Agenda and minutes

Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) - Thursday, 14th January, 2021 10.30 am

Venue: Civic Hall, Leeds, LS1 1UR

Contact: Becky Atherton (0113 37 88642)  Email:

Link: to View Meeting Recording

No. Item


Appeals Against Refusal of Inspection of Documents

To consider any appeals in accordance with Procedure Rule 25* of the Access to Information Procedure Rules (in the event of an Appeal the press and public will be excluded).


(* In accordance with Procedure Rule 25, notice of an appeal must be received in writing by the Head of Governance Services at least 24 hours before the meeting).


There were no appeals.



Exempt Information - Possible Exclusion of the Press and Public

1.  To highlight reports or appendices which officers have identified as containing exempt information, and where officers consider that the public interest in maintaining the exemption outweighs the public interest in disclosing the information, for the reasons outlined in the report.


2.  To consider whether or not to accept the officers recommendation in respect of the above information.


3.  If so, to formally pass the following resolution:-


RESOLVED – That the press and public be excluded from the meeting during consideration of the following parts of the agenda designated as containing exempt information on the grounds that it is likely, in view of the nature of the business to be transacted or the nature of the proceedings, that if members of the press and public were present there would be disclosure to them of exempt information, as follows:


No exempt items have been identified.


There was no exempt information.



Late Items


To identify items which have been admitted to the agenda by the Chair for consideration.


(The special circumstances shall be specified in the minutes.)


There were no late items.



Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

To disclose or draw attention to any disclosable pecuniary interests for the purposes of Section 31 of the Localism Act 2011 and paragraphs 13-16 of the Members’ Code of Conduct.


There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests.



Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitutes

To receive any apologies for absence and notification of substitutes.


Apologies of absence were submitted on behalf of Councillor M Dobson.



Minutes - 12 November 2020 and 2 December 2020 pdf icon PDF 167 KB

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meetings held on 12 November and 2 December 2020.

Additional documents:


RESOLVED – That the minutes of the meetings held 12th November 2020 and 2nd December 2020, be confirmed as an accurate record.



Reducing Poverty and Improving Financial Inclusion pdf icon PDF 518 KB

To receive a report from the Chief Officer (Customer Access and Welfare), which includes an update on the position regarding the local roll out of universal credit.


The report of the Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare, provided the Board with an update on work undertaken by Leeds City Council and partners to reduce poverty and improve financial inclusion, with the particular focus on the implementation and impact of Universal Credit.


The following were in attendance for this item:

o  Councillor Coupar, Executive Member for Communities

o  James Rogers, Director Communities and Environment

o  Lee Hemsworth, Chief Officer Customer Access and Welfare

o  Jo Rowlands, Financial Inclusion Manager

o  Kevin Bruce, Service Manager

o  Nick Hart, Deputy Head Customer Contact

o  Simon Betts, DWP

o  Rebecca Owens, DWP

o  Dianne Lyons & Marilyn Bannister, Leeds CAB

o  Nick Morgan, Chapeltown CAB

o  Saleem Shafi & Sylvia Simpson, Money Buddies

o  Chris Smyth, Leeds Credit Union


The Chief Officer (Customer Access & Welfare) introduced the report and delivered a PowerPoint presentation alongside the Partnership Manager (DWP), Service Manager (LCC), and the Chief Executive (Leeds CAB) which provided an overview of:

·  Key statistics relating to poverty in Leeds prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, and since March 2020, with initial increase in inequalities across communities;

·  COVID-19 Response including the establishment of partnerships and a snapshot of key activities including the Covid-19 Helpline, LWSS Food and Warehouse, Council Tax Hardship Payments, Leeds Credit Union Branch accessibility and Leeds Money Information Centre website;

·  DWP national and local update and key changes to the service during the pandemic;

·  Housing Leeds update including key statistics relating to Leeds Housing tenants moving into UC full service, the co-location arrangements with DWP to establish strong relationships, the 3 tier service Housing Leeds use to provide support to tenants during the early stages of a UC claim and an overview of the DWP Landlord portal;

·  Citizens Advice Partner update including the impact of Covid-19 and the additional pressures on low income households, key data in relation to the types of enquiries with an initial rise in enquiries related to Welfare Benefits and UC. Issues in terms of financial hardship, digital exclusion, unemployment and the impact of temporary interventions coming to an end;

·  Key issues that still remain in terms of the capacity to access benefits, the 5 week wait for UC payment, the need for wider support, claimants having fluctuating financial circumstances as a result of the pandemic and claimants being wrongly advised to claim for UC rather than legacy benefits.


Representatives from Money Buddies provided Members with an insight into the experience of UC claimants, particularly those impacted by Covid-19. Members heard there had been no barriers with partnership working across the city, and Money Buddies are now providing emergency debt advice. Concerns were raised in relation to mental health, the demand on services and the level of debt for clients has increased by 20% in comparison to 2019.


A representative from the Leeds Credit Union informed the Board that 4 branches across Leeds had remained open and services continued, noting a large increase in emergency welfare payments. It was noted that an online banking application had been introduced  ...  view the full minutes text for item 76.


