Agenda and draft minutes

Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee
Thursday, 25th March, 2021 7.00 pm

Venue: VIRTUAL - Live on the Council's YouTube channel: Hillingdon London. View directions

Items
No. Item

52.

Apologies for Absence and to report the presence of any substitute Members

Minutes:

No apologies had been formally received. It was noted that Councillor Cooper was yet to join the meeting.

 

53.

Declarations of Interest in matters coming before this meeting

Minutes:

Councillor Corthorne declared a non-pecuniary interest during item six as he had previously held the position of Cabinet Member for Social Services, Housing, Health and Wellbeing. Councillor Corthorne remained in the meeting and took part in the discussion on this item.

 

54.

To receive the minutes of the previous meeting pdf icon PDF 130 KB

Minutes:

It was highlighted that on page three of the agenda, under the second bullet point within minute number 49, where the minutes stated ‘Early health interventions’, this should be read as ‘Early help interventions’.

 

It was noted that Members had requested further information on the Zero Carbon Commitment item which wasn’t included in an update sheet disseminated to Members. It was noted that the item was due to come back to the Committee in a more detailed manner and that a date would be set in the Committee’s work programme.

 

RESOLVED That, subject to the requested changes, the minutes of the meeting dated 09 February 2021 be approved as an accurate record.

55.

To confirm that the items of business marked as Part I will be considered in Public and that the items marked as Part II will be considered in Private

Minutes:

It was confirmed that all items were in Part I and would be considered in public.

 

56.

Update on the Hillingdon Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy 2019 - 2024 pdf icon PDF 110 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Part way into the following item, Councillor Cooper joined the meeting.

 

Mark Billings, Head of Housing Options, Homelessness and Standards, introduced the item noting that it had been a legal requirement for local authorities to have a homelessness strategy since the Homelessness Act 2002. Recent changes in legislation had made it mandatory for the strategy to include attention to Rough Sleeping. The Council’s current five-year strategy went live in 2019 and was primarily based on six priority workstreams as highlighted in the officer’s report. Individually, the workstreams highlighted key areas of up-stream homelessness prevention, access to affordable housing options and the importance of partnership working. As a whole, the six priority areas showed the Council’s intention to lead change and support the Borough’s most vulnerable residents. Further to this, officers highlighted the Homelessness Prevention and Rough Sleeping Strategy action plan which went into further detail of the workstreams.

 

It was noted that the coronavirus pandemic had emphasised the importance of having an accessible and responsive service for residents. In response to the government’s ‘Everyone In’ scheme, over 250 rough sleepers had come through the Council’s service since April 2020 and a highly successful new rough sleeper hostel was opened within an extremely tight timeframe in March 2020. It was highlighted that, in the government’s annual rough sleeper report, published in February 2021, Hillingdon was highlighted as the Borough with the largest drop in rough sleepers in England over the past year. The pandemic had seen an increase in homeless approaches to the service; worryingly, a significant number of these approaches had been in relation to domestic abuse cases.

 

Although officers welcomed the government’s moratorium on evictions, there were concerns of an increase in homelessness when courts were scheduled to reopen at the end of May 2021. Members were informed that, although it was difficult to predict, modelling work was underway looking at potential pressures on the service, specifically assessing what could be done to increase availability of housing in both the private and public sector, and how the Council’s own housing stock is put to use.

 

Members commended officers on their detailed report and were encouraged by the positive reaction to the immense challenges posed by the coronavirus pandemic. Members were also enthused to hear about the resumption of the homelessness forum and landlord’s forum which would be held online.

 

Members queried the report’s reference to domestic abuse advocates who were due to assist with the upskilling of staff; Members wanted to know whether the advocates had been identified. It was confirmed that two female officers from within the service had been identified to assist with offering a more specialised service for residents approaching the service from a domestic abuse setting. It was also noted that the service was pushing towards obtaining Domestic Abuse Housing Alliance accreditation.

