Manchester City Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Review of Advice Services in Manchester Task and Finish Group
Monday, 30th September, 2019 4.30 pm

Venue: Council Antechamber. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Items
No. Item

1.

Terms of Reference pdf icon PDF 196 KB

To receive the Terms of Reference for the Task and Finish Group.

Minutes:

The Chair provided an overview of the terms of reference and work programme for the Task and Finish Group.  He informed Members that the number of meetings had been reduced from four to three as the key lines of enquiry and purpose of the Task and Finish Group, which had been proposed as the subject for discussion at the first meeting, had already been determined at the Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee meeting on 5 September 2019.  He reminded Members that it was not the role of the Task and Finish Group to review contracts for advice services which had already been awarded.

 

Decision

 

To note the terms of reference and work programme.

 

2.

The Current Position - Context for Provision of Advice Services in Manchester pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Report of the Director of Homelessness

 

This report provides an outline for Members of the current position in respect of the recent tender of city-wide advice services. It highlights a range of issues for consideration with regard to access to and provision of advice in the city and suggests areas where this can be further developed to increase access to quality advice for Manchester residents. 

 

Minutes:

The Task and Finish Group received a report of the Director of Homelessness which provide an outline of the current position in respect of the recent tender of citywide advice services. It highlighted a range of issues for consideration with regard to access to and provision of advice in the city and suggested areas where this could be further developed to increase access to quality advice for Manchester residents.

 

The main points and themes within the report included:

 

-       The local context and demand for advices services;

-       The current provision;

-       Future options for consideration; and

-       Potential gaps.

 

The Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing highlighted the impact of austerity on both the funding of advice services and on the demand for advice relating to issues such as financial problems and homelessness.

 

A Member asked what had happened to the external advice services which the Council had ceased funding.  The Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing reported that some had amalgamated with other organisations and that some had continued operating with funding from elsewhere, although their advice provision might have changed. 

 

A Member expressed concern that cuts to advice services could have an impact on other areas, such as mental health services.  The Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing agreed that there was a link with mental health, as mental health problems could lead people to experience poverty which could then have a further negative impact on their mental health.  She reported that the main advice contracts did not represent all the advice services that the Council funded, stating that, for example, people could now access advice via their GP’s surgery.  She advised Members that early intervention was important to prevent problems reaching a crisis point.  The Director of Homelessness reported that, if problems with benefits were not resolved at an early stage, it was much more difficult to address later on and could result in people being at risk of homelessness, when the problem could have been resolved quite easily at an earlier stage. 

 

A Member asked how non-commissioned services which provided advice linked in with the commissioned services and what training and support was available for libraries staff who dealt with requests for advice from members of the public who could have quite complex queries.

 

The Director of Homelessness reported that, in addition to the advice services commissioned by the Council, a number of services within the Council provided advice but that it was difficult to quantify this.  He advised Members that there was an opportunity to undertake an audit of what was available in each of the localities within the city, including advice services provided by other agencies, and that this could be done through the recently-established Advice Forum.  He also reported that the Forum could be used to provide training and development, for example on preventing homelessness, and for organisations to provide peer support.  The Executive Member for Adult Health and Wellbeing expressed concern that, at present, some providers of specialist  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Gaps in Provision

Member-led discussion to identify gaps in the provision of Advice Services.

Minutes:

This was discussed as part of the previous item (The Current Provision – Context for Provision of Advice Services in Manchester).

4.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 271 KB

To review and agree the Task and Finish Group’s work programme, and consider any changes or additions that are necessary.

Minutes:

This was discussed as part of the first item (Terms of Reference).