Stockton-on-Tees Borough Council

Big plans, bright future

Housing & Community Safety Select Committee (ceased to operate 03/06/2015) Minutes

Date:
Thursday, 24th July, 2014
Time:
2.30pm
Place:
Jim Cooke Conference Suite, Stockton Central Library, Stockton on Tees, TS18 1TU
 
Please note: all Minutes are subject to approval at the next Meeting

Attendance Details

Present:
Cllr Julia Cherrett(Chairman), Cllr Derrick Brown(Vice-Chairman), Cllr Michael Clark, Cllr Norma Stephenson(Vice Cllr Cunningham), Cllr Phillip Dennis
Officers:
Mike Robinson(Yos), Julie Higgins, Julie Nixon(DNS), Beccy Brown(HR), Graham Birtle, Jenna McDonald(LDS)
In Attendance:
Members of the Public
Apologies for absence:
Cllr Evaline Cunningham, Cllr Tina Large, Cllr David Wilburn
Item Description Decision
Public
HCS
8/14
EVACUATION PLAN
 
HCS
9/14
DECLARATIONS OF INTEREST
 
HCS
10/14
MINUTES FOR SIGNATURE - 27TH MARCH 2014
AGREED that the minutes were signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
HCS
11/14
DRAFT MINUTES - 12TH JUNE 2014
AGREED that the minutes be approved.
HCS
12/14
SCRUTINY REVIEW OF TOBACCO CONTROL
AGREED that Head of HR and Communications would provide an update at a future meeting on:

1. The provision of NHS smoking cessation services

2. E-Cigarettes
HCS
13/14
WELFARE REFORM AND FINANCIAL INCLUSION
AGREED that:

1. Head of Housing would present information on the Social Fund at the Committee meeting on 18th September 2014.

2. The Welfare, Benefits and Community Care Service Manager would attend a Committee meeting in the next 3-6 months to provide an update of any changes in sanctions.
HCS
14/14
WORK PROGRAMME
AGREED that the information be noted.
HCS
15/14
CHAIR'S UPDATE
 

Preamble

ItemPreamble
HCS
8/14
The evacuation plan was noted.
HCS
9/14
There were no declarations of interest.
HCS
10/14
The minutes of the meeting held on 27th March 2014 were signed by the Chairman as a correct record.
HCS
11/14
Consideration was given to the draft minutes of the meeting held on 12th June 2014.
HCS
12/14
Head of HR and Communication's attended the meeting to provide Members with an update on the Scrutiny Review of Tobacco Control. The key points were highlighted as follows:

- Committees concerns were taken to the Human Resources Service Group(HRSG) regarding making smoking cessation services available to Stockton Council staff.

- The HRSG was supportive of the smoking cessation programme.

- It was agreed by the Corporate Management Team that access to the smoking cessation services would not be available during work time.

- Head of HR and Communications had been involved in one to one discussions with Heads of Service in preparation for the HRSG Meeting in September 2014.

- Members heard that the agreements made by the Corporate Management Team would have been reconsidered in September 2014.

The following points were raised by the Committee:

- The smoking cessation service was an extremely effective and accessible service which was available at different hours of the day, different times of the week and delivered at various locations.

- In the original review, the Committee encouraged the National Health Service (NHS) to provide services, however this was not achieved.

- Members asked for an update on E-Cigarettes and were informed that the Director of Public Health had advised that a lot of research had gone into the topic and a major Peer Review was due to take place in the coming months. It was highlighted that changes had been made to the Employee Policy but had reverted back to the old policy until the meeting in September 2014.
HCS
13/14
The Committee was provided with a presentation from the Welfare, Benefits and Community Care Service Manager which provided an update on Sanctions and Personal Independence Payments (PIP).

The key points were highlighted as follows:

- A report was being produced on Sanctions

- There had been a significant rise in the numbers of sanctions

- Due to lack of information about hardship payments or appeal rights, very few people appealed against their sanctions

- Although there were very few Employment and Support Allowance (ESA) sanctions made, they had significant impacts on the individual

- Data provided by the Stockton and District Advice and Information Services showed a large increase in Job Seekers Allowance sanctions In Quarter 3 2013-14

- The SWAN Questionnaire was contributed to by four organisations which were: Welfare, Benefits and Community Care Service; Welfare Rights; Thirteen; and Thrive

- There had been a 20% increase in the amount of PIP cases

- Head of Housing highlighted the importance of people understanding that once they had been sanctioned they should inform the Housing Benefits Team

- It was highlighted that costs were a factor when trying to obtain medical evidence on ESA claimants.

- There was a projected increase on information services

The following points were raised by the Committee:

- Concerns were expressed regarding claimants taking themselves off the register due to having no confidence in the sanction system.

- Members asked whether the level of training which Job Centre staff received should have been reviewed in order to ensure that all staff were capable of recognising the difference between JSA and ESA claimants.

- The Committee agreed that it would have been useful to have the Welfare, Benefits and Community Care Service Manager in attendance of a future meeting within the next 3-6 months to provide an update on any changes in sanctions

- It was agreed by Members that it was important for claimants to have been given a full explanation when being sanctioned and a complete explanation of their rights as an individual
HCS
14/14
It was noted that the following items would be presented at the next Committee meeting on 18th September 2014:

- Welfare Reform including Work Programme Providers

- Scope of Neighbourhood policing
HCS
15/14
The Chair provided no update.

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