Agenda, decisions and minutes
Venue: The Old Court House Café, 34 Church Street, Flint, Flintshire CH6 5AE
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Declarations of Interest (including Whipping Declarations)
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That the Committee continue to support the ongoing work to address food poverty and food insecurity in Flintshire.
The Benefits Manager introduced the Food Poverty Strategy report which outlined the strategic priority of working towards addressing food poverty.
The draft Strategy, as shown in Appendix 1 of the report, had recently been presented and adopted by the Public Services Board (PSB) and would be published shortly. Flintshire’s Public Service Board supported the development of partnership initiatives aimed at the reduction of poverty within the County and recently endorsed the development and implementation of a Community Benefit Strategy which covered a range of strategic priorities, as detailed within the report.
As outlined within the report, there was clearly a high degree of agreement between the challenges and objectives identified by the multi-agency board and Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board (BCUHB), as well as the positive work currently undertaken by individual organisations in the community, e.g. food banks. Given the level of work currently on going within the County and the strategic and aspirational symmetry between the Flintshire’s multi-agency PSB and BCUHB, there was a need to explore and agree collective next steps and the contributions partners would make in achieving the goals associated with the reduction of food poverty.
The Benefits Manager outlined a number of key deliverables for year one, as set out within the report. One of the key deliverables was the introduction of the Holiday Hunger Programme which would be rolled out over the school summer holidays. Details of the Programme had been provided by Mr. Robbie Davison to the Committee prior to the start of the meeting.
In conclusion, the Benefits Manager reported that Flintshire had taken the lead in developing an alliance for North Wales to help better understand the regional issues around food poverty and food insecurity. It was hoped that engagement across the region in tackling these issues through sharing best practice; learning from experience and working cross sector would be considered during a food poverty conference to be held in North Wales in September, 2018.
The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Members for Housing thanked the Benefits Manager for the report but outlined his sadness at the need for such a report and the number of families across Flintshire who were in food poverty. He commented on the launch of the Holiday Hunger Programme which would be held on 19th July and hoped that the initiatives set out within the report would end food poverty, not just for children, but for unemployed people and pensioners in the future.
The Cabinet Members for Corporate Management said that as a Board Member for NEWydd who provided healthy school meals during term time he was pleased to see a scheme being provided during the school summer holidays for children to access healthy hot meals. The Cabinet Member for Social Services congratulated the Benefits Manager and her team and was pleased to see the joint working with the multi-agency PSB and BCUHB. She referred to the requirements which had been placed on Local Authorities by the Children’s Commissioner to tackle child poverty and was pleased ... view the full minutes text for item 18.
(a) That the update on the management of the new legislation within the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 be noted;
(b) That the emerging themes within the Regional Homeless Strategy, and challenges that the Council had faced finding suitable housing options for households and the plans to mitigate further risks be supported;
(c) That the proposals to alleviate homelessness in the County be supported; and
(d) That the Regional Homeless Strategy and Action Plan be submitted to a future meeting of the Committee, for consideration, prior to adoption by Cabinet.
The Customer Support Manager introduced a report which provided an update on how the requirements of the new Homelessness Legislation within the Housing (Wales) Act 2014 were being met and some of the projected challenges that faced the Council.
In 2017/18 the Council saw an increase in the number of households presenting at risk of homelessness and increased use of temporary accommodation. The Council was committed to prevent rough sleeping and had worked to model the services and grant funding to mitigate the risk of increased temporary accommodation costs, as detailed within the report. The focus of the Housing Options Team, wherever possible, was to prevent homelessness and enable a household to remain in their home and to achieve a successful homeless prevention outcome the service needed a supply of housing options that were affordable, and could be made available to households accessing the service. The shortage of available options had been highlighted as a growing issues within the Flintshire Homeless Review and would be a focus of the action plan and the initiatives, as detailed within the report.
The Customer Support Manager provided a detailed update on the challenges facing the Council, as outlined within the report, which focused around:-
· The Social Housing Register;
· Increasing the Availability of Private Rented Sector Properties;
· Interim Accommodation;
· Preventing Rough Sleepers;
· Single Households; and
· Vulnerable and Complex Needs
In conclusion, the Customer Support Manager reported that in June 2016, the Heads of Housing of all six North Wales Local Authorities together with the Chartered Institute of Housing Cymru, undertook a commitment to work together to develop a regional homelessness strategy. The strategic approach, as detailed in the report would be presented to Cabinet at the end of the current financial year as the Regional Homelessness Strategy and each North Wales Local Authority was developing its own local action plan based on the priorities of the regional strategy.
The Chief Officer (Housing and Assets) commented on the need to increase the availability of Private Rented Sector properties and advised that the Council needed to be mindful of construction works starting at Wylfa Newydd, Anglesey which could have a negative impact on private rented accommodation if there wasn’t enough availability in Anglesey and Conwy. He said that it was vital that house building continued across Flintshire through the Strategic Housing and Regeneration Programme (SHARP) as the Council remained one of the few Local Authority’s building new social housing accommodation.
The Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Housing advised that Cabinet had considered the report in the morning but any comments from Members during the meeting would be fed back to Cabinet and taken on board. He advised that the Council provided support to people who presented themselves as homeless through the provision of temporary accommodation but it was important that Welsh Government continued to provide funding to ensure the continued use of temporary accommodation.
The Chairman welcomed the reduction in the use of bed and breakfast accommodation. Councillor George Hardcastle echoed the comments ... view the full minutes text for item 19.
Members of the Press and Public in attendance
There was one member of the public in attendance.