Food banks task group update
- Meeting of Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee, Thursday 7 February 2019 7.30 pm (Item 9.)
This report provides an update of progress against the recommendations made by Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee Task Group, as set out in their report ‘The Use of Food Banks in Brent’ in Nov 2017.
The committee received an update report on the progress made against the 36 recommendations set out in ‘The Use of Food Banks in Brent’ task group report, first published in November 2017. The recommendations were aimed at the council and other organisations including the NHS, foodbanks, the West London Business Alliance, the Department for Work and Pensions, and central government. Members’ attention was drawn to the table set out at the end of the update report which provided a summary of the progress made against each of the recommendations. Overall the council had made good progress on those recommendations for which it had oversight and continued to develop good partnership working to support implementation of some of the more complex recommendations. The recommendations for other organisations had been forward to the relevant teams and recommendations aimed directly at foodbanks would be reviewed through the foodbank network.
The report detailed that the council would continue to work closely with its partners to mitigate the impact that surrounded food insecurity and related issues. It was highlighted that the Policy and Scrutiny Team facilitated the creation of the network of food banks, with its first meeting taking place on 17 January 2019. This was a key step that would enable the sharing of best practice and greater collaborative working between food aid providers and their partners. Further support would be provided to the network including training by the council’s Regulatory Services on food safety. The Deputy Leader highlighted that a Food Banks Champion had also now been appointed and was one of the committee’s own members, Councillor Mashari, who had Chaired the task group on Food Banks.
Councillor Mashari noted that one of the key recommendations of the task group had been that the council should show strategic leadership with respect to foodbank usage in Brent and emphasised that it was difficult for the council to do so without appropriate monitoring of the scale of the issue. The Deputy Leader agreed and advised that this would be an appropriate function for the Food Banks Champion to take forward, with the support of the council. The Deputy Leader emphasised that this was an issue taken very seriously by the Cabinet and indeed, all members of the council.
During the discussion, the committee requested that the following information, which could not be provided during the meeting, be made available to the committee subsequently:
An update be provided on the progress of the following recommendations of the task group:
- The creation of a council policy on Foodbanks;
- The Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform to write to the Secretary of State at the DWP outlining the problems caused by UC and other welfare reforms and request for central Government to formally track and monitor food bank usage;
- The Leader should advocate for change in this area via the LGA, LEP and West London Alliance and London Councils and report back in writing to the Scrutiny Committee.
i) That Cabinet note the committee’s view of the importance of the council assuming a strategic leadership role with respect to the issues driving foodbank usage in Brent;
ii) That a meeting be arranged between the Cabinet Member for Housing and Welfare Reform and the Foodbank Champion to progress the recommendations of the task group, as set out in the report ‘The Use of Food Banks in Brent’, and other associated actions, and that this meeting be open to all members of the Resources and Public Realm Scrutiny Committee.
iii) That members propose a motion for a non-cabinet member debate to be held at full council with the video produced by the task group on food banks shown in introduction to the debate.