Agenda and minutes

Venue: Level 5, Meeting Room 2, Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford IP24 1BT

Contact: Committee Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

Introductions

New Members were welcomed and introductions made round the table.

23.

Chairman and Vice-Chairman (Agenda Item 1)

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.

 

  1. 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.

 

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

 

Previous appointments have been as follows:

 

Year

Appointee

Office Held

2006-07

Mr S. Edwards

(Forest Heath)

Chairman

 

Mr P. Claussen

(Breckland)

Vice-Chairman

2007-08

Mr P. Claussen

(Breckland)

Chairman

 

Mr G. Wilson

(East Cambs)

Vice-Chairman

2008-09

Mr G. Wilson

(East Cambs)

Chairman

 

Mr E. Steward

(Forest Heath)

Vice-Chairman

2009-10

Mr E. Steward

(Forest Heath)

Chairman

 

Mr P. Claussen

(Breckland)

Vice-Chairman

2010-11

Mr P. Claussen

(Breckland)

Chairman

 

Mr F Brown

(E Cambs)

Vice-Chairman

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED that:

 

(1)                 Mr P Moakes be appointed Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing year; and

 

(2)                 Mrs A Gower be appointed Vice-Chairman of the Joint Committee for the ensuing year.

 

Mr Moakes in the Chair

 

24.

Minutes (Agenda Item 2) pdf icon PDF 80 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2011.

 

Minutes:

The Minutes of the meeting held on 17 March 2011 were confirmed as a correct record.

 

25.

Apologies (Agenda Item 3)

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Mr S Edwards and Mr A Killington.

 

26.

Urgent Business (Agenda Item 4)

To note whether the Chairman proposes to accept any items of urgent business pursuant to Section 100(B)(4)(b) of the Local Government Act 1972.

Minutes:

None.

 

27.

Declaration of Interest (Agenda Item 5)

Members are asked at this stage to declare any interests they may have in any of the following items on the agenda.  The Members’ Code of Conduct requires that declarations include the nature of the interest and whether it is a personal and/or prejudicial interest.

Minutes:

No declarations were made.

 

28.

Performance Report (Agenda Item 6)

Reports of the Operational Board:

28a

Operational Performance pdf icon PDF 124 KB

To receive the latest Operational Performance Report.

 

  • March 2011
  • April 2011
  • May 2011 to follow

 

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) presented the three Performance Reports for March, April and May 2011.

 

There had been a dip in Council Tax collections and analysis was being carried out to try to address the reasons for that.  The bailiffs were taking a harder line but still trying to stay customer friendly in the tough economic climate.

 

There had been a number of critical projects at the end of the last year but good service standards had been maintained.

 

Officers were being pro-active in trying to collect Council Tax.  A large increase in new properties might be linked to the non-payment, but the debt could not be enforced until the Valuation Office set the banding for new properties.

 

Additional information had been provided with the May figures as requested at a previous meeting.  All indicators were green.  St Edmundsbury’s figures would be aligned when IT issues had been addressed.

 

The reports were noted.

 

28b

Financial Performance pdf icon PDF 11 KB

To receive the year-end financial data.

Minutes:

The Accountancy Manager (Breckland) presented the report and advised that the surplus for the year ending March 2011 was £189,000.  The report at Agenda Item 10 would show the surplus split.

 

The report was noted.

 

29.

Service Plan (Agenda Item 7) pdf icon PDF 182 KB

Report of the Head of Shared Service (ARP), Sharon Jones.

 

Appendix B to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Services (ARP) presented the Plan which she said was self explanatory.  She drew attention to the following:

 

  • Page 29 Partnership Development – ARP hoping to become a hub to provide Universal Credits
  • Page 30 – the Partnership would be looking for additional Partners and partnerships at a distance, to make savings
  • Current priorities were likely to be reviewed and would be looked at again in Quarter 3
  • Pages 33/34 – listed planned achievements.  An update on each project would be provided quarterly.
  • Page 35 – ARP worked closely with ARPT, although East Cambridgeshire and St Edmundsbury were not in the Trading Company, the item had been included for information.

 

Questions were asked about Quality Assurance.  This was carried out by a team internally using a software system to monitor performance which provided great flexibility.

