Members will receive a presentation.
(7.50 – 8.30)
Councillor Birsen Demirel (Chair) invited Fay Hammond (Executive Director – Resources) to introduce the presentation to Members on the “Impact of Covid on Performance” as set out in the presentation slides previously circulated to the Panel.
Members noted that whilst there had been changes in service delivery during the pandemic the Council had remained open for business and had reacted positively and robustly; and, the increased use of technology had been significant. Changes in delivery had included increased customer contact through the telephone and website with the necessary reduction in face to face contact. The excellent work of “Enfield Stands Together” was highlighted which had provided support to vulnerable residents through the delivery of approximately 40,000 food packages, telephone calls, prescription collections and other support services. The Council had performed well and many Council officers had been redeployed to meet the new demands and had worked closely with volunteers.
The behaviour of Council customers had changed, and there had been an increase in online activity and web chat enquiries. The information circulated to Members in advance of the meeting set out the impact on performance and service provision.
Councillor Demirel took this opportunity to praise the Council’s excellent response to the pandemic and was proud of the work that had been achieved through “Enfield Stands Together”. Residents had been very appreciative of the support provided. These were challenging and unprecedented times. Councillor Demirel expressed her thanks and appreciation to all those who had been involved.
Members were invited to raise any questions on the information provided, as summarised in the minutes below.
1. Members questioned why the Public Health grant received by Enfield was lower than that received by other comparable local authorities and stressed the need for lobbying of Government to continue. In response Members were advised of the historical basis of the funding and transference from the NHS to Local Government and the complex historical basis of the funding levels received. Lobbying was continuing and the needs of the Borough were clearly evident.
2. It was noted that approximately 80% of Council staff were working from home, Members questioned the impact on staff and any pressures created through the current working from home arrangements. Members asked what support was being made available for staff at this time. In response, Members were advised of the steps being taken by the Council’s management team to support staff through increased communication and seeking to ensure that they had the required resources available to them. It was further noted that the level of staff sickness due to stress had reduced which may be as a result of a better work/life balance for staff.
3. The impact on staff was discussed and the mental pressures on individuals during the pandemic was recognised including the loss of interpersonal connections with others in the normal working environment. The impact on younger members of staff living in shared accommodation was noted. There were approximately 20% of staff working in Council buildings at any one time. Where circumstances required, staff were given an opportunity to work in a council building on a rota basis. Any members of staff who had difficulty in working from home were asked to raise this with their manager and appropriate action would be taken to support the staff involved. It was noted that staff sickness levels had not increased.
4. The additional pressures arising from the second lockdown and ongoing issues from the pandemic were highlighted and discussed. Additional work being undertaken included support to businesses and the implementation of the Government’s grant allocations; increased cleaning regimes; identifying forthcoming vaccination centres; and, continuing to seek to purchase properties in a difficult housing market to reduce the use of temporary accommodation. In addition, pressures had arisen in several areas including an increase in cases of domestic violence and anti-social behaviour. Close monitoring would continue on all Council performance indicators with quarterly monitoring reports being produced.
5. Members were pleased to note that the Government had recently allocated £9m to Enfield to help tackle homelessness in the Borough. Members were advised how it was proposed to use the funding received with approximately £6m of capital funding and £3m of revenue funding which would support the purchase of properties and the provision of necessary support services. An update would be presented to Members in due course. The funding was at the level requested to deal with current needs although it was recognised that current pressures could increase.
6. Members sought information on the support that was being provided in relation to mental health issues experienced by vulnerable children and their carers. It was explained that Enfield had recently been voluntarily inspected by the CQC and Ofsted to assess the health and children’s services being provided at this time. This assurance visit had been positive on the support that the Council was providing to young people at this time.
7. Members were pleased to note that the Council had not seen an increase in acute mental health referrals during this period. A range of online support services were being provided and the work of “Enfield Thrives Together” was explained, with support being provided by a range of service providers including the Council, health providers and the voluntary sector.
8. In conclusion, Councillor Demirel (Chair) thanked Members and Officers for their contributions and the detailed information that had been provided. The Council had reacted positively during the pandemic and a good foundation had been established on which to continue to support residents in the Borough.