Agenda and minutes

Venue: Conference Hall

Contact: Hannah O'Brien, Governance Officer  Email: hannah.o'brien@brent.gov.uk

Media

Items
No. Item

1.

Apologies for absence and clarification of alternate members

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Apologies were received as follows:

 

  • Councillor Colwill, substituted by Councillor Kansagra
  • Councillor Sangani
  • Co-opted member Mr Simon Goulden
  • Co-opted member Rev. Helen Askwith

 

2.

Declarations of interests

Members are invited to declare at this stage of the meeting, the nature and existence of any relevant disclosable pecuniary or personal interests in the items on this agenda and to specify the item(s) to which they relate.

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Minutes:

Personal interests were declared as follows:

 

  • Councillor Sheth – Lead Governor of Central and NWL NHS Foundation Trust
  • Councillor Shahzad – spouse employed by the NHS
  • Councillor Ethapemi – spouse employed by the NHS

 

3.

Deputations (if any)

To hear any deputations received from members of the public in accordance with Standing Order 67.

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Minutes:

There were no deputations received.

 

4.

Minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 244 KB

To approve the minutes of the previous meeting as a correct record.

 

·         4i. 8 July 2021

·         4ii. 23 August 2021

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting on 8 July 2021 were approved as an accurate record of the meeting, subject to an amendment to include Councillor Aden as in attendance.

 

The minutes of the meeting on 23 August 2021 were discussed, including the draft recommendations of the meeting. The minutes were approved subject to the following amendments and additions:

 

  • To include reference to the discussion on diversity within the Maternity Voices Partnership.
  • To include an information request for the number of midwives (community and hospital) employed by London North West for the past 10 years, including data on the number of births and mothers in the community where post-natal care was provided by Northwick Park.
  • To include an information request for details of the bandings and grades of midwives and number of years’ experience.
  • To include an information request for details of the progression route within the grading structure, including progression of midwives over the past 4 years.
  • To include an information request for details of the community midwifery service including how many midwives were employed in that area and their caseloads.

 

5.

Matters arising (if any) pdf icon PDF 197 KB

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Minutes:

The Committee considered the response received to their recommendations on the Joint Health and Wellbeing Strategy presented at the previous meeting.

 

In considering the response, the Committee requested the following:

 

  • For the Director of Public Health to revisit the language used in the document so that it was more accessible, particularly the references to the matrix approach.
  • That the Terms of Reference for the Healthwatch activity be provided to the Committee.
  • That further details of the strategies the work was linked to be provided to the Committee.

 

6.

Homelessness and Services for Families pdf icon PDF 434 KB

This report updates the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee about the support for families in the Borough who are homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless, including the performance of services, demand for services, delivery of support and improved outcomes for service users.

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Minutes:

Councillor Southwood (Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform) introduced the item, which provided an update on the services delivered for homeless families during the pandemic. She advised the Committee that the service had adjusted to support homelessness during the pandemic. The ban on evictions ended in May 2021, which meant family homelessness had been a focus recently, and although there had not been a large increase in family homelessness yet, she felt the service needed to be constantly vigilant to any patterns or increases. She advised the Committee that the Council wanted to work with people before their need for homeless services occurred.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Southwood for her introduction and invited the Committee to raise comments and questions, with the following issues raised:

 

The Committee commended the paper and felt it would be useful to circulate to all Councillors as it provided a good summary of the homelessness service.

 

The Committee queried how the service could improve communications with people who might find themselves very suddenly placed out of borough, which they advised could be very distressing. Councillor Southwood acknowledged that the nature of needing emergency accommodation and then having to live somewhere you did not know was challenging. The impact on children could mean that they did not make friends because they did not know if they would be going back to the same schools. Councillor Southwood advised that the Council always tried to minimise those numbers. The reasons behind being placed out of borough were largely around affordability for larger homes, which was part of the drive behind the number of Council homes being built in the Borough. The Committee were advised that when someone approached the service they were made aware from day 1 about the potential to be placed out of borough. The service focused on signposting to employment support, given the affordability challenges for those affected by the benefit cap, and supporting a family to find their own accommodation where possible. By law, a person could spend no more than 6 weeks in a Bed and Breakfast, by which time the Council needed to move them on to private sector accommodation that they could afford. With the whole of London competing for these types of properties, accommodation went at pace, and therefore this impacted on the notice period that the service could give for moves out of borough, although the family would have been made aware of the possibility for this from the outset.

