Agenda and minutes

Venue: Council Chamber, Civic Centre. View directions

Contact: Adam Rees 

Items
No. Item

56.

Apologies for Absence and Substitutions

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Nick Churchill, Stefan Mullard and Edna Stevens.

57.

Declarations of Interest

To receive Councillors’ declarations of interest (if any) in relation to any matters on the agenda.

Minutes:

Councillor Bob Davis declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 8, Review of Universal Credit in Harlow – Interviews with DWP and Claimants, as a Board Member of Harlow Save.

 

Councillors Bob Davis and Simon Carter both declared a non-pecuniary interest in Item 10, Review of Landscaping Services Provided by HTS – Report, as Council appointed Directors of the HTS Board.

58.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2018.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2018 are agreed as a correct record and signed by the Chair.

59.

Matters arising

Minutes:

None.

60.

Written questions from members of the public

To receive any questions from members of the public in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 10.

Minutes:

None.

61.

Written questions from Councillors

To receive any questions from Councillors in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 11.

Minutes:

None.

62.

Responses of the Cabinet to Reports of the Scrutiny Committee

To consider responses (if any) of the Cabinet to reports and recommendations from the Committee.

Minutes:

None.

63.

Review of Universal Credit in Harlow - Interviews with DWP and Claimants pdf icon PDF 231 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Committee received a report on the review of Universal Credit (UC) in Harlow, which outlined the initial impacts on the Council’s Housing, and Revenues and Benefits services, as well as the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP), claimants and other support organisations.

 

Representatives from the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB), Harlow Advice Centre, and Harlow Food Bank explained some of the challenges posed by the introduction of UC, both on an organisational and an individual level.

 

The Committee considered specific issues to refer to Cabinet. It was agreed that the following issues would be raised:

 

a)    The online applications process can be complex, and maintaining an online journal can be difficult, especially for particularly vulnerable claimants and those who do not have immediate access to a computer.

 

b)    Additional help is needed to assist certain claimants manage their monthly finances. Monthly payments have caused issues with arrears for some claimants. Allowing more claimants to receive fortnightly payments would help alleviate some of these problems.

 

c)    There had been a significant increase in demand for support services, as well as a sharp increase in the usage of food banks. This included an increase in the number of young families using food banks.

 

d)    Residents in temporary accommodation were particularly vulnerable in instances where one week’s arrears on rent could see eviction.

 

e)    It was still too early to have gained any conclusive evidence with regard to rent arrears and evictions. Therefore it is proposed that a further review be carried out by the Committee in six months’ time.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

A     Cabinet would be presented with a report by the Chair of the Committee setting out the Committee’s specific concerns.

 

B    It was recommended to Cabinet that it notes the specific issues and concerns raised by external support organisations and contained within their written responses provided to the Scrutiny Committee and contained within the appendices to the report.

 

C    It was recommended to Cabinet that it notes that the Committee will be undertaking another review in six months.

64.

Review of Sports in Harlow - Final Report pdf icon PDF 663 KB

Minutes:

The Scrutiny Committee received a report on the review of sports in Harlow, which recommended that the Action Plan, attached as Appendix A to the report, was referred to Cabinet for approval.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

A     The Committee noted the findings of the additional information on sport and physical activity participation rates.

 

B    The Committee noted the findings of the sport and physical activity surveys as detailed within this report.

 

C    The Committee recommended to Cabinet that the Action Plan, attached as Appendix A, is approved.

 

D    The Committee recommended to Cabinet that the Council should adopt a target of 0.5 percent per year participation rate increase in sport and physical activity. Active Lives data should be used as the tool by which this is measured. 

65.

Review of Landscaping Services Provided by HTS - Report pdf icon PDF 225 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee received a report on the review of landscaping services provided by HTS (Property and Environment) Ltd (HTS). The report explained that a working group between Council Officers and HTS Officers had been established, which had identified short and long term improvements to the services provided by HTS.

 

RESOLVED that the report was noted.

66.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 173 KB

To review the Committee’s work plan for the current year.

Minutes:

The Committee received a report summarising its work plan for 2017/18. It was agreed that a review on the impact of permitted development would be added to the Work Plan.

 

Councillor Carter questioned the removal of the Review of Church Langley Fund from the Plan for tonight’s meeting. In response, Simon Freeman, Head of Finance said that he had looked at the previous review of the Fund which had set out an action plan. Simon Freeman said he would liaise with Councillor Carter and if there were still outstanding issues a report would be brought to the Committee.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

A     A review on the impact of permitted development be added to the Work Plan.

 

B    The work plan be noted.

67.

References from Other Committees

Minutes:

None.

68.

Matters of Urgent Business

Such other business which, in the opinion of the Chair, should be received as a matter of urgency by reason of special circumstances to be specified in the minutes.

Minutes:

None.