Agenda and minutes

The Economy, Housing and the Arts Policy and Accountability Committee
Wednesday, 26th April, 2017 7.00 pm

Venue: Courtyard Room - Hammersmith Town Hall. View directions

Contact: Ainsley Gilbert  Tel: 020 8753 2088 / Email  ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

44.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillor Harry Phibbs and Councillor Lisa Homan, Cabinet Member for Housing.

45.

Declarations of Interest

* See note below.

 

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

46.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 245 KB

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 7 March 2017 were agreed to be accurate.

47.

Digital Inclusion – Housing Services pdf icon PDF 344 KB

Minutes:

Andy Stocker explained that digital inclusion meant helping people to benefit from the internet, through access to information, better deals and increased contact with friends and family. It was estimated that 12% of the borough’s population could not access the internet; for residents living in Council houses this figure rose to 30% and so schemes to improve digital inclusion on housing estates had been set up.

 

Digital inclusion schemes had been piloted on the Queen Caroline Estate and at Waterhouse Close Sheltered Accommodation. These schemes involved grants being provided for a broadband connection and IT equipment and training sessions then being offered in residents’ halls. Training sessions had been delivered by Council officers, volunteers, staff of Bishop Creighton House and even school children as part of the Council’s youth takeover day. The support offered was tailored to each person attending, although everyone left the session with an email address. So far more than 40 residents had been given training on how to use the internet.

 

Andy Stocker said that there was significant demand for digital inclusion services in sheltered accommodation. He explained that the current service model was not able to deliver training in all 47 of the residents halls in the borough, but that a model based on hub venues in each area of the borough would be possible. This idea would be dependent on both additional funding being identified, possibly through crowdfunding on Spacehive, and on more volunteers being recruited.

 

Jaya Lalwani explained that Citizens Advice Hammersmith and Fulham delivered training at Avonmore Library and at the Advice Centre in Shepherds Bush through its TechTalk scheme. Digitally themed coffee mornings were also arranged which helped people to improve their skills. The service had 30 digital champions and also promoted online training through learnmyway.com. Some learners were now so confident using computers that they were training others.

 

A resident said that they were pleased to hear that digital inclusion was being promoted but that the service needed to be rolled out further as many, especially those living in the south of the borough, couldn’t access the training. Andy Stocker explained that a trial had been planned on an estate in Fulham but that the TRA had not been able to commit to doing what was needed of it to launch the scheme. He said that he hoped that the service could benefit all residents in time.

 

A resident said that the knowledge and attitude of the member of staff giving the training was important to the scheme’s success; an early trainer at one of the schemes had not been well liked by learners and this had led to people not wanting to attend. Andy Stocker said that a lot had been learned from pilots, including the need for friendly trainers.

 

Councillor Connell said that he was surprised by the high proportion of people who did not access the internet and asked what was done to help those who did not live in council housing. Andy Stocker explained that  ...  view the full minutes text for item 47.

48.

Tackling Worklessness pdf icon PDF 220 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Glendine Shepherd explained that the government’s welfare reforms had been aimed at making work pay. The impact of welfare reform on unemployed households was significant and so the council had taken steps to help people into work.

 

The key welfare reforms were the introduction of the benefit cap and combination of previous benefits into Universal Credit. The benefit cap had reduced housing benefit for 1335 families in the borough. 65% of those households which had been capped were no longer seeing their benefit reduced, either because they had been helped into work and so eligible to collect working tax credit (480 households) or because they had been exempted from the cap because of disability or because they had moved to cheaper accommodation. Universal Credit mainly affected new applicants and this had been rolled out in most of the borough; officers had worked with Jobcentre Plus to develop an effective system of managing applications to reduce the impact of the new system. Universal Credit’s earning’s taper allowed people to work unlimited hours and still claim so it was easier to encourage people to seek work.

 

The schemes which the Council ran to help people into work included:

-       H&F Link and Support which runs the H&F Advice Hub, located at 145 King Street, where residents could get advice and assistance on a wide range of subjects. Support was provided by Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus, WorkZone, OnePlace and Adult Learning and Skills.

-       WorkZone which helped residents into work and training and helped business with recruitment.

-       OnePlace which brought together staff from a range of council services, Jobcentre Plus and other agencies to provide support for those who were long-term unemployed, vulnerable or who had complex needs.

 

A resident asked whether internships and apprenticeships were available through the council’s schemes. Joseph Pascual explained that WorkZone provided apprenticeships, whilst the council also offered people the chance to do an apprenticeship or some work experience at the council.

