Venue: Open Area, Lampton Park Conference Centre, (Civic Centre), Lampton Road, Hounslow. View directions
Contact: Joti Patel Email: email@example.com 020 8583 3356
Apologies for Absence and Communications from members
Apologies were noted from members and officers.
The minutes of the meeting of 14th June were agreed as an accurate record and signed by the Chair subject to the following correction:
Page 1: Amend Safety Hounslow to SpeakOut Hounslow as the organisation represented by Sharon Birch.
Page 2 – Information written on the back of cheque payments for Blue Badge applications.
There was a further discussion, following enquiries made by Celia Golden, about the need for personal information to be written on the back of cheques in payment of blue badge applications.
Clarification for this requirement to be provided by the next meeting date.
Melanie Gadd to reply to John Beattie by e-mail as he only received half of the message left by Celia on the telephone.
(Cllr Collins arrived at 6.40pm)
Cllr Collins commented on the amount of enquiries since the issuing of blue badges had transferred to Northgate and that blue badge holders continued to get tickets whilst parked in residents’ bays in spite of the policy change advised by Steve Prince, Head of Parking Services, at the last meeting. The Chair said that this item could be discussed further in the Open Forum.
Housing Welfare Reform
Jack Dempsey - Head of Housing Options and Solutions
Presentation by Jack Dempsey, Head of Housing Options & Solutions
From his presentation Jack Dempsey made the following points:
ê The Welfare Reform Act received royal ascent on 8th March 2012 and was the biggest change in welfare benefits for some time.
ê A new universal benefit will be introduced from April 2013.
ê From April 2013 the amount of benefit received will be reduced to defined limits of no more than £500.00 for couples and £350.00 for singles.
ê The key date is April 2013
ê Disability Living Allowance and Attendance Allowance Benefits will not be affected by the change as they will be considered “passport benefits” not included in any cap.
ê The new system would be simpler to administer and simpler to apply online
ê Benefits would be paid monthly to help budget more effectively
ê Council tax support would be administered under a new social fund administered locally.
ê Housing Benefit payments will be migrated to the new universal credit system between 2014 and 2017.
ê Housing benefit would no longer by paid direct to landlords
ê Any consultation taking place on the local welfare scheme to replace the community care grant would be notified to Celia Golden.
In reply to questions asked Jack Dempsey gave the following response:
ê There would be no payment of rent direct to the landlord for vulnerable persons as any housing benefit element formed part of the universal payment.
ê Disability Living Allowance (DLA) and Attendance Allowance (AA) would continue to be administered by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).
ê The different indexes used for the increase of benefit payments and the increase of market rents would be kept reviewed locally and by central government but it was difficult to comment on the effect of any differential over the long term.
ê The Community Care Grant will end in March 2013 and from the 1st April 2013 the Council would be responsible for devising a new welfare scheme to replace it.
ê The Disability Network Hounslow would be carrying out a consultation for the Council on 24th October 2012 at The Star Centre, Bell Road, Hounslow, on the replacement scheme for the Community Care Grant. Names of those interested in attending will be taken during the break as spaces were limited.
ê Housing benefit payments would be reduced by 14% for 1 bedroom and 25% if renting a large under-occupied property.
Forum members were very concerned about how vulnerable groups would manage payment of rent and bills. The Chair said that the Council was directed by Central Government and there were currently no ways or means to minimise the impact. The Council would look at ways to manage this locally. There would be some very difficult decisions for the Council and Children’s Teams.
i. Invite representative from the DWP to a future meeting to explain the mechanics of the new welfare reform.
ii. DNH report feedback from consultation to Council and copy report to ... view the full minutes text for item 13.
Shop Front Design Guidelines
Julia Worboys - Team Leader, Planning Policy
Molly Perman – Principal Planning Officer
The Chair welcomed Julia Worboys and Molly Perman, representatives from the Planning Department to the Forum to give a presentation on the current consultation to revise Shop Front Design Guidelines.
Molly Perman explained that the guidance had not been revised since 1992 and the Planning Department were seeking the views of the disabled community to update and promote best practice in any new guidance. This would be used in all minor or major planning applications.
Forum members were encouraged to complete the consultation questionnaire and give their views on problems faced when accessing shops and obstructive street furniture. Disability issues would be included in a revised Shop Front Design Guide that would accompany any future planning applications.
The new guidance would be available from January 2013
i. Forum members were asked to take part in the consultation which ended on 19th October 2012 to ensure disability issues were incorporated in the new guidance.
Delivering Equalities Through Peer Projects
John Seear – Disability Network, Hounslow
Frank Anti – Project Co-ordinator, London Borough of Harrow
The Chair welcomed Frank Anti and John Seears who gave a presentation on the Delivering Equalities Through Peer Projects.