 

The number of complaints about the bailiffs was raised and a Member asked how it could be ensured that they were doing a fair job.  The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) advised that regular operational meetings were held to review complaints, progress and collection issues.  Work was also being done to collate information and check for particular pockets of deprivation.  The aim was to provide a firm but fair service.

 

No amendments were requested.

 

RESOLVED to approve the Service Plan for the ARP for 2011-12.

 

30.

Council Tax Collection Criteria (Agenda Item 8) pdf icon PDF 63 KB

Report of the Head of Shared Service (ARP), Sharon Jones.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Services (ARP) explained that she had written the report to inform new Members of the salient points of how Council Tax was collected.

 

Every effort was made to collect Council Tax in the current year.  However, where clients were trying to pay but struggling, payments could be extended into the following year – but this was avoided where possible due to the potential impact on future payments, but also on the debt of the individual, and the wish to reduce debt.

 

The Vice-Chairman asked if the reminder letter provided options for paying and was advised that it did not.  Options were provided in the bill and it was pointed out that the reminder did ask the customer to make contact if they were having difficulty paying.  She also asked how ‘vulnerable’, mentioned at Level 3 Recovery, was defined and was advised that guidance was provided internally.

 

The report was noted.

 

31.

Policies for Adoption (Agenda Item 9) pdf icon PDF 69 KB

Report of the Head of Shared Service (ARP), Sharon Jones.

 

Appendix E, Risk, to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Services (ARP) advised that there were a lot of Policies to be adopted following St Edmundsbury joining the Partnership.  Four were on the current agenda and another 11 would follow on future agendas.

 

Appendix A – Benefits Appeals Policy and Procedure

 

RESOLVED to adopt the Benefits Appeals Policy and Procedure.

 

Appendix B – Investigating & Visiting Officer’s Code of Conduct & Safety Policy

 

The Vice-Chairman sought assurance that the current Health & Safety training arrangements would cover all Partners and the Head of Shared Services (ARP) confirmed that she was comfortable with the arrangements.

 

RESOLVED to adopt the Investigating & Visiting Officer’s Code of Conduct & Safety Policy.

 

Appendix C – Post Opening Policy

 

RESOLVED to adopt the Post Opening Policy.

 

Appendix D – Overpayments Policy

 

This Policy explained the procedure for recovering overpayments and a leaflet was also available, in plain English, clearly setting out the steps taken.

 

Subject to amending the revision date to 6.6.11 it was:

 

RESOLVED to adopt the Overpayments Policy.

 

32.

2010/11 Budget Surplus (Agenda Item 10) pdf icon PDF 65 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Support & Fraud), Rod Urquhart.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) said that 2010-2011 had been a good year for the Partnership.  Due to prudent budgeting and additional income strands there had been a surplus of £189,000 which had already been allocated to the Partners that were in the ARP during that year.  Appendix A set out the financial implications.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               note the report; and

(2)               approve the re-distribution of the surplus to the partner authorities.

 

33.

Statement of Accounts and Small Body Return (Agenda Item 11) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Assistant Director, Finance (Breckland Council & South Holland Council), Mark Finch.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Accountancy Manager (Breckland) presented the report and explained that changes to the Regulations meant that the Joint Committee was now classified as a Small Body which simplified the Annual Statement of Accounts and provided a big saving in both cost and time.

 

On page 93 the income for the year was shown at row three and on rows four and six the costs were set out. 

 

The Annual Governance Statement was shown on page 94.  Section three would be completed once the accounts were returned.  

 

Both documents had been signed by the Assistant Director for Finance (Breckland) and needed to be signed by the Chairman.

 

A Member asked if the Partnership would exceed the Small Body threshold now that St Edmundsbury had joined.  The Accountancy Manager believed that turnover would remain under £6.5million.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               approve the accounting statement for the year ended 31 March 2011;

(2)               approve the annual governance statement; and

(3)               note the internal audit report and review of governance arrangements.

 

NB The Chairman signed the Statement of Accounts and the Annual Governance Statement at the conclusion of the meeting.

 

34.

Atlas Funding Report (Agenda Item 12) pdf icon PDF 68 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Support & Fraud), Rod Urquhart.

 

Proforma B to follow.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) presented the report which updated Members on the legislative changes following the DWP initiative to transfer data functions.  The National rollout of the new system would begin in July and end in December.

 

DWP funding had been set aside to pay for software, training, publicity, etc.  The breakdown of costs was set out at Appendix A to the report.  There would be a surplus at the end which it was proposed to share between the Partners at the agreed ratio. 

