Agenda and draft minutes

Agenda and draft minutes

Communities and Equalities Scrutiny Committee - Tuesday, 10th January, 2023 10.00 am

Venue: Council Antechamber, Level 2, Town Hall Extension. View directions

Contact: Rachel McKeon 

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 128 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2022.

Minutes:

Decision

 

To approve the minutes of the meeting held on 6 December 2022as a correct record.

 

2.

An update report on the Homelessness Service pdf icon PDF 334 KB

Report of the Director of Housing Operations

 

This report is an update on the Homelessness Service and the improvement and transformation that is happening across the service in an increasingly challenging social and economic context.  The Council’s Homelessness Transformation Programme (A Place Called Home) is focussed on

 

  • Significantly increase the successful prevention of homelessness
  • Continue our progress to end rough sleeping
  • Considerably reduce the use of temporary accommodation
  • Deliver Better Outcomes and Better Lives for people and families at risk or who are homeless

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Housing Operations which provided an update on the Homelessness Service and the improvement and transformation that was happening across the service in an increasingly challenging social and economic context.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

  • Preventing homelessness;
  • Work to end rough sleeping;
  • Work to considerably reduce the use of temporary accommodation; and
  • Delivering better outcomes and better lives for people and families at risk or who were homeless.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

  • Recognising the challenges that the city was facing and thanking officers for the work that was taking place to make improvements, including welcoming the focus on preventing homelessness;
  • Noting that additional officers had been assigned to answer calls to the Housing Solutions Service, was it possible to increase this further, given that the target for the service was to be answering 85% of calls by the end of March 2023;
  • What did Manchester need from the national government to address the homelessness problem;
  • Emergency accommodation for rough sleepers with dogs;
  • To request a further update report early in the next municipal year, including data on the use of temporary accommodation and its geographical spread, noting the benefits of people being able to remain near their community networks;
  • Would the 200 units of self-contained dispersed accommodation be located within Manchester and noting that these were for families, not single homeless people;
  • Did the Council have any property which it could convert into temporary accommodation; and
  • The impact on children of living in temporary accommodation away from their community support network.

 

The Chair of the Children and Young People Scrutiny Committee questioned whether the rent amounts in appendix 3 reflected the current situation as, she advised, landlords were increasing rents after evicting tenants.  She stated that the time taken to move new tenants into social rented housing after the previous tenants had left was too long.  She expressed concern at the costs of bed-and-breakfast accommodation and stated that cheaper alternatives should be considered.  She questioned why Camden’s figures for households in temporary accommodation were so much lower than Manchester’s.  She questioned whether community connection could be taken into account when allocating social housing and whether more could be done to incentivise families to allow their adult children to live with them.

 

In response to a Member’s question, the Assistant Director of Homelessness reported that the count of rough sleepers was city-wide and included the airport.  He agreed with a Member’s comment that answering 85% of calls was still not good enough but advised that improvements were being made incrementally, that significant progress had already been made in the number of calls being answered and that the service would continue to work to improve this further. 

 

The Strategic Lead for Homelessness invited Members to contact her if they wanted to join one of the counts of rough sleepers.  She reported that work was taking place to encourage people to access the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 2.

3.

Bonfire Night Events pdf icon PDF 106 KB

Report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods)

 

This report provides an overview of the approach to planning and delivery of a safe Bonfire/fireworks season. The report includes details of anti-social behaviour during this period and an assessment of the impact of the Council’s decision not to reinstate Bonfire Night events during 2022.

 

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Strategic Director (Neighbourhoods) which provided an overview of the approach to planning and delivery of a safe Bonfire/fireworks season. The report included details of anti-social behaviour during this period and an assessment of the impact of the Council’s decision not to reinstate Bonfire Night events during 2022.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

  • Background information;
  • The Greater Manchester Bonfire Campaign 2022;
  • Bonfire and fireworks incidents; and
  • The future of Bonfire Night events.

 

Paula Lyons from GMFRS informed the Committee that her service’s official report would not be available until early February but that it would be shared with partners when it was available.  She reported that the service’s data showed that there had been a slight increase in bonfire and firework-related incidents in 2022 but fewer attacks on firefighters, with two incidents involving the throwing of fireworks at firefighters and fire engines.

