Venue: Committee Room, Council Offices, Urban Road, Kirkby-in-Ashfield
Contact: Lynn Cain
Declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary or Personal Interests and Non Disclosable Pecuniary/Other Interests
No declarations of interest
Minutes PDF 161 KB
that the minutes of the meeting of
the Committee held on 25th September, 2019, be received
and approved as a correct record.
Scrutiny Review: Impact of Universal Credit PDF 190 KB
The Scrutiny Research Officer
introduced the report and reminded Committee that the review had
commenced in June 2019 with an initial objective of gaining an
understanding of the impact of the rollout of Universal Credit from
both the Council and claimants’ perspective.
Members endeavoured to
understand the requirements of the Welfare Reform Act 2012
including how the new Universal Credit regime would replace the
existing system. The fundamental
changes were understood to enable the benefits system to be
simplified with an overarching drive to reduce non-working
households and cut welfare expenditure.
Members also considered how
Universal Credit had affected Ashfield claimants following its
phased introduction from June to November 2018. The Council had been proactive in preparing for
the changes and a Welfare Reform Board was established to enable
officers to develop an action plan for managing the introduction of
Universal Credit in Ashfield.
The Housing Management &
Tenancy Team established a working relationship with the Department
of Work and Pensions Team (DWP) to enable information to be shared
and staff were trained to offer money management advice and support
to new claimants during their transition. A couple of roadshows were held which focussed on
fuel and food poverty and again offered money management advice to
visitors as necessary.
Committee Members acknowledged
that the Council’s Housing Management & Tenancy Team had
undertaken extensive preparation work in readiness for the
introduction of Universal Credit and had continued to explore new
and innovative ways to offer ongoing assistance to new
claimants. Members took the opportunity
to commend officers for their hard work and ongoing commitment to
An informal working group
meeting had been held and this offered the opportunity for Members
and officers to meet with a DWP representative and discuss their
working relationship and the payment and support mechanisms
currently in place including managed and advance payments and third
The key review findings had
emerged as follows:-
financial issues for claimants during the first
payment waiting period;
minimal statutory support available to assist
claimants with the transition process;
communication gaps for Councillors regarding their
knowledge and understanding of Universal Credit;
the escalating financial impact to Ashfield District
Council in relation to rent arrears;
impact and hardships being experienced by claimants
undertaking the transition process.
To inform Members further, the
Service Manager for Scrutiny and Democratic Services circulated a
list of testimonials to the Committee outlining real life
experiences from claimants transitioning onto the Universal Credit
The document evidenced that
many different issues were being experienced by claimants and the
Housing Team were always endeavouring to resolve them to ensure the
transition process for the Council’s residents was as
unproblematic as possible.
The Service Manager for Housing
Management & Tenancy Services advised Members that current data
revealed that there were currently 996 Universal Credit claimants
at Ashfield with 472 now showing arrears. The Universal Credit element of rent arrears for
the Authority stood at around £192,000. The figure had been higher but some excellent work
undertaken by the Rent ...
view the full minutes text for item OS.17
Scrutiny Workplan 2019/20 PDF 115 KB
The Scrutiny Research Officer
presented an update in relation to Workplan as follows:-
As per the previous agenda
item, the review had now been complete with a robust set of
recommendations being presented to Cabinet in February
The review was due to be
progressed further at the next Overview and Scrutiny Committee
meeting scheduled for February 2020.
Crime and Disorder
The annual Crime and Disorder
Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting was due to take place in
March 2020 and would be considering the Community Safety
Team’s partnership priorities.
Scrutiny Panel A
The Panel were due to commence
a review into local bus provision and its impact on isolated groups
and vulnerable people, at its next meeting.
Members were requested to
remove the Commercialisation and Income Generation Item from the
Workplan as the initiative was currently being monitored by the
Council’s Audit Committee and any further consideration by
Members would result in an unnecessary duplication of
Scrutiny Panel B
The Panel had commenced the
‘Town Centre Regeneration’ review and early discussions
had been encouraging with agreement to include a Scrutiny Member on
the Discover Ashfield Board. The review
would now remain on hold for a short time whilst the Panel
commenced the ‘Community Protection Officer Service’
review at its next meeting.
that the update regarding the work
of the Scrutiny Panels and Committee and progress against the
Scrutiny Workplan, be received and noted.