Agenda and minutes

Cabinet Committee Equalities
Thursday, 9th March, 2017 10:00

Venue: Committee Rooms 2/3, Civic Offices Angel Street Bridgend CF31 4WB. View directions

Contact: Mr Mark Anthony Galvin  Senior Democratic Services Officer - Committees

Items
No. Item

6.

Apologies for Absence

To receive apologies for absence from Members. 

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from the following Members:

 

Councillor N Clarke

Councillor HJ David – Other Council Business

Councillor M Gregory

Councillor D Sage

Councillor CE Smith – Other Council Business

Councillor M Thomas

7.

Councillor M Butcher

Minutes:

The Chairperson announced that this was the first meeting of the Committee following the recent passing of Councillor Butcher who would be sorely missed for her contribution made to the work of the Committee. 

8.

Declarations of Interest

To receive declarations of personal and prejudicial interest (if any) from Members/Officers in accordance with the provisions of the Members’ Code of Conduct adopted by Council from 1 September 2008

Minutes:

None.

9.

Approval of Minutes pdf icon PDF 54 KB

To receive for approval the Minutes of a meeting of the Cabinet Equalities Committee dated 10 November 2016.

Minutes:

RESOLVED:            That the minutes of the meeting of the Cabinet Committee Equalities of 10 November 2016 be approved as a true and accurate record.

10.

Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

The Senior Strategy Officer – Housing and Community Regeneration provided an overview on the progress of the UK Government Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme in the County Borough of Bridgend.  He stated that the UK Government is committed to resettling 20,000 Syrian refugees during the lifetime of this Parliament, with the number of refugees likely to be received in Wales increasing from 1,500 up to 1,800 over the Scheme. 

 

The Senior Strategy Officer – Housing and Community Regeneration informed the Committee that Cabinet at its meeting on 5 July 2016 had approved the Council’s participation in phase 2 of the Scheme.  The Council had procured the Welsh Refugee Council to provide support to refugee families and he outlined the support which would be given to support the families.  He stated that the families which had settled in Bridgend had been housed by Cartrefi Hafod who had been awarded the contract for the provision of housing management and who had experience in managing Syrian refugees in other local authorities and had the resources to assist with a variety of tenancy issues.               

 

The Senior Strategy Officer – Housing and Community Regeneration informed the Committee that to date, 2 Syrian families had been resettled in the County Borough, with the first family arriving in November 2016, with the second family arriving in February 2017.  A third family would be arriving in the County Borough during this month and a further 3 families arriving in the months that follow.  Six families would be resettled in the County Borough by June 2017.  A report would be submitted to a future meeting of Cabinet on proposals to resettle further families.  He informed the Committee the families already resettled were settling in well in the County Borough having good housing support and the children attending local schools with support from an Arabic speaking Learning Support Officer.  The families’ religion is Sunni and they attend the mosque in Aberkenfig.  To date, 294 people had resettled in Wales and 4,400 resettled in the UK which would be increasing to 20,000 during the lifetime of this Parliament.     

 

The Committee questioned whether the authority had been a quota for resettling families.  The Senior Strategy Officer – Housing and Community Regeneration informed the Committee that the Home Office had not given authorities for the resettling of families and that the numbers were determined based on the availability of housing, school spaces and health care.  He stated that Bridgend’s population accounts for 4.5% of the population of the whole of Wales and the authority could resettle up to 84 people.  The Committee requested that the future Cabinet report also outline the methodology for resettling families in the County Borough. 

 

The Committee referred to the rent allowance of £425 per month for 3 bedroom properties when the rental for such properties is approximately £575 per month and questioned how the shortfall would be met.  The Senior Strategy Officer – Housing and Community Regeneration informed the Committee that the housing allowance is just below £500  ...  view the full minutes text for item 10.

11.

Forward Work Programme 2017-2018 pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Equality Officer sought approval of the proposed Forward Work Programme for 2017-18.  He informed the Committee that the report on the Syrian Vulnerable Persons Relocation Scheme had replaced the proposed item on the Gypsy and Traveler Community in Bridgend as difficulties had been encountered in getting a representative from that community to attend Committee. 

 

RESOLVED:           That the Cabinet Equalities Committee approved the proposed Forward Work Programme 2017-18 and that an additional meeting of the Committee be arranged to take place in December / January.   

12.

Update Report on Implementation of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and Welsh Language Standards pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Equality Officer reported on a update on the implementation of the Welsh Language (Wales) Measure 2011 and the Welsh Language

Standards. 

 

He informed the Committee that the Authority had received its final compliance notice on 30 September 2015 and had since been working to determine the issues and challenges involved in implementing the 171 standards assigned to the Council.  The Council had continued to work towards compliance with the standards and he summarised the progress which had been made.  He stated that a decision was awaited from the Welsh Language Commissioner on the ten standards appealed in March 2016 and the eight standards appealed in September 2016. 

 

The Committee in supporting the Welsh Language was concerned about the recurrent budget pressure and costs of implementing the Welsh Language Standards and that a common sense approach needed to be adopted. 

