Agenda and minutes

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No. Item


Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, any relevant disclosable pecuniary, personal or prejudicial interests in the items on this agenda.


Councillor Sheth declared an interest with regard to the item ‘NHS Estate’ in view of his role as CNWL Lead Governor.


Councillor Jones declared an interest with regard to the item ’NHS Estate’ as the Willesden Centre for Health and Care was located in the ward that she represented, Willesden Green.



Deputations (if any)


There were no deputations received.


Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 95 KB

The minutes of the meetings held on 20 September 2016 and 19 October 2016 are attached for members’ consideration.

Additional documents:




that the minutes of the previous meetings held on 20 September 2016 and 19 October 2016 be approved as an accurate record of the meeting.


Matters arising (if any)


There were no matters arising.


NHS Estate in Brent pdf icon PDF 463 KB

This paper provides an overview of the NHS community estate in Brent and the strategic estates plans for the future development of the estate.  These plans are being developed in partnership with Brent Council and other key stakeholders and are an enabler to the delivery of the Strategic Transformation Plan (STP) and North West London Shaping a Healthier Future programme.


At the invitation of the Chair, Councillor Nerva, briefly explained the committee’s reasons for requesting the report and noted that NHS Estates Strategy would be a significant driver of changes to local health services. Of particular interest to the committee was the cost implications of the underutilisation of NHS buildings.


Sue Hardy (Head of Strategic Estate Development Brent, Harrow, Hillingdon and Ealing CCGs) introduced the report before the committee which provided clarification on the costs of the NHS estate in Brent, detailed current levels of occupation and outlined plans to address areas of underutilisation, known as voids. It was explained that ownership of the Brent NHS Estate was divided amongst three organisations; NHS Property Services, London North West Hospitals Trust and Community Health Partnerships. The rent and running costs of these buildings was recovered from the service providers who used the sites and the burden of void space was therefore principally borne by the Brent Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) who held responsibility for commissioning services, along with NHS England. TheBrent CCG was proactively working with the property companies to reduce void space across the Brent NHS estate. A site presenting a particular challenge in this respect was the Willesden Centre for Health and Care, though plans were in place to further reduce the percentage of void space at this site. The committee also heard from Jake Roe (NHS Property Services) who briefly outlined the responsibilities and supporting role played by NHS Property Services.

In the ensuing discussion members queried whether the reorganisation of the NHS had posed difficulties for developing the NHS estate in Brent, whether the facilities comprising the estate were in a good condition and how well situated they were to meet the needs of the borough. Confirmation was sought of the overall cost of void space to the Brent health economy, the specific cost of the void space at Willesden Centre for Health and Care and the strategy for addressing this underutilisation. The Committee questioned how the council could support the CCG in minimising void spaces across the Brent NHS estate and it was queried whether the rental cost of these buildings were typical of the market. A further query was raised regarding whether the CCG had any discretion regarding the NHSE policy of charging market rents. Members questioned whether the CCG had a formal policy on working with the voluntary sector and emphasised the mutual benefit of allowing voluntary organisations to occupy void spaces at reduced rents. A member commented that the requirement for the CCG to fund void spaces undermined the principle on which the CCGs were established and questioned the cost of voids annually, estimated to be approximately 2m per annum.


Members subsequently queried how Brent CCG worked with the council to appropriately project and respond to the health needs of Brent’s residents. Noting that GP services were independent business, it was queried how the CCG would meet commitments to provide health facilities in new private developments. Members highlighted that South Kilburn had  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) Annual Report 2015-16 pdf icon PDF 83 KB

The attached annual report details the work of Brent Local Safeguarding Children Board (LSCB) during 2015-16 identifying what went well, what the challenges were, and key actions to progress LSCB business in 2016-17.

Additional documents:


The Independent Chair of the Local Safeguarding Children’s Board (LSCB), Mike Howard, introduced the LSCB Annual Report 2015-16 to the committee. Members heard that following his appointment in June 2015, Mike Howard had reviewed the existing structure and model of operation of the Board and, having taken advice, had implemented a number of changes. In particular, the membership of the board had been amended to reduce the number of Local Authority Officers and add new members including schools, Barnardos charity and the QPR Community Trust. Ofsted had inspected the Board and published its report in November 2015. The Ofsted report acknowledged that the Board was in a state of change and had made a number of constructive recommendations, in particular regarding Section 11 audits, performance data and increasing the involvement of the voluntary sector. Having reviewed best practice for Section 11 audits, a new approach would be employed going forward which would comprise a straight forward questionnaire to be completed by relevant agencies to assess employee understanding of safeguarding responsibilities and identify how gaps in knowledge would be addressed. In concluding his introduction, Mike Howard highlighted that following a government commissioned review of Local Safeguarding Children Boards, significant legislative changes to LSCBs over the next few years were anticipated.


