Decision status: Recommendations Approved
Is Key decision?: Yes
Is subject to call in?: No
(1) the allocation of the Household Support Fund as set out in the officer report and specifically the Council Tax Support (CTS) and Emergency Accommodation (EA) options be approved as follows:
a. For CTS, the Working Age households’ option at £40 to be paid in one instalment;
b. For EA, the Household with Children option at £36 per month for the time of the grant.
(2) the Household Support Fund Policy set out in Appendix 1 to the officer report, be approved;
(3) the Corporate Director of Resources, following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance & Resources, be authorised to make minor changes to the scheme and to manage the small reserve of £32,399.78;
(4) the purchase of vouchers for elements identified in the officer report relating to Council Tax Support, Emergency Accommodation and the Emergency Support Scheme, through a compliant procurement route be approved; and
(5) the Corporate Director Resources, following consultation with the Portfolio Holder for Finance & Resources be authorised to (1) finalise and make decisions on any issues pertaining to the HSF and (2) award a contract for the purchase of the vouchers that the Council will directly administer.
Reasons: The recommendations meet the criteria as set out by Department for Work and Pensions (DWP). Those criteria provide broad discretion with a focus for 50% of the scheme on families with children. The Council had considered from the limited data available where best to focus the funding. The proposals provided a spectrum of support together with focus so that the funding was not spread too thinly. The proposal eligibility criteria cover the following:
· Free school meals and Council tax support which have historically been found to provide effective support to vulnerable families;
· Harrow’s Community Hub support. This is a joint venture with the community and voluntary sector, which is effective in providing essential food support quickly to vulnerable residents;
· Emergency accommodation and general support to help stop vulnerable people spiralling into acute difficulties following a critical one-off event; and
· Administration support which included enlisting the aid of Citizens Advice Harrow (CAH) to act as the main referral route into the emergency support scheme. If CAH know the history of the household, they can screen clients for eligibility before referring on to the Council.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected: As set out in the report.
Conflict of Interest relating to the matter declared by Cabinet Member/Dispensation Granted: None.
[The Chair of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee has waived call-in of these decisions for the reasons set out in the published notice.]
Report author: Charlie Stewart
Publication date: 19/11/2021
Date of decision: 18/11/2021
Decided at meeting: 18/11/2021 - Cabinet