Agenda item


To consider the attached report.


The Service Director (Customer Services), R Pavey presented a report to the Select Committee regarding the Universal Credit Impact and the establishment of a new Waltham Abbey Multi-Agency Centre based at the Epping Forest District Museum.


This was an exciting opportunity for the Council to look at a different delivery model and how the Council engaged with our communities at a local level and not the traditional way, but seeing how we can engage with partners to look at the customer journey from end to end, we are only one part of that journey, the welfare reform and how people in need to access services was not solely with Epping Forest District Council it was also with a number of other different agencies.


The Universal Credit (UC) Impact Working Group had identified a number of impacts that the Council has sought to mitigate against, within that group there was the DWP, Epping Forest Foodbank, Peabody and Citizens Advice amongst others.


The DWP in Loughton have operated a monthly Multi-Agency Centre (MAC) involving a number of partners to support claimants. The UC Impact Working Group decided that the Loughton model be built on and developed for Waltham Abbey.


The key difference with the Waltham Abbey MAC was that it was to be run by EFDC with the ultimate aim of focussing the services offered to be based on the needs of the residents of Waltham Abbey and its locality with an increased focus on the district’s own services.


There was also the opportunity at this MAC to further support one of the key recommendations of the Citizens Online report which focussed on Waltham Abbey as a geographic area with a potentially higher risk of digital exclusion.


The Council have looked for a location within Waltham Abbey to do this and I can confirm that the Waltham Abbey Museum came out as a preferred venue for this new service. The Museum was in Sun Street, which is central to Waltham Abbey. The Museum was closed on Thursdays and this was a good opportunity to utilise the premises. The first MAC will be on Thursday 13 February 2020 from 1 to 3pm and will open on alternate Thursdays at the same time.


There would be a range of services provided by Epping Forest District Council such as:


  • Benefits;
  • Debt Recovery;
  • Housing and Homelessness;
  • Digital Inclusion and Assistance; and
  • Active Living.


Associated organisations would provide advice:


  • Citizens Advice – UC applications and general advice;
  • DWP – UC applications and benefits;
  • Changing Pathways – Community Safety;
  • Peabody – Care and Support Services;
  • Epping Forest Foodbank – Available to issue vouchers and direct to the Foodbank, Waltham Abbey;
  • MIND – Mental Health Charity; and
  • Provide – Essex Lifestyle Service.


It had been arranged that the Foodbank in Waltham Abbey would open at times to coincide with the MAC, therefore any residents directed to them with a food voucher provided by the MAC would be able to gain access to much needed provisions.


Officers will report back on the outcomes achieved from the MAC. This new service offered and its use. Officers will also provide insight into the demands from the residents of Waltham Abbey to help inform future service delivery plans.


The meeting was then opened up to questions from members.


Councillor J H Whitehouse asked if the list of associated organisations was complete as Epping Forest Reuse did not appear to be listed. The Service Director said he was sure the Reuse centre had been contacted but he would check why they didn’t appear on the associated organisations list.




That the report on the Universal Credit Impact be noted by the Select Committee.

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