Agenda and minutes

Cabinet - Monday 11 April 2016 7.00 pm

Venue: Karibu Education Centre, 7 Gresham Rd, London, SW9 7PH

Contact: David Rose, Democratic Services Officer, Tel: 020 7926 1037 Email: drose@lambeth.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

1.

Declarations of Pecuniary Interest

Under Cabinet Rule 1.5.2, where any Cabinet Member has a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (as defined in the Members’ Code of Conduct (para. 4)) in any matter to be considered at a meeting of the Council, a committee, sub-committee or joint committee, they must withdraw from the meeting room during the whole of the consideration of that matter and must not participate in any vote on that matter unless a dispensation has been obtained from the Monitoring Officer.

Minutes:

There were none.

 

2.

Minutes of Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 172 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED: That the minutes of the previous meeting held on 21 March 2016 be agreed and signed by the Chair as a correct record of the proceedings.

 

3.

Universal Credit pdf icon PDF 223 KB

    Report 15-16/199

     

    Key Decision

    All Wards

     

    Deputy Leader of the Council (Finance and Investment): Councillor Paul McGlone

    Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Growth: Sue Foster; and, the Strategic Director for Corporate Resources: Jackie Belton

     

    Contact: Helen Payne, Assistant Director, Welfare, Employment and Skills, 020 7926 6923, hpayne@lambeth.gov.uk

    Minutes:

    The Deputy Leader (Finance and Investment) introduced the report noting the national campaign to push back on the Government’s proposals, the significant detrimental effects expected on claimants, and that direct payments could further affect the Council’s budgets and ability to collect arrears.  Residents deserved an efficient service, but Universal Credit (UC) would increase the processing time from 25 calendar days to 42 days, which would then be paid monthly in arrears.  Overall, these changes represented a changing dynamic of the state-welfare relationship and would be devastating for many persons.  Since February, single Jobseekers Allowance (JSA) claimants had to claim UC, which would also replace Income Support, Tax Credits, Employment Support Allowance (ESA), and Housing Benefit from February 2017.  The Benefits service was paid in part by a grant from the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) currently at £3.4m, which had been reduced every year for the past five years, irrespective of claimant rates.  Moreover, given the Council currently spent £4.9m per annum on the service offset by the £3.4m grant, a projected £1m budget deficit was expected by 2019/20.  Likewise, the Housing Revenue Account could see its rent arrears increase from £5.8m to £21.8m by 2020 and represented a serious risk.  The Council would continue to use its remaining safety net to mitigate these impacts as far as possible, and was also lobbying Government for an improved system and for ring-fenced funding, whilst redoubling its debt collection efforts.

     

    In response to questions from the Cabinet Member for Adult Social Care, officers responded:

    ·         They were conscious of the risks to finances and residents, and would look to mitigate through the Financial Resilience Strategy and through further lobbying of the DWP, with any changes to strategies to be brought back before Cabinet.

    ·         The DWP, through the Citizen’s Advice Bureau (CAB), would provide specific support for residents that needed help with personal budgeting and accessing digital services.

    ·         There was no clear indication of who would hold the risk for the outstanding debt collection, and there were concerns over the potential for financial abuse since the service was fully digitised and paid to a single household member.

    ·         The attendance allowance was not yet included in proposals as the Government was still considering this element. 

    ·         On complex cases, the DWP were already having difficulty processing couples and the special tenancy element was not included in the proposals as trials had experienced difficulties in processing these.  However, single, simple claims were processed successfully, although housing benefit had proven difficult. 

