Agenda item 3 - Communities workstream update

Chief Executives' Group - North Yorkshire and York

11 February 2022

Covid 19 recovery - Communities workstream update

Purpose of the report

1.   To update the Chief Executive’s group on current key community impacts work and a steering response from the Task Subgroup Chairs on the future governance of the task groups, Chairs Group and associated work.



2.   In early summer 2020 the NYLRF Recovery Co-ordination Group established this work stream alongside others to plan and deliver regional recovery actions relating to Debt/Poverty, VCSE sustainability, Volunteering, Community Capacity and Bereavement.  Three task subgroups were established to deliver an agreed set of objectives and the Chairs of the Groups meet on a regular basis to review progress, emerging priorities, joint themes, issues and risks. Following the ending of the third lockdown and latter stages of the government’s roadmap the Bereavement Subgroup was subsumed into the VCSE Subgroup given the common impacts (e.g. isolation, access to support and information).


Task Groups

3.   Following impact reviews as outlined to this group in September, each of the task groups has met a number of times and continue to be useful for updates on current impacts, local responses and best practice sharing. Members of both groups remain fully involved in response work which has impacted on any capacity to focus on recovery.  Sharing of best practice has resulted in sharing of advice & information tools including for example, York adopting the North Yorkshire approach to supplying fuel vouchers through voluntary and community sector partners.

4.   In both cases the number of meetings have been reduced due to winter pressures and when they have been held the number of attendees has reduced. As such there is little capacity for joint working and more recently council representatives have been particularly impacted by LGR commitments. Both groups find it incredibly supportive to be able to network and share work going on across the region and to be able to share common challenges with the Chairs in the knowledge that the Chairs Group are in a better position to deliver change. Acknowledging the pressures felt by members but also the benefits of the group –  both task groups  will now meet once together every six months to hold an impact, update and  best practice sharing event.

Chairs Group

5.   The Chairs Group (authors of this report) are working effectively together helped by bringing different perspectives with membership from an existing unitary council, a district council, a county council and an infrastructure organisation.  As they are all decision makers that can take and deliver actions on behalf of their organisations, conversation has been strategic and constructive.  Some of the outputs include:

  • Development of a dashboard of key indicators around poverty and debt giving data and trends to LSOA level.  This mapping tool is still in development but has been demoed to the Chairs and the task/poverty group. It is hoped that all partners involved in the Communities Worksteams can access the data going forward from local authority open data platforms to identify need and inform planning/decision-making.
  • Agreement to consult between York & NYCC on developing grant schemes to avoid a postcode lottery.  This has not necessarily changed our approach given that both councils are well down the road with their respective schemes but it has brought our management teams in contact with each other and an understanding of each other’s approaches, This is in relation to delivery of schemes and working in mutual partnerships (such as one recently established around Participatory Grant Making) and potential in relation to use of any future recovery funding.
  • Agreement to continue to be flexible with VCSE funding schemes in light of the third VCSE resilience survey.
  • Developing an approach to understanding food sufficiency/poverty and grass roots community and voluntary sector provision, looking at best practice and assessing how we take this forward in our region.  This has included a session with Hartlepool and Joseph Rowntree Foundation around best practice activity and examples elsewhere.  The group are scoping the brief for this insight work during February.
  • Agreement that we need a sustainable region wide partnership structure to continue, moving away from the Recovery terminology and moving into business as usual and work across the new LGR structures and York and North Yorkshire geographies.
  • Agreement that we should be a lobbying force to influence regional and national bodies on those things that can bring positive change for our communities eg before the very recent tax loophole announcements in relation to airb&b/holiday lets, this had been identified by the Debt/Poverty task group as a significant issue affecting the supply of private rented accommodation in urban areas.  This is now being addressed but would have been one of the recommendations in this report had it not been addressed.

6.   The Chairs have also recognised the strength and benefits of the relationship building that the group and its work has engendered with a real sense of shared purpose and objectives.


