Communities and Local Government Select Committee

In October 2016 Rushanara joined the Communities and Local Government Select Committee. This cross-party Committee is made up of eleven Members of Parliament and meets around once a week to monitor the policy, administration and spending of the Department for Communities and Local Government and its associated arms length bodies. The Committee takes evidence from experts, question the Secretary of State and the department’s ministerial team, as well as launch in-depth inquiries into draft pieces of legislation or key themes and topics it judges to be worthy of investigating. 

The Committee currently has several on-going inquiries into Adult Social Care, Homelessness Reduction and the draft Ombudsman Bill. For more information on the role, work and make-up of the committee, you can visit its parliamentary website.

You can watch the Committee live when it sits or view archived sessions as well follow the Committee on Twitter for regular updates.

Recent activity 

Adult Social Care

In March, the Committee published a report saying that the Government needs to urgently review how social care is funded in the long term and address serious threats to social care provision.

The report found that inadequate funding seriously affects the quantity and quality of adult social care provision, impacting on those receiving care, the NHS, care staff, carers and providers. The report set out a number of recommendations relating to the monitoring of care services, care commissioning, and the care workforce.

The Committee welcomed the Chancellor's commitment to provide an additional £2bn for social care over the next three years but found this falls short of the amount required to close the social care funding gap. The report found that expenditure on adult social care will need to rise as a proportion of total public expenditure and recommends an urgent review of how to fund social care in the long-term.

The Committee also welcomed the Government's Green Paper and recommended it looks at a range of all possible revenue options including hypothecating national taxation (e.g. income tax or a compulsory new social insurance scheme) and age-related expenditure (e.g state pension, winter fuel allowance). In doing so, the committee recommended the Green Paper also consider the wide range of uses for which social care funding is required including care and support, early intervention and prevention, and the training and development of care staff.

 Draft Ombudsman Bill

The Committee recently questioned the Local Government Ombudsman and Housing Ombudsman on the draft Public Service Ombudsman Bill, a bill that could impact on the process for making complainants, as well a potential restructuring and relocations of the Ombudsman’s team and offices.

Rushanara refers many constituents to the Housing Ombudsman and during this session Rushanara pushed the head of the organisation on key questions about response time and the regulatory framework.

Homebuilding and Skills

Brexit presents many challenges to our economy but one in particular is to our capacity in building new homes. The housing crisis that this country faces must be tackled in part by building new homes, however the industry is desperately dependent on migrant labour. With Britain leaving the European Union, there are serious questions surrounding the future capacity of the sector, its productivity, future investment and the role of Government.

Rushanara put these points to the Housing Minister, Gavin Barwell MP when he came to answer questions on the department’s strategy recently.

Parks

On 11th February 2017, the Committee published a report on the state of public parks in the United Kingdom. After hearing evidence from a wide range of experts and local council officials, the Committee warned that parks are at a tipping point and face a period of decline with potentially severe consequences unless their vital contribution to areas such as public health, community integration and climate change mitigation is recognised. 

There have been considerable challenges for the parks including reduced council spending, with parks management budgets cut by up to 97 per cent. Parks have to compete with other services for funding, and planning policy and are not given enough weight in funding considerations, particularly as a result of pressures to increase housing supply.

The Committee called on councils to publish strategic plans, which recognise the value of parks beyond leisure and recreation and set out how they will be managed to maximise their contribution to wider local authority agendas, such as promoting healthy lifestyles, tackling social exclusion and managing flood risk. It is hoped these plans will open up parks to support and funding beyond their usual budgets and service areas.

The Committee also called on the Government to issue guidance to councils to work with Health and Wellbeing Boards and other relevant bodies to publish these joint plans and consider making producing such a strategy a legal requirement if the guidance proves ineffective, the report adds.

Social Integration

At the beginning of the year, Dame Louise Casey published her report on social integration in the United Kingdom. Following the publication of the report, Dame Casey answered questions from committee members on some of the detail of her findings.

Questioning the Secretary of State

The opening session of this term was marked by the Secretary of State, Sajid Javid MP appearing before the Committee. Rushanara used this opportunity to once again press the Secretary of State on Circle Housing and raise concerns about how the Government’s comments about the independence of the judiciary could further erode community cohesion in this post-Brexit political climate.