Purpose of Report
To provide the Joint Committee with an update on performance in the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service.
That the report be noted and an update be presented at the next meeting of this Committee on 25 November 2021.
Alternative Options Considered and Rejected
Reason for Decision
The report provided information on revenues performance for Quarter 1 2021/22 for (a) council tax for the City of Lincoln Council and North Kesteven District Council; and (b) business rates for the City of Lincoln Council, North Kesteven District Council and West Lindsey District Council. Comparisons to the national and local position in terms of performance was provided, where possible.
Performance continued to be impacted by Covid-19. Actions in response to the impact of Covid-19 had included:
- deferrals of council tax and business rates payments where applicable and appropriate;
- processing a significant increase in housing benefit and council tax support claims, and universal credit related documents; and
- assessment and award of new government reliefs and payments (such as Test and Trace Support payments)
The revenues and benefits shared service had now been in operation since 1 June 2011, and performance had been maintained and improved whilst continuing to provide value for money. Continual improvement and success were being achieved in both statistical and financial performance, as well as positive outcomes for customers of the partner local authorities. However, the Covid-19 pandemic had understandably impacted on some areas of performance and these impacts were likely to continue for many more months.
In respect of council tax up to the end of quarter 1 2020/21, in-year collection decreased for both the City of Lincoln and North Kesteven by 0.81% and 0.10% respectively. Due to the financial impacts of Covid-19 on residents' incomes, it was anticipated that the recovery of monies would remain a real challenge throughout 2021/22. Net collectable debit for 2021/22 (compared to 2020/21) had increased by £3.5m for Lincoln and £3.1m for North Kesteven.
In respect of business rates, for Quarter 1 2021/22, compared to the same point in 20202, in-year collection was down for all three Local Authorities, 12.21% for Lincoln, 5.01% and 3.42% for North Kesteven and West Lindsey respectively. However, these figures were significantly affected by the new reliefs available in 2020/21 (namely expanded retail discount) and into 2021/22, so comparing 2021/22 to 2020/21 and to 2019/20, was not appropriate.
As detailed at paragraph 4.8 of the report, there had been key movements in the business rates bases in the first quarter.
At the end of quarter 1 2021/22, outstanding revenues customer cases stood at a total of 3,354, of which 2,255 were from the City of Lincoln and 1,099 were from North Kesteven. Previous reports were not comparable, owing to customer e?mails now being captured in the Revenues Document Management System, The reported figure at the end of Quarter 1 2021/22 would effectively become the new ‘baseline’.
An action plan was in place to address the level of demand on the revenues team, which remained high, in terms of incoming correspondence, telephone calls and e-mails.
The table at paragraph 5.2 of the report indicated that City of Lincoln was processing benefit claims in 16.81 days, compared to North Kesteven at 13.77 during quarter one.
Provision of welfare and benefit continued to be key with a team of dedicated and knowledgeable officers providing invaluable support to residents of Lincoln, as set out in further detail within the table at Paragraph 6.1 of the officer’s report. Officers agreed to provide this Committee with comparisons of the Welfare Team’s performance in quarter one 2021/22 compared to previous years.