Feedback from Y & NY Wider Partnership Event

7.   The work of both task groups was represented at the partnership event and findings from the workshop has fed into the Chairs Group. The feedback that is of particular relevance to the recommendations of the group is related to the following discussion:

 Is there a place for a regional approach to address poverty within an overarching approach on reducing inequalities?

There was strong support for a shared strategy to address poverty across York and North Yorkshire. The birth of the new North Yorkshire Unitary Authority and even closer working with City of York provide a good opportunity for this. Having a collective resource to support data collection will enable us to understand and evidence the distribution and scale of poverty and main trends across the whole geography whilst allowing drill down at local level to identify particular challenges and verify impacts of interventions. Communities are very diverse and important to be able to pinpoint areas of need at the very local level. Delegates thought the proposed data dashboard would be useful. Understanding and presenting issues across the broad geography of urban, rural and coast and also being able to go do and narrow will enable more effective targeting of funding applications. A well presented evidence base will also have potential to influence funding programmes eg launch of the new UK Shared Prosperity Fund or future DEFRA funding. Strong data will also support the LEP to tackle identified skills gaps.

Participants agreed that it makes sense to use existing structures to develop a strategy and action plan to address poverty with consideration to the “new” geographies of locality / place based working as North Yorkshire moves towards a unitary structure. Delegates are seeing an increase in poverty amongst residents and we need to take effective action in response.

To support development of a regional (N Yorkshire and City of York) strategy Pauline Stuchfield (CoY), Caroline O’Neill (Community First Yorkshire) and Marie-Ann Jackson (NYCC) are coordinating a range of data in order to drill down to help us identify areas of focus and tailored responses. It is recognised that it is important not to be too prescriptive or rigid but to have a flexible and evolving approach built around some shared principles and outcomes. We also need to identify and make links to any existing local strategies. Community voice is also crucial and there is interest in exploring what role the Place Standard might have in this.

“Ownership” of a regional strategy and operational implementation of a related action plan will involve a range of partners as the critical importance of education/skills, local job markets and income levels and housing (cost and availability) as major alleviators of poverty are recognised. Financial and digital literacy can be supported through adult education and employment support programmes such as Action Towards Inclusion and the county Citizens Online and Income Maximisation programmes.

8.   The impact work undertaken by the task groups and Chairs Group has recognised and confirmed areas of high levels of inequality, particularly poverty that exist in North Yorkshire and York across communities with increasingly complex needs. A strategy to reduce inequalities in North Yorkshire & York would focus on the impact of poverty and the opportunities, based on evidence, of where we can all work to achieve the greatest effect in reducing inequality.

9.   Evidence suggests that societies where there is a significant gap between the most financially well-off and least well-off, experience more difficulties across a range of health and social care issues.  This is confirmed in a range of studies including the ‘UK Poverty 2022’ report recently published by the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.

10.   To address this it is recommended that an expanded Chairs Group should champion and lead the case for tackling inequality across all communities in North Yorkshire & York. They will understand and respond to inequalities (across all groups with socio-economic or protected characteristics under the Equality Act) across a broad range of socio-economic and health issues, providing fully inclusive and equitable partnership based solutions to address them.


11.   The Chief Executives’ Group to:

  • Note the work of the Community Recovery task groups and intention to reduce the number of meetings and hold two focused joint events per year;
  • To consider extending the Chairs Group:
    • to establish a Communities, Social Inclusion & Inequalities partnership with a membership drawn from City, County and District Councils, Health, the LEP, NY Police, NYF&R and VCSE representatives;
    • with a purpose to continue the work of the Chairs Group in identifying inequalities and strategic solutions to address them within a regional strategy.


Pauline Stuchfield                          City of York Council          

Margaret Wallace                            Ryedale District Council

Jane Colthup/Caroline O'Neill       Community First Yorkshire

Marie-Ann Jackson                         North Yorkshire County Council