Agenda item

Local Council Tax Support Scheme (Agenda item 14)

Report of William Smith, Executive Member for Internal Services.

Minutes:

It was agreed that the Local Council Tax Support Scheme would be discussed in public session.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services presented the report which sought Members’ approval to undertake a formal consultation on a draft Council Tax Support Scheme.

 

The Government had announced that it would be localising support for Council Tax from 2013 -2014 – reducing expenditure by 10%.  All billing authorities had to adopt such a Scheme by 31 January 2013 for implementation from 1 April 2013.

 

The regulations were still unclear but every local authority must have a Scheme set up by the required timeline.  To do nothing would have the effect of invoking the Government’s default statutory scheme and as a result, the precepting authorities would bear the full cost of the grant reduction.

 

As mentioned above, the new Council Tax Support Scheme would be funded to 90% of the current level by Government and the 10% funding gap would have to be borne by Norfolk County Council, Norfolk Police Authority and Breckland Council.  Parish Councils would also be affected.

 

Breckland Council was obliged to consult with all stakeholders and the format of how the consultation would be carried out was explained.

 

The Executive Member for Internal Services felt that this would be an important function for the Overview & Scrutiny Commission to consider particularly before the recommendations were published.  The Assistant Director of Commissioning emphasised that the timescales were extremely tight and highlighted the fact that at this stage the consultation was purely a consultation on the draft scheme and would come back to Cabinet once completed.

 

The Executive Member for Performance & Business Development supported the recommendations but drew attention to paragraph 6.7 of the report.  He anticipated that Parish Councils would not realise what this would mean for them and he hoped that Breckland Council would make them aware before they set their parish precepts. Members were assured that Parish Councils would be classed as one of the stakeholders and would be informed accordingly.

 

The Overview & Scrutiny Commission Chairman referred to the timetable on page 96 of the agenda.  He felt that it would be useful to have this Scheme presented to Scrutiny as this could be politically sensitive and therefore needed to be right.  Again the Assistant Director of Commissioning pointed out that the timetable was extremely tight and it would be difficult to get it to the Commission prior to the consultation.  The Executive Member for Internal Services suggested that it would be better for Scrutiny to come in at the end of the consultation process once all the information had been gathered.

 

Options

 

1)     To do nothing.

2)     To undertake consultation of a draft Council Tax Support Scheme that makes savings through new support arrangements and generated income through appropriate technical changes in Council Tax collection.

 

Reasons

 

To do nothing would have the effect of invoking Government’s default statutory scheme and as a result the precepting authorities would bear the full cost of the grant reduction.  This was therefore not deemed to be an appropriate option.

 

The approach as outlined in the report and in the appendices would, where possible, use appropriate technical changes to fill the funding gap but would also consider savings that could be made by changing levels of support e.g. capping entitlement.

 

RESOLVED that:

 

1)     the Leader of the Council and the Chief Executive be given delegated authority to determine the draft Council Tax Support Scheme for consultation; and

2)     a draft Council Tax Support Scheme be published for consultation, in order to meet the statutory timetable to approve a final scheme before the end of January 2013.

Supporting documents: