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Agenda, decisions and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 2

Contact: Andrew Hagger (Tel: 020 8314 9446 Email:  andrew.hagger@lewisham.gov.uk) 

Items
No. Item

1.

Minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2014 pdf icon PDF 82 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2014.

Minutes:

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the minutes of the meeting held on 5 November 2014.

2.

Declarations of interest pdf icon PDF 26 KB

Minutes:

Councillor John Muldoon declared an interest as member of the South London and Maudsley NHS Mental Health Trust.

 

Councillor Crada Onuegbu declared an interest as member of the South London and Maudsley NHS Mental Health Trust.

 

3.

No Recourse to Public Funds Review - Evidence session pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Henry St-Clair Miller (Manager, NRPF Network) spoke to the Committee and highlighted the following key points:

·         The NRPF Network looks at the implications of NRPF for local government and aims to influence local and central government on this issue.

·         The NRPF Network works with the Home Office on NRPF Connect, a database that collates information on NRPF cases including costs, case types, immigration status and the status of children. This information is shared with local government and the Home Office.

·         28 local authorities are using NRPF Connect, which represents a significant proportion of the NRPF caseload.

·         The NRPF Network is hosted by Islington Council. Islington had a high asylum population at the end of the 1990s and kept their asylum team to assist with adults with health needs. It then evolved to deal with NRPF. The NRPF Network is supported through commission based training, as well as some other sources of funding. Lewisham is part of the NRPF Network.

·         The NRPF Network also maintains is a collective dataset that provides evidence of trends on immigration policy.

·         The aim is to provide evidence on the true situation with NRPF and draw them into partnership.

·         Leaving people with NRPF in limbo with no decision on their immigration status isn’t good and represents a significant cost burden for the local authority. The NRPF Network wants to help tackle decision making beyond local authority control, such as leave to remain and removals.

·         The NRPF Network has been working the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) over the caseload burden assessment.

·         The NRPF Steering Group monitors the effectiveness of NRPF approaches.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Henry St.Clair-Miller provided the following information:

·         There are a number of factors behind the increase in NRPF, including the economic downturn as well as the shift from asylum to managed immigration with associated issues not being picked up.

·         Because the UK does not carry out ‘amnesties’ for large numbers of people who have been in the UK for a long time, many people have been in the country for a long time without having a firm decision or action taken over their status.

·         The Home Office is currently pursuing a policy approach of creating a harsher environment for those in the country illegally, such as restricting access to driving licenses and bank accounts. The aim is that this harsh environment will force people to leave the country as their lives will not be sustainable. From a Home Office perspective this will reduce the need for costly deportations and discourage future migrants.

·         However, if this approach does not work there could be an increase in NRPF referrals coming through to local authorities. This could be particularly challenging given the strong responsibilities for local authorities on providing support for children.

·         Lewisham has taken a stringent approach to NRPF which based on data based and uses evidence.

·         A good approach to NRPF is about having the right people to deal with it, which is not necessarily the social care  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.

4.

Annual Complaints Report pdf icon PDF 559 KB

Decision:

Resolved:

 

That the Committee should receive a written briefing from the relevant Cabinet Member about improvements to the efficiency of iCasework.

 

Minutes:

Ralph Wilkinson (Head of Public Services) introduced the report and highlighted the following key points:

·         There has been a 10% increase in complaints, which was expected given the elections in 2014 and the reductions in budgets.

·         The Customer Services received the largest number of complaints and has the most direct interaction with the public.

·         The top three issues with complainants were Council Tax, Lewisham Homes Property Services and Lewisham Homes Housing Management.

·         The increase in Council Tax complaints was expected due to the introduction of the Council Tax Reduction Scheme, which introduced 24 000 extra billings and meant taking a lot more action.

·         Complaints are used to drive improvements in service delivery and there has been improved web content and information provided.

