Agenda and minutes
Venue: Scaitcliffe House, Ormerod Street, Accrington. View directions
Contact: Fiona Goodfellow Housing and Regeneration (01254 380 195)
Welcome and Introduction
Hyndburn Borough Council
FG opened the meeting by welcoming everyone. Those present introduced themselves and the organisations they represented.
Updates - Asylum Seekers / Syrian Refugees
FG stated that at the last meeting Be-with-Us had just introduced online applications and were not accepting any further paper applications. Generally, feedback indicated the transition has gone well. Anyone experiencing problems in registering had been signposted to 1st Call Hyndburn who had assisted in this process.
FG explained that Hyndburn was now a dispersal area for Asylum Seekers and the Council had agreed as a pilot to take up to 20 Asylum Seekers in 5 properties. Hyndburn currently have 4 properties occupied with another property due to be made available soon. Very little information was known about service users but the Council was aware that two properties were occupied by families and two by single people. Normally there are 3 or 4 single people per property.
FG reported that she had met with Serco recently in order to improve day to day contact with their Housing Officers. FG also confirmed that she had addressed the issue of attendance at ‘drop ins’.
The Council is currently in discussions with Serco with a view to extending the pilot. Discussions are looking positive but this will not be until early in the New Year.
In addition, members will probably have heard about the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme. Again this is a programme that Lancashire County Council and local authorities within Lancashire have agreed to support.
Lancashire has made a pledge to resettle 500 refugees under the Syrian Refugee Resettlement Programme over the next 5 years. Hyndburn Borough Council has agreed to take part in year 3 of the 5 year programme which means Hyndburn will be receiving Syrian families during the 2018/19 financial year, between 5 and 10 households.
The first wave of families arrived in Lancashire at the beginning of September. These were resettled in four districts which included the Nelson and Colne area (Pendle), Leyland (South Ribble), Preston and Blackpool. A charter flight brought the refugees over where they were met at the airport and escorted to the respective boroughs where accommodation was waiting for them.
When the time arises Hyndburn will be expected to identify furnished properties and put all arrangements in place to support these families. There is quite a long lead in period due to the extensive work involved (hence why the Council is not committing for 2017) and the Council will be looking to partners to assist with the support.
Presentation and Q & A
FG then introduced Julie Harker from the Department of Work and Pensions (DWP) who had come along to talk about Universal Credit. This has been a topic of discussion at many of the Homeless Forums over the last twelve to eighteen months.
JH then gave a presentation on Universal Credit which is replacing the following five working age benefits delivered by the DWP:
· Housing Benefit
· Income related Employment and Support Allowance
· Working Tax Credits
· Income Support
· Child Tax Credit
· Income Based Job Seekers Allowance
A copy of the presentation is attached to these Minutes for your information.
Q. In terms of the job search and work control do you check on how genuine the search for employment is by the claimant as I have offered individuals opportunities for employment which have subsequently declined?
A If someone makes a claim to benefit and they are applying for vacancies through Universal Job Match, they give authority to the Work Coach to accept their Universal Job Match. The Work Coach can therefore view which jobs the claimant has applied for. A lot of claimants do job searches on smart phones and will therefore be receiving texts/emails informing them that they have been accepted for interview or otherwise. Work Coaches are strict on how they do assessments.
Q Where claimants are 8 weeks i.e. two calendar months in arrears, you used to be able to fill a form in and send this to Housing Benefit for direct payments to be arranged. How does this scenario work with Universal Credit? If someone is in arrears with their housing costs, how is it paid to the landlord?
A If a customer has gone onto Alternative Payment Arrangements because they are in arrears with their rent, a small deduction will be made from their personal allowance and will be paid direct to landlord with the amount of the housing costs until the arrears have been paid in full.
Q We are always encouraging young people to do something, for example further training, volunteering etc. How would that affect their claim to Universal Credit in respect of the 35 hours searching for employment?
A This would be taken into consideration as DWP encourage claimants to go on work experience which is normally up to four weeks with an employer. If the DWP are aware that the claimant is volunteering or training there is an easement on the job search.
Q I work in a volunteer management organisation where claimants are requiring evidence, is there anything we can complete to say that an individual in the last two weeks has done so many hours, these are the skills that they have developed and this is the training they have received etc.
A Yes, that would be good evidence to give to the Work Coach which can go on their claim commitment notes to say that the claimant has now achieved those skills.
If a claimant expresses a wish to volunteer and informs DWP that a particular ... view the full minutes text for item 3.
FG then introduced Deborah Clark from Community Solutions who had come along to explain about the work of Community Solutions and the various services and projects they deliver.
Community Solutions are based at Enfield Hall, Gatty Park, Accrington and their mission is to empower local people to meet local needs within the communities of Lancashire and beyond. Their main thrust is promoting inter-dependence, so people are not independent of people they are connected with their world but they are confident and have good self-esteem. Their vision is to transform the lives of 10,000 people in North West England in the next 10 years.
DC then gave a presentation which is attached to these Minutes for your information.
General CSNW referral forms and Winter Loneliness referral forms are also attached and can also be found on CSNW website www.csnw.co.uk
Reaching Communities Project
FG then asked Lucy Hardwick from Maundy Relief to explain about their new Reaching Communities Project called ‘MAPS’ (Maundy Advice and Psychological Services) which they recently secured Big Lottery funding to deliver for 3 years.
This is a mental health service which came about by Maundy exploring what they do in detail and concluding a common denominator existed between most of their service users which was poor mental health.
The new project is aimed at bringing together the services that Maundy already provide (counselling, giving advice, outreach and nurse services) in a more co-ordinated way and offering a better pathway through the services. Maundy will also be capturing more of the outcomes and journey.
This will be launched in the New Year but it is up and running now.
Rough Sleeper Estimate
FG stated that on night of Wednesday 16th November the Hyndburn rough sleeper estimate had taken place and anyone known to be sleeping rough had been counted.
Members of the Forum should have received an email with details on how the estimate was being undertaken along with a form for agencies to complete with information about individuals that agencies believe or know to have been sleeping rough.
FG requested agencies that had returns to submit to stay behind for a few minutes after the Forum to allow a verification process to take place. This was to ensure that those individuals who had been captured and who were sleeping rough were not double counted.
Post meeting note – following verification Hyndburn submitted a return of 2no people sleeping rough to DCLG.
Calico Floating Support
Calico funding for floating support will end in March 2017 but for the time being Calico are continuing to taking referrals.
1st Call Hyndburn
1st Call Hyndburn has now relocated within the Arndale Centre to Unit 20 (across from Oddies) which has given them four times the amount of space than the previous unit.
EE stated that 1st Call Hyndburn had just received funding for a two day employability mentor to work with young people between the ages of 16 to 25 for a period of three years. This was aimed at linking to social housing tenants. The target was to work with 48 young people individually and to encourage a further 24 into employment and training.
Visitors to 1st Call had increased dramatically to around 360 per month. 1st Call Hyndburn had also bid for further European funding to extend the service after the 31st March 2017.
Current services offered by 1st Call Hyndburn include:
· Money Management
· Household budgeting
· Online benefit forms and benefit calculator assistance
· Assistance applying for Blue Badges
· Assistance with Be-with-Us applications and bidding
· General housing advice
· Free internet access
· Local job advertisements on display
· Online Job Search and job application assistance
· Floating support drop-in (Thursday 11am – 1pm)
· Support with CV writing and cover letters
· Signposting to other support agencies
· Signposting to training course
· Information about volunteering opportunities
· Action for Dementia drop-in (Wednesday 11am – 2pm)
1st Call Hyndburn are open Monday – Friday 9.30am – 3.15pm and they can be contacted on 01254 238533.
SB explained that Emmaus was an international homeless charity made up of over 350 member organisations across the world with 28 communities spread across the UK. Emmaus can house up to 30 adults in on-suite accommodation at their property in Burnley.
The Emmaus charity supports people to work their way out of homelessness providing meaningful employment as well as a stable home for as long as someone needs it. Everyone at Emmaus works together and makes a contribution to their community. This restores self-esteem and helps companions (homeless people) to find a positive way to move on with their lives.
Companions who join Emmaus sign off all their benefits and do not claim any work based benefits at all. Emmaus claim Housing Benefit on their behalf the rest of the money Emmaus receives is earned through social enterprise.
Emmaus currently run a shop in the Arndale Centre, Accrington which generates much of the income required to support the Burnley charity.
At the moment there are rooms available in the Burnley property but this is not for everybody as some people do not want to sign off their benefits and to try and work. Also living with 30 other people is quite a challenge.
Emmaus is alcohol and drug free however providing people are receiving external support to overcome their addiction this is not an issue for Emmaus. The aim of the charity is to make a difference to someones life. ... view the full minutes text for item 7.
Date of Meetings for 2017
Thursday 2nd March at 2.00pm
Wednesday 12th July at 10.00am
Tuesday 21st November at 2.00pm
All at Scaitcliffe House, Accrington
Thursday 9th March at 2.00pm
Wednesday 12th July at 10.00am
Tuesday 21st November at 2.00pm
All at Scaitcliffe House, Accrington