 

The Committee sought reassurance from officers that work was being done to advertise the options available to residents with regard to downsizing their properties. Officers were keen to promote downsizing options and highlighted  ...  view the full minutes text for item 56.

57.

Committee Review: Making the Council more autism-friendly: Draft Report pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman introduced the item noting that a draft report with recommendations had been prepared and was being presented to the Committee to endorse its submission to Cabinet. Members had discussed the findings that they wished to form the basis of the report at the 19 January 2021 meeting and were now able to make amendments as they see fit.

 

It was highlighted that recommendation two drew attention to the embedding of autism awareness training into the new starter induction and structured ongoing learning and development programme for key front-line staff who would, by the nature of their roles, be likely to interact with autistic residents.

 

With regard to recommendation three, it was noted that recommendation had been pitched towards exploring the feasibility of improving online accessibility for residents with autism by providing further access to, and information about, Council autism services on the Council’s website. Members noted the challenges in harmonising a one door approach to autism services when a number of different bodies, including the Council, the NHS and local charities, provided services to that regard. Further to this it was highlighted that the Better Care Fund had a specific workstream around the integration of care and support for people with learning disabilities and/or autism. The Committee were minded to include in their work programme, a report pertaining to this strand of the Better Care Fund and how access to services is made less restrictive for residents with autism.

 

An alteration to the narrative of recommendation eight was suggested. Although the Committee emphasised the tremendous work that Hillingdon Autistic Care and Support do in the Borough, to allow for a more holistic and encompassing recommendation, the Committee sought to recognise the work of all organisations providing services to residents with autism in the Borough. The following re-wording of recommendation eight was proposed:

 

That Cabinet recognises all the Council’s strong partnership relationships with organisations and providers supporting people with autism in Hillingdon.”

 

The Committee were supportive of the amendment to recommendation eight.

 

Upon the matter of Education and Health Care Plans (EHCP) and Special Educational Needs and Disability (SEND), it was noted that the scope of the review pertained to the way in which residents with autism access and interact with public facing Council services and not necessarily the statutory service provision for residents with autism. The Chairman also highlighted that the Head of SEND would be sharing a positive update with Members shortly in relation to assessments and accessibility of EHCPs. The Committee were minded to add to the work programme an item regarding the improvement of assessment and accessibility to EHCPs for children with learning disabilities and/or autism.

 

Concerns were raised as to the accessibility of applying for the Disability Living Allowance (DLA) through the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP); it was noted that Members felt a Council advisor, on hand to assist individuals with applying for the DLA, would be a valuable asset to the Borough’s residents with disabilities. It was noted that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 57.

58.

Minutes from the Corporate Parenting Panel Meetings on 12 November 2020 and 11 February 2021 pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman noted that he was looking forward to attending the annual meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel. Some Committee Members who sat on the Panel highlighted that the forum was more informal than traditional committee meetings but valuable thanks to the involvement of young people within the forum.

 

It was highlighted that an OFSTED inspection had taken place shortly before the February meeting of the Corporate Parenting Panel but it had not been mentioned at the February meeting. Officers confirmed that they were happy to share the findings of the report with Members through a briefing note.

 

RESOLVED: That the minutes Corporate Parenting Panel meetings dated 12 November 2020 and 11 February 2021 be noted.

59.

Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 52 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

It was highlighted that, from April, the Forward Plan document would be more extensive both in terms of timeframe and detail.

 

RESOLVED: That the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee noted items going to Cabinet.

60.

Work Programme pdf icon PDF 55 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Chairman drew attention to the earlier requests for further detail on the Zero Carbon Commitment with regard to housing, the learning disabilities and/or autism workstream of the Better Care Fund, and the improvements to assessments and accessibility to EHCPs for children with SEND.

 

RESOLVED That the Social Care, Housing and Public Health Policy Overview Committee noted the contents of the Work Programme and agreed any amendments to be made.