Agenda item

Joint Committee Performance Report April 2019


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 from Norfolk County Council and March 2020 from Suffolk County Council.  Cambridgeshire County Council had ceased funding from April 2018 and therefore the work the Team could do was fairly limited.

Referring to the report, the Vice-Chairman asked a question about the charging orders and at what point possession came into effect. Members were informed that a sale of the property could be enforced and the debt could then still be collected; however, arrangements for the debt to be paid were put in place and most were collected - possession was always the last resort.

The Strategic Manager (Support Services) ARP then provided Members with an update on the annual billing project.  The annual billing 2019/20 project had been completed as planned with over 340,000 bills and notifications sent out in one week and on time.

The Anglia Revenues website had been enhanced and was now much more transactional and had proven a success with over 250,000 hits with the most being on the payment page.

As far as the Customer Survey was concerned, a new shared ARP satisfaction survey had been trialled with encouraging initial results including quite a positive feedback.  The new Customer Group was already putting together the next survey; looking at the reason why some people were not using on-line services.

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