Decision Maker: Cabinet
Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
The scrutiny enquiry has sought to assess council policy and activities relating to helping people furthest from the labour market into work. The commission has in particular explored the role of individualised employment support interventions. The commission makes recommendations about opportunities that might expand or augment the range of support available.
The Cabinet report will consist of a cover report providing background, the Commission’s final report (including a series of recommendations), and a departmental action plan responding to these recommendations, for which approval will be sought.
Councillor Mary Atkins, Labour, introduced the report as a member of the Jobs for All Scrutiny Commission that had been chaired by Councillor Matt Parr. Lambeth had high levels of employment but a significant amount of people continued to find it difficult to access the jobs market. The Commission had assessed existing Council policy that helped people into work and met with a range of charities and social enterprises that demonstrated good practice in this field. She noted that people with multiple barriers to working often needed one-to-one support to help them into employment. She also said that the Action Plan was positive but could be more specific about dates and targets.
The Deputy Leader of the Council (Jobs, Skills and Performance), Councillor Jack Hopkins, said he would work alongside Councillor Atkins and other cabinet members to refine and implement the Commission’s recommendations. The issue of access to the jobs market was multi-faceted and impacted on all parts of the Council. Lambeth Council already had a strong record with assisting people into work and operated a successful shared programme with Southwark and Lewisham Councils. It would continue to learn from good practice in other authorities where businesses had positively engaged with charities and social organisations. The ultimate goal was to enable people to be independent and self-supporting; in turn improving their quality of life.
The Lead Commissioner for Welfare, Employment and Skills, John Bennett, said the recommendations provided a helpful framework and that further detail would follow when the issue returned to Overview and Scrutiny. He then noted the extent of assistance already available in Lambeth. The Council needed to identify any gaps in the current provision and decide which charities or enterprises could produce the best results for the borough.
Councillor Becca Thackray, Green Party, addressed the committee and said the issue centred on supporting the long-term unemployed into work. She noted high rates of young people leaving care who were not in education, employment or training before questioning whether an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) had been carried out in relation to the closure of Brixton Job Centre. She then welcomed Recommendation 28 to extend and support internet access in libraries and community centres but said the ‘mystery shopper’ element of the proposal was inadequate.
Cabinet members then made the following observations and directed questions to officers:
· The EIA should be picked up and monitored by officers. However work conducted with Lewisham and Southwark had recently asserted that job centres were not necessarily the best vehicle for helping long-term unemployed into work. Charities and social enterprises had often proved more effective at providing an end-to-end advisory service.
· The Council’s procurement process currently required the consideration of social value, however the Commission’s report provided a good opportunity to extend this to include the evaluation of social value.
· Lambeth had a strong record assisting people into work and was delivering clear results through the tri-borough programme with Southwark and Lewisham. Lambeth had one of the best employment rates in London, with BME and youth employment also rising. The long-term unemployed required intense support with clear guidance throughout the process, delivered on a one-to-one basis.
· A robust process was required to monitor the social value aspects of Council contracts. A plan should be developed with oversight from members.
· In relation to Recommendation 28, the Equalities Commission would continue to monitor the online services that libraries provided and extend these further.
In response, officers provided the following information:
· When monitoring the success of contracts, the Council had previously looked in simplistic terms of how many people had been helped into work. The process was now more nuanced and also involved an external evaluator via the tri-borough programme.
· There were a number of ongoing programmes already delivering positive results in the borough.
· Social value was integral to the Council’s procurement process, however activity could be updated to include assessment as well as consideration. Opportunities for apprentices and deliverance of the London Living Wage needed to be captured in the process.
The Chair noted that officers and members should provide further interrogation of the Action Plan and moved to the vote.
It was RESOLVED:
1) To note the report and recommendations of the Jobs for All Scrutiny Commission.
2) To approve the Action Plan prepared in response to the Commission’s findings and to note the intention for progress to be reviewed by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission in December 2018 and December 2019.
Publication date: 29/06/2018
Date of decision: 25/06/2018
Decided at meeting: 25/06/2018 - Cabinet