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Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday 17 April 2018 7.00 pm

Venue: Room B12, Civic Centre, Home Gardens, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1DR

Contact: Email: memberservices@dartford.gov.uk 

Items
No. Item

44.

Apologies for Absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor C S McLean and subsequently from Councillor J A Hayes [due to ill-health that evening].

 

The Chairman welcomed Members and Officers and noted that the Cabinet Portfolio Holder was also in attendance.

45.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of interest from Members including the terms(s) of the Grant of Dispensation (if any) by the Audit Board or Managing Director.

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest.

46.

Confirmation of the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2018 pdf icon PDF 174 KB

Minutes:

                                    RESOLVED:

 

That the Minutes of the meeting held on 6 February 2018 be confirmed as accurate.

47.

Urgent Items

The Chairman will announce his decision as to whether there are any urgent items and their position on the agenda.

Minutes:

The Chairman announced that there were no urgent items for consideration.

48.

To consider references from other Committees (IF ANY)

There are presently, no references from other Committees for Members to consider.

Minutes:

There were no references from other committees.

49.

Chairman's Update

Minutes:

The Chairman proposed and Members agreed, that given the substantive nature of the draw-down regarding the roll-out of Universal Credit in the Borough [Item 8 agenda pages 21-32]; that the Princess Park Update report (agenda Item 9) be taken first, in deference to the attending presenting Officer.

 

 

 

50.

Regulation 9 Notice pdf icon PDF 62 KB

To note the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 13 March 2018 to 31 July 2018.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

That the contents of the Regulation 9 Notice for the period 13 March 2018 to 31 July 2018.

51.

Princes Park pdf icon PDF 48 KB

To receive a report from the Sport and Communities Officer together with an update from the Operations Manager, Dartford Football Club (attached as Appendix A to the report)

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members received a report from the Leisure & Communities Officer which enclosed as Appendix A, a comprehensive update report from Mr Jack Smedley, Operations Manager at Dartford Football Club (DFC), setting out the activities undertaken at Princes Park for the period 17 July 2017 to March 2018.

 

The Chairman reminded Members of their agreement not to require representatives from DFC [or other Clubs/facilities managed for the Council ] to appear before the Committee; valued as such attendance had been in the past; but rather to consider reports and updates as presented in Agenda papers, together with relevant attending Officers and Cabinet Portfolio Holders.

 

The Leisure & Communities Officer advised Members that under the terms of the existing Service Level Agreement (SLA) due to operate until March 2019; the Club were developing and maximising the facilities and accruing income from Princes Park to the full; as set out in the report from the DFC Operations Manager attached as Appendix A to his report.

 

It was confirmed for Members that the update report from DFC had not been specifically commissioned for the Scrutiny Committee, but was an annual requirement [set by Cabinet] for all Clubs and bodies who managed Council owned facilities. Members asked that their appreciation of the comprehensive update report submitted by DFC for the period under review be relayed to the Club and noted in the Minutes.

 

The Chairman noted that it was proposed to continue the present 2017/18 grant funding of £90,000 from the Council to DFC to run Princes Park into the 2018/19 financial year at the same level [Item 9 para 3.2]. He asked whether it was envisaged by the Council at some point in the future, that grant funding to DFC would cease, and the Club become self-sufficient in terms of financing its activities.

 

The Leisure & Communities Officer advised Members that DFC’s management of Princes Park benefited the wider Dartford community in terms of an increased spectrum of activities, including the recent expansion of foot golf. In direct response to the Chairman’s repeated question, he advised that he was not aware that the Council’s grant funding to DFC for the management of Princes Park was due to cease in the foreseeable future.

 

                        RESOLVED:

 

1.    That Members note the report and Appendix A as presented in the agenda papers.

52.

Council's Readiness for full roll-out of Universal Credit [Draw-Down] pdf icon PDF 112 KB

To receive a joint report from the Heads of Housing Services and Revenues & Benefits at the request of the Labour Group.

