The Benefits Manager and the Information and Data Analysis Manager, Revenues and Benefits, presented an update on the Poverty Dashboard. It was noted that this had been re-named to the East Devon Social Resilience Dashboard, as the information does not solely relate to poverty.
The following key points were made:
· Work was continuing on creating public facing pages which it was hoped would be ready towards the end of the summer. Following further information received 11 July 2022, it is likely that the public facing dashboard will not be available until the end of the year or early 2023 due to licencing of the software that the dashboard uses.
· Historical data can be analysed for trends in the future.
· Key headlines shown were for Finance, Housing, Health and Employment and the Dashboard included the number of people living in relative or absolute poverty in the district.
· Data also flagged those at risk of falling into poverty.
· The root causes of hardship were identified with the top three causes being budgeting, mental health and physical health.
· The interactive timeline provided information on caseloads such as council tax and housing benefits and enabled the comparison of different caseloads over time.
· Data on council tax arrears was shown on a month by month basis and was broken down by council tax bands and the top ten wards.
· Energy Performance Certificates data provided information to assist residents with reducing their energy bills and could be linked to other caseloads.
· The information on the Dashboard assisted with designing policies and working practices such as the Discretionary Council Tax Energy Rebate scheme and can help identify and solve underlying issues faced by residents.
· The Dashboard also enabled partnership working with external organisations such as local schools and local groups. The dashboard has also been shown to the LGA and other councils.
· Work was on-going to provide further datasets and to bring in other tools to support low-income households including the vulnerable debt tool-kit and wider use of the standard financial statement.
Comments and questions from Councillors included the following points:
· Work was on-going to produce a simpler version of the Dashboard for use by Members, taking GDPR requirements into account.
· The Dashboard had been developed solely by Revenues and Benefits Officers at EDDC.
· There was concern that recent meetings of the Poverty Working Panel had been cancelled and Members were advised that this was due to insufficient business. The next meeting would be held in September.
· Definitions of relative and absolute poverty were included on the main page of the Dashboard and could be found on other websites such as the Joseph Rowntree Foundation.
· Currently the data was split between working age and pension age residents and there was scope to explore further breakdown by age groups to identify whether any particular group was more affected than others.
· Voluntary and community groups could benefit from using the data.
· Regarding assisting with budgeting, the Financial Resilience Officers would work with residents to look at their circumstances in depth in order to educate people with monthly budgeting of income and expenditure.
· It was noted that approximately 70% of data is imported automatically into the Dashboard with the remaining manual work inputting data from external databases such as the DWP, although there was the potential to link directly to the DWP data in the future.
· Concern was expressed at the resources available to Citizens Advice East Devon, particularly over the difficult summer holiday period, and Officers would look into this and advise Members.
That options are explored to provide local voluntary and community groups with access to the data.
The Committee thanked Officers for their excellent work in developing the Dashboard.