Policy & Resources Cabinet Member – Minutes – 26 November 2013

92        (32) COUNCIL TAX SUPPORT AND WELFARE SCHEMES – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report to provide an update on the Local Council Tax Support Scheme six months after implementation and considered the take-up of Local Welfare Provision and Discretionary Housing Payments.

The Local Council Tax Support Scheme replaced Council Tax Benefit in April 2013, when responsibility passed from the DWP to the council. The scheme was similar to the previous national scheme, but benefits were lower.

The local scheme aimed to limit the cost of support to the amount of grant transferring from government. It meant an increase in the amount council tax payers receiving benefit would pay, and in many cases there would be an amount to pay for the first time. The council set up a Support Fund to help those facing a reduction and suffering from financial hardship.

The report outlined experience to date and options for the future.

Resolved – (a) That the current position on the Council Tax Support Scheme be noted; (b) that the current Council Tax Support Scheme be recommended to council as the preferred option for 2014/15 and 2015/16; (c) that the proposals to promote the uptake of Discretionary Housing Payments be approved; (d) that the current criteria for Local Welfare Provision be reaffirmed, and (e) that subject to a satisfactory business case, the use of welfare funding to support the work of the local credit union by provision of a fund of £20k for loans, and a one-off grant for associated set-up/ administrative costs be approved.

93        (33)  COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT PLAN – The Director of Policy and Resources submitted a report which sought approval of the Community Engagement Plan.

The report identified that the council was committed to involving local people in its most important decisions through community engagement.  The Places Scrutiny Panel undertook a review of community engagement activity by the council and the panel issued its report in April 2013.

The Scrutiny Panel’s report contained 13 detailed recommendations, and an action plan had been prepared to deal with these.

Key to fulfilling the action plan and the Scrutiny Panel’s recommendations was for the council to adopt a Community Engagement Plan which addressed the need for a more effective, coordinated, one council approach to community engagement. Encouraging higher levels of participation, leading to more informed decision-making on issues that were important to local people.

The Community Engagement Plan was appended to the report.

Resolved –   That the report and Community Engagement Plan be approved.

Note: Reports are in Portable Document Format (PDF) and therefore require a suitable reader to view them. A reader can be downloaded free from the Adobe website (full instructions for downloading the reader are provided on the site).

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.