(Relevant Portfolio Holder: Councillor A Yates)
Councillor Dowling introduced the report of the Corporate Director Transformation, Housing & Resources, which provided an update following the agreement as part of the 2022/23 Budget Setting process to fund £260K to support the most vulnerable affected by rising energy costs, to approve the Borough Council's proposed Local Council Tax Discretionary Energy Support Scheme Policy and highlighted recent Government announcements in respect of funding made available to support local Council Tax and Business Rate payers in meeting increased energy bills and the financial impact of Covid 19 and to approve the Policies to underpin these Schemes, as appended to the Report.
The minute of the Executive Overview & Scrutiny Committee held on 26 May 2022 was circulated prior to the meeting.
A question was raised in respect of Personal Independence Payment (PIP) and Disability Living Allowance (DLA).
In reaching the decision below, Cabinet considered the details set out in the report before it, the reasons contained therein and the agreed comments of the Executive Overview & Scrutiny Committee.
RESOLVED: A. That the content of the report and the agreed comments of the Executive Overview & Scrutiny Committee, be noted.
B. That the following policies, as appended to the report be approved.
1. WLBC Council Tax Discretionary Energy Support Scheme – Policy Document
2. Government Council Tax Energy Rebate Scheme CT Bands A-D - Policy Document
3. Government Council Tax Energy Rebate Discretionary Scheme - Policy Document
4. Government NNDR CARF Scheme - Policy Document
C. That it be noted that the Local Council Tax Discretionary Energy Support Scheme will be effective from 1st September 2022.
D. That the Corporate Director of Transformation, Housing and Resources be given delegated authority to make any minor/inconsequential amendments to the Policies.
To consider the report of the Corporate Director of Transformation, Housing and Resources.
Consideration was given to the report of the Corporate Director of Transformation, Housing and Resources as contained on pages 61 to 104 of the Book of Reports, which was to provide an update following the agreement as part of the 2022/23 Budget Setting process to fund £260K to support the most vulnerable affected by rising energy costs, to approve the Borough Council's proposed Local Council Tax Discretionary Energy Support Scheme Policy.
The Head of Corporate and Customer Services outlined the report and responded to questions raised by Members in respect of the following:
· Section 4.5(g)(i) No mention of Pension Credit on list of means tested benefits – This is covered in the existing wording of the Policy Document. Residents on a low income will be encouraged to apply, and the Pension Credit along with other benefits will specifically be mentioned
· Section 4.11 – how a credit of £150 to residents Council Tax will affect their future payments? – The amount will reduce off the outstanding account balance and instalments for the rest of the financial year will be recalculated and reduced accordingly
· Section 9.3 Clarity in Independent Valuation Service – Regulations 13a policy re flooding – The Valuation Tribunal is an appropriate independent route for this under Section 13a Regulations
· Will Residents in receipt of Single Occupancy also receive £150 - Single Occupancy will receive discount, regardless of whether they are already in receipt of a discount
· The Discretionary Council Tax Rebate Scheme Policy document S10.1 – anti fraud provision exists – s11.2 – prosecution for false/withheld information will be considered - Proposed amendments to deal with this inconsistency
· CARF Scheme criteria set by Government make this a difficult relief to apply for – The Team will identify Businesses and support them with their application
· Implications re means tested assessments on benefits / some benefits fall within income and contribution - Under s13 it is in WLBC discretion to signpost those Applicants. WLBC will mention ESA contribution in literature sent out so this will be made clear
· CARF Scheme – How do Businesses prove adversely affected by Covid - Ensuring Government criteria are met, and we include set criteria in the application process
A. That the Committee considered and noted the content of the Policy to underpinimplementation of the Borough Council's proposed Local Council TaxDiscretionary Energy Support Scheme as appended to the report.
B. That the Committee note the Policy coverage to underpin the recently
announced Government funded Schemes to support local Council Tax and Business Rate payers in meeting increased energy bills and the financial impact of Covid 19, as appended to the report, and that the following agreed comments of Executive Overview and Scrutiny Committee be passed to Cabinet for their consideration:
1. That Paragraph 10.1 of the Discretionary Council Tax Rebate Scheme Policy Document to read as follows:
"The Council will not accept deliberate manipulation of this policy or fraud. Any person caught falsifying information to gain a discretion payment, the Council will look ... view the full minutes text for item 12