Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Jeffrey Room, The Guildhall, St. Giles Square, Northampton, NN1 1DE. View directions

No. Item


Declarations of Interest

Members to state any interests.


There were none.


Deputations and Public Addresses

The Chair to note public address requests.


The public can speak on any agenda item for a maximum of three minutes per speaker per item.  You are not required to register your intention to speak in advance but should arrive at the meeting a few minutes early, complete a Public Address Protocol and notify the Scrutiny Officer of your intention to speak


There were none.


Witness Evidence pdf icon PDF 80 KB


The Scrutiny Panel to receive a response to its core questions from a number of key expert advisors:


·         Chief Executive, Northamptonshire Citizen Advice Bureau

·         Chief Executive, Community Law

·         Director, RESTORE

·         Partnership Manager, Department of Work and Pensions



The Scrutiny Panel to receive written responses to its core questions from a number of key expert advisors:


Ø    Community and Voluntary Sector

Ø    Child Poverty Action Group



Additional documents:


Sarah Hayle, Community Law Manager and Julie Silver, Chief Executive, Community Law, presented the salient points of their written report. Julie Silver circulated a further report on statistics, a copy of which is attached to the minutes. Julie Silver and Sarah Hayle highlighted the following:


·         The organisation will only refer someone to a food bank if they are engaging with Community Law

·         Community Law attends Emmanuel Church fortnightly which is very successful as they have provided a case work service for 52 people

·         There is a range of reasons why people visit food banks

·         Investment in advice is very positive in addressing food poverty; there is a massive need for advice around debt management

·         The introduction of Universal Credit has in many cases led to people having very little money to live on

·         The representatives from Community Law commented that the reduction in grants to Community Law has impacted on its service.  A two hour drop in session with Community Law costs £150.  The Panel requested details of costings to be forwarded to the Chair.  A discussion ensued regarding the rent that Community Law and CAB pay for the space in the One Stop Shop at the Guildhall


The Scrutiny Panel made comments, asked questions and heard:


·         Universal Credit was being rolled out nationally and was replacing all working age means tested benefits; it is a monthly benefit for the claimant, partner and children

·         There have been various elements of Universal Credit that were amended by DWP if they were unable to work

·         Claimants are notified 7 days before they are paid of the amount that will be paid to them

·         Deductions can take a large part of their payment and often claimants are not aware of this

·         Often, people have difficulties budgeting for an entire month

·         Universal Credit has impacted on housing arrears

·         The “Bedroom Tax” has impacted people too

·         Statistics can be reviewed however a broad range of debt can be seen i.e. 6% for age 17-24, 34% for age 35-49 and 27% for age 50-65

·         More women come to Community Law for advice than men

Sarah Hayle confirmed that Community Law would provide case studies also and the impact of the advice provided to the Scrutiny Panel

·         Universal Credit can change month by month for some people as it works on a monthly assessment basis however people are not notified of deductions in advance;  An example was provided:  a single man, who is a homeowner, receiving Universal Credit since March 2019 and should have been getting help with the mortgage; but due to admin error this didn’t happen, he was now at risk of repossession as Universal Credit0 took the maximum 40% for a fine and Council Tax arrears which left him with £180 per month.  Universal Credit works on a calendar month basis so is affected by any income in that calendar month which makes budgeting difficult

·         The Scrutiny Panel requested that the costs were broken down and provided to them

·         Community Law and NPH have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 3.


Relevant Legislation pdf icon PDF 87 KB

The Scrutiny Panel to receive a briefing note detailing relevant Legislation to this Scrutiny Review


The briefing note detailing the summary of  the Child Poverty Act 2010 as reported in the House of Commons Library was noted.


AGREED:      That the information provided informs the evidence base of this Scrutiny Review.





The meeting concluded at 19:41 hours