    ·         On alternative payment arrangements, a number of Lambeth tenants fell into this category, generally around vulnerability, with it expected that tier 1 persons (most vulnerable) were likely to receive direct support, whilst tier 2 persons (lesser risk) may receive a housing benefit element.  This split would be decided by Work Coaches through the DWP.  The aim of the DWP was to move away from alternative payments to pay the claimants directly, so these currently comprised short-term plans.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To monitor the impact of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Improving the efficiency of homelessness applications pdf icon PDF 119 KB

    Report 15-16/204

     

    Key Decision

    All Wards

     

    Cabinet Member for Housing: Councillor Matthew Bennett

    Strategic Director for Neighbourhoods and Growth: Sue Foster

     

    Contact: Neil Wightman, Director of Housing Services, 0207 926 7051, NWightman@lambeth.gov.uk

     

     

    Minutes:

    The Cabinet Member for Housing introduced the report and noted it sought to improve the speed of applications and provide certainty for applicants, since the Council was falling behind on its legal duty to review homelessness decisions within 56 days and the proposed change would lead to a better and cost-efficient service that served the people of Lambeth.

     

    The Leader of the Council noted the report as reasonably straightforward and with no further questions from Members, moved to the vote.

     

    RESOLVED:

    1.         To authorise officers to enter in to a pilot with the current provider, RMG Ltd, for one year to undertake Section 202 homeless review decisions and any associated administrative work.

    2.         To note that officers will set up robust systems for monthly reports and contract monitoring meetings to review performance.

    3.         To seek approval to procure the future management of the function at the expiration of the 12 month period.

     

5.

Performance Report - Q3 2015/16 pdf icon PDF 372 KB

    • View the background to item 5.

    Report 15-16/203

     

    Non-Key Decision

    All Wards

     

    Deputy Leader of the Council (Finance and Investment): Councillor Paul McGlone

    Chief Executive: Sean Harriss

     

    Contact: Tim Weetman, Head of Performance, Corporate Resources, 020 7926 6438, tweetman@lambeth.gov.uk

     

    Additional documents:

    Minutes:

    The Deputy Leader (Finance and Investment) introduced the report which held the Council to account and allowed the Council and public to review performance.  The report was an improvement from Q1 and Q2, even in light of continuing Government cuts, and demonstrated a step in the right direction, whilst the agenda pack (paragraph 2.15, page 32) focused on areas of concern and significant issues which required further oversight.

     

    The Chief Executive, Sean Harriss, reiterated the significant progress detailed in the report and noted its usefulness for internal management and setting out performance.  In particular, the quality of commentary, analysis and how the report was used had improved, but there was still room for improvement.  Many indicators were on or above targets, but the importance of the report was on areas that needed improvement; such as with homelessness which required private sector procurement to improve, to children’s services where the Council itself needed to improve services; and the report also detailed the strategies for these areas.  Overall, the report represented a positive direction of travel and Cabinet could be reasonably content.

     

    Cabinet Members added the following comments:

    ·         The Cabinet Member for Jobs and Growth congratulated the planning service as one of the best in London, and noted that the administration was working to help vulnerable persons furthest from the job market, in line with the administration’s goals, although it remained a challenging area.  The report also showed where performance was not meeting the ambitious targets and how the Council was responding, with longer term improvements expected over the next few years from building relationships with businesses to training providers to care for the most vulnerable.

    ·         The Cabinet Member for Housing commented that homelessness remained an issue across London, but Lambeth was the second best London borough in preventing homelessness, but more problems were expected in the future from welfare reform.  He noted that one year into the reintegration of Lambeth Living, the Council had exceeded the targeted number of homes to be brought onto the Lambeth Housing Standard, that there was not a single overdue repair, repair time had fallen to 8 days (below the 12-day target), and there were now only two red performance indicators in housing management, which represented significant progress.

    ·         The Cabinet Member for Neighbourhoods noted that the number of gang members recorded on the Gangs Matrix had reduced by 72%, whilst repeat incidents of domestic violence and violence against women and girls (VAWG) were also down, which represented the Council’s and partners’ ground-breaking work in these areas.  Lambeth also performed well with at risk victims of violence, due to its intervention strategy, but the high percentages of those experiencing violence remained unacceptable and the Council needed to work closely with police partners and ensuring consequences deterred violent offenders.

    ·         The Cabinet Member for Children and Families thanked officers for the excellent and useful report, but noted her concern comparing current statistics to those of three years ago, and enquired around the ongoing issues with fly-tipping.

    ·         The Cabinet Member  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.