Agenda item

Highlight Report

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

Minutes:

The Strategic Manager (Support Services) presented the report.

 

Benefits Performance

 

Performance was being affected by a higher number of vacancies than usual; however, 7 new starters would be commencing employment for ARP in January 2018.

 

Fraud

 

Work was on-going and the table highlighted on page 7 of the agenda recorded the excellent work of the team and the financial savings were on track to exceed targets for the year.

 

Revenues

 

Performance continued to meet targets in all areas with the exception of Non-Domestic Rates collection for Waveney District Council, Forest Heath & St Edmundsbury Borough Councils.  The reason for this was due to a significant amount of refunds as a result of successful appeals by ratepayers against their rateable values.  The NNDR collection profiles for this year differed from the previous year due to the revaluation and timing of the settlement of backdated appeals. 

 

Enforcement Team

 

The Enforcement Team continued to perform well, having collected £7m since the Team started of which £2.5m had been in this financial year.

 

The Chief Finance Officer S151 (Suffolk Coastal District Council) asked that under the table of financial savings further information should be provided – breakdown of fraud analysis for each individual authority and what each authority retained.

 

Councillor Houlder hoped that ARP’s Enforcement Team had not been involved in the recent evictions as the main reason for setting up in-house was to treat customers with respect for whatever reason.  The Strategic Manager (Revenues) advised that at the end of year where a customer was having financial difficulties, the Team would adjust payment arrangements to allow payment of the new year’s charge to try and prevent the situation re-occurring.  

 

It was felt that any arrears issues should be reported back to each respective Cabinet.

 

Councillor Claussen wanted to know how much fraud was wilful fraud.   The Strategic Manager (Support Services) explained that Housing Benefit was not the responsibility of ARP it was DWP. The Head of ARP pointed out that DWP had changed the definition of fraud – fraud and error had been amalgamated into one which had made it very difficult but repeat offences were investigated.

 

Support

 

ARP had successful implemented the review of the web pages for Business Rates a refresh of the Council Tax element of the website was now underway using the same methodology.

 

A successful rollout of a new customer self-service facility and as at 31 October 2017 more than 11,000 Council tax payers had opted for the self- service option.

 

An external mailing company, Critiqom Ltd, had been used for printing, packaging and despatch of 93% of all outgoing mail.  This had kept postage costs to a minimum.  A state of the art barcoding technology was alos being used for all daily outgoing post handled by Royal Mail providing the ability to track the progress of mail from the point it left the printers to the final Royal mail sorting office before actual delivery, this had attracted a maximum discount for the postage costs of approximately 27p per letter (exc. stationery).

 

The report was otherwise noted.

Supporting documents: