Agenda and draft minutes

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

Contact: Committee Services, Breckland Council  Tel: 01362 656870

Items
No. Item

11/19

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 any of the previous six 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.

 

For your information, the Chairmanship has to rotate round so that each Council takes its turn in a 7 year period.   

 

St Edmundsbury DC - June 2012

Forest Heath DC - June 2013

Breckland DC - June 2014

East Cambs DC - June 2015

Fenland DC - June 2016

Suffolk Coastal - June 2017

Waveney District Council – June 2018 (current)

Minutes:

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

 

RESOLVED that Councillor Sarah Broughton 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 Phil Cowen be appointed as Vice-Chairman for the ensuing year.

 

 

12/19

Treasurer (Agenda item 2)

To appoint a Treasurer for the ensuing year.

Minutes:

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.

 

 

13/19

Minutes (Agenda item 3) pdf icon PDF 95 KB

To confirm the minutes of the meeting held on 26 March 2019.

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the Minutes of the meeting held on 26 March 2019 be approved.

 

14/19

Apologies (Agenda item 4)

To receive apologies for absence.

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Peter Catchpole, Corporate Director and Chief Finance Officer (S151) for Fenland District Council and Siobhan Martin, Internal Auditor for East Suffolk District Council.

 

15/19

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.

Minutes:

None.

 

16/19

Declarations (Agenda item 6)

Minutes:

None declared.

 

17/19

Governance and Reporting Arrangements Relating to Internal Audit (Agenda item 7)

To receive a verbal report from Siobhan Martin, Head of Internal Audit (East Suffolk Council).

Minutes:

This item had been deferred until the next meeting on 17 September 2019.

 

18/19

Performance Reports (Agenda item 8)

Presented by Stuart Philpot, Strategic Manager (Support Services), ARP.

18/19a

Joint Committee Performance Report April 2019 pdf icon PDF 391 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Stuart Philpot, the Strategic Manager (Support Services) ARP, presented the report.

 

It was noted that the Local Council Tax Reduction and Housing Benefits indicators for both East Suffolk and West Suffolk had been amended since the publication of the agenda and new up-to-date versions would be attached to the Minutes accordingly. This had been due to the work carried out in respect of the merger between the two Councils.

 

The first part of the new style performance report featured the performance of all partners combined which also included the fraud and compliance figures for the month of April.

 

It was explained that the ‘green dots’ within the performance charts represented being on target.

 

It was noted that due to various refunds, the Council Tax collected for Breckland Council was below target but would recover later in the year.  The Vice-Chairman explained that this was largely due to pre-payments.

 

Referring to the figures under fraud and compliance for East Cambridgeshire District Council, it was explained that these were much lower in comparison to the other partners due to the funding to support Single Person Discounts from Cambridgeshire County Council being stopped.

 

In relation to the performance information in respect of the business rates target for Fenland District Council, Members were informed that this result had been due to a successful appeal.

There was some discussion on time limits for appeals and the impact they had on the authority.  It was noted that a reassessment was on-going as to whether hospitals could claim business rate relief, as the Doctor surgeries had, which in turn had created a significant impact on local authorities.  It was further noted that the Finance Officers would build in provision for this if it should happen.  Christine Marshall, the Executive Director for Commercialisation & S151 Officer for Breckland Council, advised that Reserves would have to be utilised too.

It was noted that the next business rates revaluation should take place in 2021, followed by another in 2024.

The Vice-Chairman felt that renewable energy could be a further risk to take into consideration.  It was noted that Sizewell power station in Suffolk could be an issue.  The Executive Director for Commercialisation & S151 Officer for Breckland Council explained that when local infrastructure became national infrastructure the business rates collected would be lost.  Business Rates were now being looked at like a budget comprising of different segments and the risks associated with them i.e. such as hospitals.

Jo Andrews, the Strategic Manager for Revenues (ARP), presented the Service updates as at April 2019-20.

The Enforcement Team continued to perform well, having collected £16.157M since the Team started of which £5.669M had been collected in the last financial year.

ARP had dedicated Officers working within the Further Recovery Team.  The Team had its best year for collection in 2018/19 collecting £1,111,595 which exceeded the amount collected the previous year by £203k.  The Team was partly funded by Norfolk and Suffolk County Council and this funding would continue to be provided un March 2021  ...  view the full minutes text for item 18/19a

18/19b

Presentation of Data Q4 FINAL 18-19 pdf icon PDF 555 KB

Minutes:

The final data for Q4 was noted.

18/19c

ARP Financial Out-turn 2018-19 pdf icon PDF 61 KB

Report by Alison Chubbock, Chief Accountant & Deputy S151 Officer (BDC).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Executive Director for Commercialisation & S151 Officer for Breckland Council presented the ARP Financial outturn report.

 

The under-spends for each authority totalling £91k were highlighted.  These surplus amounts would be shared between the partner authorities in the approved shares.

