Agenda item

Jobs for All Scrutiny Commission: Update

(All Wards)

 

Contact for Information: John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, 020 7926 6452, jbennett7@lambeth.gov.uk

 

Minutes:

John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, introduced the report by highlighting the following:

·         The Commission report along with the action plan that supported the 32 recommendations had been updated since its implementation by Cabinet in June 2018.

·         Various officers across the Council had contributed towards the updates produced.  For example, ten local people had secured apprenticeships within the Council.  Also various people with learning difficulties had started roles within the Council.  However, it was recognised that further progress with the recommendations were required.  Despite this, positive progress had been made with the recommendations which were also reflected in policies and activities wherever possible.

 

The Chair then invited Councillor Mary Atkins, Vice-Chair and Commission Member to address the Committee and the following points were noted:

·         The Commission had been started by the late Councillor Matt Parr which sought to assist disadvantage groups into work, as previously discussed.  

·         She paid tribute to the organisations that had contributed to the Commission which assisted to formulate the recommendations, including Mosaic, Tree Shepherd, First Step Trust and Job Centre Plus.

·         Concerns regarding implementation of the recommendations existed, although she appreciated the work progressed by officers.  However, it was difficult to measure the work achieved, as there was a lack of baseline data.  Although she was content that ten apprentices had been appointed, she questioned whether more apprentices could have been engaged, as no success rates were measured.

·         The Opportunity Lambeth website was difficult to navigate, especially for vulnerable residents.

·         Whilst it was recognised that work was being undertaken by officers, further improvements were required.

 

The Chair invited speakers to provide contributions regarding the Commission action plan.

 

Colin Crooks, CEO, Tree Shepherd, said that:

·         He was pleased with the progress made by the Council but expressed disappointment that the Local Multiplier 3 (LM3) to procure contracts (agenda page 96) would not be implemented by the Council.

·         LM3 showed the money retained within the community including the money spent by the Council.   Therefore, he felt it was incumbent on the Council to ensure that that its money was retained in the community for investment and spent on local services to create local employment.  The LM3 model had been successfully implemented in Manchester and he believed it should be considered by Lambeth.    13 social value contract measures existed in Lambeth which was difficult to evaluate, compared to one measure in Manchester.  The LM3 model would influence the Council to liaise with other large organisations, including the health sector, to ascertain how much of their funding remained in borough to provide employment opportunities.  An eight-hour training course was available to provide support to officers.

 

Lee Elliott, Employment, Information and Training Coordinator, Mosaic Club, said that:

·         In relation to recommendations 8 and 19 (agenda page 100), members raised issues regarding their difficulty in accessing employment among some  employers that declared social value responsibility as they were reluctant to employ people with mental health problems but preferred to employ young dynamic people instead.

 

Ronnie Wilson, CEO, First Step Trust, said that:

·         Social value should only be rewarded when the provider could show a positive track record in this regard, rather than simply making promises that were not necessarily delivered

 

The Chair invited representatives from Job Centre Plus to contribute on the Commission.

 

Bal Virdee, MBE, Lambeth and Southwark Partnership Manager, said that:

·         She welcomed the opportunity to have further dialogue with Mosaic and the First Step Trust regarding employment opportunities, in order to put clients forward to gain employment.

·         There was a need to perform further out-reach work with various organisations across the borough including networking with partners, employers and residents to provide employment opportunities for disadvantaged groups.

 

Kirsty McGregor, Employment Engagement Manger, said that:

·         Employers were notified beforehand that some customers had care responsibilities or a disability to ensure that employers were aware of their condition.

 

Guillotine

During the discussion of this item the guillotine fell at 9.00 pm.

 

MOVED by the Chair, and

 

RESOLVED: That the meeting continue for a further period of up to 30 minutes.

 

The Chair opened up the debate to members of the Committee, who highlighted the following issues:

·         They requested further information on the successful bid for the South London Innovation Corridor (recommendation 15, agenda page 98) and welcomed a written update on timescales and benchmarks the Council intended to use over the coming years to ascertain its success.

·         The Council’s role as procure and influencer needed to be strengthened with much more auditing of contracts required.  

