Agenda and minutes

Informal Meeting, Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Wednesday, 5 January 2022 7:00 pm

Venue: Meeting to be held virtually

Contact: Claudia Wakefield, Senior Governance Officer 

No. Item


Declaration of Members' Interests

In accordance with the Council’s Constitution, Members are asked to declare any interest they may have in any matter which is to be considered at this meeting.


There were no declarations of interest.


Minutes - To note the minutes of the meeting held on 8 December 2021


The minutes of the meeting held on 8 December were noted.


East London Joint Resources and Waste Strategy - Post-Consultation


The Strategic Director of My Place (SD) presented a report on the East London Joint Resources and Waste Strategy and the key themes that had arisen from the public consultation, which had been undertaken between July and September 2021. The Strategy aimed to set out how waste and recycling services in the London Boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Havering, Redbridge and Newham could be developed over the next 20 years, following the expiration of the East London Waste Authority (ELWA) contract in 2027, which looked after the current waste disposal needs of the four boroughs. Ten key themes had emerged from the public consultation, relating to areas such as waste prevention, food waste recycling and the consistency of collections and communications on what can be recycled.


The Cabinet Member for Public Realm (CMPR) also stated that the Council had been exceeding a 30% recycling rate over the last four months, which had risen from the 25% recycling rate previously, partly due to increased public engagement and education from the Council’s Waste Minimisation team, and by increasing some types of material that could be recycled. Consideration was also being given to future food waste recycling and the need to identify funding for food waste collection trucks, should ELWA bring in food waste collection facilities.


In response to questions from Members, the CMPR and SD stated that:


·  The London Transport and Environment Committee (TEC), of which the CMPR was a member as part of his portfolio, was looking to work with the London Waste Authority to put pressure on to supermarkets, so that they paid a surcharge towards the recycling of their plastic packaging; however, some supermarkets had increasingly begun to use paper packaging on their products. Supermarkets could also eventually start to charge more for the provision of plastic bags, to incentivise customers to recycle more. 

·  The London TEC was also looking to speak to companies such as Amazon, to encourage them to stop using large boxes for smaller items.

·  The Council was tied into the ELWA contract until 2027. All four boroughs under the contract, were putting pressure on to ELWA to provide a food waste facility and were considering what they would do in 2027 if ELWA had not provided this. The contract was expensive and benefited ELWA more than the four local authorities- the boroughs would spend the next five years, pushing ELWA to improve.

·  A new Director of Public Realm would be starting at the Council in mid-February 2022, who would be tasked with working with the other three local authority directors and ELWA, to improve the ELWA offer.

·  Even when the Council recycled more and was more environmentally friendly, it still had to pay additional money to ELWA for this.

·  A statutory vehicle, such as ELWA, was required by law to dispose of the Council’s waste. As Government policy was now requiring all local authorities to introduce food waste recycling, it was hoped that the Council and the three other boroughs would be able to work  ...  view the full minutes text for item 37.


Community Hubs - Developing a Network of Community Hubs


The Cabinet Member for Social Care and Health Integration (CMSC) presented a report on establishing a network of community hubs, alongside partners and the local community, which would create spaces in each ward for residents to ‘go, do and connect’ and which would provide gateways to information, advice and support. These would develop over time and whilst there would be a core service at every hub, each hub would also adjust to deal with local issues, and what local residents felt was most important to them. The presentation also detailed the current governance arrangements of the hubs, the proposed roadmap of the hub openings, the core offer at each hub, the resources developed to support the delivery of the core offers, partnership working opportunities, branding, the data used to inform local support needs and frontline staff co-location.


The Chair emphasised the importance of ensuring that there was a high level of buy-in from different council departments, who could ensure that their staff were working in the hubs at certain times to provide specialised support to residents, as well as the importance of front-desk Community Solutions staff who could identify any presenting issues, and signpost residents to the most appropriate form of support.