Minutes:

The Chairman renewed his welcome to the Cabinet Portfolio Holder and the Heads of Housing Services and Revenue & Benefits and the Quality Team Manager (Revenue & Benefits) and reminded Members that the roll out of ‘full service’ Universal Credit (UC) was due to take place in Dartford from July 2018. Given this significant challenge for the Council, he had requested an Officer report (on a draw-down basis) for consideration by the Committee.

 

He thanked the Heads of Housing Services and Revenue & Benefits for a high quality and comprehensive joint report which would facilitate and guide Member discussion that evening. He envisaged a 1 hour plus debate, and proposed that Members be given leeway to submit follow-up questions, to aid a themed discussion.

 

Expected number of claimants for Universal Credit (UC)

 

The Chairman began that discussion by asking Officers for an estimate of how many Dartford residents were expected to claim Universal Credit (UC) under the scheme from July 2018.

 

The Head of Revenue & Benefits advised that this figure was not yet known, only the number currently claiming UC [449 – report para 3.4 page 21]. He confirmed, in response to a follow-up question, that residents currently in receipt of Housing Benefit (HB) would transfer to UC between 2019 and 2022, although exact dates were not yet known. In further response to the Chairman, he agreed that the Council’s lack of prior knowledge over the precise number of Dartford residents that would claim UC from July 2018, was a ‘risk’.

 

It was hoped that preparation of the joint report before the Committee would help to identify and mitigate that ‘risk’; including the specific ‘risk’ that the on-line UC application process could pose for vulnerable residents. The Council was taking specific measures to identify those vulnerable residents and provide them with appropriate help and support through the application process.

 

A Member asked why it was not possible for the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) to provide specific numbers for UC claimants in the Borough, given that Dartford had only one Job Centre.

 

The Head of Revenue & Benefits referred Members to para 3.4 of the joint report and advised that the current DWP Partnership Manager for Dartford was due to move on, but that he expected a similar high level of co-operation with her successor. He offered to return to the Committee and advise Members of precise updated figures in due course. In response to a follow-up question, he agreed the Member’s estimate that as many as 3,000 to 3,500 Dartford residents would migrate to UC from HB following the roll out of full UC.

 

Supporting Residents [to claim UC]

 

The Chairman noted that at the national level, both major political parties now accepted that UC represented progress: it was the implementation of the new single benefit policy that was the problem. He was glad that the joint report focussed in detail on that aspect of the roll out of ‘full service’ UC in the Borough and the measures to support residents as  ...  view the full minutes text for item 52.

53.

Scrutiny Committee Work Programme 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 59 KB

To consider the Committee’s Work Programme for the ensuing 2018-19 municipal cycle, as provisionally set out in the draft Work Plan attached as Appendix A to the report.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Members agreed the draft Work Plan for the ensuing 2018-19 municipal year as submitted in the Agenda papers (Item 10 page 45).

 

In response to a specific question from the Chairman; the Committee Clerk confirmed that any draw-down items not taken that evening, could be added to the Committee’s agenda for 10 July 2018; together with any further items Members wished to draw-down; subject to the approval of the Managing Director and the requirements, including timing, of the draw-down process as detailed in the Committee’s Protocol.

 

54.

Any Other Business (A.O.B.)

Minutes:

The Chairman advised Members that there would be a change to the compliment of the Labour Group on the Committee following Annual Council on 9 May 2018, and that Councillor Tom Maddison was attending his last Scrutiny Committee meeting that evening.

 

He wished to place on record his appreciation of Councillor Maddison’s efforts and enthusiasm as a long-standing Member of the Scrutiny Committee over many years. Qualities he was sure Cllr. Maddison would continue to display when taking up his new portfolio of responsibilities for the Labour Group in the ensuing 2018-19 municipal year.

 

Members joined the Chairman in recording their appreciation of Councillor Tom Maddison’s efforts and dedication towards the work of the Scrutiny Committee over several years.