Agenda item

Performance Report (Agenda Item 5)

Report of the Operational Board.

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 for the percentage of direct debit payers between East Cambridgeshire and the other partner authorities related to the fact that East Cambridgeshire’s payments were made over 10 months as opposed to 12 months for Breckland and Forest Heath.  However, the Councils were still in top quartile on this indicator last year.  It was expected that the current economic downturn would affect future collection rates.

 

Finally, it was noted that there had been a good response to the promotion of the Small Business Rate Relief scheme, particularly in the Breckland and East Cambridgeshire Council areas.  The response from firms in the Forest Heath area, however, had not been as good and the reasons for this were not clear.  Further promotional activity was to be carried out with representative business organisations.  Members asked that copies of the publicity material be sent to them.

 

         RESOLVED that the report be noted.

 

 

 

 

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