Agenda and minutes

Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee
Tuesday, 5th September 2017 2.00 pm

Venue: Committee Room, North Kesteven District Council Offices. View directions

Contact: Graham Watts, Principal Democratic Officer  (01522 873439)

Items
No. Item

10.

Confirmation of Minutes - 28 June 2017 pdf icon PDF 93 KB

Minutes:

RESOLVED that the minutes of the meeting held on 28 June 2017 be confirmed.

11.

Declarations of Interest

Please note that, in accordance with the Members' Code of Conduct, when declaring interests members must disclose the existence and nature of the interest, and whether it is a disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) or personal and/or pecuniary.

Minutes:

No declarations of interest were received.

12.

Members' Summary of Reports pdf icon PDF 131 KB

Minutes:

Purpose of Report

 

To present the Joint Committee with a summary of the reports included on the agenda for consideration at this meeting, including:

 

·         quarter 1 2017/18 financial monitoring;

·         performance update;

·         non-domestic rate update;

·         non-domestic rate Invest to Save.

 

Decision

 

That the report be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The report provided a brief summary of each item, setting out the main highlights prior to their full consideration later at this meeting.

13.

Revenues and Benefits Quarter 1 2017/18 Monitoring pdf icon PDF 122 KB

Minutes:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Joint Committee with the first quarter’s performance for the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service for 2017/18.


Decision

 

That the actual position at quarter 1 of the 2017/18 financial year be noted.

 

That the budget adjustments for 2017/18, as set out in the table at paragraph 3.2 of the report, be approved.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The approved budget for 2017/18 contained a contingency budget of £20,000 within Revenues and Benefits management costs to cover unforeseen events. As part of the restructure of the service earlier in the year, it was reported that this had since been removed to cover additional staff capacity within the service.  Paragraph 3.2 set out subsequent revisions to the budget.

 

In terms of the financial performance for the first quarter of 2017/18, there was an underspend against the approved budget of £9,082.

 

The forecast outturn for 2017/18 predicted that there would be an underspend against the approved budget of £64,023. A summary of the main forecast year-end variations against the approved budget for 2017/18 was set out in paragraph 4.3 and mainly related to general staffing, agency staffing, telephony and printing costs.

14.

Non-Domestic Rates Update pdf icon PDF 173 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Joint Committee with an update on current issues with non-domestic rates.

 

Decision

 

That the report be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

Updates on the following schemes were noted in response to the Spring Budget 2017:

 

Supporting Small Business Relief Scheme

 

This relief scheme would be made available to those ratepayers facing large increases as a result of the loss of a small business or rural rate relief.

 

The number of hereditaments that were likely to benefit from the scheme at 1 April 2017 for each of the three authorities was as follows:

 

Loss of small business relief:

 

-       City of Lincoln Council: 7

-       North Kesteven District Council: 24

-       West Lindsey District Council: 25

 

Loss of rural relief:

 

-       City of Lincoln Council: 0

-       North Kesteven District Council: 1

-       West Lindsey District Council: 0

 

Software suppliers released the necessary software to implement this scheme on 21 August 2017 and up to this point officers had been manually adjusting accounts. A number of errors had occurred in testing the software and management were in the process of liaising with suppliers to resolve the issue, which it was anticipated would be very soon. Manual adjustments had ensured that those ratepayers who faced large increases as a result of the loss of small business or rural rate relief were not left waiting for relief to be awarded.

 

Support for Pubs Scheme

 

This relief was for pubs that had a rateable value of below £100,000. Under the scheme, eligible pubs would receive a £1,000 discount on their bill for 2017/18.

 

The number of hereditaments that it was anticipated may benefit from this relief at 1 April 2017 for each of the three authorities was as follows:

 

-       City of Lincoln Council: 65

-       North Kesteven District Council: 50

-       West Lindsey District Council: 60

 

Officers had identified those ratepayers that may be entitled to relief and sent them application forms. By applying, ratepayers could declare whether any relief awarded would not exceed the state aid limit. The number of application forms returned as at 23 August 2017 were as follows:

 

-       City of Lincoln Council: 16 (£16,000)

-       North Kesteven District Council: 41 (£41,000)

-       West Lindsey District Council: 54 (£54,000)

 

Discretionary Relief Scheme

 

A £300 million discretionary fund had been established by the Government to support those businesses that faced the steepest increases in their business rate bills as a result of the recent revaluation. The intention was that every billing authority would be provided with a share of the £300 million to support their local businesses. Billing authorities were expected to use their share of the funding to develop their own discretionary relief schemes to deliver targeted support to the most hard-pressed ratepayers.

 

The proposed breakdown of the £300 million was:

 

-       £175 million in 2017/18

-       £85 million in 2018/19

-       £35 million in 2019/20

-       £5 million in 2020/21

 

Chief Financial Officers of each billing authority  ...  view the full minutes text for item 14.

