. Our current provider also has just renewed their Silver served here award with Soil Association which award points for local and seasonal foods (thereby reducing carbon emissions) as well as serving animal proteins from higher welfare farming and fish from sustainable sources.
We will continue to focus on how carbon emissions can be reduced in future contracts in line with our Progressive Procurement Strategy. It is also our policy for all catering for council events in the Town Hall to be vegetarian and we promote national campaigns such as Veganuary through our communications team channels to encourage people to recognise the benefits of plant-based alternatives. One thing people can do to reduce carbon emissions individually is follow a plant-based or vegetarian diet. Thanks again for your question.