Agenda and draft minutes

Policy and Oversight Board - Monday, 12th December, 2022 7.00 pm

Venue: Main Hall (1st Floor) - 3 Shortlands, Hammersmith, W6 8DA. View directions

Contact: Bathsheba Mall  Email: Bathsheba.Mall@lbhf.gov.uk

Link: Watch the meeting on YouTube

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Councillor Nicole Trehy.

2.

Declarations of Interest

If a Councillor has a disclosable pecuniary interest in a particular item, whether or not it is entered in the Authority’s register of interests, or any other significant interest which they consider should be declared in the public interest, they should declare the existence and, unless it is a sensitive interest as defined in the Member Code of Conduct, the nature of the interest at the commencement of the consideration of that item or as soon as it becomes apparent.

 

At meetings where members of the public are allowed to be in attendance and speak, any Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest or other significant interest may also make representations, give evidence or answer questions about the matter. The Councillor must then withdraw immediately from the meeting before the matter is discussed and any vote taken.

 

Where Members of the public are not allowed to be in attendance and speak, then the Councillor with a disclosable pecuniary interest should withdraw from the meeting whilst the matter is under consideration. Councillors who have declared other significant interests should also withdraw from the meeting if they consider their continued participation in the matter would not be reasonable in the circumstances and may give rise to a perception of a conflict of interest.

 

Councillors are not obliged to withdraw from the meeting where a dispensation to that effect has been obtained from the Standards Committee.

Minutes:

Councillor Nikos Souslous declared an interest in Agenda Item 4, as a trustee of Hammersmith United Charity, which provided funding to Crosslight. Councillor Natalia Perez declared an interest in Agenda Item 4, as a trustee of Hammersmith United Charity, which provided funding to Crosslight.

3.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 282 KB

a)    To approve as an accurate record and the Chair to sign the minutes of the meeting of the Policy and Oversight Board held on Monday, 12 September 2022; and

 

b)    To note the outstanding actions.

Minutes:

RESOLVED

 

That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 12 September 2022 were agreed as an accurate record. 

4.

The Cost-of-Living Crisis: Working together to improve the local response pdf icon PDF 352 KB

This report has been commissioned by Hammersmith and Fulham Council’s Policy and Oversight Board to provide an update on the delivery of H&F’s Cost of Living (COL) Response Programme.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Stefan Robinson provided an overview of the council’s response and related activities to the cost of living (CoL) crisis and how the impact on residents could be mitigated by a range of both local and national measures.  Driven by a number of factors including the impact of a global pandemic and post-recovery related activities, it was recognised that the main drivers were high inflation and the continued rise of cost of utilities and food, the expected increase being between £2-3k per household.  The overall economic evidence indicated that there would be a significant impact on lower income families and the 51% of residents (above the London average) who rented properties.

 

Activities offered targeted support to 3500 households identified as the most economically vulnerable and a CoL heat map had been developed which offered an evidenced based insight of the localities expected to be hardest hit. Activities included a cost of living advice and helpline and an advice booklet offering help on accessing support and this would be provided to residents. A strategy for the work was predicated on robust data insight, co-production and good governance. Plans for a borough-wide alliance partnership were being implemented, with two successful events having already taken place and a further event planned for early 2023.

 

Age UK – Derec Craig, Chief Executive Officer

Derec Craig outlined H&F Age UK’s response to the CoL crisis, supported by the council to aid the distribution of a £200 cost of living payment to older households, and the provision of lunches subsidised by H&F Giving and Tesco, with the cost of a two course meal being reduced to £2 and available five days per week.  Advice and information had also been offered, as many older people were deciding to either “heat or eat” due to a lack of certainty around the cost of energy prices and higher and unpredictable food costs.  Characteristically, many older residents who did not struggle previously but might now be experiencing financial difficulties were likely to be asset rich and cash poor, which determined their spending priorities.  Outreach work was being undertaken to extend support to those that had been “harder to reach”. A shopping service was also available to take people to larger supermarkets.