 

The Chair asked whether pastoral support was available for people who had been out of work for a long time. Joseph Pascual said that it was, those who had been out of work for a long time were given an action plan including tailored support which could include a range of pastoral schemes.

 

A resident asked whether the gender and age of those accessing services were monitored. Glendine Shepherd confirmed that these statistics were recorded and services were adjusted to ensure that they met the needs of all communities.

 

Councillor Connell noted that Hammersmith Jobcentre Plus was due to close and asked what impact this would have. Glendine Shepherd explained that some Jobcentre Plus staff would relocate to 145 King Street but that there would be an impact. Officers were trying to make sure that the required support was made available by Jobcentre Plus.

 

Councillor Connell noted that the government had removed the duty to monitor income based child poverty as it introduced the benefit cap. He asked whether the council’s records allowed officers  ...  view the full minutes text for item 48.

49.

Review of Adult Learning's recent Ofsted Inspection and Recommendations pdf icon PDF 320 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Eamon Scanlon explained that the Adult Learning and Skills Service was based at the Macbeth Centre, with outreach at the Adult and Community Learning Centre at Arc Swift Primary Academy and at Normand Croft Community Centre. 7,000 students attended courses each year.

 

In November 2016 the Adult Learning and Skills Service had been inspected by Ofsted; the service had been rated good with some outstanding features. The Skills Funding Agency had agreed to continue to fund courses, with £2.7 million being paid in 2016-17. Some of the highlights of the report were courses designed to support employment needs, social benefits of courses, the services’ leadership and the safeguarding and prevent training received by staff.

 

The inspection had also highlighted a number of areas for improvement. These were being acted upon, as follows:

-       Recruit a mathematics teacher so that more classes could be run.

Recruitment of a maths teacher was ongoing.

-       Routinely scrutinise plans to improve outcomes for those taking basic qualifications in English, Maths and ESOL

Officers were addressing issues with poor performance by some learners and with high dropout rates. This was being done by assessing learner’s abilities better and ensuring that they were supported through their courses.

-       Review data to ensure that new learners are participating

Officers had worked with the business intelligence team to get weekly reports which helped them to ensure that courses were performing well and engaging learners.

-       Ensure that learners’ progress and achievement are recorded and recognised

The requirements of the existing scheme had been publicised whilst possible improvements were being considered.

 

Eamon Scanlon said that Ofsted’s recommendations had been useful in identifying areas where the service could be improved; they had been fed in to the service’s Quality Development and Improvement Plan and they would all be acted upon.

 

The Chair congratulated the service and all of the staff in it for achieving a good rating. Residents said that they felt that the service was good and were pleased that it had been officially recognised.

 

Councillor Connell noted that PREVENT training was very important and asked whether staff were trained to recognise far-right extremism. Eamon Scanlon said that nationally developed courses had been attended by staff and that this had been very broad, covering all types of extremism, including training on far-right groups and ideologies. Councillor Fennimore said that the ability to identify far-right extremism had become more important since the Brexit vote as there had been a surge in activity. Councillor Ivimy asked whether any significant issues had arisen in the borough. Eamon Scanlon said that there had been 1 PREVENT issue reported by the service, although the person had lived outside of the borough. The service had been told that it had responded to the issue effectively.

50.

West London Area Review of Adult Community Learning pdf icon PDF 145 KB

Minutes:

Eamon Scanlon explained that funding for Adult Learning and Skills was likely to be devolved to the Mayor of London and then to sub-regions. Hammersmith and Fulham was part of the West London sub-region. It was possible that the service would lose funding as a result of these arrangements; officers were working to mitigate the impact of any changes on learners. A task and finish group had agreed eight principles for the future provision of Adult Community Learning in West London.

 

A resident asked whether the council could do anything to ensure that learners did not suffer as a result of the devolution of funding. Eamon Scanlon explained that holding the area review was important as it guaranteed that learners would be engaged in the development of any proposed changes; negotiations with London Councils about funding would also be critical to ensuring that the service remained good.

51.

Date of the Next Meeting and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 223 KB

The next meeting will be held on 13 June in the Small Hall at Hammersmith Town Hall. The meeting will start at 7:00pm.

Members and residents are invited to submit suggestions for the work programme, either at the meeting or by email to ainsley.gilbert@lbhf.gov.uk

Minutes:

A resident asked that an item on Sheltered Accommodation be brought to the PAC. It was noted that the PAC had considered an item on Sheltered Accommodation in September 2016 and that it was probably therefore too soon to bring another item on the topic.