Report number: OAS/WS/21/020
[Councillor Diane Hind declared a non-pecuniary interest as a member of Havebury Scrutiny Panel]
The Committee, at its meeting held on 2 September 2021 requested further information in relation to the role of the Cabinet Member for Housing in relation to health. This followed the changes made to Cabinet Member responsibilities announced by the Leader of the Council in July 2021.
Report number OAS/WS/21/020 set out the role and responsibility held by the Cabinet Member for Housing and the Cabinet Member for Families and Communities in relation to health. For a number of years, the council had been working alongside partners in health and the care sector. Work was wide ranging but fell largely into two broad areas:
- Prevention and early intervention; and
- Effective partnerships.
The close co-operation between health providers and the council was accelerated during the Covid pandemic and would remain important during the recovery phase.
Recognising there were a number of significant projects and initiatives to support and/or deliver over the next few years the Cabinet Member for Housing was asked by the Leader of the Council to take a more strategic leadership perspective in relation to health and would be responsible for the following areas of focus:
- Future system programme;
- Health and care governance.
The Cabinet Member for Housing’s role in health was in addition to that of the Cabinet Member for Families and Communities. This was in response to the growing workload associated with health and the council’s role in the pandemic recovery and reducing health inequalities.
The Committee considered the report in detail and asked a number of questions to which comprehensive responses were provided by the Cabinet Member for Housing and Health. In particular discussions were held on linking health with housing; the need for more health hubs locally for people to access; keeping people well in their own homes; planning for unintentional consequences; fragmented health care; more money needed for health; the West Suffolk Hospital public consultation events; and the restart of community groups following the pandemic, to which responses were provided.
In response to a question raised relating to the future system programme and whether there was a vision for the future, the Cabinet Member explained the need for more thinking ahead and building health capacity into the local plan as well as being more ambitious with the local plan.
The Committee welcomed linking health with housing and that health should be built more into the planning process.
In response to a question raised about community groups not meeting as much in person, and more online, officers explained that a number of community groups did move online due to the pandemic. In some cases, participants preferred this. However, there were more face-to-face groups restarting and the Council had helped by supporting with funding which currently totalled £120,000 to support groups and sports clubs to meet again in person. In many cases, the main barrier to restarting services was the lack of volunteers.
There being no decision required, the Committee noted the contents of the report.