Agenda and minutes

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Contact: Democratic Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

No. Item

Chairman's Opening Remarks

The outgoing Chairman, Councillor Cowen thanked everyone within the ARP Partnership for dealing with all the challenges in what had been an incredibly difficult year, yet so much had still been achieved which he felt had been a great success.


Chair and Vice-Chair (Agenda item 1)

To appoint a Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson for the ensuing year:


The terms of reference of the Joint Committee stipulate that:


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


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


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


For your information, the Chairmanship has to rotate round so that each Council takes its turn in a 5-year period (previous 6-year Chairmanship shown):   


East Cambs DC - June 2015

Fenland DC - June 2016

Suffolk Coastal - June 2017

Waveney District Council – June 2018

West Suffolk – June 2019

Breckland DC – September 2020 (current)



After being duly proposed and seconded and with no other nominations being made it was:


RESOLVED that Councillor David Ambrose-Smith (East Cambridgeshire DC) be appointed as Chairman for the ensuing year.


After being duly proposed and seconded and with no other nominations being made it was:


RESOLVED that Councillor Jan French (Fenland DC) be appointed as Vice-Chair for the ensuing year.


Councillor David Ambrose-Smith in the Chair.



Treasurer (Agenda item 2)

To appoint a Treasurer for the ensuing year.



After being duly proposed and seconded and with no other nominations being made it was RESOLVED that:


Breckland Council be appointed as Treasurer for the ensuing year.


Minutes (Agenda item 3) pdf icon PDF 103 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 9 March 2021.


The Minutes of the meeting held on 9 March 2021 were agreed as a correct record.


Apologies (Agenda item 4)

To receive apologies for absence.


An apology for absence was received from Cllr Jan French.  Cllr David Connor was in attendance as substitute.


Urgent Business (Agenda item 5)

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.




Declarations (Agenda item 6)




Anglia Revenues Partnership Service Delivery Plan and Risk Register (Agenda item 7) pdf icon PDF 115 KB

Report by Paul Corney, Head of ARP.

Additional documents:


Paul Corney, Head of ARP presented the Service Delivery Plan and Risk Register.


The pandemic had significantly impacted the services but was continuing to lessen and considerable progress had been made on the Service Delivery Plan.


An error on the Service Plan was highlighted, Members were informed that on the appendix under Maximising Taxbase NNDR, the last three boxes in that row should read as follows, and had been replaced:


Planning, external services such as analyse local and ARP

Data to be shared so that taxbase is maximised and relief to be reviewed regularly

A data matching exercise will take place to identify cases where SBRR is incorrectly claimed because there is more than one business in the Company. A timetable for review of all cases will be prepared with a view to starting the review next financial year once Covid releases resource.


Also, under this section the timetable, mentioned above, had already been produced to enable periodic review of reliefs and exemptions and progress thus far had been quite pleasing.  The assistance provided to customers and the partnership working between teams across all councils and the ARP teams had been a great piece of work by all.


The Chairman, Councill Ambrose-Smith referred to paragraph 3.10 of the report in respect of the appeal from Hospitals for business rate relief that had been withdrawn and reminded Members that this could have ended up being a huge cost to the Partnership.


The Service Delivery Plan and Risk Register was otherwise noted.


Performance Reports (Standing Item) (Agenda item 8) pdf icon PDF 516 KB

Report by Adrian Mills, Strategic Manager (Billing & Benefits) ARP.

Additional documents:


Adrian Mills, Strategic Manager (Billing & Benefits) presented the reports.


He was pleased to report that all partner authorities combined for 2020/2021 were on target; however, the Council Tax collection rates for Breckland, East Suffolk and Fenland DCs were behind target, due to the magistrate’s courts not being open at the time and therefore reducing the amount that could have been collected.


The Enforcement Team had also recently taken on the collection of parking fines for East and West Suffolk Council’s and were due to receive its first cases shortly.


With effect from March 2020, all recovery actions were temporarily suspended until the summer and therefore the amount collected through these actions had been less than in the last financial year. Income of £680K in total had been received this financial year compared to £1.37M last year.


The 3 March 2021 budget, the Government announced that retail, hospitality and leisure relief would be extended into the 2021/22 financial year but from 1 July 2021 would be reduced to 66%.  Revised bills would be issued in June 2021 to reduce the rate relief to 66%.


For Council Tax, the Team had completed 17.5% more documents this year compared to last year yet outstanding work had been below the highest levels it reached the previous year.


