Manchester City Council

Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Review of Advice Services in Manchester Task and Finish Group
Wednesday, 30th October, 2019 2.00 pm

Venue: Council Antechamber. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Items
No. Item

5.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 199 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 30 September 2019.

6.

Perspectives of External Stakeholders

To hear the perspectives of a range of external stakeholders.

Minutes:

The Chair outlined the purpose of the Task and Finish Group and invited the views of the external guests on advice services, in particular on the challenges in this area and what could be improved.

 

Sinead O’Connor from Cheetham Hill Advice Centre reported that some of the challenges with advice services in Manchester were that some people were giving advice when they shouldn’t be as they were not advice agencies while some organisations could, with some staff training, help members of the public with filling in forms but were instead referring this basic support on to advice agencies.  She informed Members that previously many people would only need to seek advice once and would then have stability once they were receiving the right benefits or in a job; however, changes to benefits and the job market meant that people’s lives were less stable and more people needed to repeatedly seek help from advice services.  The Director of Homelessness commented that perhaps this change needed to be reflected in how the Council commissioned, monitored and valued advice services.  Sinead O’Connor agreed, commenting that there was an assumption that the focus of advice services should be to encourage people to solve the issue themselves or to have a one-time contact with the service after which they would not need further support but that this did not reflect the reality of the current situation.  

 

Sinead O’Connor advised Members that there were also some people who did not contact the commissioned advice services for help and were in contact with smaller grassroots organisations but that these organisations often did not have the training to provide appropriate advice so should either be referring people on to the commissioned advice services or should be provided with advice training.  She outlined the challenges of multiple deprivation in north Manchester.  She also reported that there was a strain on services providing immigration advice, partly due to European Union (EU) citizens seeking advice regarding Brexit but also due to other non-UK citizens then becoming more nervous about their status and seeking advice.  A Member commented that there was a need for increased advice provision in north Manchester. 

 

Andy Brown from Citizens Advice Manchester informed Members that he would provide them with written information on the range of services his organisation provided.  He clarified that some organisations reported that they provided advice but actually provided basic information and then referred people on to the main advice organisations.  He informed Members that some Registered Social Landlords (RSLs) provided detailed advice but that most did not and that they were unable to provide independent advice to tenants on debt because they were one of the organisations that the tenant would owe money to.  He reported that the commissioned advice services provided a good service but were operating at full capacity and could not meet any additional demand if those people who needed advice but did not currently access advice services started doing so.  He advised that his service did not have the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Mapping of Local Advice Provision and Proposals for In-house Homelessness Prevention Advice

This is an oral update from the Director of Homelessness.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To defer this item to the next meeting.

8.

Terms of Reference and Work Programme pdf icon PDF 198 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

To review the terms of reference and work programme of the Task and Finish Group.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Decision

 

To add the Mapping of Local Advice Provision and Proposals for In-house Homelessness Prevention Advice to the agenda of the next meeting.