Agenda and minutes

Venue: The Breckland Conference Centre, Anglia Room, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham, NR19 1EE

Media

Items
No. Item

1/21

Minutes pdf icon PDF 269 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2021.

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 15 November 2021 were confirmed as a correct record.  

2/21

Apologies

To receive apologies for absence. 

Minutes:

None.

3/21

Urgent Business

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

Minutes:

None.

4/21

Declaration of Interests

The duties to register, disclose and not to participate for the entire consideration of the matter, in respect of any matter in which a Member has a disclosable pecuniary interest are set out in Chapter 7 of the Localism Act 2011.  Members are also required to withdraw from the meeting room as stated in the Standing Orders of this Council.

 

Minutes:

None.

5/21

Non-Members Wishing to Address the Meeting

To note the names of any non-members who wish to address the meeting.

Minutes:

The Chairman welcomed Members present to the meeting.

6/21

Chairman's Announcements (If Any)

Minutes:

Nothing to report.

7/21

Breckland Community Funding Applications (Standing Item)

To consider the grants put forward (if any). 

Minutes:

Councillor Alison Webb, the Executive Member for Housing, Health and Communities informed Members that there were no inspiring communities applications to report on as the scheme had now closed.

8/21

Key Performance Indicator Proposal pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Report of Councillor Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Mark Robinson, Executive Member for Customer, Digital and Performance presented the report that asked Members to agree the proposed changes to the performance indicators for the upcoming performance cycle.

 

Members of the Overview and Scrutiny Commission had discussed the report on 16th December 2021 and recommended to Cabinet that minor changes to some indicators should be made.

 

It was noted that whilst there was a long list of Key Performance Indicators, the detailed data would be available should it be required.

 

Councillor Birt said that the recommendation highlighted within the report was the same for the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and felt that the Commission had made significant modifications, but they had not been recognised within the report to Cabinet.

 

Councillor Jermy suggested that an updated list of the Key Performance Indicators be circulated to all Members.

 

The Innovation and Change Business Partner apologised for the recommendation and confirmed that the changes had been made and would be circulated to Members.

 

The Executive Member also confirmed that Cabinet had taken into account what had been presented by the Overview and Scrutiny Commission and it would be with those changes that the Cabinet would be voting on.

 

Options

1)    To recommend the adoption of the revised Indicator suite.

2)    Do Nothing

Reasons for Recommendation

The revised suite of indicators allows for performance reporting in line with the new corporate plan in terms of organisational goals and aims.

 

RESOLVED that the proposed indicators be adopted.

9/21

Draft Budget Setting, Medium Term Financial Plan and Capital Strategy 2022-23 pdf icon PDF 242 KB

Report of Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits presented the report that asked Members to consider that the draft capital and revenue budget estimates, the draft medium term financial plan and the draft capital strategy be reviewed in preparation for the final budget setting in February 2022.

 

Councillor Cowen said that since the pandemic had struck, the Council had continued to maintain service delivery and that the draft budget was a testament to all the due diligent work that had been undertaken.  He said that despite the challenging times, a balanced budget for 2022-23 had been put forward.  The budgets for 2023-24 and 2024-25 were also balanced however, it was dependent on the timing of future funding changes that were outside of the Council’s control.  It was proposed that the Council Tax be increased by £4.95 for a band D property in order to protect services and Breckland would still be the lowest District council tax across the country.

 

The draft Capital programme showed a borrowing requirement over the medium term however, the programme included an annual repayment for waste contract vehicles and equipment and the repayment through revenue for those items would make the borrowing requirement nil.

 

The draft budget had been based on no reliance of the New Homes Bonus funding; the Council would continue to deliver and maintain service delivery and invest in the Council’s future priorities; and would increase the hardship fund by £35k to £100k.  There would not be any future contributions to the Council’s reserves as there would need to be further funding from elsewhere to contribute to that fund.

 

Councillor Suggitt gave credit for what had been presented and believed that it had demonstrated the Council’s commitment in maintaining and delivering services.  Councillor Cowen felt it was important to focus on the reasons that had been outlined and whilst it would be better to not increase the Council tax there were priorities that the Council needed to focus on such as inspiring communities.