15.

Non Domestic Rate Invest to Save Update pdf icon PDF 138 KB

Minutes:

Reason for Report

 

To provide the Joint Committee with an update on the non-domestic rate invest to save project being undertaken by the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council Shared Service.

 

To request an extension of the ‘Invest to Save’ role to 31 March 2018.

 

Decision

 

That the Joint Committee agrees with the continuation of the ‘Invest to Save’ role to 31 March 2018 as a self-funding role to be funded from within existing shared services resources.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

In August 2016 funding of £10,000 from the Lincolnshire Counter Fraud Partnership in relation to a non-domestic rates and Council Tax support project was secured. Having appointed an experienced non-domestic rates practitioner, the project consisted of a range of work to identify missing or undervalued properties. Details relating to this were set out in paragraph 4.1 of the report.

 

The approach to the project was outlined in section 5 of the report and as a result of the significant work undertaken:

 

·         West Lindsey’s rateable value for 2010 had increased by 295,062 and for 2017 by 403,377. For 2017/18, based on the multiplier, this equated to an additional £187,974 of business rates income;

·         North Kesteven’s rateable value for 2010 had increased by 433,410 and for 2017 by 549,600. For 2017/18, based on the multiplier, this equated to an additional £256,114 of business rates income;

·         the City of Lincoln’s rateable value for 2010 had increased by 119,018 and for 2017 by 143,318. For 2017/18, based on the multiplier, this equated to an additional £66,786 of business rates income.

 

The role was currently funded to 30 September 2017, during which time the officer would continue to review the information received from the Valuation Office and update the business rate system as necessary. There would also be a review of current reliefs, along with a review of the Discretionary Rate Relief Policy.

 

The cost of funding the role had been £41,595 for 2016/17 and £16,585 for 2017/18 up to 30 September 2017. The cost of extending the role from 1 October 2017 to 31 March 2018 was expected to be £16,585.

 

It was anticipated that an extension to the ‘Invest to Save’ role would see utilisation of the Institute for Revenues, Rating and Valuation’s Business Rates Evasion and Avoidance Checker, designed solely for billing authorities in the United Kingdom. The role would also lead on tackling fraud and finding missing rateable business rates and taxbase in Council Tax.

16.

Performance Update pdf icon PDF 224 KB

Additional documents:

Minutes:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Joint Committee with an update on performance in the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service for quarter 1 of 2017/18.

 

Decision

 

That the report be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

Updates on performance in the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service for quarter 1 of 2017/18 were noted, as follows:

 

Council Tax

 

The annual in-year and quarter 1 2017/18 collections for Council Tax since the shared service was formed, both for the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council, was set out in the table at paragraph 4.1 of the report.

 

Comparing 2017/18 to 2016/17, the City of Lincoln Council was above by 0.07%, with North Kesteven being down by 0.06%. This equated to an increase of £28,017 of the net collectable debit and a decrease of £34,275 respectively. It was noted that the collectible debit for both the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven Council had increased from 2016/17 by £1.99 million and £2.84 million respectively.

 

Business Rates

 

The annual in-year and quarter 1 2017/18 collections for business rates since the shared service was formed, both for the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council, was set out in the table at paragraph 4.1 of the report.

 

In comparing 2017/18 to 2016/17, the City of Lincoln Council was up by 2.45%, North Kesteven District Council was up by 1.20% and West Lindsey District Council down by 0.23%.

 

Whilst collection for West Lindsey District Council was below the quarter 1 figure for 2016/17, it was noted that there had been significant improvements during the first quarter of 2017/18.

 

With an increased collection rate of 35.85% for the City of Lincoln Council and 41.42% for North Kesteven District Council, net receipt had also increased from 2016/17 by £0.87 million and £0.28 million respectively.

 

The Joint Committee agreed that this performance was encouraging.

 

Council Tax and non-domestic rates (arrears)

 

The figures for both Council Tax and non-domestic rate arrears were reducing during 2017/18 for the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council, as outlined in the tables at paragraph 4.11 of the report.

 

Outstanding Revenues customers

 

The table in paragraph 4.12 of the report set out the number of outstanding revenues correspondence, not including email, in the Shared Service’s document management system at the end of each of the last six financial years. The table indicated a positive position, showing the number of items outstanding at 31 March 2017 being by far the lowest over the last five years. It was acknowledged that there was a marginal increase recorded to the end of quarter 1 2017/18, which was as a result of reduced staffing levels during this period.

 

In terms of emails, the oldest date of emails on the system were 11 August 2017 but agency staff within the team were working towards an action plan which would see the service up to date with email correspondence by 14 September 2017. It was noted that the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 16.