Decisions

Use the below search options at the bottom of the page to find information regarding recent decisions that have been taken by the council’s decision making bodies.

Alternatively you can visit the officer decisions page for information on officer delegated decisions that have been taken by council officers.

Decisions published

21/11/2022 - Re-Imagining Greyfriars Project ref: 1736    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To update on progress made with the Greyfriars refurbishment project, to approve acceptance of a grant award of £1.95m from National Lottery Heritage Fund (NLHF) jointly with Heritage Lincolnshire and to approve the inclusion of the project within the General Investment Programme.

 

Decision

 

1.     That the progress made in developing the Greyfriars project through to its delivery phase be noted.

 

2.     That the acceptance of the NLHF grant award together with their standard and additional terms of grant be approved.

 

3.     That the inclusion of a £2,638,220 capital estimate in the General Investment Programme, with associated funding as set out in paragraph 9.1 of the officer’s report be approved.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reasons for the Decision

 

Members had considered and supported different elements of the Greyfriars project previously, including the approval of a partnership arrangement with Heritage Lincolnshire and the Council’s contribution of £200,000 match funding in October 2019, ahead of the first ‘development’ stage.  Then more recently, the acquisition of land and rights from Lincolnshire County Council in May 2022. The report provided an update on progress relating to the second ‘delivery’ stage and the proposed undertaking of the approved scheme.

 

In late September, NLHF confirmed their support for the project.  Formal notification was received 17th October 2022.  The grant notification letter included the terms on which the grant was to be accepted.  This included a requirement specific to local authority grantees, which was covered by this report.

 

The project also formed part of the Lincoln Town’s Fund, with funding of £0.540m secured.

 

The Executive was reminded that Greyfriars had been placed on Historic England’s ‘Buildings At Risk’ register due to its historic significance and deteriorating condition.  Due to the Council’s limited financial resources, it was therefore essential that external funding was secured to carry out a full refurbishment of the building.

 

Working in partnership with Heritage Lincolnshire, the Council had been successful in bids to NHLF to fund extensive refurbishment works.  The grant was awarded in two parts; the first, smaller element was to undertake the development of a viable scheme.  This work, undertaken 2019-2022, was coupled with robust strategies comprising a business plan, activities plan and conservation management plan. In addition, planning consent, listed buildings consent and approval from Heritage England had all been secured.

 

The second, larger element of the grant, was the subject of the report and followed completion of the development stage and was awarded to fund the delivery stage i.e., the actual refurbishment works and related activities.

 

All officers involved in this project were congratulated on their hard work.


21/11/2022 - Treasury Management and Prudential Code Update Mid-Year Report - 30th September 2022 ref: 1734    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To report the Council’s treasury management activity and the actual prudential indicators for the period 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022, in accordance with the requirements of the Prudential Code.

 

Decision

 

That the Prudential and Local Indicators and the actual performance against the Treasury Management Strategy 2022/23 for the half-year ended 30 September 2022 be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The prudential system for capital expenditure was well established.  One of the requirements of the Prudential Code was to ensure adequate monitoring of the capital expenditure plans, prudential indicators (PIs) and treasury management response to these plans.  The report fulfilled that requirement and included a review of compliance with Treasury and Prudential Limits and the Prudential Indicators at 30th September 2022.

 

It was noted that the Council held £64 million of investments at 30 September 2022, with the full investment profile set out at Appendix A of the report.  Of this investment portfolio, 100% was held in low risk specified investments, the requirement for the year being a minimum of 25% of the portfolio to be specified investments. During the six months to 30 September on average 100% of the portfolio was held in low risk specified investments and an average of 0% of the portfolio was held in non-specified investments with other local authorities.  It was anticipated that interest rates would reduce in the coming years.

 

This report highlighted the changes to the key prudential indicators, to enable an overview of the current status of the capital expenditure plans. It incorporated any new or revised schemes previously reported to members. Changes required to the residual prudential indicators and other related treasury management issues were also included.


21/11/2022 - Operational Performance Report Q2 - 2022/23 ref: 1731    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of the Report

 

To present an outturn summary of the Council’s operational performance in quarter two of 2022/23.

 

Decision

 

That the achievements and challenges identified in the Quarter 2 2022/23 operational performance report be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None were considered.

 

Reasons for the Decision

 

Regular monitoring of the council’s performance was a key component of the Local Performance Management Framework. This report covered the key strategic performance measures identified by members and CMT as of strategic importance.

 

The outturn summary report detailed performance against a total of 77 measures across the directorates Chief Executive’s, Communities and Environment and Housing and Investment. In total 60 performance measures out of the 77 were monitored against targets, of which nineteen were below target; thirteen were within target boundaries; 25 had exceeded a higher target, and 3 measures were recorded as data not available for this quarter

 

The Directorate for Major Developments (DMD) did not monitor performance through strategic measures.  Instead, performance was managed by the progress of the various projects DMD owned under the priorities "Driving Inclusive Economic Growth" and “Lets Address the Challenge of Climate Change.” From quarter 3 2022/23, a progress update on these projects would be included within the quarterly performance report.

 

A further 17 measures were volumetric, and provided context to overall service delivery. Commentaries on each measure were detailed in the report.

 

When compared to the previous quarter there has been an increase of 3 quarterly measures performing at or above target within the second quarter. However, there had also been an increase of 4 quarterly measures performing below target during this latest quarter. When focusing on the performance direction of travel, there had been an increase of 11 quarterly measures showing an improving performance trend and a decrease of 5 quarterly measures showing a deteriorating performance trend. This indicated that performance overall was improving across the council based on trend, however, there remained a need for service areas to focus over the next quarter on those measures performing below target and with deteriorating performance.

It was noted that factors such as resource pressures, recruitment challenges and the cost of living crisis had impacted on performance in quarter 2 2022/23. Looking ahead the cost of living crisis could lead to a further increased demand for council services, as the more vulnerable in the city looked to the council for support, which could also further impact on performance.  This was likely to be at a time when the council could see a reduction in both income for services and collection rates due to the increased financial pressures being faced by Lincoln’s residents and businesses.  Full details were provided within Appendix A to the report.  A summary of the outturn was also provided at Appendix B to the report.

 

There continued to be less demand for face to face appointments at City Hall. However, there had been an increase in demand for telephone appointments with Customer Services and owing to recruitment and retention issues, the waiting times for telephone calls were higher than expected.  It was highlighted that the turnover of staff related to employees moving to other areas of the Council following successful recruitment.  The issue of increased waiting times for calls were being considered by officers.  It was noted that there were automated messages for those waiting on a call and an offer of an automated call back.  It was recognised that some of the calls were complex and involved vulnerable customers and it was queried whether staff received relevant training.

 

The appropriateness of the current performance targets were discussed, given the changing circumstances of the economy and council services.  It was suggested this should be explored.

 

The report had been considered by the Performance Scrutiny Committee at its meeting on 17 November 2022.


21/11/2022 - Re-Imagining Greyfriars Project ref: 1738    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022


21/11/2022 - Statement of Accounts 2021/22 ref: 1735    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To present for information the final Statement of Accounts for the financial year ended 31 March 2022, following substantial completion of the audit opinion. 

 

Decision

 

That following scrutiny of the statement of accounts for the financial year ended on 31 March 2022, the Statement of Accounts be recommended to Council on 29 November 2022 for approval.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None. The Council was required to publish its statement of accounts for the financial year 2021/22 with an audit opinion and certificate by no later than 30 September 2022.

 

Reasons for the Decision

 

The Statement of Accounts for 2021/22 provided a comprehensive picture of the Council’s financial circumstances and had been compiled to demonstrate probity and stewardship of public funds.

 

The Statement of Accounts for 2021/22 were still subject to verification by External Audit.  The audit of the accounts was being finalised by Mazars, who commenced the audit in July 2022.  The majority of the audit work had now been completed by Mazars, however, should any material changes be necessary as a result of this final external work, these would be reported back to a meeting of the Audit Committee by the Chief Finance Officer.

 

The Council made the statement of accounts available for public inspection for the required ten working days, between 1 and 12 August 2022, during which time, the external auditor was available to answer questions, although none were received.  During the completion of the external audit there no misstatements above the threshold level of £49,000 had been found.

 

The Council was also required to provide a documental annual review of the effectiveness of its governance arrangements (Annual Governance Statement), which sat alongside the Statement of Accounts; the overall level of assurance provided in 2021/22 was substantial (green) and was in line with the Council’s code of corporate governance.

 

However, there was one significant issue that had been identified.  This was in respect of IT Disaster Recovery, an issue which was included in the previous year’s AGS.  Although progress had been made over the last twelve months it was felt that this issue should remain on the list of significant issues, and progress against the actions would be regularly reported by management to the Audit Committee.

 

There were no new significant issues identified in 2021/22.


21/11/2022 - Financial Performance-Quarterly Monitoring ref: 1732    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To present the second quarter’s performance (up to 30 September 2022) on the Council’s General Fund, Housing Revenue Account, Housing Repairs Service and Capital Programmes, and to seek approval for changes to the capital programmes.

 

Decision

 

1.               That the financial performance for the period 1 April 2022 to 30 September 2022  and the projected outturns for 2022/23 be noted.

 

2.               That the underlying impact of the pressures and underspends identified in paragraphs 3.3 (and Appendix B), 4.3 (and Appendix D), and 5.2 (and Appendix F) of the officer’s report be noted.

 

3.               That the changes to the General Investment Programme and Housing Investment Programme as approved by the Chief Finance Officer and Lincoln Town Board as detailed in paragraphs 7.3, 7.4, 7.5 and 7.12 of the officer’s report be noted.

 

4.               That the changes to the Housing Investment Programme, as detailed in paragraph 7.9 of the officer’s report, be approved.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The Council approved a balanced budget earlier in 2022, but much had changed since that point.  Spiralling inflation, soaring energy prices and nationally agreed pay agreements were set to add significant cost pressures to the Council’s budget.  These were in the main part caused by national issues, beyond the Council’s control, and were impacting all Councils.  In addition, the current cost of living crisis had the potential to increase demand for the Council’s services by those who relied on the safety net provided by local government.  These unforeseen and unavoidable pressures had seriously impacted the assumptions that underpinned the MTFS.  As a result of these pressures, the General Fund was currently forecasting a significant financial shortfall for 2022/23, with cost pressures also in the Housing Revenue Account and Housing Repairs Service.

 

The impact of these new financial pressures the Council was facing could not be underestimated and were not solely related to 2022/23.  These inflationary increases would permanently increase the cost base of the Council and would have implications for the Medium-Term Financial Strategy and, in the absence of additional financial support from Central Government, would have implications for the range and level of services that the Council could continue to provide.

As a result, the Council was developing a range of mitigation actions, as part of a financial recovery programme, to ensure it retained a sustainable financial position in 2022/23 and in the medium-term.  Alongside this the Council was continuing to lobby Central Government for funding to support councils through these inflationary pressures, and for long-term sustainable funding settlements for local government.

 

As in recent years, there would continue to be a need for strong budgetary control in this financial year to balance expenditure and income within budget.

 

Whilst there were a significant number of planning variables which were subject to unprecedented levels of uncertainty, based on the latest set of assumptions as at the end of the second quarter (up to 30th September 2022) the forecast financial position of the Council was detailed at paragraph 2.6 of the officer’s report.

 

Updates were reported as follows:

 

General Fund Revenue Account

 

For 2022/23 the Council’s net General Fund revenue budget was set at £8,907,490 including a planned contribution to balances of £60,700 (resulting in an estimated level of general balances at the year-end of £2,262,761 (after allowing for the 2021/22 outturn position).

 

The General Fund Summary was currently projecting a forecast overspend of £912,511 (Appendix A provided a forecast General Fund Summary), resulting in general balance at the year-end of 1,350,250.  This would result in balances being below the prudent minimum of c£1.5-£2m.  The use of earmarked reserves to maintain balances above the prudent minimum would be further considered in the third quarters financial performance report.

 

There were a number of forecast year-end variations in income and expenditure against the approved budget; as detailed at paragraphs 3.3- 3.4 of the report, with the main variances provided in Appendix B to the report.

 

In addition, other service costs and income were subject to fluctuation during the year as the cost-of-living crisis and external economic factors impacted both directly and indirectly on households and businesses.  This could lead to: an increased demand for council services, as the more vulnerable in the City looked to the Council for support; and a reduction in both income for services and collection rates as household and business incomes became under pressure.

 

Despite the high level of uncertainty, it was clear that the General Fund faced a significant financial shortfall for 2022/23. In response to this a range of options and mitigations were currently being explored and developed.  These focussed on both short-term measures to ensure a balanced budget could be maintained for 2022/23, as well as looking at more medium-term options to ensure the Council’s ongoing financial sustainability.  Given the timescales in delivering many of these mitigations it was inevitable that the General Fund would need to draw upon earmarked reserves and general balances in order to maintain a balanced position for 2022/23.  The third quarter’s financial performance report would set out proposals for which reserves would be called upon.  It should be noted though, that the use of earmarked reserves brought financial risks in terms of the depletion of reserves and increased future exposure, etc, in the short term however the Council had little other options.

 

Alongside the development of these mitigations, the Council would continue to lobby the Government and call upon them to increase local government funding in recognition of the unprecedented and unavoidable pressures that local government was facing.  The Council had already written to the Secretary of State setting out the significant financial strain it was facing.  The Council would also support sector campaigns/lobbying regarding sustainable funding mechanisms and medium-term financial settlements for local government.

 

Earmarked Reserves

 

Details of the General Fund and HRA Earmarked Reserves were set out in paragraph 6 of the officer’s report and Appendix G.

 

Towards Financial Sustainability Programme

 

The savings target included in the MTFS for 2022/23 was £1,050,000.  Total savings secured and brought forward from last financial year were £716,410 leaving an in-year target of £333,590.  Progress against this target, based on quarter 2 performance showed that secured savings totalled £65,190 for the General Fund and plans were in place to achieve the remaining balance.

 

A summary of the specific reviews that had contributed to this target were shown in Appendix K of the officer’s report.

 

Housing Revenue Account

 

For 2022/23 the Council’s Housing Revenue Account (HRA) net revenue budget was set at a £38,670 use of balances, resulting in an estimated level of general balances at the year-end of £1,063,872, after allowing for the 2021/22 outturn position.

 

The HRA was currently projecting a forecast overspend of £173,049 (Appendix C provided a forecast Housing Revenue Account Summary), which would decrease the General Balances to £890,823 at the end of 2022/23.  This would result in balances being below the prudent minimum of circa £1m.  The use of earmarked reserves to maintain balances around £1m, would be further considered in the third quarter’s financial performance report.

 

There were a number of forecast year-end variations in income and expenditure against the approved budget as outlined at paragraph 4.3 of the report, with full details of the main variances provided in Appendix D of the report.

 

The HRA was currently forecasting an overspend at the end of the financial year, with significant variances in relation to repairs and maintenance costs. This was as a direct result of the issues that were currently being experienced in the Housing Repairs Services (HRS), as set out in Section 5 of the officer’s report. This had led to a significant reduction in the level of repairs that were being undertaken and a consequent reduction in expenditure recharged to the HRA. This was in part offset by the large forecast deficit by HRS, as seen in the repatriation variance detailed within the officer’s report, due to a reduction in rechargeable works.  The HRA and HRS were working hard to address these issues, continuing to implement a range of previously agreed actions.

 

There was also a significant variance in relation to the level of depreciation charged to the HRA as a result of the latest revaluation exercise. This has been offset by a reduction in the amount of direct revenue financing charged to the account.

 

The other major variances were as a direct result of the inflationary pressures the Council was facing, which the HRA was also impacted by. These included an estimate of pay inflation, over and above the assumptions included within the MTFS, based on the national pay agreement, alongside an increase in inflation on utilities as a result of the escalating cost of gas and electricity supplies and contract price increases

 

At this stage no additional mitigations, other than those currently being implemented in response to the issues faced by the HRS were recommended. The use of earmarked reserves to maintain HRA balances in line with the prudent minimum would be considered at quarter three. Strong budgetary control did though remain a focus in this financial year to ensure expenditure and income were balanced within budget.

 

Housing Repairs Service

 

For 2022/23 the Council’s Housing Repairs Service net revenue budget was set at zero, reflecting its full cost recovery nature.. 

 

At quarter 2 HRS ware forecasting a deficit of  £573,908 in 2022/23 as detailed within the forecast HRS summary at Appendix E, with full details of the main variances provided in Appendix F of the report.

 

The main contributory factor for this deficit was still the ongoing recruitment and retention issues, which were being felt across the industry, this resulted in a reliance on the use of sub-contractors. The cost of subcontractors was more expensive than the HRS’s own workforce, due to the ongoing impact of Covid19, the current inflationary crisis and a reduced pool of contractors from which to secure services. These additional costs were therefore not fully offset by the vacancy and material savings achieved by not carrying out the work internally. Furthermore, the increased subcontractor costs were not reflected in the service hourly rate and resulted in an under recovery of costs from the HRA, coupled with a reduction in jobs being carried out and the ability to recoup overhead costs.

 

The forecast deficit also included an estimate of pay inflation, over and above the assumptions included within the MTFS, based on the latest pay offer made by the National Employers (this was not yet agreed for Craftworkers), alongside an increase in the hourly rate recharge for the final quarter of the year to reflect this. The forecast also included increased inflation on utilities as a result of the escalating cost of gas and electricity supplies.

 

It should be noted that due to the interconnection of the HRS and HRA, the consequential costs in the HRA were also greatly reduced (as noted earlier in the report) and therefore financial picture for the Directorate was not unhealthy.

 

General Fund Investment Programme

 

The revised General Investment Programme for 2022/23 amounted to £32.342m following the quarter 1 report. At quarter 2 the programme has been reduced by £2.186m to £30.156m

 

There were no changes over the approved limit requiring Executive approval for the second quarter. However, there had been changes to projects arising from the Lincoln Town Deal which had been approved by the Town Deal Board, under a separate governance framework, and were now included within the capital programme, the Council being the Accountable Body for the grant funding, as detailed at paragraph 7.3 of the report.

 

The financial changes delegated to the Chief Finance Officer for approval for the second quarter 2022/2023 were detailed at paragraph 7.4 of the officer’s report.

 

The overall spending on the General Investment Programme for the second quarter of 2022/23 was £2.2m, which was 8.8% of the 2022/23 active programme (excluding externally delivered schemes), as detailed further at Appendix I of the report.

 

Although this was a low percentage of expenditure at this stage of the financial year, further expenditure was expected in quarter 3 on Disabled Facilities Grants, Town’s Deal Schemes, HAZ, and various capitalised maintenance schemes. There would however be a reprofile of the Western Growth Corridor Phase 1a budgets required, this would be subject to a separate report to the Executive in quarter 4.

 

Housing Investment Programme

 

The original Housing Investment Programme for 2022/23 in the MTFS 2022-27 amounted to £21.72m. This was increased to £23.17m following approvals and year end re-profiles as part of the 2021/22 outturn. This has been further adjusted to £23.25m during the first quarter of 2022/23 and then £22.13m in quarter 2.

 

The financial changes over the approved limit requiring Executive approval for the second quarter 2022/2023; were detailed at paragraphs 7.9-7.10 of the officer’s report. All new projects were subject to Executive approval. There had been no new projects considered recently by the Executive during Quarter 2.

 

The financial changes delegated to the Chief Finance Officer for approval for the second quarter 2022/2023 were detailed at paragraph 7.11 of the officer’s report.

 

The overall expenditure on the Housing Investment Programme for the second quarter of 22/23 was £3.835m, which was 17% of the 2022/23 revised programme. A further £0.46m had been spent as at the end of October 2022. This was detailed further at Appendix J.

 

Although this was a low percentage of expenditure at this stage of the financial year, works had been constrained by the availability of contractors and materials however new contracts were in place and spend was expected to increase in future periods.


21/11/2022 - Strategic Risk Register Quarterly Review ref: 1737    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022


21/11/2022 - Strategic Risk Register Quarterly Review ref: 1733    Recommendations Approved

Decision Maker: Executive

Made at meeting: 21/11/2022 - Executive

Decision published: 22/11/2022

Effective from: 30/11/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide a status report on the revised Strategic Risk Register as at the end of the second quarter 2022/23.

 

Decision

 

That the Council’s strategic risks, as at the end of quarter 2 2022/23, be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None were considered.  The Strategic Risk Register contained the key strategic risks to the delivery of the Council’s medium and longer term priorities.  A failure to monitor the action that was being taken to manage those risks would undermine the Council’s governance arrangements.

 

Reasons for the Decision

 

Since reporting to Members in August, the Strategic Risk Register had been refreshed and updated by the Risk Owners, and Corporate Management Team and had identified that there have been some positive movement in the Risk Register.

 

It contained twelve strategic risks as detailed within paragraph 3 of the officer’s report, along with details of relevant mitigations. 

 

The updated register was contained with Part B of this agenda, (Minute 56 referred), as it was considered to contain exempt information.


08/09/2022 - Welfare Reform Update ref: 1729    Information Only

Decision Maker: Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Made at meeting: 08/09/2022 - Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Decision published: 16/11/2022

Effective from: 08/09/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee with an update regarding various areas relating to the national welfare reform agenda, as well as current initiatives to support residents. 

 

Decision

 

That the content of the report be noted, with a further update to be presented to the next meeting of Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

This report provided Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee with an update on the national and local position of welfare reform/other initiatives, with a specific focus on Universal Credit, Test and Trace Support Payments, Discretionary Housing Payments, Household Support Fund, Council Tax Energy Rebate, and Financial Inclusion matters.

 

The national Welfare Reform agenda had resulted in a significant impact on residents of Lincoln and North Kesteven since 2013 when certain changes were introduced such as Removal of Spare Room Subsidy, and Benefit Cap; this had continued as further changes had been introduced, such as the ongoing rollout of Universal Credit. These changes had resulted in major changes to the operation of our shared service, to ensure a proactive and positive response to welfare reform and the impacts on residents.

 

The following updates were noted:

 

Universal Credit

 

The latest national figures published by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) were released on 19 July2022, with statistics relevant to the period up to May 2022: 

 

  • 5,541,902 households receiving UC (a decrease from 5,510,549 as reported at the last meeting of this Committee).

 

Local authority statistics also available:

 

  • City of Lincoln – 10,477 (10,641 as at the last report);
  • North Kesteven – 6,091(6,181 as at the last report).

 

On 25th April 2022, the Secretary of State for Work and Pensions made a statement in the House of Lords (regarding managed UC migration for working-age legacy benefits – with the aim of completing this migration by the end of 2024. Further information regarding the migration process was published on GOV.UK (Completing the move to Universal Credit - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)) and since then, an initial 500 cases in Bolton and Medway areas had been invited to migrate from legacy benefits to UC. Truro and Falmouth had been announced as the next two areas as part of the UC ‘discovery phase’.

 

There was currently no further detail as to the rollout schedule for other areas of the country, officers had made contact with DWP colleagues locally and nationally and would report back to this Committee with relevant updates at future meetings.

 

COVID-19 Test and Trace Support Payments

 

The Test and Trace Support Payments (TTSP) scheme (with mandatory and discretionary elements) had now ended (30th April 2022). The Welfare Reform Support Team was in receipt of all applications and had undertaken assessment decisions. The team also secured further funding from Lincolnshire County Council to make TTSP related payments utilising Winter Grant Scheme monies.

 

In total, the team received 4,918 applications for City of Lincoln, of which 2,091 had received a payment.

 

In total, the team received 2,668 applications for North Kesteven, of which 1,017 had received a payment.

 

Discretionary Housing Payments (DHP)

 

City of Lincoln’s DHP government grant for 2022/23 was £129,643 and North Kesteven’s £85,166. The recent mid-year additional DHP grant announcement had increased both amounts marginally, therefore 2022/23 grants were now £132,330(Lincoln) and £86,931 (North Kesteven)

 

The number of DHP applications received and determined in Quarter 1 2022/23 was detailed at paragraph 6.2 of the officers report.

 

DHP spend for up to the end of Quarter 1 of the financial year 2022/23 amounted to £52,969 (40.03% of DHP Grant) for City of Lincoln and £37,982 (43.69% of DHP Grant) for North Kesteven.  

 

Overall DHP funding for 2022/23 had been cut nationally from £140m to £100m.  Consequently, grants for City of Lincoln and North Kesteven had also been reduced by more than 29% each.

 

In 2021/22, Government DHP grants were supplemented for both authorities through the Councils’ own funds, to keep paying eligible DHP claims. Longer term this was not sustainable, therefore much consideration had been undertaken in advance of 2022/23 in terms of how the reduced grant could help to assist those most in need of help with their housing costs.

 

DHP had become a longer-term form of help for some residents as their financial and housing situation each year had been as such to determine they remained entitled to DHP. However, DHP was generally only meant to be a short-term form of financial assistance.

 

In 2022/23, focus was now more towards shorter-term assistance through DHP, with availability and provision of appropriate debt/benefits advice and tenancy/housing options support for residents. Officers continued to monitor impacts and spend closely.

 

Household Support Fund

 

421 million was made available in 2021/22 for England to support those most in need over the winter period. At least 50% must be spent on families with children.This funding covered the period 6th October 2021 to 31st March 2022. £5,464,685.20, awarded to Lincolnshire County Council under Section 31 of the Local Government Act 2001 to administer the scheme and provide assistance to households most in need.

 

A Lincolnshire Districts’’ scheme was live from 1st December 2021 to the end March 2022. Our Revenues and Benefits Shared Service worked with a range of other organisations making referrals, delivering these Household Support Fund payments for City of Lincoln and North Kesteven.

 

For the months of December 2021-March 2022, £427,562 was awarded by City of Lincoln Council and £271,082 by North Kesteven.

 

As part of the Chancellor of the Exchequer’s Spring Statement in March 2022, a second Household Support Fund was announced. Detail was subsequently provided in April 2022, with an equivalent amount of £5.4 again being allocated to Lincolnshire County Council. Funding criteria included a new requirement for at least 33.33% of payments to be allocated to those of pension age. The final stages of this scheme were currently being determined with a formal announcement on how payments were to be made expected shortly.

 

A third scheme to cover the period from October to March 2023 had also been announced, however, further detail was awaited.

 

Council Tax Energy Rebate

 

On 3rd February 2022, Central Government announced a package of support known as the Energy Bills Rebate to help households with rising energy bills, worth £9.1 billion in 2022-23 which included:

 

·         A £150 non-repayable rebate for households in England in Council Tax bands A to D, known as the Council Tax Rebate, mandatory;

·         £144 million of discretionary funding for billing authorities to support households in need but not eligible for the Council Tax Rebate, known as the Discretionary Fund.

Funding of £6,103,200 was awarded under the Non-Discretionary Scheme and £196,950 under the Discretionary Scheme for City of Lincoln Council. Funding of £6,747,150 was awarded under the Non-Discretionary Fund and £121,800 under the Discretionary Scheme for North Kesteven District Council.

 

Payments of the £150 Council Tax Rebate were being made automatically for Council Taxpayers who paid by Direct Debit, as current bank details were held for these residents. Following necessary ICT releases being made available then tested, payments started to be made in week-commencing 25th April 2022 to both local authorities. The vast majority of these cases had now been paid, unless there was no eligibility or households had not provided clarification details if required.

 

Where the Council Taxpayer did not pay by Direct Debit, officers had been contacting customers to obtain the relevant details. since the end of May 2022.

 

Due diligence was in place to check bank account arrangements, using such systems such as Spotlight (which had also been used for business grants).

 

All payments under the mandatory scheme must have been made by 30 September 2022.

 

As of 10 August 2022, 24,493 Council Tax Rebate payments had been made to City of Lincoln Council Taxpayers making payments by direct debit, 7,544 by non-direct debit and 240 paid into Council Tax accounts. 34,653 Council Tax Rebate payments had been made to North Kesteven District Council Taxpayers. making payments by direct debit, 5,140 by non-direct debit and 113 paid into Council Tax accounts.

 

All discretionary find payments must be made by 30 November 2022.

 

Financial Inclusion

 

Financial inclusion continued to be a key objective and factor in many areas of LiNK’s work. The Lincolnshire Financial Inclusion Partnership (FIP) was currently chaired by the Head of Shared Revenues and Benefits for North Kesteven District Council and City of Lincoln Council, - which brought together organisations and partners to promote and raise the profile of financial inclusion across the county. FIP aimed to ensure that everyone had the capability and opportunity to access appropriate financial services and products needed to participate fully in society.


08/09/2022 - Business Rates Update ref: 1728    Information Only

Decision Maker: Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Made at meeting: 08/09/2022 - Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Decision published: 16/11/2022

Effective from: 08/09/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee with an update on current issues within non-domestic rates, related to City of Lincoln Council, North Kesteven District Council and West Lindsey District Council.

 

Decision

 

That the content of the report be noted.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The report focused on the changes announced as a result of Covid-19 and the support provided to businesses in the form of relief, – as grants were not directly paid by the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service, these were not covered in this report. The report also focused on the financial impact of recent appeals and reductions to rateable values.

 

Focus for both Government and billing authorities since the last meeting of Joint Committee had been a continuing response to Covid-19 measures announced since 11 March 2020.

 

The following updates were noted:

 

Expanded Retail Discount

 

At the budget on 27 October 2021 the Chancellor of the Exchequer announced a Government package of business rate measures to support businesses in England.

 

For 2022/23 the Chancellor set out:

 

  • A new relief for eligible retail, hospitality and leisure properties with 50% relief on rates bills up to £110,000 per business

 

  • A freezing of the multipliers at 49.9p (small business multiplier) and 51.2p (standard multiplier)

 

  • The Transitional Relief and Supporting Small Business Schemes would be extended into 2022-23 as a discretionary scheme

 

  • The scope of the discount for 2022/23 would return to pre-Covid-19 eligibility retail properties. Hospitality and leisure properties would continue to remain in scope, and the Rateable Value continued to be uncapped.

 

Eligibility criteria was set out by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC), issued to local authorities on 20 December 2021 as detailed at paragraphs 4.2-4.4 of the officer’s report.

 

Government would reimburse LA’s that used their discretionary relief powers under Section 47 of the Local Government Finance Act 1988 (amended). LA’s had already completed their NDR1 for 2021/22.