 

The transformation funding on page 78 of the agenda pack was also highlighted.

 

All costs in the table showing the actual full year financial performance as at 31/3/2018 had been split based on the Joint Committee Agreement.

 

In response to a question, Members were informed that the Mitel Join Up unified essential communications into a single application and prevented ARP sharing the resource on answering all telephone calls.

 

The Vice-Chairman mentioned robotics and artificial intelligence data that had been gathered from various bodies and had noticed that the Partnership had not been included on the list and felt that it should respond.  Paul Corney, the Head of ARP pointed out that the Operational Improvement Board (OIB) had been working on this but unfortunately, had not fed into it.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

19/19

Service Plan and Risk Update (Agenda item 9) pdf icon PDF 75 KB

Report of Paul Corney, Head of ARP.

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Paul Corney, the Head of ARP presented the report.

 

In accordance with the ARP Agreement the Service Delivery Plan had to be revised and agreed by the Joint Committee by the end of December each year and the Risk Register has to be reviewed on a six monthly basis.

 

Information contained in the report at section 1.2.1 of the report highlighted that the ARP had achieved significant success in the last year.  In addition to service aims and objectives the Service Plan included a risk assessment and details of the major projects that the ARP would be implementing in the next 12 months.  Other achievements had been listed under section 1.2.2 to 1.2.6 of the report.  Referring to section 1.2.4 of the report (a major initiative going forward), rebates totalling £40k had already been achieved in respect of the development of online forms that had been integrated with the Capita system.

 

A proposal would be taken to OIB to develop on line forms and transactions to further improve the customer journey.

 

The ARP had entered into an agreement with DWP to jointly help customers to make the transition to Universal Credit; a Universal Support Partnership had been set up and agreed; however, this expired 31 March 2019 when DWP moved the funding to Citizen’s Advice. Members were reminded of the pilot scheme in Harrogate of which up to 3,000 existing benefit claimants would be moved to the six-in-one system from July, in the first test of “managed migration”.  Adrian Mills, the Strategic Manager (Benefits) would be working on the managed migration on behalf of ARP.

 

Norwich City Council had delegated their enforcement work to Breckland Council who would be passing this work to the ARP Enforcement Agency from July 2019.  Other Councils were interested in delegating their services to partner Councils leading to ARP collecting the debts and growing the resilience of the Enforcement Team.

 

The Vice-Chairman, Councillor Cowen, was aware that the Citizens Advice Bureau (CAB) had been given a pot of cash to deal with the migration of customers to Universal Credit for a year only and wanted to know how this would affect the ARP once the monies had been used.  The Head of ARP advised that there was a great deal of uncertainty in respect of Universal Credit implementation and uncertainty over future Government funding but all matters had been included on the Risk Register (see page 87 of the agenda pack).

 

Following further discussion, it was

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1.     the progress in respect of the December 2018 Service Delivery Plan be noted; and

2.     the revised Service Delivery Plan and Risk Register at Appendix A of the report be approved.

 

20/19

Welfare Reform Update (Standing Item) (Agenda item 10) pdf icon PDF 77 KB

Report of Adrian Mills – ARP Strategic Manager (Benefits).

 

Minutes:

Adrian Mills, the Strategic Manager (Benefits) ARP, presented the report and provided Members with a detailed overview and update on the following matters:

 

·       Universal Credit – situation to date

·       Discretionary Housing Payment

·       Benefit Cap; and

·       Social Rented Sector Rent Restrictions

 

In terms of Universal Credit, DWP had started work on a managed migration trial at Harrogate Jobcentre that was scheduled to commence July 2019; subject to Parliamentary approval.  On 15 May 2019, DWP had introduced new legislation that would mean that new claims from mixed age couples, where one partner was a pensioner and the other working age, must claim UC and be subject to UC conditionality rules, with certain exceptions.  Given benefit rates were higher for existing pensioners, this would have the effect of reducing benefit entitlement. 

 

The Chairman asked if the Discretionary Housing Payment grant from DWP was capped.  Members were informed that if the grant was not totally spent it would have to be paid back.  For 2018/19 ARP had achieved a near full spend.

 

The report was otherwise noted.

 

21/19

Forthcoming Issues (Standing Item) (Agenda item 11)

To note any items.

Minutes:

Councillor Steve Gallant asked if all Members were content with the Terms of Reference and the structure of the ARP.

 

Members were informed that the Partnership Agreement would be reviewed and was already scheduled to come back to the Joint Committee in the autumn.

 

22/19

Next Meeting (Agenda item 12)

To note the arrangements for the next meeting to be held on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 at 10.30am (immediately following the pre-briefing), Level 5 meeting room, Breckland House, St Nicholas Street, Thetford.

Minutes:

The arrangements for the next meeting on Tuesday, 17 September 2019 at 10.30am, Level 5 meeting room in Thetford were noted.