Best Council Plan Performance Report Quarter 2 2020/21 pdf icon PDF 371 KB

To consider the report of the Director of Resources and Housing and the Director of Communities and Environment, which presents a summary of 2020/21 Quarter 2 performance data and provides an update on progress in delivering the relevant priorities in the Best Council Plan.

Additional documents:


The report of the Director of Resources and Housing and the Director of Communities and Environment, provided the Board with a summary of 2020/21 Quarter 2 performance data and provides an update on progress in delivering the relevant priorities in the Best Council Plan 2020 to 2025. The report provides the Board with an overview of the relevant Environment, Housing and Communities performance relating to the Best Council Plan, enabling the Board to consider and challenge the council’s performance.


Appended to the report included a summary of:

o  Quarter 2 performance data relating to Housing priorities (Appendix 1)

o  Indicators relating to Community Safety (Appendix 2)

o  Indicators relating to Waste and Environmental priorities (Appendix 3)


The following were in attendance for this item:

o  Councillor Coupar, Executive Member for Communities

o  Councillor Rafique, Executive Member for Environment and Active Lifestyles

o  James Rogers, Director of Communities and Environment

o  Neil Evans, Director of Resources and Housing

o  Gerard Tinsdale, Chief Officer Housing


The Board discussed the exploration of free parking in the city centre, discounted private parking, and public transport services; considerations around encouraging footfall and revenue into the city centre. The Director of Communities and Environment confirmed that parking was constantly under review and explained that free parking was initially introduced to support NHS and Social Care  staff to undertake their duties effectively. It was confirmed that a permit scheme for those workers had now been implemented, and there would be a number of factors to take into account if we were to consider free parking for everybody, the key challenges being congestion in the city centre, and budgetary implications.


RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report, as well as Appendices 1 – 3



Initial Budget Proposals & Financial Health Monitoring pdf icon PDF 145 KB

To consider the outline budget proposals for 2021/22 as required by the Council’s budget and policy framework.


Also appended to this item is financial monitoring information as at Month 7 of 2020/21 (October), and as reported to Executive Board in December 2020.

Additional documents:


The report of the Head of Democratic Services provided the Scrutiny Board (Environment, Housing and Communities) with the Executive Board’s initial budget proposals for 2021/22 for consideration, review and comment on matters and proposals relating to service areas that fall within the Scrutiny Board’s remit.


The Executive Board’s initial budget proposals report for 2021/22, considered at its meeting on 16 December 2020, had been appended to the report for consideration. The report set out the initial budget proposals for 2021/22, within the context of the Medium Term Financial Strategy, the Spending Review 2020, and proposed budget savings reports. The report details a further 5.2m of potential savings that were approved at Executive Board in December, and subsequently submitted for wider consultation with stakeholders.


The following were in attendance for this item:

o  Councillor Coupar, Executive Member for Communities

o  James Roger, Director of Communities and Environment

o  Neil Evans, Director of Resources and Housing

o  Michal Everitt, Head of Finance

o  Kevin Mulvaney, Head of Finance


The Board discussed the following matters:

·  Activities such as bowls being recognised by Get Set Leeds –a Member recognised bowls as a competitive sport, and engaged elderly people as well as other age groups. It was noted that consultation ‘phase 2’ was ongoing and comments in relation to this sport had been noted and would be fed into the consultation;

·  Concerns around the design and wording of the consultation document – it was noted that people are provided with the opportunity to put forward their broader comments and opinions, and these would be considered.


The Director of Resources and Housing explained that a settlement from Government had been received prior to Christmas, and had reduced the gap by 27 million. Of that 27 million, 9.9 million related to the ability to raise an Adult Social Care precept through Council Tax, thus increasing the amount of local funding used to fund Adult Social Care. Additionally, a series of asset sales would be considered. A shortfall of a few million in the previous budget had been presented to tackle before the February budget.


The Chair thanked officers for their contributions and also acknowledged the ongoing work to agree various budget proposals.


RESOLVED – To note the contents of the report and relevant information contained within the appended Executive Board report.



Work Schedule pdf icon PDF 155 KB

To consider the Scrutiny Board’s work schedule for the 2020/21 municipal year.

Additional documents:


The report of the Head of Democratic Services submitted a report that invited Members to consider the Board’s Work Schedule for the remainder of the current municipal year. Copies of the Board’s draft work schedule were appended to the report, the remote minutes of the Executive Board meetings held on 18 November, 24 November and 16 December 2020.


The Principle Scrutiny Adviser introduced the report and highlighted the possibility of an additional meeting in April 2021.


Members discussed the items on the upcoming work schedule, including:

·  To include an update on high-rise buildings when considering the item on Fuel Poverty / Energy Efficiency in Council Housing Stock / Carbon reduction in the Private Rented Sector;

·  An upcoming working group which will further explore the anti-social use of fireworks locally and regionally.


RESOLVED – That the work schedule for the remainder of the municipal year be noted.



Date and Time of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the Board will take place on 25 February 2021 at 10.30am. There will be a pre-meeting for all Board members at 10.00am.


To note the date and time of the next meeting as 25 February 2021 at 10.30 am.


(The meeting concluded at 12:35 pm.)