Agenda and minutes

Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Tuesday, 4th June, 2019 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: James Dearling  Email:


No. Item


Apologies for Absence and Notification of Substitute Members

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The Committee was advised of an apology for absence from Councillor Masuk Miah and a substitute as detailed above.



Election of Chairman

As Councillor Bigmore is no longer a member of the Committee to which he was elected chairman, in accordance with Council Procedure Rule 29(b) the Committee will elect the Chairman for the remainder of the municipal year.

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RESOLVED:  That Councillor Paul Spooner be elected Chairman of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee for the 2019-20 municipal year.


Councillor Spooner thereupon took the Chair.



Local Code of Conduct and Declaration of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests

In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any Disclosable Pecuniary Interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.


If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.


Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.


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There were no declarations of Disclosable Pecuniary Interests.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To confirm the minutes of the Committee meeting held on 5 March 2019.

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The minutes of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting held on 5 March 2019 were approved.


In response to a question, the Committee agreed that actions outstanding from previous meetings should be reported through a standing agenda item.





Food Poverty - Report of the Overview and Scrutiny Task and Finish Group pdf icon PDF 234 KB

Martin Caraher will be attending to inform and advise the Committee.  He is Professor of Food and Health Policy at the Centre for Food Policy, City University London.

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The Chair welcomed Dr Martin Caraher, professor of food and health policy at the Centre for Food Policy, at City, University of London, Maria Zealey, from Surrey Welfare Rights Unit, and members of the food poverty task group.


Dr Caraher gave a presentation entitled, ‘Food poverty and hunger in the UK: Race to the bottom.’  He confirmed that he would focus on the issues at a national level rather than the specifics of the task group’s report.


Dr Caraher stated that a lack of cookery skills was not in itself a cause of poverty.  He criticised notions of a deserving poor and undeserving poor and indicated that the need for food banks and charity showed a dismantling of state provision.  He informed the meeting that the root causes of food banks required attention.  The meeting was advised that 14 million people in the UK live in poverty, with 8 million struggling to put food on the table, and over 4 million children at risk of food poverty.


Dr Caraher indicated that the first government measurement of food insecurity would be available in 2020/21 from the inclusion of questions in the Family Resources Survey starting in April 2019.  He suggested that data within the food poverty task group’s report provided sufficient proxy measures to act on.


The meeting was advised of the link between obesity and food poverty and the need for a comprehensive policy approach to such issues, rather than separate strategies. 


Dr Caraher indicated that the 25 per cent increase in food prices between 2007 and 2012 had had a disproportionate effect on those on low incomes.  He stated that between 1998 and 2009 household income for low-income households rose 22 per cent while food prices rose by 33 per cent. 


Dr Caraher advised the meeting that households saved an average of 4 per cent between 2007 and 2010 by trading down to cheaper products.  He noted that low-income households have not managed to make savings by trading down probably because they were already purchasing cheaper products.  He stated that food was the elastic item in household budgets and that the lowest income decile typically bought less food rather than trading down.


Dr Caraher stated that falling income and static welfare benefits (after housing costs) combined with rising food prices had reduced food affordability by over twenty per cent for the lowest income decile households between 2007 and 2010.  Dr Caraher advised the meeting that the energy intake of households fell by almost 10 per cent between 2007 and 2010.  He indicated that food prices were forecast to increase by 15 per cent in the next 6 months, regardless of any impact from Brexit. 


Dr Caraher provided information indicating that average household debt in the UK had almost doubled between 2000 and 2015, to nearly £12k.  The meeting was advised that NHS workers, and supermarket workers were among those people taking out pay day loans to pay for essentials such as food, while Asda had contributed £20m to  ...  view the full minutes text for item OS5