Agenda

Rural and Communities Overview and Scrutiny Committee
Thursday, 16th January, 2020 12.30 pm

Venue: Witham Room, South Kesteven House, St Peter's Hill, Grantham NG31 6PZ

Items
No. Item

1.

Comments from Members of the Public

2.

Membership

3.

Apologies

4.

Disclosure of Interest

5.

Healthy Conversation

6.

Action Notes from the meeting held on 21 November 2019 pdf icon PDF 206 KB

7.

Updates from the previous meeting

8.

Housing Strategy Refresh pdf icon PDF 199 KB

9.

Customer Experience Strategy pdf icon PDF 202 KB

10.

Stop the Knock

    A presentation on the Stop the Knock publication and a briefing on the current practices of the Council with respect to the use of civil enforcement agents to inform the scope of any further work to be commissioned by the overview and scrutiny committee if deemed necessary.

     

     

    Motion submitted to Council on 28 November 2019 by Councillor Baxter

     

    In 2018/19, South Kesteven used bailiff services on 2,115 occasions. Over 96% of these concerned overdue Council Tax payments while the remainder related to Business Rates. This figure has increased by 3% since 2016/17.

     

    The use of bailiffs can be expensive and time-consuming for the council. It can also be very stressful for the debtors especially if they are already suffering financial hardship.

     

    The Money Advice Trust, the charity that runs the National Debtline, recommends six steps for all lower-tier local authorities to implement in order to improve debt collection practice. More details are available at https://www.stoptheknock.org/

     

    This motion recommends South Kesteven adopts the Six Steps (Currently the Council only has one of the six steps in place which is ‘step 2’ concerning referrals to free debt advice).

     

    This Council resolves to:

     

    1)    make a clear public commitment to reduce the council’s use of bailiffs over time.

    2)    review the council’s signposting to free debt advice, including phone/online channels

    3)    adopt the Standard Financial Statement (SFS) to objectively assess affordability

    4)    put in place a formal policy covering residents in vulnerable circumstances

    5)    exempt council tax support recipients from bailiff action

    6)    sign the Council Tax Protocol and review the authority’s current practice against the ‘Supportive Council Tax Recovery’ toolkit

     

    The detail implementation of the six steps above shall be the responsibility of the Rural and Communities OSC in collaboration with the relevant portfolio-holder.

     

     

11.

Any other business which the Chairman, by reason of special circumstances, decides is urgent