Overview and Scrutiny Committee - Thursday, 1st December, 2022 7.00 pm - Agenda and draft minutes

Venue: Council Offices, Farnborough

Contact: Administrator, Adele Taylor  Tel. (01252) 398831, Email.  adele.taylor@rushmoor.gov.uk

Link: Click here for livestream

Items
No. Item

19.

Minutes of the Previous Meeting pdf icon PDF 118 KB

To confirm the Minutes of the Meeting held on 20th October, 2022 (copy attached).

Minutes:

The minutes of the meeting held on 20th October, 2022 were agreed as a correct record.

20.

Council Tax Working Group - Update pdf icon PDF 563 KB

To receive a presentation from Executive Director, Ian Harrison on the current work of the Council Tax Support Group.

Minutes:

Executive Director, Ian Harrison, provided a presentation on the work of the Council Tax Support Group (CTSG).

 

The Committee were apprised of the current scheme, which was managed locally, to help residents pay their Council Tax bill. It was noted that 4,778 households were currently in receipt of support for 2022/23, this figure included 2,821 households of working age and 1,957 households of pension age. The Committee were advised that the elected Member Group, would recommend to the Cabinet, at its meeting on 8th December, 2022, that the scheme remain the same for 2023/24, whilst mirroring the welfare benefits uplift. It was also noted that, a recommendation for a full review of the scheme during 2023/24, would be made. The review would look specifically at simplifying the scheme, ensuring the most vulnerable were protected and to ensure the cost, to the Council, was sustainable. Other local authority schemes would be considered during the review process.

 

The Committee reviewed the collection rates for Council Tax over the past four years for residents within the support scheme and those that were not in receipt of support. Collection rate percentages for those within the scheme averaged between 93-94%, and, over all the collection rate achieved each year had been in the region of 96-97%. In relation to arrears, it was noted that the majority (1,726), in receipt of support, owed between £0-£200, 369 owed between £200-£500 and 200 owed between £500-£3,000.

 

Other funds available to support residents though the Cost of Living crisis were noted, these included:

 

·         Discretionary Housing Payments - a cash limited fund, provided by the Government, to support people who required additional help with housing costs, not covered by Housing Benefit or Universal Credit. To date £90,203 had been awarded to 249 recipients.

 

·         Exceptional Hardship Payments – a fund agreed by the CTSG to provide additional support to those in receipt of Council Tax Support (CTS) who were experiencing financial hardship, the fund currently sat at £5,495, following awards made to the value of £16,505. It was advised that a recommendation would been made to the Cabinet, at its meeting on 8th December, 2022, that an additional £20,000 be added to the fund for 2022/23 from the earmarked reserve for Council Tax Hardship.

 

·         Council Tax Energy Rebates – a Government package to help households with rising energy bills, aimed at houses in the Council Tax Band A-D. It was noted that 32,677 households in the Borough had received £150. In addition, 2,625 payments had been made from a locally managed, Discretionary Energy Rebate fund, totalling £134,550.

 

·         Household Support Fund – a fund provided by Hampshire County Council (HCC) with specific instructions on who should receive support and in what form. Support had been provided to those in receipt of CTS and Pension Credit in the form of food vouchers, totalling £300,000 and an additional £42,000 had been provided for those in housing crisis, such as rent arrears and threat of eviction. Further funding was expected in late December, 2022, for  ...  view the full minutes text for item 20.

21.

Supporting Communities Strategy and Action Plan - Update

To receive a presentation from Community and Partnerships Manager, Emma Lamb, on the latest position with the Supporting Communities Strategy and Action Plan.

Minutes:

The Committee welcomed Emma Lamb, Community and Partnerships Manager, who was in attendance to provide an update on the Council’s Supporting Communities Strategy and Action Plan.

 

It was noted that the Strategy and Action Plan was partner led, and helped to tackle inequalities and deprivation across the Borough. The Committee noted the four priorities, Economic Hardship, Young People, Physical and Mental Health and Connecting Communities. It was advised that a refresh of the strategy would be undertaken in January 2023 to take account of the impacts of the cost of living crisis.

 

The Committee reviewed some of the funding streams, the majority of which were from external sources. It was noted that support from the Council’s earmarked reserve had totalled £71,000 to date. It was advised that the aim had been for projects identified, to be data led and community driven and financially independent from the Council.

 

The geographical location of the various different schemes within the Supporting Communities Strategy were shared with the Committee. In relation to support concerning cost of living, it was noted that schemes changed frequently and particular attention had been given to ensure information had been kept up to date.

 

An overview of some of the schemes had been provided, these included;

 

·         Community Grub Hub – a wrap-around service which offered, not only a food bank facility, but also support in a range of areas including mental health provisions and energy and business support. The Grub Hub had been in operation for almost a year and had gained full independence, with support from Rushmoor Voluntary Services (RVS), in October 2022. Some key challenges for 2023 had been identified, these included stock levels of certain items, cost of living impacts, opening hours to target working households and development of a fundraising strategy to ensure financial stability going forward.

 

·         PEBL (Prospect Estate Big Local) – a free health and happiness drop in had been ran through the PEBL scheme. It was noted that 150 health checks had been completed with the Farnborough Primary Care Network (PCN), balance, glide and ride classes had been undertaken with Year R and one children and physical activities and wellbeing walks had been held. Men’s health sessions and a Men’s Shed had also been established.

 

·         Repair Café – this externally funded facility would be opening on 17th December, 2022 at the West End Centre, Aldershot. The independent organisation had been enabled by the Council with the support of RVS.

 

·         Youth Engagement and Aspirations – The Committee noted that a Forum had been created to engage with young people, a number of students had visited Gulfstream for an aspirational visit, support had been provided at career events at the local secondary schools and a Climate Change competition had been held which had engaged with over 60 students and local company Fluor.

 

The Committee noted the work on support to residents through the cost of living crisis and the challenges it presented. Help and support information had been collated on one page on the  ...  view the full minutes text for item 21.

22.

Work Plan pdf icon PDF 229 KB

To consider the Work Plan for the 2022/23 Municipal Year (copy attached).

Minutes:

The Committee NOTED the current Work Plan.

 

A number of issues were raised for consideration by the Committee, these included:

 

·         Fibre internet infrastructure (Toob)

·         Highways – condition of the roads across the Borough, in particular potholes

·         Management of mould and damp – monitoring the condition of all housing stock across the Borough

·         Air pollution

·         Partners involved with the Supporting Communities Strategy and Action Plan