Agenda and draft minutes

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Contact: Committee Section  Email: committee.section@gravesham.gov.uk

Items
No. Item

70.

Apologies

Minutes:

Cllr Brian Francis (Vice-Chair) gave his apology as he was unable to dial into the meeting.

 

71.

Minutes pdf icon PDF 83 KB

Minutes:

Cllr Hills asked if the promotion of surgeries from social services had been established.

 

The Head of Revenue & Benefits explained that unfortunately due to the COVID-19 outbreak there had been no resources left to allocate to that piece of work but it was still on the agenda to be completed once things returned to normality.

 

The minutes of the meeting held on Tuesday, 18 February 2020 were signed by the Chair.

 

72.

Declarations of Interest

Minutes:

No declarations of interest.

73.

Coronavirus: Cabinet Portfolio Impact pdf icon PDF 195 KB

Minutes:

The Committee was provided with an overview of the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic upon the practical delivery of the respective services within the responsible Cabinet portfolio.

 

The Head of Revenues & Benefits guided Members through the report further explaining key points from the following sections:

 

  • Legislation and Government announcements in response to the COVID-19

Pandemic

  • Revenues and Benefits
  • Corporate Performance
  • Audit and Counter Fraud
  • Corporate Change
  • Information Governance
  • Corporate Governance
  • Performance

 

Following questions and comments from Members, the Director (Corporate Services) and the Head of Revenue and Benefits explained that:

 

  • The Audit & Counter Fraud process was not considered a critical service at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic so the team were redeployed to provide support and advice to other services such as the business grant support process. Additionally, they formed part of the Council’s resilience team ensuring that any adjustments made to the control environment were recorded and any associated risks were mitigated etc. As the Council has slowly transitioned to the recovery phase over the last month, the auditors have been focusing on concluding work that was outstanding at the end of 2019/20 to assist the  Head of Internal Audit, in delivering his Annual Assurance Statement. That Statement is intended to provide assurance on the operation of the Council’s control environment and support the Annual Governance Statement
  • The Council Tax Hardship Fund has been promoted to those struggling financially and the majority of has already been applied however the team recognised that there will be some exceptional cases who will require further assistance. The biggest issue was identifying those who required assistance but customers were guided to the scheme if they were in arrears. Stakeholders were also worked with to advertise the fund
  • The Discretionary Business Rate Fund for businesses was £716,000 and it was created due to the number of business that were not eligible under the small business grant or retail, hospital and leisure grant schemes. The 100% retail relief fund was distributed but the discretionary fund will be directed to help  cover other costs associated with the business such as ongoing fixed building related costs. To receive the grant, the business owners will need to prove that they were still trading on the 11 March 2020 and had a rateable value under £51,000 or were not ratepayers and had annual rent/mortgage below £51K. The grant is anticipated to assist many small businesses, market traders, B&Bs and Charities who were not in receipt of small business rate relief or who had been waiting to be valued by the valuation agency
  • The number of businesses which have received support through the original business support grant scheme was 1132 cases totalling payments of £13.90m, of these 962 of those were small businesses, totalling £9.62 million
  • The self-employed businesses will be able to apply for the second tranche of the discretionary fund; the application process is currently open and will close on 19 June 2020. After which the demand for the fund and applications will be assessed  ...  view the full minutes text for item 73.

74.

Any other business which by reason of special circumstances the Chair is of the opinion should be considered as a matter of urgency.

75.

Exclusion

To move, if required, that pursuant to Section 100A (4) of the Local Government Act 1972 that the public be excluded from any items included in Part B of the agenda because it is likely in view of the nature of business to be transacted that if members of the public are present during those items, there would be disclosure to them of exempt information as defined in Part 1 of Schedule 12A of the Act.