 

In terms of Expanded Retail Discount (ERD), the table at paragraph 4.6 of the officer’s report reflected the significant reduction in the amounts awarded during 2022/23 compared to 2021/22 and 2020/21 (2020/21-100%, 2021/22-100% (April, May & June), then 66%, and 2022/23-50%.at the end of Quarter 1

 

Discount for Businesses Affected by Covid-19

 

On 25 March 2021, the Government announced funding of £1.5 billion for businesses affected by Covid-19. The detail of the scheme was announced on 15 December 2021 with funding amounts allocated for each authority of £2,711,060 for City of Lincoln Council, £1,719,343 for North Kesteven District Council and £1,408,044 for West Lindsey District Council

 

Brief guidance from the Government stated that Local Authorities would be responsible for designing the discretionary relief schemes that were to operate in their areas as detailed at paragraph 5.3 of the officer’s report. 

 

Following discussions, guidelines for Lincoln, North Kesteven and West Lindsey, Covid Additional Relied Fund (CARF) schemes were agreed.

 

Round 1 application closed on 31 March 2022 with those accounts that met the criteria of losses of 30% or more had been awarded 100% CARF relief for their 2021/22 liability.

 

Due to the low take up in Round 1, Round 2 of the application process was opened inviting businesses as advertised on social media  to claim if they had 20% or more in losses by 31 July 2022.

 

Steps were now being taken to further promote the scheme with the aim of significantly increasing take-up of these funds.

 

Fire Stations and Hospitals - Potential Reductions in Rateable Value

 

On 4 December 2020, the Valuation Office Agency (VOA) advised all local authorities that they might see changes in the rateable values of hospitals and fire stations, with reductions on average of around 10% on hospitals; and 9% on fire stations, subject to wide variation dependent on the age of the properties.

 

On 20 May 2021 the VOA advised that following a challenge to the proposed rateable values of court buildings, average reductions in rateable values of 18% would be expected, with the reductions applying from 1 April 2017. 1970’s buildings may have higher reductions of around 28%.These had now been amended as per the Valuation Office schedule.

 

Business Rates Review

 

The final report for a Business Rates Review was also published at the Budget. The Budget and the Review committed in the longer term to improvements to the Business Rates system – which included;

 

·         More frequent revaluations, moving to a revaluation every three years starting from the next revaluation which would come into force on 1st April 2023, the next being 1st April 2026 and so on.

 

·         The process of revaluation would start approximately 2 years before the new valuations come into force. For the revaluation due on 1st April 2023, the rateable value would be assessed based on the rental evidence on 1st April 2021. There would be a new duty on the ratepayer to provide the Valuation Office with the information

 

·         A new relief would be provided to support investments in property improvements. It was expected that this would include a 12 month exemption on an increase in the rateable value where a property was improved. However, the final detail of this was not available at this time and would be reported as soon as this was known.

 

·         There was a new exemption and relief to support green technologies announced. Unfortunately, again, the announcement was made without any of the detail available and this would be reported as soon as this was known. A technical consultation had been announced on these points and we would respond to this when it was available.


08/09/2022 - Revenues and Benefits - Financial Monitoring Quarter 1 2022/23 ref: 1727    Information Only

Decision Maker: Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Made at meeting: 08/09/2022 - Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Decision published: 16/11/2022

Effective from: 08/09/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee with the first quarter’s (ending 30 June 2022) performance for the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service for 2022/23, as detailed at Appendix 1 to the report.

 

Decision

 

That the actual position as detailed within the report be noted.

 

Alternation Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The approved budget for 2022/23 was agreed by the Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee on 8 February 2022, which set a budget of £2,516,830 for the service.

 

At Quarter 1 the budget was increased to reflect New Burdens grants totalling £22,115 as detailed within  paragraph 3.2 of the officers report.

 

Financial performance for the first quarter of 2022/23 as detailed at Appendix 1 of the officer’s report resulted in an underspend against the approved budget of £10,376.

 

The forecast outturn for 2022/23 predicted that there would be an underspend against the approved budget of £10,326, as detailed at Appendix 2 of the officer’s report.

 

The main forecast year-end variations against the approved budget for 2022/23 were noted within the table at paragraph 4.4 of the officer’s report:

 

One of the main reasons for the forecast overspend within the Revenues Local Taxation team was due to additional postage and IT costs as a result of administering the Council Tax Energy Rebate payments. Each Council had received a grant to compensate them for this cost, along with other administration costs associated with these payments, however, these grants sat outside of the shared service budget.

 

For the period 1 April 2022 to 30 June 2022, New Burdens Grants had been received from Central Government of £59,673 for City of Lincoln Council and £64,514 for North Kesteven District Council.


08/09/2022 - Performance Update ref: 1730    Information Only

Decision Maker: Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Made at meeting: 08/09/2022 - Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee

Decision published: 16/11/2022

Effective from: 08/09/2022

Decision:

Purpose of Report

 

To provide the Shared Revenues and Benefits Joint Committee with an update on performance in the Revenues and Benefits Shared Service, as detailed within Appendix 1 of the Report.

 

Decision

 

That the report be noted, and an update be presented to the next meeting of the Committee on 24 November 2022.

 

Alternative Options Considered and Rejected

 

None.

