Agenda and minutes

Venue: Remote meeting via Zoom

Contact: Mary Richards  Email:


No. Item


Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence from the meeting.


There were no apologies for absence.


The Chair invited members and officers to introduce themselves. 

It was agreed that items 2 and 3 be deferred to after Item 12 on the agenda.



Public Participation

15 minute period for public contributions


There was no public participation.


Declaration Of Interests

Members with interests should refer to the agenda item and describe the nature of their interest when the item is considered.



Members were reminded that declarations of interest should be made as and when the specific agenda item to which they related was under discussion.



Agreement Of Agenda Items Part I and II


There were no Part II items.


Urgent Matters Brought Forward With the Permission Of The Chair


There were no urgent matters brought forward.



To receive an update from Darran Hill.


The Chair thanked the 3 guests for attending and proposed that a round table discussion follow the 3 presentations.


Darran Hill, TTVS, gave a brief resumé of the composition and work of TTVS and provided statistics and information relating to the organisation’s activities over the past year. 


Projects included carer support; financial inclusion, making sure people receive all the benefits they are entitled; care for older members of the community incorporating dementia cafes and help at home.


TTVs works with Petroc College and the DWP to provide training and placements for volunteers.


TTVS had seen an increase in mental health issues, particularly in the younger cohort; and loneliness, including members of staff now working remotely.


The challenges for the future are financial as certain funding streams end in 2021. 


Further information emanating from subsequent questions:


·      The biggest challenge, at the onset of the pandemic, had been addressing remote working as the technology was not in place for this. This had been attended to relatively quickly and the organisation is now very mobile and flexible.

·      A breakdown of funding will be provided.  Cllr Newton to speak with Mr Hill to explain exact requirements.

·      A £250,000 uplift of income to households had been achieved.

·      The Exercise for Mental Health Project had been suspended at the end of January 2020 as the member of staff who ran it had moved on.  However, it had been an inexpensive project to run and, although still running virtually in a slightly different capacity, could be easily resurrected.

·      With regard to raising their profile, TTVS had put in place a new and updated website.  They also had a Twitter account and a successful Face Book account.  Efforts to recruit a Digital Media Manager had been unsuccessful.  Councillor Cottle-Hunkin suggested Mr Hill contact TDC’s Digital & Social Media Officer to see if TDC could help spread the message.

·      The budget for the current financial year had been delayed but would be signed off within the next 2 weeks: It was similar to last year‘s budget, which was approximately £550,000.


The Chair thanked Mr Hill.



Torridge, North, Mid & West Devon Citizens Advice pdf icon PDF 951 KB

To receive an update from Vicki Rowe.

Additional documents:


Councillor Pennington declared an interest - he had worked for the Citizens Advice and is currently the council representative for that organisation.


After a short explanation about the purpose and focus of the Citizens Advice charity, Vicki Rowe presented an impact report for the period April – September 2020.


Citizens Advice staff have worked remotely throughout the pandemic, barring a 2-week gap at the onset.  Client demand had been down for the period April – May but this had rocketed since the end of May.  Ms Rowe provided data in relation to the services provided.  It was noted that Citizens Advice support had generated a £330,425 uplift of income to households. 


Demand had predominantly been in relation to welfare benefits.  There had been an increase in people seeking advice on employment and family and relationship issues.  Any members wishing more detailed information about their ward should e-mail


Within the projects managed by the Citizens Advice, there are 4 full-time debt workers working across the region.  Going forward an increase of 60% in demand on this service was anticipated in light of the pandemic.


Ms Rowe spoke about advocacy and policy work.  The charity has a direct link into government and has been able to campaign, through the national team, to government on issues such as Universal Credit, debt, Personal Independence Payments (PIP), Employment Support Allowance (ESA), Job Seekers Allowance (JSA), energy suppliers and housing.


The Chair opened the floor for questions and comments.


Councillor Leather observed that Northam Town Council did not feature in the impact report as a contributor of regular grants.  Ms Rowe apologised for the oversight and confirmed that this will be rectified.


Ms Rowe commented that the figures presented in relation to debt did in fact reflect a Citizens Advice resourcing issue but also in light of government grants and support from hardship funds, fewer cases had been raised.  However, an increase over the next 12 months was predicted.


In response to a question relating to outcomes it was explained that clients often specify that they do not wish to have any follow up but again, there was a resourcing issue here. 


The demographic of demand on the service had changed during the pandemic, with more working age people seeking advice.  The topic is currently being further analysed.


It was noted that campaigning was independent and non-political.  The charity did aim to change policies where appropriate and on client-based evidence.


Ms Rowe explained that the Citizens Advice contract with the DWP relating to Universal Credit was to support first time claimants only.  A telephone number will be shared.


The Chair thanked Ms Rowe.




Encompass pdf icon PDF 2 MB

To receive an update from Claire Fisher.

Additional documents:


Clair Fisher, Encompass, briefly outlined the history and work of the charity.  She gave an insight into:


ØHomelessness and rough sleeping services – working with some of the most complex multi-disadvantaged people in the community.  Ms Fisher explained the trauma and psychologically informed approach and detailed the various projects within this area.  She also spoke about the funding of some of these projects.

ØHousing support and the supported accommodation properties.

