Performance Report (Standing Item) (Agenda item 5)
- Meeting of Anglia Revenues & Benefits Joint Committee, Tuesday, 7th March, 2023 10.00 am (Item 5/23)
Report of Matthew Waite-Wright, Head of NNDR Recovery & Enforcement (ARP).
Matthew Waite-Wright, the Head of NNDR Recovery & Enforcement (ARP) provided Members with a detailed overview of the Quarter 3 performance report as at the end of December 2022.
A discussion had been had with OIB about introducing a tolerance rule for targets and it had been agreed that if Councils were within 1% of the target, a ‘green’ against the target would still be given.
Overall, all partner Councils combined were on target in all areas except for the NNDR collection for East Suffolk Council. This target had been affected by a large refund during 2022 of around £5m but without this refund all targets would be on course.
An update on each service was then provided.
The Team was now fully staffed with Enforcement Agents. At the end of December it had been forecast that there would be a shortfall against budgeted income and expenditure, due to the energy rebate awards and the cost-of-living; however, significantly less cases had been received through the recovery processes for enforcement action, so for this year there had been less cases passed forward to the Recovery Teams from each individual Council that had led to this shortfall in income. However, in total the Enforcement Team had collected just short of £3m and just over £750k in fees.
The Further Recovery Team comprising of just 3 staff doing bankruptcies and charging orders had, between them, over the 3 Quarters collected just over £750k. It was anticipated that £1m could be reached by the end of Quarter 4.
Overall collection was on target. It had been expected that with the cost-of living crisis there might have been a downturn in collections, but this was not the case. At the end of Quarter 3, for both council tax and business rates there had been a great deal of work in respect of the annual billing and this still continued.
Work continued on the change of address automation project.
The Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme had been extended for 2 months and ended on 30 November 2022, along with the Discretionary Scheme but had since been succeeded by a couple of new energy support schemes.
Both Council Tax Support and Benefits performance had achieved targets, despite increased demand from the continuing high levels of changes to addresses and ARP continued to utilise generically trained staff to focus resource where it was most needed.
The Team was now automating 97% of changes in Universal Credit and had become a reference site for other Capita sites. When customers notified Universal Credit of a change of address or circumstance an automated process followed and ARP systems were updated automatically, a massive saving in staff resource.
Overall, collection was slightly behind target due to the large refund at East Suffolk. Revaluation was the biggest element of work as it was the first time in 7 years that such properties had been re-valued. A new list had been received from the Valuation Office Agenda and all NDR lists were in balance.,
It was noted that annual billing had proceeded successfully.
ARP Systems and Digital
Work continued with Capita, with other local authorities and wider Capita users to get the most out of the softwares. ARP was currently working with a large Unitary Council sharing knowledge and experiences which would be beneficial in the future.
Work volumes with both system admin and EDMS were quite high but through working with the Programme Manager a strong plan of priorities was being made to ensure that resources could meet expectations and demands. All ongoing projects had been scored in line with strategic priorities and regular project updates were provided for each team.
A number of projects were currently on-going, working out which ones were of higher importance and the projects that ARP wanted to put the most IT software in place.
The Systems Team had been heavily involved in the delivery of both the Council Tax energy rebate scheme and the CARF scheme which ended on 30th November 2022.
Fraud & Compliance
Progress had been made in respect of the Cambridgeshire Fraud Hub with East Cambridgeshire District Council and Fenland District Council approving the business case to extend the Fraud and Compliance work for the two partners.
It was reported that the Cambridgeshire Fraud Hub paperwork was now with County for final sign-off. This had not been a straightforward process, but ARP was optimistic that this would come to fruition shortly.
The Fraud Team had continued the work with Norfolk and Suffolk with the additional resources that both had provided. The Assistant Fraud Manager had also undertaken a review of the Fraud Services at Broadland and South Norfolk Councils. Reports had been agreed to take on Broadland, South Norfolk and Lincolnshire Councils fraud provision. The agreement had been drawn up and gone through the legal process and the latest position was that it was now with data protection colleagues
Better Customer Experience Programme
The Council Tax change of address portal service continued to be a success, with around 45% of address changes being submitted via this service.
The Project Teams in ARP continued to invest resources to implement automation.
Through Tel Solutions products that ARP used for Council Tax arrears/reminders, customers now received an automated telephone message, text message or email to encourage payments and make the payment prior to a reminder being sent. This had resulted in in fewer reminders and less summons being sent and subsequently improved collection rates overall.
Under the system & digital service update, Councillor Cowen had heard it mentioned that ARP would find it beneficial working with a Unitary Authority and asked for clarity on this point in terms of why it would be beneficial.
The Head of NNDR Recovery & Enforcement (ARP) explained that this would enable knowledge and best practice to be shared to improve efficiencies.
The performance report was otherwise noted.