Agenda Item No.
THE VALE OF GLAMORGAN COUNCIL
CABINET: 8TH MAY, 2013
REFERENCE FROM SCRUTINY COMMITTEE (CORPORATE RESOURCES): 23RD APRIL, 2013
WELFARE REFORM (TFG) –
The Chairman introduced the report of the Task and Finish Group as a major piece of work undertaken in light of the sweeping Welfare Reform changes with the primary aim of mitigating the affects of the same on residents of the Vale of Glamorgan and welcomed comments from the Committee on its contents. He formally thanked the Members and officers who had participated in the deliberations of the Task and Finish Group, referring in particular to the contribution from the Head of Financial Services throughout the process. He indicated that he would amend his Statement as shown on page 3 of the report to that effect.
The Head of Financial Services briefly took Members through the covering report and drew particular attention to the fact that the report was based on the information available as at 31st March, 2013 given the fluid nature of the Welfare Reform changes. Members considered the information contained within the report to be comprehensive, well thought out and highly informative and recommended that a copy be made available to all Members. A Member of the Task and Finish Group stated that the content of the report well illustrated the efforts that Members and officers had put in. That Member also referred to the concerns expressed at the Task and Finish Group in relation to the impact of the Welfare Reform changes on the most vulnerable members of society and put forward a motion that the Committee express its abhorrence to the Welfare Reform agenda. A contrary view was put. The motion, having been duly seconded and voted upon, was subsequently accepted.
(1) T H A T the report and recommendations of the Task and Finish Group be endorsed.
(2) T H A T the report be referred to Cabinet for consideration, and that Cabinet be requested to have regard to its contents and specific recommendations, as follows:
(i) The Officer Working Group consider how services could be best co-ordinated to provide appropriate advice services and signposting for claimants, including hard to reach groups, in liaison with libraries, leisure, town and community councils.
(ii) Communications on the implications of Welfare Reform to continue to be managed by the Officer Working Group via the communications plan, including the use of social media, C1V, local radio and the Council's website.
(iii) Further road shows be used to communicate welfare reforms with affected claimants and tenants.
(iv) Members and officers be updated on Welfare Reform as further developments require.
(v) The Benefits Service continue to monitor data on over accommodation and liaise with social landlords (including the Council’s Housing Service) and tenants.
(vi) The Officer Working Group continue to plan and respond to Welfare Reform changes as they develop.
(vii) Action plans continue to be used to manage the risk and implementation of Welfare Reform and monitored by the Officer Working Group and the Corporate Risk Management Group under the corporate risk management policy until the major reforms were implemented.
(viii) The Stakeholder Group continue to ensure the there was a co-ordinated approach to Welfare Reform with all LSB partners in the Vale of Glamorgan.
(ix) A revised Discretionary Housing Payment (DHP) policy be developed for approval by Cabinet.
(x) The issue of the Localised Support Services for claimants be taken forward via the Stakeholder Group with involvement of Officer Working Group and any framework agreement entered into for Localised Support Services approved by Cabinet.
(xi) The Council identify and adopt best practice in the administration of Welfare Reform.
(xii) Cabinet to consider designating the Social Services Department as lead department in dealing with the implications of the Discretionary Assistance Fund and the change from Disability Living Allowance to the Personal Independence Payment.
(xiii) Cabinet to consider designating the Housing Service as the lead department in dealing with implications of Welfare Reform on the management of the Council's own housing provision and the implications for overarching housing services.
(xiv) The local housing strategy and the housing asset management plans be reviewed and considered by Cabinet in the light of the impact of Welfare Reform on the enabling function and stock profile.
(xv) Any policy decisions required in relation to Welfare Reform be reported to Cabinet.
(xvi) The Head of Financial Services update the Change Forum of staffing issues associated with Welfare Reform as the situation became clearer.
(xvii) Staff within Resources and Benefits be kept informed of issues by the Head of Financial Services in team briefings, with the staff newsletter and the core brief.
(xviii) Future staffing implications be identified by the Head of Financial Services, included in the Council’s Workforce Plan and dealt with in accordance with Council HR policies as Welfare Reform developed.
(xix) As the financial year progressed, expenditure on Council tax support be included in financial monitoring reports to the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources).
(xx) The impact of the revised DHP policy and increased funding be monitored and reported to Scrutiny Committee (Housing and Public Protection), initially on a six monthly basis.
(xxi) That the Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources) receive a report on the impact of Welfare Reform within the Vale of Glamorgan, initially on a six monthly basis.
(3) T H A T the report, updated as indicated above by the inclusion of the Chairman’s thanks to the Members and officers involved in the production of the report (in particular the Head of Financial Services) be e-mailed to all Members of the Council.
(4) T H A T the Committee, whilst endorsing the report, also from the knowledge gained through the work done in developing the plan, express their abhorrence to the Welfare Reform agenda being run by the Westminster Government and the overt and insidious attacks on the living standards of the most vulnerable.
Reasons for the recommendations
(1) To assist in identifying the impact of Welfare Reform and where possible mitigating the impacts on the Vale of Glamorgan Council and its residents.
(2i-v) To ensure there is effective communication of Welfare Reform with relevant stakeholders.
(2vi-xv) To ensure there continues to be effective management of Welfare Reform.
(2xvi-xviii) To ensure there is effective management of the staffing implications of Welfare Reform.
(2xix-xxi) To ensure there is effective scrutiny of Welfare Reform.
(3) To ensure the information is readily available to all Members of the Council.
(4) To record the concerns expressed.
Attached as Appendix - Report to Scrutiny Committee (Corporate Resources): 23rd April 2013