 

John Bennett, Head of Economic Inclusion, Sasa Glisic, Senior Category Manager, Finance (Procurement) and Hannah Jameson, Head of Policy and Partnerships, responded to the points raised as follows:

·         It was recognised that further engagement with employers was required and the Economic Inclusion team would be willing to arrange a session with some local employment support providers, as the Council had good influences and jobs from s106 agreements.  Further partnership working around employment and skills including a further strategic discussion on how the Council worked with the DWP, colleges and skill providers, big employers and BIDs was required.

·         It was appreciated that the Opportunity Lambeth website was not fit purpose and work was being undertaken to make improvements to ensure it was more user-friendly and further ideas for improvement was welcomed.

·         The South London Innovation Corridor was a four-borough project with Lambeth, Lewisham, Southwark and Wandsworth, that aimed to promote economic growth within each borough.  Lambeth had received £8m to fund additional workspaces to focus on the creative and digital business growth industries.  The Council aimed to acquire more people to work in the creative and digital industries by working with employers to provide apprenticeships.  The Council would ensure that people received the correct support such as coaching and training to enable them to apply for those job opportunities.  Also, career progression opportunities for people would be created.   Further conversations with other boroughs was being considered and an update will be provided to the Committee when available.

·         Regarding procurement, the pre-qualification questionnaire to decide which suppliers should be selected had been changed to a Standard Self-Certification Questionnaire (SSQ) and was simplified (with open and restricted procedures) to assist Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs).  The restricted procedure could be used to include additional questions on social value, done on a tender to tender procurement basis.

·         The decision had been made by the Council not to use LM3, as some bids submitted would be difficult to monitor under social value and the measure was considered to be subjective.

·         A strong overlap with the report and the Equality Commission existed regarding the extent of the programme the Council had in place to support disadvantaged groups.

·         Although conversations with Manchester, Wirral and Preston regarding procurement had taken place, it was recognised that the Council had a range of policy tools available to generate social value but it was not always viable to compare those values.  Therefore, it was believed that additional systematic work could be undertaken to decide how those tools should be prioritised and the Equalities Commission could be considered as a starting point. 

 

Councillor Jack Hopkins, Leader of the Council highlighted the following issues:

·         He recognised the challenges faced to work with various professionals in order to understand the needs of client groups and to judge how social value will be impacted.  Therefore, there was a need to track the progress of businesses through the procurement process.

·         He would be willing to converse with Councillor Andy Wilson, Cabinet Member for Finance, regarding procurement and to find out costs for the training course mentioned.  Cabinet were currently reviewing the Council’s procurement policy and the issues raised were being addressed.  A consultation process would also be undertaken to examine all issues.  Therefore, he was confident that issues would be taken forward.

·         There was a need to work with various organisations across different demographics to provide adequate employment skills and ensure that local people were employed.  Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) had a role here. It was noted that not all of the borough was covered by BIDs and that this could lead to some areas losing out on opportunities. While it might not be possible to extend coverage to the whole borough since BIDs were funded and driven by local businesses, the creation of forums or networks to cover all of Lambeth may be possible.  

 

The Chair concluded the discussion by highlighting the following issues:

·         He emphasised the need for employment opportunities to be created to enable residents within the borough to be employed.

·         There was a need to work with certain disadvantaged groups and monitor the Commission’s action plan to examine progress.

·         Also dialogue with Job Centre Plus, partners and employers was required to discuss issues and to ascertain how actions could be delivered.

 

The Chair thanked officers and speakers for the attendance and contributions.

 

RESOLVED:

 

1.         To commend the positive work that has been done in response to the commission’s recommendations but to request that more data be included in the next update report in order to enable the Committee to measure the success of the measures being taken.

 

2.         To request that the Council revisits the decision not to implement Local Multiplier 3 (cf recommendation 12) as a means of systematically measuring social value. At a minimum this should include an appropriate officer undertaking the training course referred to and conducting an evaluation of the benefits and drawbacks of introducing LM3.

 

3.         To welcome the work being done to improve the Opportunity Lambeth website and request further details of this.

 

4.         To request more information on the successful South London Innovation Corridor bid (cf recommendation 15) including timescales and benchmarks, and how this might help people from priority groups.

 

5.         To acknowledge the important role played by Business Improvement Districts and to urge the council to work to ensure that the whole borough is covered by business networks (whether a BID or a more informal network/forum) in order that no part of the borough misses out on the benefits these can bring to residents in terms of employment and skills.

 

Supporting documents: