Agenda and minutes

Venue: Level 8, Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford

Contact: Committee Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

22.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 142 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 21 May 2008.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 21 May 2008 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.

23.

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr. P.D. Claussen, Mr. D. Burnip and Mr. T. Holden.

24.

Performance Report (Agenda Item 5) pdf icon PDF 107 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A supplemental performance report for the period ending 31 August 2008 was circulated at the meeting and considered in conjunction with the report for July.

 

Performance generally was good, with most targets on ‘green’ and with stepped improvements achieved where additional recovery work had been implemented.

 

So far as the targets for collection of Council Tax for Breckland and Forest Heath Councils were concerned, these were currently at ‘amber’ and measures to improve collection rates were being implemented, although it would be a few months before improved results would show.  Additional measures to improve Business Rates collection had improved performance in this area.

 

The worst 50 cases of debtors in each authority were being closely reviewed and appropriate action taken, including court action and/or publicity against those identified as “won’t pay” debtors.  In those cases where the debtors were unable to pay, officers were looking at what assistance could be given to them, for example by way of benefits applications etc.

 

The percentage of direct debit payments at each authority was very good.

 

With regard to the target for total recovered overpayments for East Cambridgeshire, the performance was currently rated at ‘amber’.  While there had been successful prosecutions for fraud, the combined total of £28,000 meant that it would not be possible to recover the amounts owed in sufficient monthly payments to clear them quickly.

 

There had been a number of staff changes in July and further changes were due during September and October.  Recruitment to the posts of Principal Benefits Officer and Principal Revenue Officer was under way as part of the recent organisational restructure.

 

A member drew attention to the press reports that day regarding uncollected council tax collection rates in the region.  It was explained that the rates for the three Partner Authorities were amongst the lowest in Norfolk.  Members felt this was a positive message that could be reported.

 

Changes to the national performance indicators PI 180 and 181 were then discussed.  These indicators related respectively to the number of changes in Housing Council Tax Benefit entitlements within the year and the time taken to process Housing and Council Tax Benefit new claims and change events.  These indicators were complicated by the fact that Councils were required to set a target for the number of changes they expected to make in a year but there was no clear guidance as to what constituted the basis for the target, i.e. what was ‘good’ or ‘bad’.

 

Some comparative information had been obtained and gave the first opportunity to see how the ARP compared with other authorities.  However, because of the newness of the indicator, the rawness of the data currently available and the lack of clarity on the way the DWP was collecting the data, it was not possible to draw any conclusions on performance trends at this stage.

 

It was agreed to note the position and await further information when available.

 

In answer to a question, it was noted that the difference in the figures  ...  view the full minutes text for item 24.

25.

Local Housing Allowance (Agenda Item 6) pdf icon PDF 66 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Project Officer presented the report and circulated a copy of the Project Plan for this scheme.

 

The new Vulnerability and Safeguarding Policy was required to take account of the changes in the scheme for the assessment of rent and payment of benefits direct to the tenant and were aimed at providing protection for claimants considered to be vulnerable.

 

Members felt that the wording in paragraph 3.1 of the policy (Alerting the Partnership of potential tenants requiring safeguard considerations) could be made clearer.

 

It was noted that the number of cases arising under the new scheme had been far fewer than originally anticipated.  While this had allowed a smooth implementation of the scheme, the situation would be closely monitored and any changes in the position reported to the Joint Committee.

 

         RESOLVED that

 

(1)         the report be noted; and

 

(2)    subject to the amendment of the wording in paragraph 3.1 to make its intent clearer, the Local Housing Allowance Vulnerability and Safeguarding Policy be adopted.<1>

                                         

26.

Employment Support Allowance (ESA) (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Operational Board.  (Note: The financial appendix to this report (Proforma B) is to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A financial report (Proforma B) had been circulated prior to the meeting.

 

         RESOLVED that the report and forecast spend on the Employment Support Allowance project be noted.

27.

Single Housing Benefit Scan (HBIASD) - Update (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

A financial report (Proforma B) had been circulated prior to the meeting.

 

         RESOLVED that approval is given to the re-distribution of the balance of funding to the Partner Authorities as recommended in the report.

28.

Items for Next Meeting (Agenda Item 9)

To note any items for inclusion on the agenda for the next meeting.

Minutes:

Members requested a report to be made to the next meeting in regard to progress of East Cambridgeshire’s proposed membership of ARP Trading Ltd.

29.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 10)

To note the date of the next meeting on Thursday, 11 December 2008 at 4.00 p.m. at Level 8, Breckland House, Thetford.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting to be held on 11 December 2008 were noted.

30.

Exclusion of Press and Public

To consider passing the following resolution:

 

“That under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

Minutes:

         RESOLVED that under Section 100(A)(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following item of business on the grounds that it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 4 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

31.

Salary Review (Agenda Item 12)

Report of the Operational Board.

Minutes:

The Head of Human Resources and Corporate Support (Forest Health District Council) presented the report on the annual remuneration review process and options available for payment of a cost of living award.

 

         RESOLVED that

 

(1)    option 3.1 of the report be agreed and approval be given for formal consultation to take place with Forest Heath and Breckland staff and union representatives on the proposed cost of living award; and

 

(2)    it remains the understanding of the Joint Committee that a review of the blended pay scheme will be undertaken once the latest review of the Breckland pay scheme has been completed.