 

(It was noted that at point 3.2.3 of the report the St Edmundsbury percentage was incorrect – it should be 28.43 not 26.43 as shown.  The percentage was correct in Appendix A).

 

Subject to the above amendment it was:

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               note the contents of the report; and

(2)               approve the payments necessary from the partner authorities to Breckland Council for the 1st phase & grants;

(3)               delegate authority to the Partners’ S151 Officers to approve the expenditure for any future phases; and

(4)               approve the distribution of the surplus at the agreed gain share rates.

 

35.

DWP Extra Admin 2011/12 Funding Report (Agenda Item 13) pdf icon PDF 70 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Support & Fraud), Rod Urquhart.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) advised Members that the report on the agenda had been superseded by the report issued with the agenda supplement (pages 127-131).

 

Additional funding had been awarded by the DWP to help Local Authorities with the administration costs caused by increased caseloads.  The breakdown of expenses was set out at Appendix A to the report.

 

Following the inclusion of St Edmundsbury in the Partnership their databases were being converted to the same system as other Partners.  It was proposed to employ additional full time and agency staff to cover the conversion period to avoid impacting on performance.

 

A Member asked how the £15,000 earmarked for Infrastructure Review would be broken down and the Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) said that more details would follow.

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               note the contents of the report;

(2)               approve the payments necessary from the partner authorities to Breckland Council; and

(3)               approve the distribution of any surplus at the agreed gain share ratio for spending on customer/benefits services.

 

36.

LHA Funding Report (Agenda Item 14) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Support & Fraud), Rod Urquhart.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) presented the report which sought approval to share the funding provided by the DWP to pay for changes to software, training, documentation and publicity following new legislation in respect of Local Housing Allowance Rates.

 

There was expected to be a small surplus which would be shared between the partners at the agreed rate.  It was noted that the rate for St Edmundsbury was incorrect in the report and should be 28.43%.

 

Subject to that amendment it was:

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               note the contents of the report;

(2)               approve the payments necessary from the partner authorities to Breckland Council;

(3)               approve the distribution of any surplus at the agreed gain share ratio.

 

37.

SMALL BUSINESS RATES RELIEF (SBRR) FUNDING REPORT 2011-12 (Agenda Item 15) pdf icon PDF 67 KB

Report of the Operations Manager (Support & Fraud), Rod Urquhart.

Minutes:

The Operations Manager (Support and Fraud)(ARP) presented the report which informed Members of an extension to the previously reported enhanced scheme for Small Business Rate Relief.  The scheme would be extended to 30 September 2012 and approval was sought to approve the sharing of costs, etc.

 

It was noted that the St Edmundsbury percentage rate was incorrect and should read 28.43%.  Subject to that change it was

 

RESOLVED to:

 

(1)               note the contents of the report;

(2)               approve the principle of cost share;

(3)               delegate authority to Partner S151 Officers to agree the final costs and distribution of any surplus.

 

38.

Universal Credit (Agenda Item 16) pdf icon PDF 72 KB

A verbal update will be provided by the Head of Shared Service (ARP), Sharon Jones.

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Services (ARP) gave a verbal report to Members on the latest information received.

 

A copy of her report is attached for information.  Members are asked to note that the information, which was taken from the DWP and CLG newsletters and websites, was correct at the time of the meeting, but is subject to change.

 

The report was noted.

 

39.

Forthcoming Issues (Agenda Item 17)

To note any items.

Minutes:

None.

 

40.

Next Meeting (Agenda Item 18)

Members are asked to consider changing the date of the next meeting to avoid a clash with another meeting on 29 September 2011.

 

Minutes:

A new date for the next meeting would be arranged and notified to Members.

41.

Exclusion of Press and Public (Agenda Item 19)

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 disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part I of Schedule 12A to the Act.”

Minutes:

RESOLVED that under Section 100(A) of the Local Government Act 1972 the press and public be excluded from the meeting for the following items of business on the grounds that they involve the disclosure of exempt information as defined in paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A to the Act.

 

42.

Position Statement on work with other Authorities (Agenda Item 20)

A verbal update will be provided by the Head of Shared Service (ARP), Sharon Jones.

Minutes:

The Head of Shared Services gave a verbal update on the current position with regard to the various discussions she was having with other authorities.