Members queried the effectiveness of the relationships between different agencies across Brent, how this compared with other London boroughs and the powers of the Board to challenge organisations. Questions were raised regarding the involvement of local communities, plans for wider engagement, including with young people and perceived gaps in voluntary sector representation. The committee sought Mike Howard’s view on the safety of children in Brent who were at risk from harm, the efficacy of Brent professionals at recognising children at risk and the safeguarding performance of Brent’s schools. The committee questioned how the Board ensured that organisations had appropriate safeguarding policies and procedures. Further queries were raised regarding the quality of frontline activity and the mechanisms for assessing this. Noting that the Brent LSCB budget had been static for the past three years, a member queried whether this limited the work undertaken by the Board. Details of the board’s comparative performance against other London boroughs were sought. With reference to the recommendations made by Ofsted, a Member queried how the Board had pursued improved links with Family Justice and the Health and Wellbeing Board and what work had been undertaken on performance data.  Further information was sought on the link between the Local Safeguarding Adults Board and the LSCB. 


In response, Mike Howard advised that strategic level cooperation between agencies was variable; for example engagement with the Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust was good. However, the London Community Rehabilitation Company had notified the Chairs of the various London Borough LSCBs in August 2016 that due to staff reductions it would no longer attend meetings of the LSCBs. The Board had no powers to compel or punish organisations for lack of engagement and could only lobby responsible parties. Mike  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.


Housing Needs: Supporting Vulnerable Households pdf icon PDF 132 KB

The Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) issued a joint report against the London Boroughs of Brent and Ealing on 8 August 2016.  The report relates to the Housing Needs Service’s and Brent Housing Partnership’s handling of a BHP tenant’s request for urgent rehousing due to domestic violence. The LGO report was presented at the Audit Committee in September 2016, and Members requested a follow up report to come to the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, which addresses the issues identified in the complaint report.  This report details how the Housing Needs Service responds to issues of particular vulnerability such as domestic violence.


Councillor Farah (Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform) advised that the report before the committee provided an update to members regarding an issue identified via a Local Government Ombudsman (LGO) complaint. The LGO had issued a joint report against the London Boroughs of Brent and Ealing on 8 August 2016. The report related to the Housing Needs Service’s and Brent Housing Partnership’s (BHP) handling of a BHP tenant’s request for urgent rehousing due to domestic violence in 2014. Considerable improvement had since been made. Laurence Coaker (Head of Housing Needs) briefly outlined the report to the committee advising that it set out the statutory framework within which the Housing Needs Service operated, identified the domestic abuse risk management pathways and the potential options which could be offered in such circumstances.


The Committee sought details of the training put in place to improve awareness within the Housing Needs Service of domestic violence policies and the feedback mechanisms employed to provide ongoing assurance that this training was sufficient. Clarification was sought on whether the options identified in the report were open to private tenants and homeowners as well as BHP tenants. Members queried what partnership arrangements were in place to ensure that housing providers were appropriately aware of the various options that might be available to vulnerable tenants. It was further queried how the review process for the West London Domestic Violence Reciprocals Scheme had been amended.


Laurence Coaker advised that all frontline Housing Needs officers received training to ensure that they were aware of all of the options open to households fleeing domestic violence. There had been a one-off training session provided in response to the LGO case; however, the Housing Needs Service had a mandatory cyclical annual training programme for officers. Consideration was also being given to initiating secret shopper testing for the whole of the Multi Agency Risk Assessment Conference (MARAC) service, led by Hestia, which dealt with domestic violence cases assessed as high risk and into which the Housing Needs Service fed. Members were further advised that the aim of the Housing Needs Service was the prevention of homelessness and therefore support would be offered regardless of a person’s tenancy arrangements; however, some options would not be applicable to particular circumstances. The protocol for the  West London Domestic Violence Reciprocals Scheme was currently being reviewed by representatives of member boroughs; once this was signed off at Head of Service level, it would be fed back into the training programme for Housing Needs officers.


A Member highlighted the importance of the services provided by Hestia and the committee agreed that a committee visit be arranged.  




i)     That the committee’s strong support of plans to undertake mystery shopping as part of the planned service review be noted;


ii)    That the committee receive a report on the learning obtained from the mystery shopping exercise and corresponding service improvement;


iii)   That the appropriate sub-committee of the Adult Safeguarding Board consider the lessons learnt from the case referred to in  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.


Update on scrutiny work programme (If any) pdf icon PDF 101 KB

This report updates members on the committee’s work programme for 2016/17 and captures scrutiny activity which has taken place outside of its meetings. 


Additional documents:


The report from the Director of Policy, Performance and Partnerships was noted.


Any other urgent business

Notice of items to be raised under this heading must be given in writing to the Head of Executive and Member Services or his representative before the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 64.




Date of next meeting


The committee noted that the next meeting was scheduled for 1 February 2017.