Agenda and draft minutes

Strategy and Resources Committee
Monday, 2nd December, 2019 10.00 am

Venue: Barum Room - Brynsworthy. View directions

Contact: Corporate and Community Services  01271 388253

Items
No. Item

69.

Apologies for absence

Minutes:

Apologies for absence were received from Councillors Barker and Prowse.

 

70.

To approve as a correct record the minutes of the meeting held on 4th November 2019 (attached) pdf icon PDF 305 KB

“In response to the issues raised by Frances King, the Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that the Council would investigate the statutory noise nuisance complaint under planning condition 38.”

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 4th November 2019 (circulated previously) be approved as a correct record and signed by the Chair subject to the paragraph in minute 58 being amended as follows:

 

“In response to the issues raised by Frances King, the Head of Environmental Health and Housing advised that the Council would investigate the statutory noise nuisance complaint under planning condition 38.”

 

 

71.

Declarations of Interests.

(Please telephone the Corporate and Community Services team to prepare a form for your signature before the meeting.  Interests must be re-declared when the item is called, and Councillors must leave the room if necessary).

Minutes:

There were no declarations of interest announced.

 

 

72.

Council Tax Reduction New Income-Banded Scheme pdf icon PDF 377 KB

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Additional documents:

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the Council Tax Reduction New Income-Banded Scheme.


The Accountancy Services Manager highlighted the following:

 

·         The ‘old’ Council Tax Benefit scheme was replaced in 2013 by a new localised Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

·         Each year the scheme was reviewed and the Devon Steering Group (of Benefits Officers) work together on reviewing the schemes; over recent years there have been some minor changes to bring the scheme in line with changes made by Central Government in Housing Benefit and Universal Credit.

·         The ‘current’ scheme had been reviewed and Devon Authorities have aimed to move to a “new discount based income-banded scheme” that was fairer, simpler and reduce administration costs.

·         This reduced administration burden would enable the team to focus resource onto overall Council tax debt recovery and improve the overall collection rates.

·         Previously Council Tax Reduction (CTR) was assessed and awarded in line with Housing Benefit (HB).  The advantages of this alignment had been lost since the roll out of Universal Credit (UC) in July 2018.

·         UC was highly reactive to change and the Council can typically receive monthly notifications from the Department of Works and Pensions of a change in income (often very small sums) as the CTR scheme was fully means tested.  Even a trivial change such as this would result in reassessment, requiring an amended Council Tax bill to be produced and rescheduling instalment plans, restarting the debt recovery process all over again. 

·         Households were often issued with many bills, frequent change of instalments/direct debits and was extremely confusing for them and difficult for them to budget or understand exactly what was due to pay.  These continual set-backs for customers, who were already on low income then were often required to owe a lump sum at the end of the year due to these constant changes

·         For these reasons and to minimise the number of changes to CTR assessment Councils across the Country are starting to move towards a discount based income-banded scheme, which was simpler and cheaper to administer.

·         South Hams and West Devon introduced an income-banded scheme for the current year April 2019 and the Devon Benefits Officer Group was recommending that the other Local Authorities follow suit for 2020/21.

·         Introducing the income banded scheme based on current caseload would result in over 80% of claimants ending up better off.

·         Consultation on the proposals was undertaken from September until October 2019 via press releases, on the Council’s website, social media, direct mailshots within council tax bills and benefit notifications and advertising within our Council offices.

·         Responses to these consultations were detailed within Appendices D and Appendix E.  The response level to the consultation was relatively low however the majority of those responses were in favour of the proposed changes.

·         Before CTR the old Council Tax Benefit Scheme cost the public purse around £7.5million.

·         The first year of the CTR scheme was estimated to reduce this cost to £6.5million; however the actual scheme costs have  ...  view the full minutes text for item 72.

73.

Public Conveniences Review

Councillor Pearson, Lead Member for the Environment to report.

Minutes:

Councillor Pearson, Lead Member for the Environment advised the Committee that a public convenience review had commenced previously but had stalled.  There was a number of Council owned public conveniences which were in poor condition and therefore it had been requested that the review be recommenced.  The review had been included within the Operational Services service plan for 2020/21, with the review due to commence in Quarter 1 and complete by Quarter 3.

 

 

74.

Urgent decision taken by the Chief Executive pdf icon PDF 130 KB

To note the urgent decision that has been made by the Chief Executive in accordance with paragraph 3.49, Annexe 2, Part 3 of the Constitution (attached).

 

Minutes:

The Committee noted the urgent decision that had been made by the Chief Executive in accordance with paragraph 3.49, Annexe 2, Part 3 of the Constitution (circulated previously) regarding the appointment of consultants to prepare a Business Case for the Stage 2 bid of Future High Streets Fund.

 

The Chief Executive outlined the reasons for the urgent decision.

 

The Head of Place advised the Committee that the deadline for the submission of the full detailed business cases to Government was by March 2020.  It was anticipated that the full £100,000 awarded to the Council following the successful bid for Stage 1 of Future High Streets Fund would be spent.

 

 

75.

Exclusion of Public and Press and Restriction of Documents

RECOMMENDED:

 

(a)

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the

public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item

as it involves the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended from time to time), namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information);

 

(b)

That all documents and reports relating to the item be confirmed as

“Not for Publication”.

 

Minutes:

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That, under section 100A(4) of the Local Government Act 1972, the

public and press be excluded from the meeting for the following item as it involved the likely disclosure of exempt information as defined by Paragraph 3 of Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act (as amended from time to time), namely information relating to the financial or business affairs of any particular person (including the authority holding that information);

 

(b)

That all documents and reports relating to the item be confirmed as

“Not for Publication”.

 

 

76.

Acquisition of Corporate Property

Report by Head of Resources (attached).

Minutes:

The Committee considered a report by the Head of Resources (circulated previously) regarding the acquisition of corporate property.

 

Councillor Lane declared a personal interest as a land owner.

 

RESOLVED:

 

(a)

That delegated power be given to the Head of Resources to negotiate terms and to acquire the land, as set out in the report, and to apply for grants as deemed appropriate;

 

(b)

That it be noted that a report will be prepared for a future meeting putting forward a strategy for funding future purchases, if appropriate, alongside a Carbon Reduction Plan;

 

RECOMMENDED:

 

(c)

That Council vary the capital programme by £335,900 and funds be released.