·         The Independent Adjudicator’s feedback was largely positive, acknowledging the context to the increase in complaints and that Lewisham is helpful in resolving complaints.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, ralph Wilkinson provided the following information:

·         Officers are reviewing the use of iCasework and may move to an internally developed CRM system. The iCasework system has flaws and officers are aware of this. The system is being upgraded now and there is confidence that most complaints go through iCasework, although some complaints will inevitable slip through. Any responses from Executive Directors to complaints will be entered into iCasework.

·         Temporary accommodation is a big issue and the Council can sometimes struggle to procure it. There is a lot of work taking place in the Housing Options team to improve this.

·         There are issues in the difference in quality and time of response between Lewisham Council and Lewisham Homes, with the accuracy and quality of responses a concern. Officers will be meeting with Lewisham Homes to discuss this.

 

Resolved:

 

That the Committee should receive a written briefing from the relevant Cabinet Member about improvements to the efficiency of iCasework.

 

5.

Asset management update pdf icon PDF 34 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Tim Thompson (Manager, Operational Asset Management) and Martin O’Brien (Sustainable Resources Group Manager) introduced the report and highlighted the following key points:

·         The report contains more detail on the breadth and depth of what has happened and what will happen with regard to asset management.

·         The Asset management and accommodation strategy covers effective management of assets, an accommodation strategy for the operational estate, compliance and risk and the commercial estate. There is also a section that details how these will be delivered.

·         Lewisham has a much firmer grasp on what it owns and the data associated with those assets thanks to the development of the asset register.

·         A key will be to take the current estate and divide it into commercial and operational, so we are clear on what we want to do with our assets.

·         The Strategic Asset Management Plan is a working strategic document that contains enough detail to set out how the key priorities will be achieved. It deliberately links in and supports other key corporate programmes and strategies.

·         Lewisham is fortunate to own a diverse asset base which can be used to create income in lieu of lesser government funds.

 

In response to questions from the Committee, Tim Thompson and Martin O’Brien provided the following information:

·         Officers are working through what on the asset register can be put in the public domain. There is a balance to be made here and no final decision has been taken on this yet.

·         Officers are working through unregistered properties to pull them all together. The first phase of the asset register involved going through what was owned by Lewisham, the second phase is to go through the unregistered properties, identify them and think about how they can best be used.

·         Asset data is crucial to making business decisions and there has been a lot of work carried out to make sure this was done properly. It will take time to secure development partners for major developments. For example, the Catford regeneration is a 10 year programme and officers would prefer to under promise and over deliver.

·         There are no plans to sell off assets, assets will be used to generate revenue.

·         There is an achievable 7 year programme set out. It could be possible to borrow against income from the commercial properties in order to get this done earlier.

·         Officers in Economic Development are working to develop the Town Hall and opportunities there for creative industries.

·         Officers are also having conversations with Goldsmiths University about their accommodation needs in the short, medium and long term.

·         The proposed income levels will be made up of one third efficiencies and two thirds new income with a net new position of £10m.

·         Work is being carried out with Community Services around community centres and how to make best use of them. At the moment some centres are not up to the standard required and there is inconsistency in the charging rates for buildings. Some groups will pay little or nothing for use,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.

6.

Funding and Financial Management of Adult Social Care Review - Update pdf icon PDF 86 KB

Minutes:

Joan Hutton (Head of Assessment and Care Management) and Robert Mellors (Group Finance Manager, Community Services) introduced the update and in response to questions from the Committee provided the following information:

·         The rate currently being paid currently is the London Living Wage as set in November 2013, with a new rate introduced in April 2015 to reflect the November 2014 rate.

·         Officers have wanted to test the market to see what is possible. There are examples of different approaches to domiciliary care that exist in the country, such as in Kent and Wiltshire.

·         The Healthier Communities Select Committee will carry out further scrutiny of how to shape and develop the market for supplying Adult Social Care services.

·         Embedding a different approach to assessment needs supply from market that supports personalisation.

 

7.

Select Committee work programme pdf icon PDF 153 KB

Additional documents:

Decision:

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the work programme.

Minutes:

The Committee discussed the work programme.

 

Resolved:

 

The Committee agreed the work programme.

8.

Referrals to Mayor and Cabinet

Minutes:

There were none.