Policy & Resources Cabinet Member – Minutes – 21 July 2014

On 25 February 2014 Council approved the revenue and capital budgets for the 2014/15 financial year 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.

135      (9)  NATIONAL NON-DOMESTIC RATE PART OCCUPATION RELIEF – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval of a policy to allow rate relief to ratepayers of partly occupied premises under the provisions contained in Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988.

In rating law a partly used property was viewed as occupied, though section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 enabled the Council to grant rate relief on a property that was partly unoccupied, so long as this situation existed for a short time only. This was a discretionary power and the Council had set guidelines, Appendix A to the report, based on Government advice, for the operation of the scheme.

The amount of relief was not discretionary as the sum awarded was calculated on the apportioned rateable value supplied by the valuation officer, with each application for relief being considered after consulting the guidelines, when a decision would be made whether to allow relief.

Resolved – That the award of part occupation retail relief, under Section 44a of the Local Government Finance Act 1988, for eligible premises which meet the current guidelines and comply with the state aid limit be agreed

136      (10)  DATA QUALITY FRAMEWORK – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval to implement a new Data Quality Framework.  It was explained that a new Data Quality Framework would help to ensure that the council’s Key Performance Indicators and key ICT systems were fit for purpose and compliant with relevant legislation.

The process of data quality assurance verified the reliability and effectiveness of data that was used for business purposes. Managing data quality required a systematic approach which typically involved updating, standardising, auditing and cleansing records.

Included within the new framework was a Data Management Plan Audit (DMPA). The audit provided a councilwide view of systems, processes and functions and would help shape the action plan for cleansing data and making necessary process improvements.

Resolved – That the implementation of the new Data Quality Framework attached at appendix 1 to the report be approved.

137      (11)  CONSTRUCTION AND HIGHWAYS FRAMEWORK AWARDThe Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which set out the findings and outcome of a procurement process to establish a council-wide framework arrangement for construction and highways requirements.

In January 2013 the Policy and Resources Cabinet Member approved a procurement process for the establishment of a council-wide integrated framework arrangement for the future procurement of construction and highways related projects.

A contract notice was placed in the Official Journal of the European Journal (OJEU) and YORtender portal on 19 April 2013. The entire procurement process was managed through the council’s e-tendering system and further advertising and pro-active market engagement was undertaken to promote the opportunity to local construction firms.

The procurement process was managed by a project team involving key officers across construction, property, highways and procurement disciplines.

Specialist contract and construction commercial risk management advice was provided to the project team by Docte Ltd, market leaders in the development of best practice commercial construction frameworks. Progress was monitored by a construction board comprising relevant cabinet members and senior officers.

Further details of the number of responses received, tenders and awards were outlined within the report and associated appendix.

ResolvedThat the outcome of the procurement process be noted.

138      (12)  MARKET POSITION STATEMENT 2014/15The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which provided an updated Market Position Statement for 2014/15.

The Localism Act came into force on 15 November 2011. Among its many provisions the Act provided new powers for local communities. One specific and key provision was the “Community Right to Challenge” (CRTC which came into force on 27 June 2012).

The Act provides ‘relevant bodies’ with the right to challenge the running of local authority services where they believe they could do this differently or better. Relevant bodies’ include voluntary and community organisations, charitable organisations, parish councils or a group of two or more council employees.

The council has put in place appropriate procedures, policies and processes to assist bodies in completing their expressions of interest.

The Market Position Statement (appendix A to the report)was a key document developed to support the CRTC process and had been produced in consultation with services across the council.

The purpose of the document was to set out the council’s indicative commissioning and procurement programme for the financial year 2014/15.

Resolved – That the 2014/15 Market Position Statement be approved.

139      (13) POLICY & RESOURCES DIRECTORATE PLAN AND PERFORMANCE TARGETS 2014/15 – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval of the 2014/15 directorate plan and performance targets for Policy & Resources.

The council strategy was first approved in July 2012 and it set out the council vision, priorities and aimed to change outcomes for all people living and working in the area. It had been updated to reflect the changing local government landscape and progress made over the last year.

In order to deliver the council strategy each directorate produced its own directorate plan. The plan provided a profile of the directorate and set out how it contributed to the overall vision and how it would help to deliver the councils’ priorities.

The plan included 24 key performance indicators, outlined in Appendix 1 to the report, that measured delivery of the council strategy. Alongside this were a number of operational performance measures that were monitored regularly to provide assurance of effective delivery of services.

It was explained that the plan was a ‘live’ document that would continue to be developed and improved to reflect progress that was being made.

Resolved – (a) That following ratification of the new council strategy the Policy and Resources Directorate Plan (appendix 1 to the report) be approved, and (b) that the performance indicators and associated targets that measure the directorate plan (appendix 2 to the report) be approved.

140      (14) NATIONAL NON-DOMESTIC RATE RELIEF APPLICATIONS AND MONITORINGThe Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to decide the level of National Non-Domestic Rate (NNDR) relief to be awarded to ratepayers in North Lincolnshire and to inform the cabinet member of the latest forecast of the level of Business Rates Collection and its impact on council finances.

It was explained that the council could retain a portion of the business rates it collected and the amount retained was made up of the baseline funding allocated to the council each year and a portion of any gain or loss in collection.

The forecast was that the amount the council would collect was £79.6m, around £132k above the level assumed as part of the budget setting process.

The reliefs reported in future included some that were previously not reported.  These included Small Business Reliefs and Partial and Empty Property Reliefs, for which temporary discretionary reliefs were created in April in order to access 100% government relief for these categories of business rate payers.

The forecast, excluding the proposals contained within this report, was that the level of discretionary relief would be slightly above that originally estimated, potentially decreasing business rates retention by £3k.  The details were shown in Appendix A to the report.

Resolved – (a)  That the level of rate relief to each applicant as set out in the   schedule attached to the report be awarded, and (b) that the latest position for 2014/15 on business rate collection and reliefs be noted.

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