ØMoney and debt advice – Regulated by the FCA and working in partnership with Wis£rmoney.  Encompass’s approach is slightly different in as much as clients often do not recognise that they are in crisis.  Client referrals tend to come from social workers and housing officers with funding coming from a number of different trusts.

ØYouth Projects – It was hoped the Host Family project could soon be relaunched.  Encompass was anticipating greater demand for housing as the pandemic comes to an end.


Answers were provided to questions as follows:


·      The Care Leavers project (Ripple) – there was scope to work with people who are already housed but need additional support.  The project is due to come to an end in October. 

·      People can self-refer to the charity.  The website provides an online chat service and social media and there are physical outreach teams.

·      Finances – The funding model used to be heavily reliant on grants and foundations.  A review the strategic direction and funding had highlighted that the charity needed to be more sustainable.  One of the key parts of the review was to bring on accommodation to address demand.  This also provided an income source.  Emergency funding had been made available because of Covid but the charity had recognised that it needed to strip back in terms of core projects.

·      It was rare that people chose to rough sleep.


The Chair thanked Ms Fisher.


The round table discussion was opened with debate centring around the following issues:


·      A perceived overlap in services – It was noted the 3 charities do talk and, with a clear understanding of one another’s strategic aims and expertise, do make referrals to one another.  However, the key was to recognise the different client groups.  There was definitely an understanding of collaboration. 

·      Mental Health – A considerable increase in demand is anticipated because of Covid.  It was hoped all 3 charities were robust enough to withstand demand in the coming year due to good forward planning, but there were real concerns about where funding will come from for the subsequent years.

·      One Northern Devon – It might be worthwhile having this body come to talk to the committee as work is happening on a range of projects, although very much work in progress.


·      Staffing – The representatives all spoke of the measures they had introduced to support staff with the changed working patterns brought about by Covid and to safeguard their mental health.  There had been no government steer about wellness, however.

·      Benefit take-up – Welfare benefit checks are  ...  view the full minutes text for item 43.


Lead Member Update - Health & Wellbeing

To receive a verbal update from the Lead Member for Health, Wellbeing and Community Safety.


The Lead Member for Health & Wellbeing provided the latest Covid statistics and directed members to the DCC website for further up to date information.


It was noted that local rates were still a lot lower than the national figure and that, while there were reductions in rates being seen in some areas of the country, at the moment the local area was just seeing a levelling off, which mirrored the general position of being 2-3 weeks behind the national trend. It was hoped that this pattern will continue and that a reduction in infection rates will be seen shortly, especially as the effects of the lockdown start to show.


An update was given on the vaccination programme.  TDC had been working closely with Arnold’s Pharmacy in Westward Ho! and it was anticipated that the vaccination site will be up and running week commencing 25 January, operating 8 am – 8 pm, 7 days a week. 


Devon County Council is leading a community testing programme.  This will help find asymptomatic individuals carrying Covid. 


DCC has also embarked on an enhanced Track & Trace programme which will support the national programme.  It is still work in progress.


Torridge has a very high percentage of people in later years so it will take longer to vaccinate this cohort.


Lead Member Update - Homelessness

To receive a verbal update from the Lead Member for Homelessness and Housing Need.


The Lead Member for Homelessness and Housing Need gave a verbal update including the following statistics:


·      The number of approaches to TDC triggering a homeless response for the period April – November was 559, which was lower than the same period in the previous year.  The total with a good outcome “actions taken” was 309.

·      Temporary accommodation – As at 13.01.2021, there were 13 people in hostels; 5 in private sector landlord accommodation; One in Woodbury; 5 in Golden Bay and 5 in other spot purchases, i.e. Bed & Breakfast.

·      In November 2019 successful outcomes were at 62% and in November 2020 successful outcomes were at 68%. 

·      The Lead Member spoke about the concerns regarding the availability of temporary accommodation when the tourist season commences and the cessation of DCC funding in relation to the 18+ programme.


Members were encouraged to mention to Parish Councils that if they were aware of people struggling, the individuals should be directed to Citizens Advice, Encompass, TTVS and TDC’s Housing Options now.


Councillor Hackett left the meeting.


Minutes pdf icon PDF 236 KB

Confirmation of the Minutes of the extraordinary meeting held on 18 November and the scheduled meeting held on 30 November.

Additional documents:


It was proposed by Councillor Leather, seconded by Councillor Newton and –




That the minutes of the meetings held on 18 November and 25 November be signed as a correct record.


A recorded vote was taken.















































(Vote: For – unanimous)




Action List pdf icon PDF 102 KB


The action list was noted.


Consideration Of The Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 111 KB


The Chair apologised that the meeting had not been able to cover health and mental health but proposed a future meeting with North Devon Council.


It was noted that Westward Housing will be attending the next meeting.  There was still a wish to invite Geoffrey Cox to the March meeting but the committee needed to establish what questions they wished to raise with the MP.  A scoping meeting was proposed and anybody interested in attending should let Democratic Services know.  Questions should be submitted 3 weeks before the meeting.


The Deputy Leader reminded the committee that she, the Leader and the Chief Executive meet regularly with the MP and a clear indication would be required as to why he was being invited.


The impact of Brexit on the community was an issue the committee wished to raise with the MP.  It was suggested that the NFU should be invited together with the fishing industry, not to present but just to be involved in the conversation.