Council Tax and Accounts Receivable 2014/15
- Meeting of Policy and Performance - Transformation and Resources Committee, Wednesday, 4th February 2015 6.00 p.m. (Item 19.)
The Committee considered a report from the Head of Business Processes on the current status of Council Tax and Accounts Receivable as at 31 December 2014 compared with 31 December 2013. The report gave details of the actions taken by the service to recover the debts, including the number of summonses issued and the Council’s Fair Debt programme.
Responding to comments from Members, regarding the non-payment of debts, the Head of Financial Services stated that every year there was an assessment of the money required to be set aside to fund those debts not settled. In the area of accounts receivable (sundry debtors) there was an amount of around £9m held to meet such debts.
The Head of Business Processes also responded to Members’ questions and made the following comments:
· With regard to accounts receivable he was looking at bringing in additional staff as the more work done to improve collection the more income would come in.
· The exercise underway using the external supplier, Capacity Grid, to check that the Single Person Discount was not being abused would realise a potential additional council tax income of £420,000. This was an annual figure which would add to the Council Tax base each year.
· Terms of engagement were agreed with Capacity Grid through the tender process which included the letters and process to be used. Letters were sent in the Council’s name stating that the Council had information which lead the Council to conclude the claimant was no longer entitled to the Single Person’s Discount. If the claimant agreed that this was the case then the discount was withdrawn if not then the matter was investigated further and claimants could appeal directly to the Council not to Capacity Grid.
· The process was non-intrusive whilst recognising that the process was that the Authority was verifying a household’s claim to a discount.
· There were three companies which did the type of work that Capacity Grid were undertaking for the Council and they were awarded the tender in late 2014. The firm was paid based on the numbers they found and the success of this one off exercise would be reviewed and a decision taken as to whether it was done annually.
· In respect of the numbers of reminders, summonses, liability orders, etc. issued and referred to in the report, he would circulate this information in a tabulated format.
· He would, in future reports, supply some examples under each directorate in respect of the amount of debt at each recovery stage.
· He acknowledged a typographical error in one of the figures for the collection of national non-domestic rates but confirmed that the collection rate showed a drop due to the fact that a lot of businesses had now moved to 12 monthly instalments rather than 10.
· Additional temporary staff would be brought into the Personal Finance Unit to get assessments back into line and then a view would be established as to whether permanent staffing was too low, too few or adequate.
· The figures on insolvency were reported to Cabinet in the financial monitoring reports and the minimum debt had to be £1,500, although insolvency was only used as a last resort and might link in to other debtors taking action.
Resolved – That the report be noted.