The Council Tax Support Hardship Fund awards were issued to every qualifying working age customer by the end of July 2020 and have continued to award a payment to every entitled new working age Council Tax Support customer who made a claim throughout the year.  Expenditure had been closely monitored to ensure the fund for each Council had not been overspent.


Targets had been achieved for both Council Tax Support and Benefits performance, despite the increased demand attributed to COVID-19.


Throughout the year the Team had seen significant increases in claims and had increased by approximately a third on 2019/2020. In April 2020, the Local Council Tax Support schemes changed for all partners to include a 'tolerance rule' which was applied to monthly Universal Credit Data Share (UCDS) records from DWP.


The new rule meant that changes in Universal Credit of under £15.00 per week were ignored by the software system and were automatically processed. An average of just under 4000 UCDS records had been received weekly from the DWP and 53% of these had been fully automated. The introduction of the ‘tolerance’ rule had reduced the number of Council Tax Support re-assessments resulting from DWP UCDS records by 32%, which was in line with the results of modelling undertaken for the consultation. This in turn had reduced the number of Council Tax adjustment notices, contact and refund requests and allowed customers more flexibility to manage their own payments.


The COVID 19 Track & Trace Self Isolation payment scheme had been extended by 3 months to 30 June 2021.


For 2021/22 all targets combined for all partner councils were on target except for Council Tax collections for Breckland and Business Rates collections for East Cambridgeshire DC.


For enforcement,  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21/21


Welfare Reform Update (Standing Item) (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 84 KB

Report by Adrian Mills, Strategic Manager (Billing & Benefits) ARP.


Adrian Mills, Strategic Manager (Billing & Benefits) presented the report and updated Members with the following information.


At paragraph 2.18 - DWP were yet to publish a review of the CAB Help to Claim service but had confirmed that the CAB arrangement would continue into the 2021-2022 year, with a review underway for provision from 2022.


At paragraph 2.19 Members were informed that the Harrogate pilot had recommenced, the Pensioner Benefit would remain until at least 2025 and the £20 per week uplift for Universal Credit had been extended until September 2021.


Councillor Cowen raised concerns about the Help to Claim Service in respect of Breckland and South Norfolk’s CAB service having been reduced and ultimately a real challenge for its customers.


The Strategic Manager (Billing & Benefits) was aware of some of the difficulties, but he hoped that DWP would take a wider look at the contracts in 2022.  This matter would be discussed further.


Councillor Cowen also asked if the partnership would be looking at doing something itself rather than it being between DWP and the CAB.


Members were informed that until ARP had scope of the project itself and the terms nothing could be considered.


Councillor Cowen stated that all ARP Members could use their MPs but a briefing note would be helpful. 


It was agreed that a briefing note would be prepared for Members to use when contacting their MPs.


The Welfare Reform update was otherwise noted.


Q4 ARP Financial Performance 2020-21 (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 64 KB

Report by Alison Chubbock, Assistant Director of Finance & S151 Officer (BDC).

Additional documents:


Alison Chubbock, the Assistant Director of Finance & S151 Officer (BDC) presented the report.


Each of the partner Councils provided full year financial information against budget for the ARP. The information had been collated to provide an overall financial performance report, to provide information to Joint Committee on the out-turn against budget.


The final out-turn for 2021 had increased slightly with an overspend against budget of £551K – further information relating to this overspend could be found at Appendix A


Councillor Broughton was aware that the overspend was mainly due to the delay to enforcement work but asked how long it would take the Partnership to get back on track.


Members were informed that an update would be provided in the quarterly financial reports for the current year.


Councillor Cowen felt that this was due to the impact of the pandemic that everyone faced but the Partnership was in a much better place that many other authorities and hopefully all would be back to normal in the next 12 months.


In response to a question, it was explained that the Joint Committee Agreement set out the variation in shares between each authority which could also be seen on the table under paragraph 1.4 of the report. The percentage shares for this area were based on the enforcement caseloads and number of properties as per the Agreement.


Councillor Cook hoped that this would be the only time that Members would see a deficit.




1.     the report and appendix be noted; and


2.     the final full year variance as at 31 March 2021 be shared between the partner authorities in the approved shares


Forthcoming Issues (Standing Item) (Agenda item 11)

To note any items.


Members were informed that ARP had successfully appointed to the post of Jo Andrews who retired earlier in the year.  The new post holder was from Harrogate and would commence employment early in September 2021.


Next Meeting (Agenda item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 21 September at 11am.  Venue to be confirmed.


The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 21 September 2021 at 11am were noted.  Venue would be confirmed near the time.