Report of the Leader of the Council.
The Strategic Director, Transformation and Change introduced the Leader of the Council’s report, which gave an update on performance reporting for quarter 2 of 2019/20. Most of the key performance indicators were meeting targets, with three achieving marginally below their targets. An update was given regarding the development of the new performance reporting dashboards. Two were included as appendices to the report and a further three were being created and would be ready to present at the next meeting of the Committee. The intention was for the dashboards to explain trends and benchmarking when available, as well as the implications of the performance level achieved. Members were asked if they had any questions regarding the information included in the reports or the documents appended to it.
Members asked for further explanation of the performance indicator in relation to the percentage of Council Tax collected, which was at amber status. This was attributed to an increase in Universal Credit claims in the District, which was now a full Universal Credit area. It was explained that when Universal Credit was granted to a claimant, the Council recalculated their entitlement to Council Tax Support. Following this recalculation, a statutory period was required before the next instalment of Council Tax could be taken, causing payment dates to be pushed back. The performance profiles were set at the beginning of the year based on historical trends. This profiling was refreshed and reviewed on an on-going basis. One Member asked how the Council were ensuring that vulnerable Council Tax payers were not being put at risk of homelessness when Council Tax was collected. Officers explained that although enforcement measures were taken for persistent non-payment of Council Tax, there was a discretionary scheme available for benefit claimants with eligible circumstances to apply for support in meeting rental costs.
Attention then turned to the performance indicator measuring the percentage of Non-domestic Rates collected. This indicator was at red status at the end of quarter 2. One of the reasons behind this was increase in rates payers selecting the option to pay over twelve months rather than ten; this affected the profile of payments over the course of the year. Members asked if vacant retail units had an effect on the amount of Non-domestic rates collected. It was explained that empty units did not have a significant impact on collection rates as they were subject to an unoccupied property rate after a three month period. Officers were thanked for providing a breakdown of the occupancy rates of retail units by town centre as shown in Appendix 2. Members asked what measures could be put into place to encourage new business into Grantham town centre. Business engagement schemes were being undertaken by InvestSK to help encourage new businesses into the town centre. There had also been two major bids made for funding to support these endeavours via Historic England and the Future High Streets Fund. Discussion ensued regarding what other initiatives could encourage an increase in occupancy rates of retail units and promote Grantham town centre. The Chairman felt that this item should be considered in further detail at a future meeting of the Committee.
Ø Grantham town centre business occupancy and survival rates to be added to the Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services OSC work programme
Members referred to the performance measure relating to the number of households on the top four priority bands of the Housing Register. It was noted that the figure had reduced by over 10% from the July figure to the September figure. Members asked how this reduction had been possible. Officers explained that the number of households on the Housing Register is subject to continual fluctuation due to a number of factors. Some of these households would have been allocated a property; other households may no longer have a housing need. Housing register applicants were required to complete a form annually from the date of their initial application confirming if they still wished to remain on the register. If households did not respond to the letter, they would be removed from the register. Members asked why the figures provided were only in relation to the top four priority bands. Households in bands below the top four were considered to have an aspirational housing need, rather than a priority need, but figures for all bands could be provided for the Committee. Members also mentioned that they would like to see figures from the previous year in order to make comparisons.
Ø Figures for the number of households in bands 4 and 5 of the Housing Register to be provided to the Committee
Ø Figures for the number of households on the Council’s Housing Register to be provided for 2018 in order for comparison to be made
Members noted that the number of fly tipping incidents in the District had increased, and requested information providing the number of prosecutions that had been made in this area. A further explanation of how food hygiene ratings were assessed was also requested.
Ø Officers to provide figures stating the number of prosecutions made regarding fly tipping in the current financial year
Ø Further information outlining how food hygiene ratings are measured to be circulated to the Committee
One Member queried why the performance measure for the percentage of household waste sent for reuse, recycling and composting was identified as meeting its target if the percentage value was below the target set. It was explained that there was a 2.25% variance level providing a parameter by which a measure could be considered sufficient to meet the target. It was suggested that in future reports, wording should be amended to reflect when a performance measure had not numerically met its target.
· Figures from previous years to be included in future performance measure reports, to provide context and comparison for the information provided