Agenda and minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

No. Item


Chairman and Vice-Chairman

To appoint a Chairman and Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.


The terms of reference of the Joint Committee stipulate that


  1. The persons eligible to be elected as Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in either of the two previous years.

  2. The persons eligible to be elected as Vice-Chairman shall not be the appointees of a Council whose appointee held that position in the previous year.

  3. The Chairman and Vice-Chairman shall not be appointees of the same Council.


Previous appointments have been as follows:




Office Held


Mr. S. Edwards (Forest Heath)


Mr. P. Claussen (Breckland)



Mr. P. Claussen (Breckland)


Mr. G. Wilson (East Cambs)



Mr. G. Wilson (East Cambs)


Mr. E. Stewart (Forest Heath)




         RESOLVED that Mr. E. Stewart be elected Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing year and Mr. P.D. Claussen be appointed Vice-Chairman.



Minutes pdf icon PDF 85 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2009.


The minutes of the meeting held on 5 March 2009 were confirmed as a correct record and signed by the Chairman.




To receive apologies for absence.


Apologies for absence were received from Mr. P.D. Claussen, Mr. D. Burnip, Mrs. S. Jones, Miss, L. Pope and Mr. A. Colyer.


Apologies for his late arrival were given by Mr. W.H.C. Smith.



Performance Reports for the period ending 31 March 2009 (Agenda Item 6)

Reports of the Operational Board for the period ending 31 March 2009:


Operational Report pdf icon PDF 115 KB


The report was received and noted.


Performance Statistics pdf icon PDF 14 KB


The Performance Manager presented the report and explained that, in the light of the impact of the recession, it was felt desirable to realign the targets for collection of Council Tax and Business Rates, as the targets agreed in October last year had been set at more optimistic levels.  


Council Tax


So far as the Council Tax collection rates were concerned, the proposal was to reduce the targets for each of the three authorities as follows to:


§         Breckland - 98.5% (existing 98.8%),

§         Forest Health - 98.3% (existing 98.8%)

§         East Cambridgeshire - 98.7% (existing 98.5%)


During discussion, it was argued that no change should be made.  Even though the economic climate created difficulties, it was felt that was not sufficient reason to reduce the authorities’ obligations on collection of Council Tax.  Furthermore, it was felt leaving the targets at their existing levels would give a much better measure of the impact of the recession on actual collection rates achieved.


The counter-argument in favour of the changes was that the targets would still be challenging to achieve but reflected the more realistic position that the half per cent increase allowed for in the existing target would not be achieved in the current economic climate.


On being put to the vote, it was


RESOLVED that the proposed reduction in the targets for collection of Council Tax be approved and the new targets be set as follows:


§         Breckland - 98.5%

§         Forest Health - 98.3%

§         East Cambridgeshire - 98.7%


Note – Messrs. J. Humphreys and W.H.C. Smith asked that their votes against this decision be recorded.


Business Rates


With regard to the collection targets for Business Rates, it was proposed that these should be reduced to 98% for all three authorities (down from 99.3%) to take account of the recently announced change in the legislation and to allow for the effect of that change on collection rates to be assessed.  The situation would be reviewed again in the autumn and, if necessary, the target could be revised upwards again if needed.


On the basis that this was a single target for all three partner authorities and in the circumstances, the new figure was considered acceptable to members.


RESOLVED that the proposed revised single target of 98% for all three authorities for collection of Business Rates be approved.



Financial Performance pdf icon PDF 8 KB


The Performance Manager circulated a revised report giving the most up to date position on the Partnership’s financial performance to budget ending 31 March 2009. 


It was explained that the figures were unaudited figures.  With regard to the notes on variances, these remained to be confirmed. 


The main variances related to salaries and income and it was explained that there had been significant grant funding received which was treated as income and which had been used to bring in additional resources, in particular relating to Local Housing Allowances and Employment Support Allowances.  So far as the variance on salaries was concerned, the main reason for this was the failure to achieve the 3% vacancy factor target.  


So far as income was concerned, a significant amount of this resulted from rechargeable work through the trading arm, which had helped to lower the cost of service provision.


In conclusion, the pre-audited position showed an outturn increase in income and additional savings amounting to £136,814, giving approximate returns to Breckland and Forest Heath of £90,000 and £46,000 respectively.  This was felt to be a good achievement for the partnership in a challenging year.


Members were pleased to note the position.


The members for East Cambridgeshire expressed their desire to see a speedy conclusion to their authority’s application to become a full member of the partnership and the officers were asked to take this forward.




(1)         the report be noted; and

(2)         meetings be arranged as appropriate to progress the matter of East Cambridgeshire’s application for full membership as speedily as possible.




Update on Audit Commission Key Lines of Enquiries (KLOEs) (Benefits) (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of the Operational Board.


         RESOLVED that the report be noted.


Funding for Council Tax Efficiency Statements (Agenda Item 8)

Report of the Operational Board.


It was explained that it had not been able to produce a report for this meeting as further information was still awaited.  In the circumstances, it was


         RESOLVED that consideration of the matter be deferred to the next meeting.


Annual Review of ARP Policies (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Report of the Operational Board.

Additional documents:


It was noted that the revised policies involved minimal changes.


         RESOLVED that


(1)         the proposed amendments to the policies as detailed in the summary sheet appended to these minutes be agreed; and

(2)         the following ARP policies for 2009-10, as amended, be approved:

§         Overpayments Policy

§         DHP Policy

§         Debt Management & Recovery Policy

§         Fraud Policy

§         Methods of Benefits Payments Policy

§         Appeals Policy

§         Post Opening Policy

§         Staff Training & Development Policy

§         Write-off Policy

§         Code of Conduct and Safety Policy

§         Vulnerability & Safeguarding Policy

§         Document Retention Policy

§         Take up and Publicity for HB and CTB Strategy

§         Council Tax Refund Policy


Pay Scheme - Progress Report (Agenda Item 10)

To receive a verbal report on progress of the pay scheme review.


Further to the decision at the last meeting for a review of the Breckland Pay Scheme to be undertaken by the three Heads of Human Resources within the ARP, Mrs. Littlechild reported that since that date, a number of meetings and communications had taken place between the Partnership HR Teams, with the ARP Management Team and with the ARP HR Group.


Resulting activities to date included:


  • Involvement of stakeholders and collection of views, information and data
  • The objectives, key principles and application of the Breckland Scheme had been fully explained by the Breckland HR Team, including their learning points
  • The ARP HR Group had gained an understanding of the scheme and contributed their views on how it might work for ARP
  • ARP Management had offered their views on the potential benefits and “fit” of the Breckland Scheme for ARP


Next steps were to prepare a considered analysis of the pros and cons of moving to a performance related pay scheme for ARP using the Breckland model, to hold further discussions with ARP Management, the ARP HR Group and UNISON, and establish a recommended pay scheme for ARP for presentation to the Joint Committee at its meeting in July.


The position was noted.



Items for Next Meeting

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


Items noted for inclusion on the agenda for the next meeting in addition to standing items were:


  • Pay Scheme - report
  • Update on East Cambridgeshire’s application for full ARP membership
  • Funding for Council Tax Efficiency Statements – report


It was also noted that a report would be presented at an appropriate point in the light of Quarter 1 performance results on the impact of the recession on performance targets.


Next Meeting

To note the date of the next meeting on 30 July 2009.


Arrangements for the next meeting on 30 July 2009 were noted.