 

Reason for Decision

 

The report provided information on revenues performance for Quarter 1 2022/23 in respect of (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.

 

The Revenues and Benefits Shared Service had now been in operation for eleven years since 1 June 2011, and performance had largely been maintained and improved whilst continuing to provide value for money.  Continual improvement and success was 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 2022/23, in-year collection for Lincoln and North Kesteven was up by 0.89% and 0.24% respectively.  This was a positive direction in travel, officers would do everything possible to continue this trajectory going forward. Net collectable debit for 2022/23 (compared to 2021/22) had increased by £1.9 m for Lincoln and £4.5m for North Kesteven.

 

In terms of the national context, the latest available figures related to annual Council Tax in-year collection outturns 2021/22. City of Lincoln Council’s in-year collection was 266th (2020/21 238th) and North Kesteven 28th (2020/21 35th) out of 308 local authorities whose performance was reported. Out of the seven Lincolnshire Districts, for 2021/22, City of Lincoln and North Kesteven achieved 7th and 2nd highest collections respectively.

 

There were some outstanding Council Tax Hardship monies still to be allocated to identified Council Tax accounts, which would have a positive impact on 2021/22 in-year collection rates. However, with the significant pressures of delivering the Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme, resources had understandably been diverted, - however, these outstanding hardship monies were expected to be allocated shortly.

 

In respect of business rates, up to the end of Quarter 1 2022/23, compared to the same point in 2021/22, in-year collection was up for all three local authorities: by 7.50% for Lincoln, 2.81% up for North Kesteven and 2.04% for West Lindsey. Collection had been ‘skewed’ somewhat in recent financial years due to varying criteria/awards of the Expanded Retail Discount (ERD)

 

In terms of the national context, the latest available figures were for annual Business Rates in-year collection outturns 2021/22. City of Lincoln Council’s in-year collection was 48th (2020/21 7th), North Kesteven 1st (2020/21 46th) and West Lindsey 170th (2020/21 28th) out of 308 local authorities whose performance was reported. Out of the seven Lincolnshire Districts, for 2020/21, City of Lincoln, North Kesteven and West Lindsey achieved 3rd, 1st and 4th highest collections, respectively.

 

It was a significant positive achievement for LiNK to have collected the highest Business Rates in-year collection rate in the whole country for 2021/22, in a year of unprecedented challenges economically as well as demands on our shared service.

 

In terms of West Lindsey’s 2021/22 collection rate, this was adversely affected by significant values of non-payment from a small number of businesses. Appropriate recovery action continues to take place with these accounts.

 

As at the end of the Quarter 1 2022/23, the number of outstanding revenues customers stood at a total of 2,323, of which 1,838 were from the City of Lincoln and 485 from North Kesteven. This improvement was pleasing, even more so considering the level of outstanding work at the end of October 2021 was 5,101 (split Lincoln 3,367 North Kesteven 1,734), where demands on the team had remained significantly high over an extended period of time – also impacted by reduced staffing resources. The team, with officers in place to fill gaps in the establishment, had worked tremendously hard to pull performance round in this area. However, there were currently three positions out to recruitment advert on our Revenues Team – so there was now a pressure on resources – it was hoped that this would only be relatively short-term.

 

As at the end of Quarter 1 2022/23, in-period collection of Housing Benefit overpayments stood at 126.84% for City of Lincoln and 141.71% for North Kesteven Outstanding Housing Benefit overpayments debt also continued to decrease overall as at the end of Quarter 1 2022/23, at £2,604,637 for City of Lincoln and £1,357,357 for North Kesteven

 

As at the end of Quarter 1 2022/23, there were 3, 654 Benefit customers outstanding and awaiting assessment, (split Lincoln 2,544, North Kesteven 1,110) This figure was higher than the same point in 2021/22 (total 3,375 – split Lincoln 2,587, North Kesteven 788), - and also from the end of March 2022 (total 2,768 – split Lincoln 2,117, North Kesteven 651). There continued to be a significant demand on the Benefits Team, particularly in relation to (but not exclusively) Universal Credit -related information impacting on Housing Benefit and Council Tax Support claims.  At the same time, Benefits Officers were also working on Discretionary Housing Payments, Council Tax Energy Rebate and Household Support Fund.

 

Direction of travel was now improving however – for example, at 15th June 2022, there were a total of 4,802 Benefits customers outstanding – by 10th August 2022 (when this report was being written) – this figure had reduced to 2,027.

 

In terms of claims checked that were ‘correct, first time’ (with even £0.01p ‘out’ being classified as an incorrect assessment), at the end of Quarter 1 2022/23 the City of Lincoln figure stood a : 94.32% (216 out of 229 checked),and North Kesteven: 94.09% (207 out of 220 checked).

 

These checks were in addition to the significant amount of checks also carried out under the audit requirements of the annual Housing Benefit Subsidy claims.

 

Provision of welfare and benefits advice continued to be key as our Welfare Team continued to assist customers to access vital monies in the first quarter of 2022/23. Further detail was set out within the table at Paragraph 6.2 of the officer’s report.


If you require any further information regarding this or another matter relating to Democratic Services you can contact us by writing to or visiting City Hall, emailing democratic.services@lincoln.gov.uk or by telephone (01522 873387).