Agenda and minutes

Venue: Caddsdown Business Support Centre - Bideford. View directions

Contact: Democratic Services  Email: dem.services@torridge.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

111.

Apologies For Absence

To receive apologies for absence from the meeting.

Minutes:

Apologies were received from Kenton Baker, Councillor Harding and from Councillor Pennington. Councillor Gubb was present as substitute for Councillor Pennington.

 

Councillor Pennington was present for part of the presentation from Citizens Advice and left at 18:31, but it was agreed that Councillor Gubb would vote as his substitute before the meeting commenced.

 

Councillor Harding sent apologies before the meeting commenced, but the email was not seen by officers until after the meeting.

 

112.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 228 KB

Confirmation of the Minutes of meetings held on Monday 8th November and Thursday 25th November 2021.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Confirmation of the Minutes of meetings held on Monday 8th November and Thursday 25th November 2021.

 

8th November

It was explained to members that the meeting on the 8th November was not quorate and the minutes were only for noting.

 

 

25th November

The Chair ran through the minutes page by page for members.

 

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

 

Resolved:

That the minutes of the meeting held on Thursday 25th November be agreed as a correct record.

 

Vote for  5 against 0  abstained  1

113.

Public Participation

15 minute period for public contributions

Minutes:

No requests for public participation were received for this meeting.

114.

Action List pdf icon PDF 118 KB

Minutes:

The Chair reviewed the action list from the meeting on 25th November updated members regarding progress.

115.

Declaration Of Interests

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

 

Minutes:

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

 

116.

Agreement Of Agenda Items Part I and II

Minutes:

There were no Part II Items.

117.

Urgent Matters Brought Forward With the Permission Of The Chair

Minutes:

There were no matters arising.

 

118.

Citizens Advice

An opportunity to hear from the Chief Executive Officer for Citizens Advice Torridge, North Mid & West Devon.

Minutes:

Vicki Rowe (Chief Executive Officer for Citizens Advice Torridge North Mid and West) joined the Committee remotely and provided members with an overview of the current service provision, and the impact of the pandemic for the people they support.

 

The Chief Executive Officer highlighted the 6-month impact report for Citizens Advice, sent to Councillors in October. She summarised that in the first 6 months of the financial year the service:

·             Helped around 14,000 people with 3,000 issues.

·             Provided approximately £819,000 of income lift to the families they supported - through access to grants and welfare benefits they were entitled to.

·             Projected figures for the end of this financial year show the service will have supported 3,000 Torridge residents with over 7,000 issues and added £1.8 million of income back into the local economy.

 

The Chief Executive Officer confirmed that support remains mostly via the telephone, email, website and via Facebook messenger.  Some of the more vulnerable people will be supported through face-to-face appts if this is necessary.  Currently the service runs as 90% digital and 10% face-to-face service.

 

There are plans to gradually increase face-to-face appointments in Torridge, but it was explained the benefits of the new ways of working had been recognised and adaptations the service had made during the pandemic would likely remain for the majority of people they support.  

 

The face-to-face appointments were identified by the team, as well as working with key partners like Torridge District Council to identify those who cannot access the service digitally.

 

It was confirmed that Citizens Advice would be selling the property in Bridgeland Street.  This was the result of a premise review and also a result of the service finding more agile ways of working. From a digital perspective the service are helping around 50% of the people that currently need support in Torridge and the 3 other areas the service they support.  This is also the case for Devon and nationally for the service. 

 

The Chief Executive Officer provided member with an overview of the support the service offer, this was mostly work around understanding or issues with welfare benefits – universal credit, legacy benefits and tax credits were provided as examples.  34% of the services work is around benefits. Housing and advice on debt were also highlighted as issues that are coming up a lot alongside benefit advice – often people will need support in relation to all 3 of these issues. 

 

Councillor Wiseman joined the meeting at 18:11

 

In total welfare benefits, housing advice and debt make up 70% of the work of the service. Generally, those experiencing debt are the people who will need the face-to-face support, due to the complexity of the issues and most will fall into the vulnerable category.

 

The Chief Executive went on to highlight funding for their debt advice.  There are currently 2 funders:

 

Department for Work & Pensions are a historic funder of this work locally and nationally.  It was explained the contract for the Money & Pension Service is due to  ...  view the full minutes text for item 118.

119.

Consideration Of The Forward Plan pdf icon PDF 209 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Chair advised that Democratic Services would be looking to review the format of the current Forward Plan design.

 

Chair confirmed the future meeting dates and highlighted the date change for the next Committee to 9th February, this was so partners from Health could attend.

 

Democratic Services stated they had received confirmation that the people attending from Health on the  9th February will be able to cover the queries raised by members and  would also be raising awareness of the Our Future Hospitals Programme. It was agreed that Democratic Services will query if Dental Provision could also be covered. 

 

The Committee in April was discussed, and it was agreed that Democratic Services would work with the Chair to confirm who will attend from South West Water and the Environment Agency and firm up the focus of the meeting. 

 

Following discussion regarding a Letter from Mid-Devon. It was agreed that Councillor Manley would contact the Chair of Mid-Devon Scrutiny Committee for more detail. It was queried if this request should be put forward to the Local Plan group or the Climate Change Working Group.

 

Chair highlighted a letter from Natural Devon, and it was agreed to invite representatives from Natural Devon to attend the Committee on 01 June 2022.

 

Chair thanked members for attending and closed the meeting.