 

Councillor Webb added her thanks to the team and said the work undertaken as part of the Inspiring Communities programme had made a huge difference to residents within Breckland.

 

Councillor Birt asked a series of questions:

a)    Referring to the Key assumptions table (page 34 of the report pack) the cost of living increase had stated 2% which he considered to be low; especially as there was a 1.25% increase in National Insurance in April, together with inflation and asked if it would have a consequence to staff pay rises.

b)    The tax base, on page 41 of the report saw an increase of 300 but this did not stack up with the expected 612 properties that were due to be built and asked why the tax base had not increased accordingly.

c)    He agreed that whilst the Breckland Council Tax was low, he felt the Council did not have the lowest council tax in the country.

 

Members were provided with the following responses to the questions raised:  ...  view the full minutes text for item 9/21

10/21

Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme (LCTRS) for 2022 - 2023 pdf icon PDF 270 KB

Report of Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue & Benefits.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits presented the report.

 

Members heard that Councils were required to consider and review the Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme annually and this was the ninth year the scheme had been in operation.  The report outlined the findings of the 2021 annual review and proposed modifications as a result of the consultation.

 

Councillor Robinson particularly commended recommendations three and four of the report as he had regularly supported residents who required assistance with the scheme and welcomed that the claim process would be streamlined.

 

Councillor Jermy noted that the report highlighted that 123 customers would be expected to pay more Council Tax and asked what the average amount would be.  He also questioned if benchmarking had taken place between other local authorities to reach the proposed reduction of the ‘Capital Threshold’ figures from £16,000 to £10,000.

 

Councillor Cowen stated that the Anglia Revenues Partnership affected Council Tax payers across much of East Anglia, not just Breckland but would ask the Head of ARP to respond to the questions that had been specifically asked.

 

Councillor Birt asked what measures were in place to limit those who were able to manage their financial affairs so appear to have a low income but live a lavish life.  Councillor Cowen said he would ask the Head of ARP to respond.

 

The Chairman felt it was important that the benefits system was an easy process to follow especially for those that experienced financial hardship.  He added that Breckland Council was the only Council in Norfolk that contributed to the Citizens Advice Bureau as well as a fraud team within the Anglia Revenues Partnership.  It was therefore important that there was a specialist team to consider difficult cases and ensure that early intervention provided support to those in need.

 

Options

 

1) That Cabinet recommends to Full Council the proposed changes to Breckland Council's Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023

1) Reducing the capital threshold from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolishing tariff income

2) Introducing a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for non-dependants

3) Further streamlining the claim process

4) Increasing the tolerance for Universal Credit data re-assessments from £65 per month to £100 per month

 

2) That Cabinet recommends to Full Council some of the proposed changes to Breckland Council's Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023 but not all.

 

3) Do nothing.

 

Reasons for Recommendation

These proposed changes are expected to streamline a customer’s journey; provide certainty and consistency of entitlement; reduce information requirements for customers; and enhance the use of DWP and HMRC data.

 

RESOLVED to RECOMMEND to FULL COUNCIL:

The proposed changes to Breckland Council’s Local Council Tax Reduction Scheme 2022-2023:

1)    Reducing the capital threshold from £16,000 to £10,000 and abolishing tariff income.

2)    Introducing a fixed rate reduction of £7.40 for non-dependants.

3)    Further streamlining the claim process.

4)    Increasing the tolerance for Universal Credit data re-assessments from £65 per month to £100 per month.

11/21

Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership pdf icon PDF 127 KB

Report of the meeting of the Joint Committee held on Tuesday, 7 December 2021.

Minutes:

Councillor Phil Cowen, Executive Member for Finance, Revenue and Benefits informed Members that the meeting of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership had been a significant one with further work being undertaken on how to move the Partnership forward. 

 

The minutes of the Anglia Revenues and Benefits Partnership held on 7 December 2021 were noted.

12/21

Next Meeting

To note that the date of the next meeting of Cabinet will be held on Monday 7 February 2022 at 9.30am in the Anglia Room, The Conference Centre, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Monday 7 February 2022 at 9.30am in the Conference Suite, Elizabeth House, Walpole Loke, Dereham were noted.