In response to questions from Members, the Strategic Director Community Solutions (SDCS) and the Director of Community Participation and Prevention (DCPP) stated that:


·  Whilst there were risks in terms of engagement and staff resourcing, there was a high level of support and commitment across council services, and the Senior Leadership team, to ensure that these services were appropriately staffing the hubs. The Council would also work intelligently to track demand and the need in different areas, to determine the most appropriate response to this and how it could improve the offer to residents, over time. 

·  It would be useful for this item to come back to the Committee in six months, following the launch of the hubs, to review and reflect on the progress of these and the impact so far.

·  His team would work with front-facing services, such as Community Solutions, My Place, Care and Support and Enforcement, to formalise and structure the specific requirements for each hub, and how that could evolve over time.

·  A governance group of Council officers from various services was considering how to best utilise tools and resources for the hubs, and how these would work operationally. Moving forward, the teams would look at where the hubs could work with volunteers, to use their capacity as part of their response.

The Chair asked for assurance that there would be officers available from key services, to meet with residents in-person to address any issues, during allotted timeframes. Whilst praising the value and dedication of volunteers, she highlighted that the hubs should not rely solely, or in large part, on them to staff the hubs, in part as it would be beneficial for residents to speak to officers in-person, to receive answers to their queries, and in part, as volunteers may naturally move on  ...  view the full minutes text for item 38.


Homes and Money Hub


The Head of Support Lifecycle (HSL) in Community Solutions delivered a presentation on the Homes and Money Hub service, which worked to support residents in a variety of ways, such as to sustain and secure their tenancies, reduce their debts, and receive support and skills to manage their finances and improve their lives. The presentation detailed:


·  The context behind and vision for the service;

·  The service offer;

·  The partnership working in the service;

·  The number of families supported and the support provided;

·  The financial and non-financial benefits of this support;

·  The wider financial support system; and the relationship of the Homes and Money Hub to this; and

·  The impacts of Covid-19 and the future work of the Hub.

The Chair hoped that Homes and Money Hub staff would be able to provide some support and training to those working in the new Community Hubs, to be able to identify any presenting issues and signpost residents to the Homes and Money Hub. The HSL agreed, highlighting that the training taught staff to ask the right questions and had proved very beneficial with colleagues in Universal Services (the entry point into the Community Solutions service) throughout the pandemic.


The Strategic Director Community Solutions praised the fantastic work of the HSL and her team, working with other colleagues in sharing learning and supporting residents. Whilst the team was a small group of around 30 staff, with the level of need far outweighing the level of resource, staff were working differently, becoming more skilled in working with other colleagues to provide more generalist and specialised knowledge to residents. It was envisioned that this type of learning and model would also be taken into the Community Hubs. The Local Government Association (LGA) had also highlighted the Homes and Money Hub as an exemplar nationally, in supporting the lives of local residents.


The Committee hugely praised the positive work of the Homes and Money Hub team, and the HSL invited the Committee to visit the Homes and Money Hub, to sit with the staff and to meet residents to find out more about the work of the Hub.


Work Programme


The Chair informed the Committee of the following change that had been made to the Work Programme since the last meeting, which was agreed by the Committee:


The ‘Changes to Reside’ report, which was due to come to the 2 February 2022 Committee, would instead be deferred to a date to be determined in the new municipal year.


Following an informal meeting between the Chair, the new interim Managing Director of Reside (MD) and the new Strategic Director Inclusive Growth, the MD agreed to provide the Committee with a short email update, with responses to any outstanding questions, from when the item had been presented at the 6 October 2021 Committee (minute 24 refers). The update would also detail the current arrangements within Reside, and what was hoped to be achieved between now and the item’s return to the Committee in the new municipal year.


The Work Programme was noted.


In regards to the location of its meetings, the Committee would monitor the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. Whilst its 25 January and 2 February 2022 meetings would be held informally to enable them to take place online due to the rise in Covid-19 cases, the Committee would determine whether its 9 March 2022 meeting would be held in-person, following additional health data and advice, nearer to the date of this meeting.