Agenda and minutes

Education and Local Economy Scrutiny Commission
Monday 22 February 2021 6.30 pm

Venue: Online/Virtual. Members of the public are welcome to attend the meeting. Please contact for a link to the meeting.

Contact: Everton Roberts 020 7525 7221  Email:

No. Item





    In special circumstances, an item of business may be added to an agenda within five clear working days of the meeting.


    There chair gave notice of an additional late item – Briefing note from the Deputy Leader and Cabinet Member for Children, Schools and Young People, responding to urgent questions from the previous meeting.


    The chair informed the meeting that Supplemental Agenda No. 1 contained information relating to the ‘Review of Approach to Equality and Adoption of the Equality Framework.


    Supplemental Agenda No. 2 contained the minutes for the 26 October 2020 and 27 January 2021 meetings.



    Members to declare any interests and dispensations in respect of any item of business to be considered at this meeting.


    Councillor Jason Ochere declared that he was a governor of a 6th form centre in Lewisham which was attended by Southwark residents.  It was also declared that Councillor Karl Eastham was a teacher in a Southwark school.





    To receive an overview from Councillor Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Equalities and Communities on the review of approach to equality and adoption of the Equality Framework which is due to be considered by Cabinet on 9 March 2021.


    The cabinet member for equalities and communities has also been asked to provide:


    ·  A written overview of the main council equalities initiatives, including Southwark’s Equalities Framework; Southwark’s Equalities and Diversity Charter; the refreshes to Southwark’s approach to equalities impact assessments and community impact assessments.


    ·  An update on plans for better understanding racial disparities in the Council and beyond.


    ·  How the council is addressing the many equalities related issues arising due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

    Supporting documents:


    The commission heard from Councillor Alice Macdonald, Cabinet Member for Communities, Equalities and Neighbourhoods, Stephen Douglas, Director of Communities, Jasbinder Baddhan, Equalities, Diversity and Inclusion Programme Lead and Suganya Naveenan, Equalities and Inclusion Lead Officer.


    Councillor Macdonald provided the commission with a brief overview of the cabinet portfolio areas relevant to equalities that were within her remit, including the overall approach to equalities, putting in place the framework and embedding equalities in everything the council does, community engagement, relationship with the voluntary and community sector, volunteering, community grants, the neighbourhood approach building on the social regeneration charter, responsibility for protected groups including LGBT+ community and women’s rights, digital and financial inclusion and customer servers, ensuring that public facing services are accessible to all.


    Councillor Macdonald explained that the Southwark Stands Together came under the Leader of the Council’s portfolio and that Workforce came within the portfolio of the Cabinet Member for Finance, Business and Jobs so the implementation of the workforce equalities priorities came under that remit. Councillor Macdonald stressed that equalities was everyone’s responsibility and that it had to cut across all work. 


    Councillor Macdonald advised that some of the fundamentals to the approach on equalities were:


    ·  Understanding what the inequalities are and what is causing them (to support this a lot of work was going into collecting and analysing data).

    ·  Strong equality approach throughout the Borough Plan including clear specific inequality policies, such as increasing representation in community leadership positions, guaranteeing access to education and employment for every school leaver, tackling health inequalities and food insecurity.

    ·  A strong framework to ensure that the council has the rigour and the right tools to analyse, monitor and address what the data is showing.

    ·  How the council approaches equalities, i.e. with kindness, understanding and sensitivity 

    Councillor Macdonald reported that the refreshed equalities framework would be considered by cabinet in June, this would take account of the work being undertaken through Southwark Stands Together.  Councillor Macdonald indicated that she welcomed input from scrutiny as well as other stakeholders, including staff and the forum for equality and human rights.  Some key principles would be revised tools for implementation, along with strengthened equality governance – other models across London were being looked at.


    An equality audit of all council services was also being proposed for later in the year.

    In relation to tackling racial disparities, a review of the grants programme was being undertaken to make sure that the council was supporting Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic communities and to identify any barriers.


    There was also focus on the community support alliance and digital exclusion.  In respect of digital exclusion, there had been close working with the Education department in getting laptops to children for learning.  Councillor Macdonald’s particular focus was on working with broadband providers to get free internet connections.  A commitment for 500 connections had been obtained.


    There was work being undertaken with the public health team, including looking at how to address vaccine hesitancy.


    Following the cabinet members address, questions and  ...  view the full minutes text for item 5.


The commission discussed proposed draft recommendations in relation to the scrutiny review areas being undertaken by the commission, to be put to cabinet members ahead of any final recommendations being made to cabinet.


The commission discussed draft recommendations around the following areas:


Children’s Experiences and Education through Covid


·  Making the commitment to work with BIDs to coordinate efforts to address equalities issues with business

·  Creation of an expert database that has good representation from BAME expert participants, with a view to them providing regular input into discussions / meetings

·  Equality audit and a commitment to regularly report on progress with the equality framework

·  Environmental audit of pollution on schools or as a starting point schools that might be adversely affected due to location e.g. near a main road or in an area known to have high levels of pollution

·  Long term mental health support for students

·  What the council is doing to analyse levels of attainment for purposes of enabling children to catch up

·  Plans for catch up for younger children

·  Long term mental health support for Teachers and implications for teachers seeking mental health support (establishing current provision in schools such as the ‘Place to Be’ scheme)

·  Support for provision like dyslexia and other special educational needs

·  Prioritising young people as services such as libraries open back up.

·  Renewed effort to give young people opportunities for extracurricular activities which were stopped due to covid 19 / lockdown


Revitalisation of High Streets and Town Centres


·  How the council can support / drive retail innovation

·  Using empty units to provide opportunities for next generation businesses

·  New round of high street challenge fund to incentivise landowners to think about using spaces in different ways

·  Support for cultural organisations in the creative industries

·  Impacts on businesses through an equalities lens

·  Impact of Low Traffic Neighbourhoods on businesses, both positive and negative

·  Comprehensive map of the different local economies

·  Support for more community led activity

·  More active role for council to play more active role for creating new uses for the high street, including role for supporting the communities well being

·  Exploring community ownership structures

·  Apprenticeships not been able to complete their examinations due to covid-19 and needing to stay on longer – impact on future apprenticeships.