Agenda and minutes

Venue: Committee Room 'B' - The Diamond Jubilee Room, County Hall, Preston. View directions

Contact: Gary Halsall  Tel: 01772 536989, Email


No. Item




There were no apologies.


Disclosure of Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests

Members are asked to consider any Pecuniary and Non-Pecuniary Interests they may have to disclose to the meeting in relation to matters under consideration on the Agenda.


None were disclosed.


Minutes of the Meeting held on 21 January 2020 pdf icon PDF 297 KB


Resolved: That the minutes from the meeting held on 21 January 2020, be confirmed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair.



Universal Credit in Lancashire pdf icon PDF 136 KB

Additional documents:


The Chair welcomed to the meeting Amena Patel, Equality and Welfare Reform Transformation Project Lead and Universal Credit Help to Claim Best Practice Lead from Citizens Advice Rossendale and Hyndburn who presented an overview of the Universal Credit Help to Claim service. In addition Joanne Barker, Welfare Rights Manager, Welfare Rights Service, Lancashire County Council presented her findings and the impact of Universal Credit on Lancashire County Council services.


Members made the following comments in response to the presentation from Citizens Advice:


·  On access to computers it was suggested that Citizens Advice should link in with the county council's library service and provide 1:1 training sessions. Citizens Advice already provided light touch support and access to computers on site. In some cases they were able to access libraries, however it was felt there was an opportunity and the scope to improve the current offer for their clients.

·  It could take around two hours for Citizens Advice to support a client with complex needs in making a claim for Universal Credit. In one instance a claimant was unable to read or hold a conversation over the telephone. As such Citizens Advice had to make a non-digital claim for Universal Credit on behalf of the person. Subsequent correspondence from the DWP was in hard copy form.

·  Having a bank account was a necessity in order to claim Universal Credit. It was highlighted that setting up a bank account was a daunting issue for some people to manage. There was a distinct lack of traditional banking methods and basic bank accounts on offer from banks and related providers.

·  Advance payments were collected over the first twelve months and often left people in debt, as the payment was taken out of the standard allowance that was deemed appropriate to live on.

·  It was noted that the Help to Claim service was funded by the DWP. However, it was not known whether this funding would continue beyond April 2020. It was suggested that the committee should lobby central government to ensure the funding continued.


Members made the following comments in response to the presentation from the Welfare Rights Service:


·  It was noted that more social care staff were referring people into the Welfare Rights Service.

·  Some emerging problems included:

o  Families facing eviction because Universal Credit had been refused and because they had children they sought financial assistance from children's services through Section 17 [Children Act 1989] monies.

o  Adults who were discharged into Residential Care from hospitals and their placement being fully funded by the council, instead of being in the community with benefits in place.

·  On managing the frontline it was highlighted that staff in the Welfare Rights Service were not trained mental health specialists. However since the Welfare Rights Service had moved into the Public Health team, staff within the service had received suicide training and their own health and wellbeing was monitored.

·  Concern was raised in relation to adult aged offspring with low level or severe disabilities who were not known  ...  view the full minutes text for item 4.


Chair's update

Verbal report.


The committee was informed that the Chamber of Commerce had given its support on helping businesses go green with the recent launch of its Chamber Low Carbon programme. Further information was available on its website at:  


The Chair was awaiting receipt of written responses from the Cabinet Member for Technical Services, Rural Affairs and Waste Management on the recommendations of the Strengthening Flood Risk Management and Preparedness Task and Finish Group. The responses would be presented at the next scheduled meeting of the committee on 21 April 2020.


An informal meeting had been arranged with representatives from the Department for Work and Pensions to meet with the Chair and the support officer to discuss the principles of Universal Credit implementation. The outcome of this meeting would be reported to the External Scrutiny Committee at its April meeting.


Resolved: That the update be noted.


External Scrutiny Committee Work Plan 2019/20 pdf icon PDF 20 KB

Additional documents:


The report presented set out the External Scrutiny Committee's Work Programme for the municipal year 2019/20.


The Chair sought agreement from the committee to continue reviewing the three emerging themes of flood risk management, Universal Credit and carbon reduction into 2020/21.


Resolved: That


1.  The report be noted.


2.  The flood risk management, Universal Credit and carbon reduction work streams be carried over on to the External Scrutiny Committee's work programme for 2020/21.



Urgent Business

An item of urgent business may only be considered under this heading where, by reason of special circumstances to be recorded in the Minutes, the Chair of the meeting is of the opinion that the item should be considered at the meeting as a matter of urgency.  Wherever possible, the Chief Executive should be given advance warning of any Member’s intention to raise a matter under this heading.


There were no items of Urgent Business.


Date of Next Meeting

The next meeting of the External Scrutiny Committee will be held on Tuesday 21 April 2019 at 10.30am at County Hall, Preston.


The next meeting of the External Scrutiny Committee would take place on Tuesday 21 April 2020 at 10.00am in Cabinet Room B (The Diamond Jubilee Room) at the County Hall, Preston.