 

Superintendent Paul Walker from GMP reported that it was expected that there would be a level of anti-social behaviour up to and including Bonfire Night and that the levels in 2022 were as expected in a typical year.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

  • That official Bonfire Night displays held in Wythenshawe Park in previous years had created problems for local people, for example in relation to parking, and that, as a local Ward Councillor, a Member had received positive comments from residents about not having this issue around Bonfire Night 2022, rather than people complaining that an official event was not held;
  • The environmental impact of Bonfire Night events, including people travelling to an official display;
  • The community events and activities to replace Bonfire Night displays and whether these were held in or attracted people from the wards highlighted in the report as the worst affected by fireworks incidents; and
  • Identifying shops which were selling fireworks to children.

 

The Head of Parks outlined the reasons for not reinstating the Bonfire Night displays in 2022, including the funding gap which would have required diverting funds from other areas, the environmental impact of the events and that, with the cost-of-living rise, many people were less able to afford to spend money on the income-generating elements of the events, such as food and drink stalls and funfairs.  She informed Members about alternative events which were being provided throughout the winter period, which had included the provision of free or low-cost food.  She reported that she could provide details of the events broken down by localities.  She advised that not having to plan and prepare for the Bonfire Night events had enabled Parks staff to focus on engaging with local residents and raising quality standards but that the decision would be reviewed for 2023.  In response to a Member’s question, she confirmed that the Council had previously applied for and received a grant of £10,000 from GMFRS towards safely putting on Bonfire Night events but that, if the Council had applied for the grant for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Advice Services Update pdf icon PDF 160 KB

Report of the Director of Housing Operations

 

This report provides members with an overview of the advice services within the city. It details the range of provision across the city and outlines the outcomes achieved through the advice contracts that the Council commissions.

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered the report of the Director of Housing Operations which provided an overview of the advice services within the city. It detailed the range of provision across the city and outlined the outcomes achieved through the advice contracts that the Council commissioned. It articulated the pressures that were increasing for all advice providers in serving Manchester’s population and explained the offer that other advice providers gave, including the Council’s retained advice service and Registered Providers provision.

 

Key points and themes in the report included:

 

  • An overview of the advice services in Manchester;
  • Advice demand, trends, and pressures, including the impact of cost-of-living rises;
  • The impact of the City Wide Advice Service contract, including social value and tackling inequalities;
  • Manchester Advice Forum;
  • The response to COVID-19; and
  • Future demand and delivery.

 

Some of the key points that arose from the Committee’s discussions were: -

 

  • To praise the work of advice workers and their tenacity in contacting companies to seek a resolution;
  • That the problems residents were contacting Ward Councillors about were increasingly complex and it would be helpful for Members to be provided with some guidance or training on where best to signpost residents depending on the situations they needed advice on;
  • Access to advice services for people who were working during the day;
  • To note that trade unions provided advice on employment issues to their members and to encourage workers to join a trade union; and
  • How the locations for the Mobile Advice Van were communicated.

 

The Strategic Lead for Homelessness agreed to work with advice organisations to arrange training for Members.  She reported that work had taken place to improve digital access to advice outside of office hours, including a digital chatbox.  She advised that over the next year the Council would be reviewing what was needed in terms of advice services, in preparation for putting in place a new contract from 2024, and that this would include consideration about what was needed in terms of advice access on evenings and weekends.

 

In response to the Member’s question about the Mobile Advice Van, the Service Manager (Homelessness) reported that Citizens Advice had targeted publicity in the areas where the Advice Van was visiting and that she would speak to Citizens Advice and the Council’s Communications Team about improving communication in regards to this, if Members were not seeing this information.  The Member stated that the Advice Van might not currently be visiting her ward but that it would be useful if it did.  The Deputy Leader advised that Members could suggest to Citizens Advice any locations that they felt that the Advice Van should visit via their website, or through her or the Service Manager.

 

In response to a question from the Chair, the Strategic Lead for Homelessness advised that retained advice services were within the Adult Social Care Directorate.  She informed the Committee that representatives from a core group of services were meeting to look at how best to serve the demands arising from the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.

5.

Overview Report pdf icon PDF 144 KB

Report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit

 

The monthly report includes the recommendations monitor, relevant key decisions, the Committee’s work programme and any items for information.

Minutes:

A report of the Governance and Scrutiny Support Unit was submitted. The overview report contained a list of key decisions yet to be taken within the Committee’s remit, responses to previous recommendations and the Committee’s work programme, which the Committee was asked to approve.

 

The Chair proposed that the Committee receive the update report on Homelessness in either May or June 2023 and requested that Committee Members be provided with a briefing note on the analysis of the information on Bonfire Night 2022, when this was available.

 

Decision

 

To note the report and agree the work programme, subject to the above comments.