 

Continuing to discuss the circumstances around emergency and out of borough accommodation, Laurence Coaker (Head of Housing Needs, Brent Council) advised that he worked closely with the Housing Supply Team to ensure the Council were building what was needed, with the aim to reduce the offers of out of Borough places. There was good news in relation to emergency accommodation, as the Temporary Accommodation block at Anansi House in Harlesden was due to be handed over in October 2021, which had 94 rooms for emergency provision and was  ...  view the full minutes text for item 6.

7.

Brent Housing Management Services and Performance pdf icon PDF 406 KB

This report updates the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee on Brent Housing Management Services performance.

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Minutes:

Councillor Southwood (Lead Member for Housing and Welfare Reform) introduced the report, which updated the Committee on the operational performance of Brent Housing Management (BHM). She advised that the service had considered what good performance meant, and were focusing on particular areas. One area of focus was around how the service handled complaints when things went wrong. Another area of focus was on customer service and reminding staff across BHM of the customer experience, how it felt to be a customer and why transactional surveys had been introduced, in which customers who received a service from BHM immediately received a survey about their experience. She felt the report provided a solid evidence base for where BHM would be focusing its efforts.

 

The Chair noted that performance of BHM had been previously reported to the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee, in which the Committee had made some recommendations about better customer engagement. He highlighted that a theme running through the paper was about resident engagement and satisfaction, with the paper highlighting that satisfaction had gone down. In response, Councillor Southwood advised that the past 18 months had been difficult regarding housing and how people lived in and experienced their homes, which might be reflected in the dip in satisfaction. She highlighted that other Housing Services had seen a similar drop. The Committee were advised that residents reported being dissatisfied with anti-social behaviour and the cleanliness of the area they lived. She also acknowledged that since performance was last presented to the Committee the service had focused on improving processes and now needed to focus on the support and communication offered to residents, which was where the conversation was evolving now with the leadership team.

 

The Committee felt that there had been a noticeable effort to improve communications with residents but felt it was not where it needed to be yet. They requested that a map of who was who in housing be provided, from the director of housing down, so that councillors and residents alike could know who a resident’s Housing Officer was. Members of the Committee noted that contact details given to residents to respond to section 20 notifications and consultations sometimes posed challenges including where there was no named contact, or a phone number dialled through to a full mailbox, which could impact section 20 consultations. In addition, the Committee felt there was still mistrust between residents and the housing department, and residents did not feel listened to. Councillor Southwood assured the Committee that the intention was to nurture and support residents and resident groups such as associations. She highlighted that there had been a plan to move to a patch based model, where Housing Officers had responsibility for a particular area, so that residents would know who their officer was and the officer was accountable, however for various reasons relating to the pandemic that plan had been slowed down. She felt the service could be smarter in terms of resident communication and engagement and would think about how  ...  view the full minutes text for item 7.

8.

GP Access Scrutiny Task Group Verbal Update

To provide the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee with a verbal update on the progress of the GP Access Scrutiny Task Group.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chair of the Community and Wellbeing Scrutiny Committee invited the Chair of the GP Access Scrutiny Task Group, Councillor Mary Daly, to provide a verbal update on the progress of the task group. Councillor Daly advised that the task group had now met with the range of people one might expect within the health service, and heard about the pressures on the service including staff shortages. The task group had heard of the large workload being experienced within primary care, and about those in acute mental health crisis. A meeting with mental health services in the borough was being arranged to explore that. The task group also wanted to explore primary care since it had reopened following the full easing of government restrictions and find out the experience of residents, which Healthwatch would help with. A questionnaire would be drafted which Councillor Daly hoped to bring to memory lounges, carers, young parents, men and food banks. In terms of primary care the task group would focus on two wards in particular which were Preston Ward and Stonebridge Ward. She advised that the task group was about partnership and protecting primary care.

 

The Chair thanked Councillor Daly for the update and invited Jonathan Turner (Borough Director, NWL ICS) to comment. Jonathan Turner advised that he had been working closely with the task group and attending the evidence sessions. It had been helpful to hear the perspective of councillors and residents around primary care. There were currently a few programmes taking place looking to reduce the variation in outcomes across GPs, and looking at access itself such as the number of appointment slots that GPs had available, and he felt it would be useful to supplement that with the intelligence the task group were getting. He requested that councillors continued to let him know where they were hearing about patients being unable to get appointments, and looked forward to the final report and recommendations.

 

9.

Transitional Safeguarding Task Group

To inform the Committee of the Task Group.

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Minutes:

The Chair advised the Committee that he intended to put together a task group looking at transitional safeguarding, and would work with officers to draft a scoping paper and go out to colleagues to discuss the membership of the proposed task group.

 

10.

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 60.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

None.