 

Crosslight - Stephen Wiedmer, Branch Manager

Stephen Wiedmer provided an overview of the debt advice and support work offered by Crosslight.  Demand for the service had increased significantly as more people sought advice and assistance in managing their finances.  For many whose income was just sufficient, the CoL crisis had pushed them into difficulties.  Crosslight offered training on money management to equip people with financial skills, supplementing this with welfare benefit advice.  It was essential to maintain a network of partners to ensure support and services were well signposted and accessible.

 

West London Local Chamber of Commerce – Alan Rides, Chief Executive Officer

Alan Rides described the work of the West London Local Chamber of Commerce (WLLCC) as a not for profit charity supporting local businesses.  The organisation  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Developing our Digital Inclusion Strategy pdf icon PDF 349 KB

This report provides an update on ongoing work to develop the Hammersmith and Fulham Digital Inclusion Strategy following a report to the Policy and Oversight Board in September.

Minutes:

Nicola Ellis provided an update and feedback on actions that arose from the previous meeting.  There had been continued engagement with the Digital Action Group (DAG) which had identified barriers to digital inclusion and possible solutions which would be included in the final digital strategy.  There had also been a successful event held in Lyric Square.

 

The use of Wi-Fi was clarified, there was no charge for this but there was a charge to use a desktop computer and a fee was charged for the first hour of this. Libraries were identified as a valuable resource as staff were able to assist residents with technical advice.  Nicola Ellis added that work was ongoing to ensure that residents could access social tariffs for Wi-Fi and that 145 King Street would re-open in January 2023 to offer face to face services.

 

In response to the query regarding adult learning course, more work was required but a team had been identified to support this.  Collaborative partnership work with the Mayor of London’s Chief Digital Officer, LOTI (London Office of Technology & Innovation) and Good Things Foundation ensure the development of a strong digital ecosystem that was being built.

 

Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler welcomed the update and the commitment to resolving issues and clarified that her query had been about free access to Wi-Fi rather than desktops. 

 

Councillor Jacolyn Daly also welcomed the update.  Referencing an education project with St Mungo’s being delivered in hostels, she asked officers if digital skills were being offered as part of this provision, and if it was not could this be suggested. It was noted that there would be continued work with adult learning to explore the wider benefits of including digital skills in the adult learning curriculum.

 

Councillor Lisa Homan requested that members be sent a link to the CoL council advice pages and noted that these were live but that there would be ongoing work to make the site more user friendly, expected to be completed in January 2023. Councillor Homan welcomed the progress to date on addressing potential gaps in provision and noted that there was a follow up action on digital inclusion and access to financial services.

 

Councillor Natalia Perez enquired how representative the DAG group were of the community.  Nicola Ellis responded that the group was diverse and representative and included a number of younger residents.   The work on developing the DAG had drawn upon coproduction work and so the group reflected a good balance of officers and diverse representatives from the community.  Some members of the group had left and there was a process of recruiting new members to the group.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report was noted.

6.

Policy and accountability committee Chair's Update pdf icon PDF 150 KB

This report covers the areas of work and reports considered by each of the policy and accountability committees, examining and exploring emerging themes in the context of the committee’s individual work programmes.

Minutes:

Councillor Victoria Brocklebank-Fowler asked why the Children’s Services and Education Policy and Accountability Committee had not reported on positive exam results in the borough obtained in the previous academic year.  It was noted that the announcement of exam results may not have aligned with the timing of meetings, but was an item that the committee usually considered. It was agreed that this would be followed up by officers after the meeting.

 

RESOLVED

 

That the report was noted.

 

7.

Work Programme

To discuss board’s work programme for 2022/23.

Minutes:

Councillor Lisa Homan confirmed that the substantive item for the next meeting of the committee would be the council’s medium term financial strategy.

8.

Date of next meeting

Tuesday, 17 January 2022

Minutes:

It was confirmed that the date of the meeting would be rescheduled*.

 

(*This was later confirmed as 24 January 2023)