Policy & Resources Cabinet Member – Minutes – 8 April 2013

On 21 February 2012 and 19 February 2013 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for the 2012/2013 and 2013/2014 financial years respectively.  The report gave details of virements approved by the Director of Policy and Resources under delegated powers and those that required Cabinet Member approval.

Resolved – (a) That the virements at paragraph 3.1 of the report, approved by the Director of Policy and Resources under delegated powers be noted, and (b) that the permanent virements outlined in paragraph 3.2 of the report be approved.

54        (54) CHANGES TO BUSINESS RATES AND COUNCIL TAX IMPLICATIONS FOR RATE RELIEFS 2013/2014 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to inform the cabinet member of changes to business rate and council tax arrangements from 1 April 2013 following government reforms and to consider the implications for the arrangements for awarding discretionary business rate relief.

From April 2013 a new business rate retention scheme has been introduced by the Government. From 2013/14 the localisation of business rates meant that the way discretionary and mandatory relief was funded would change and the cost of both types of relief would be shared 50/50 between the government and the council.

Full details of the implications and revised reporting arrangements for Business Rates Relief and Council Tax Support were detailed in section 3 of the report.

Resolved – (a) That the effects of changes to business rates and council tax legislation be noted; (b) that the revised reporting arrangements described in sections 3 of the report be approved and implemented from 2013/14, and (c) that the current scoring criteria for awarding discretionary relief be confirmed.

55        (55) FEES & CHARGES 2013-2014 – POLICY AND RESOURCES CABINET PORTFOLIO –  The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval to fix the level of fees and charges for the financial year 2013/2014 in relation to the council’s Policy & Resources Cabinet Portfolio.

Fees and charges were re-assessed annually.  Details of the proposed fees and charges for 2013/2014 were outlined in Appendix 1 to the report.

Resolved – That the fees and charges for 2013/2014, set out in Appendix 1 to the report be approved.

56        (56) INFORMATION GOVERNANCE FRAMEWORK POLICY – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought consideration and approval of the Information Governance Policy Framework (formerly known as the Information Management Policy).

The council had an over-arching information management policy that set out the principles for managing all information assets and application of the regulatory framework and standards for managing data and information across the council.

The Cabinet Member was advised that adopting a framework approach to information governance was a key requirement to ensure the council met its obligations arising through the NHS public health transition arrangements.  To this end the Information Management policy had been revised accordingly and as an over-arching policy now included a range of activity for managing and monitoring the policies, processes and procedures it contained.

It was explained that the policy was a ‘live’ document and would be kept under constant review to ensure it remained fit for purpose and facilitated the council in achieving its vision efficiently and securely.

Revisions had also been made to the suite of individual key policies that supported the Information Governance Policy Framework.

Resolved – That the Information Governance Policy Framework be approved.

57        (57) LOCAL TAXATION AND BENEFITS SHARED SERVICE – DEBT RECOVERY – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval to create two fixed term posts of council tax debt assistant to strengthen council tax collection arrangements and maximise debt recovery, following the introduction of the new Council Tax Support Scheme from 1 April 2013.

After a period of consultation over the summer/autumn of 2012 the Council on 27 November 2012 approved a new Local Council Tax Support Scheme. This new responsibility for the council was part of the government’s welfare reform agenda and replaced the previous national council tax benefit scheme, which the council administered on behalf of Government, from 1 April 2013.

It was explained that the new roles would identify cases where new council tax payers had not paid in accordance with their tax demand, and would be pro-active in contacting these customers to make payment arrangements, and where required, signpost customers to other support available such as budget management training sessions.  It was intended that the new staff would intervene before the accounts reached summons stage, thereby reducing the possibility of additional costs being added to the account.

The new posts would be funded from a specific government grant which had been provided to manage the change-over from council tax benefit to the new council tax support scheme and it was proposed thatthe posts should be added to existing structures.

Resolved – (a) That the creation of two additional posts to support debt recovery for a fixed term of two years be approved, and (b) that the work of these posts be integrated with the wider support arrangements for vulnerable groups being put in place through the Finance Inclusion Group.

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Where there is no report this is because it is exempt, as it contains information which is considered to be of a confidential nature, as detailed in the Local Government (Access to Information) Act.