Frank Anti clarified that he worked for a voluntary organisation, Harrow Equalities Centre, funded by the local authority and he was the Project Co-ordinator. He had over 20 years experience and lived in South London.
From their presentation, Frank Anti and John Seears made the following points:
ê They both sit on the Equalities Peer to Peer Support Project Board which meets once very 2 months.
ê Ealing Community and Voluntary Service led a bid to deliver cross-borough projects in five west London boroughs over 18 months to September 2013. The bid called “West London Collaborating for Change” secured a grant of £965,000.
ê The aim of the project was to provide one to one and online advice, model equalities documents and training to the voluntary sector.
ê To provide dedicated training and support to grassroots equalities groups across west London.
ê To strengthen cross-borough partnership working by specialist equalities support organisations.
ê Project partners included:
Disability Network Hounslow
Disablement Association Hillingdon (DASH)
Refugees in Effective and Active Partnership (REAP)
Frank Anti highlighted progress to date which included:
ê Raised awareness at VCS events.
ê Delivered equalities training to VCS groups.
ê Embarked on a publicity and marketing campaign.
ê Met with equalities groups to assess needs.
And the next steps in the project including:
ê Continue capacity-building work with equalities groups.
ê Broaden equalities training to more VCS groups.
ê Review the needs and requirements of groups.
ê Finalise work on an equalities toolkit.
He advised members that further information on the project could be found at the following:
ê Hounslow Community Network General Meeting on 13 November, 2012
ê Launch on the West London Network website, end of October, 2012. www.westlondonnetwork.org.uk
ê firstname.lastname@example.org 020 8427 6504
Frank Anti told forum members what they could do to help:
ê Help raise awareness of the project.
ê Signpost equality groups who require support to improve their services.
ê Encourage voluntary organisations to take advantage of equality training.
The Chair thanked Frank Anti and John Seears for their presentation.
John Seears said that Disability Network Hounslow was delighted to be part of the project and suggested more funding to understand hate crimes. Disability hate crimes had increased widely and people were more afraid to go out.
The Chair commented that the voluntary sector now had a more important role in society and welcomed any initiative the strengthened these organisations.
Fairer Financial Contribution Consultation
The Chair encouraged members to participate in the consultation. Details of the proposals had been circulated during the break for feedback.
The meeting reconvened at 8.40pm
The Chair opened the floor to forum members to discuss disability issues.
The Chair updated members on a response from Parking Services regarding the need to write personal information on the back of a cheque when making payment for an approved application.
Payment was not required until you had been notified that your application had been approved.
To match your payment to the application, some personal information was asked for on the back of cheques if not paying by debit/credit card.
It would be possible to identify the application if your unique SIDEM number – it would be on your confirmation of approval letter - was written on the back of cheque payments if members were not comfortable with writing personal details.
A matter was also raised regarding the time taken for processing applications/renewals where it was established that the person was automatically entitled to a blue badge because of a permanent disability.
The Chair explained that there were issues with embedding processes with the new company and Parking Services would keep Celia informed of any progress.
Car Park Access
A request was made for access to the members car park to enable forum attendees to access the conference centre quickly. It was also noted that the pathway was not well lit from the public car park to the entrance.
Celia will check with security whether the barrier to the Members car park could be raised to allow access to Community Transport to drop off attendees.
Easy Read Agendas
A request was made for the Disability Community Forum agenda and presentation to be available in easy read format.
It was noted that this may not be possible for presentations but would be looked at for the Agenda.
High Kerbside – Flanders Road, Chiswick
A member raised the issue of the high kerbsides in Flanders Road, Chiswick that was causing difficulties for disabled residents and wheelchair users. There was also a new housing association located at Mulliner House which was frequently visited by people with disability issues.
It was suggested that forum members could attend their local Area Ward Forum and raise the issue. There was also a new private finance initiative recently approved to restore and maintain highways and pavements.
An issue was raised regarding safety on the streets and the quality of lighting on some streets.
The Chair confirmed that Sgt Al-Hashmi would feed any safety concerns back to Local Neighbourhood officers.
It was also suggested that members might wish to attend their local Area Ward Forums where local concerns could be raised directly with Ward Councillors.
For reference a table of dates for future Ward Forums would be circulated at the next meeting. Information regarding Ward Forums and dates could also be found in the Hounslow Matters and online.
The Chair thanked everybody for attending today and looked forward to seeing everybody at the next meeting.
Date of Next Meeting
11th December 2012
Future items for consideration
The date of the next meeting was confirmed as Tuesday 11th December 2012 and suggested items included:
A highways representative to discuss enforcement issues and pavements.
A representative to discuss the impact of the new benefits system on the disabled community.
Any other business which the Chair agrees to consider on the grounds of urgency.
There was no urgent business.