Corporate Scrutiny Panel – 13 September 2012

PRESENT:  Councillor Robinson in the chair.
Councillors Wilson (vice-chair), Jawaid MBE, Ogg and P Vickers.

Councillor Poole attended the meeting in accordance with the provisions of Procedure Rule 1.36 (b).

The panel met at the Civic Centre, Scunthorpe.

107  DECLARATIONS OF DISCLOSABLE PECUNIARY INTERESTS AND PERSONAL OR PERSONAL AND PREJUDICIAL INTERESTS AND DECLARATIONS OF WHIPPING ARRANGEMENTS (IF ANY) – There were no declarations of disclosable pecuniary interests and personal or personal and prejudicial interests –

No whip was declared.

108  MINUTES – Resolved – That the minutes of the proceeding of this panel held on 2 August 2012, and the special meeting held on 2 August 2012, having been printed and circulated amongst the members, be taken as read and correctly recorded and signed by the Chairman.

109  PUBLIC REQUESTS TO SPEAK There were no requests received.

110  (7)  LOCALISING SUPPORT FOR COUNCIL TAX – The Chairman welcomed Mike Wedgewood, Peter Fijalkowski and Jo Robinson to the meeting, the council’s Director of Policy and Resources, Assistant Director Financial Services and the Local Taxation and Benefits Shared Service Manager for North and North East Lincolnshire Councils respectively.  The Director, Assistant Director and Shared Service Manager had been invited to discuss the proposals for a local council tax support scheme.

The Director referred to a recent Cabinet Member paper that set out the principles of the proposed scheme and outlined that the decision to adopt the final scheme would need to be made at the November 2012 meeting of the council, at the same time as setting the council tax base.

The Local Government Finance Bill currently before Parliament imposed a duty on billing authorities to make a localised council tax support scheme by 31 January 2013.  There was also a requirement to consult on the proposed council tax support scheme with all interested parties.  This was the responsibility of the billing authority.  Consultees included relevant precepting authorities, the voluntary sector, those affected and the general public.

The timescales for approving a scheme, a proper consultation process and final approval was tight and as any scheme had to be approved before 31 January 2013, this meant that a final scheme needed to be agreed at the November 2012 meeting of council alongside the existing legal requirement to set the taxbase for 2013/14.

The Director confirmed that as there was now a shared Local Taxation and Benefits Service it made sense to run consultations in the two areas in the same way, whilst using material appropriate to each council.  However, the two councils were not running a joint consultation.

The Director guided panel members through the detail of the scheme out for consultation, as well as discussing the implications for North Lincolnshire residents of the implementation of the scheme.

Following the Director’s verbal presentation, the Chairman invited panel members to question the officers in attendance.

Resolved – (a) That the Director of Policy and Resources, Assistant Director Financial Services and the Local Taxation and Benefits Shared Service Manager for North and North East Lincolnshire Council be thanked for their attendance and for answering members questions; (b) that an invitation to attend the ‘Welfare Reform – Have Your Say’ stakeholder event at the Baths Hall on 21 September be extended to all scrutiny panel members’ and, (c) that members conduct pieces of work into the hardship fund and collection mechanisms for council tax.

111  ADDED ITEM – There was no added item for consideration at the meeting.