 

The Committee questioned whether candidates for positions with the authority were asked to express their language of preference for interview.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that the authority would not know the language of preference new job applicants, but is developing a Customer Relationship Management System (CRM) data base in order to collect information on language preference of citizens.  He also informed the Committee that the Minister for Lifelong Learning was producing a White Paper revisiting the Standards as the general consensus is that the Standards were not doing what they were intended to do.  The Committee questioned whether there had been an increase in the number of people speaking Welsh since the introduction of the Standards.  The Equality Officer explained that this would not be known until the results of the 2021 Census were known.  He stated that the Welsh Government’s Welsh Language Strategy included a target to increase the number of Welsh speakers to 1 million by 2050. 

 

A member of the Committee stated that she had recently heard some innovative ideas for the teaching of Welsh from teachers.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that there was a need for a piece of work to be done as there is evidence of parents taking their children out of Welsh medium education by the time they go to secondary school education.  One possible reason could be that parents may not feel confident that their Welsh language skills put them in in a position to support their child with homework at secondary level but are able to do so at primary school level.  The Committee also considered there may not be resources to provide SEN for pupils with ALN through Welsh medium education.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that a bilingual leaflet promoting Welsh medium education was being produced by the Welsh in Education Strategic Plan working group and would be ready for distribution at the Urdd Eisteddfod.  The Committee considered there was anecdotal evidence of pupils leaving Welsh medium education and whether exit surveys were conducted to ascertain the reason why pupils had left Welsh medium education.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that he would  ...  view the full minutes text for item 12.

13.

Equality Impact Assessments - Annual Review 2016/17 pdf icon PDF 71 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Equality Officer reported on the requirement to undertake Equality Impact Assessments (EIAs), an overview of the Council’s approach to EIAs and an outline of EIAs undertaken in the Council’s service areas in 2016/17. 

 

He reported that an EIA is a tool to assess whether new (or changes to existing) policies/services/functions could impact on different sectors of society in different ways.  EIAs also help the Council make better decisions, identify how services can be more accessible or improved and consider the protected characteristics of race/ethnicity, gender, gender reassignment, age, disability, faith/religion and belief, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity and civil partnerships and marriage. 

 

He informed the Committee that Initial Screening EIAsare undertaken to identify those policies and decisions requiring Full EIAs and enable the Council to get a sense of whether a particular policy is likely to have a differential impact on any group of people, and whether mitigating action needs to be taken or a Full EIA carried out.  A Full EIAis a systematic process of evidence gathering and analysis to ensure the council is meeting its equality duty.  Full EIAs follow the same format and process as Initial Screening EIAs but require greater resources in terms of time and commitment to gather and analyse a wider range of evidence than would be required for an Initial Screening EIA.

 

The Committee questioned who would make the decision to proceed to a Full EIA.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that this would be the appropriate Directorate’s decision and that he would also offer advice on whether to proceed to a Full EIA. 

 

The Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development informed the Committee that managers who write and approve reports and aspiring managers had been identified to undertake the e-learning module on EIAs  

 

The Committee considered that Equality Impact Assessments be considered as part of the Councillor Induction Programme.     

 

RESOLVED:           That the Cabinet Equalities Committee noted the progress made in the Council during 2016/17 with the completion of Equality Impact Assessments.  

14.

Draft Strategic Equality Plan Annual Report 2015 / 2016 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Equality Officer reported on an update on the work being done to develop the Council’s fifth annual report 2015-2016 on the Strategic Equality Plan (SEP).  The SEP annual report specifically sets out:

  • The steps taken to identify and collect relevant information
  • Any reasons for not collecting relevant information
  • Where appropriate employment information, including information on training and pay. 

 

The Equality Officer reported on the key points to note from the annual report:

 

·         The Council continues to build good relationships with representative groups e.g. the Muslim Community at Aberkenfig Mosque;

·         The Council delivered training on equality and diversity, and equality impact assessments, during the reporting period. 85 employees attended face to face Valuing Difference training, while 216 completed the Introduction to Equality and Diversity e-learning course. 24 employees completed the EIA e-learning module;

·         In 2015, the Council was awarded an Action on Hearing Loss Cymru Excellence Wales Award.

 

The Equality Officer informed the Committee that there is a need to further break-down data on teaching staff.  He stated that legal advice had been sought in relation to the non-disclosure of data on grievance and disciplinary hearings as to do so would breach the Data Protection Act. 

 

The Committee questioned whether the council’s employees reflect local demographics.  The Equality Officer informed the Committee that the employees do not fully reflect the demographics of the County Borough as the Council could not compel employees to share data with the Council.  The Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development informed the Committee that the Council did not run positive action campaigns, but promotes equality at job fairs.  She stated that the Council has low levels of Welsh speaking employees and Black Minority Ethnic (BME) employees.  She also stated that many employees do not want to regard themselves as having a disability.  The Committee commented that the Trade Unions may have a role in encouraging employees to provide data on disabilities.  The Head of Human Resources and Organisational Development stated that she would take this issue up with the Trade Unions at her next meeting with them.

 

The Equality Officer informed the Committee that he would provide the Committee with data on raising awareness of bullying in schools.   

 

RESOLVED:               That the Cabinet Equalities Committee noted the progress being made and approved the Strategic Equality Plan Annual Report 2015/16.          

15.

Urgent Items

To consider any other item(s) of business in respect of which notice has been given in accordance with Rule 4 of the Council Procedure Rules and which the person presiding at the meeting is of the opinion should by reason of special circumstances be transacted at the meeting as a matter of urgency

Minutes:

There were no urgent items.